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St Vincent de Paul
Founder of the Congregation of the Mission (aka the Vincentian Fathers) and the Sisters of Charity (entered heaven in 1660)
Be holy! My dear nephew, don’t WORRY about anything else! Nothing else matters – nothing, do you hear (read) me? NOTHING ELSE! And the fastest way to get holy is to have one preoccupation: building Christ’s Kingdom. If all you really care about is discovering and fulfilling God’s will every day, channeling all your talents and energy into pleasing him by how you live and what you do, you won’t have any time left over for sterile self-pity and whining. Take a lesson from the example of today’s saint.
Most people think of the worldwide charitable works association that bears his name when they hear it. That, however, was founded a couple centuries later, in his honor and in perfect harmony with his active concern for the poor and needy, but not by him personally. He actually founded a bunch of other organizations, including a congregation of priests dedicated to giving spiritual attention to the French peasants (that congregation ended up going international – carrying out country missions and directing seminaries – even in his lifetime) and a religious order of women whose “convent is the sickroom, chapel the parish church, and cloister the streets of the city,” in other words, they were dedicated to serving the spiritual and corporeal needs of the poor. He ransomed over 1200 Christian slaves in Africa, was spiritual advisor to kings and counts, queens and countesses, and established dozens of hospitals for the neediest and most destitute, like orphans and galley-slaves.
He undertook all these projects after starting out as a comfort-loving cleric with a quick-temper and a despondent character. That all began to change when a fellow clergyman accused him of theft and slandered him throughout the city (this happened just after he was ordained). He bore the injustice graciously, and it showed him that the comforts and pleasures of this world are undependable. Thereafter he began to look more for how he could serve others than how he could take care of himself.
And that’s the advice I leave with you. Take your sights off your own spiritual belly button and stay focused on building the Kingdom. As our Lord himself put it: “seek first the kingdom of God, and these other things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33) That’s not a bad motto for life.