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    Society of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

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Spiritual readings for Sunday 8th October

02 October 2017 CGI news

Spiritual readings for Sunday 8th October

Week of 2nd October (reference: readings of Sunday 8th October)

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Reading: Phil 4,6-9; Mt 21,33-43

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God".

Vincentian Reflection 

In the letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul gives us in few words, a recipe for happiness. He says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things”. (Verse 6-8).

Clearly, he tells us that if we seek virtue and if we present our needs to God there is no reason to worry about anything.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (# 1803) presents the definition of virtue: "a virtue is a regular and firm disposition to the good. It allows a person to not only perform good acts, but also give the maximum of himself, his ability and his dedication". This means that virtue is not a thing, or a feeling, but an expression of our will. It is an exercise of continuous and dedicated seeking of doing what is good. For us Catholics, virtue is a gift from God so that we can persevere in holiness, doing the will of God in our lives.

In the book "Mystic Leadership - A model based on the Vincentian experience”, the author says that throughout history it was sought to define virtues which could help us in the path of holiness. Three moments of history were particularly important.

In antiquity, Plato (Greece - 348 BC) defined four essential virtues as the Virtues of Man; Cicero (Rome - 106-43 BC) described them as "the four parts of Virtue"; and St. Ambrose (330-397 ad) called them Cardinal Virtues. These are the four virtues: Temperance (or moderation in the attraction toward pleasures and goods), Justice (or perseverance in giving God and others what is due to them), prudence (or discernment) and fortitude (or security in difficulties).

In the first century of Christianity, Saint Paul defines what the three Theological Virtues are (i.e. that they come from God and that they lay the foundations, animate and characterize the Christian moral acting). These are: Faith (belief in God and in his revelation), Hope (the desire of our happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven and in the Eternal Life) and Charity (or love to God over all things and to our neighbours as ourselves, for the sake of God).

Much later, at the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th, Saint Vincent de Paul defines what we call Vincentian virtues. These are five and have an enormous importance for the definition of our Vincentian charism:

 • Simplicity (or speak seeking and practicing the truth);

 • Humility (or the recognition that all the good that we have comes from God);

 • Mortification (or the control of the senses, passions and emotions, not allowing them to harm our rationality);

 • Gentleness (or the ability to be firm in order to control and manage anger); 

 •  and Zeal (or the tireless will to carry out our mission, to carry out the plan that God has for us).

We could spend days reflecting on each of the virtues of these three groups and on their importance in the Vincentian life. I think that it is very important to do so, because this set of virtues should be a kind of guide for our life. We can give ourselves in our service to the poor, in our families, in our work and in our Christian life in the SSVP.

If we seek to live these virtues and sincerely find God in prayer, we will feel that the love of God becomes our happiness and total fulfilment. What do you think will happen if we seek to strengthen one of these virtues each day? If we do this and offer it in prayer to God, at the end of twelve days, we will have covered a path of purification and conversion.