Autumn of our 200th anniversary year — a time to thank God for a full harvest of blessings, and to pray for peace, for responsible care of creation, for workers and those who seek work, for teachers and students, for those living in poverty.
From centuries ago, the words of our founders still resound, full of wisdom and insight for today. Saints Elizabeth Ann Seton, Vincent de Paul, and Louise de Marillac invite us to open ourselves to the Spirit’s life in us and around us.
CHARITY WISDOM FROM OUR FOUNDERS
ELIZABETH ANN SETON
Never mind — God is God, in it all. If you are to do his work the strength will be given; if not,…someone else will do it….No great affair where his dear Atom is, if only his will is done. (to Sr. Cecilia O’Conway, after her first hectic months with the orphans in New York in 1817)
All our affairs…go on with the blessing of God. Sisters are just now [ Fall,1817] established in New York as in Philadelphia for the care of orphans,…[B]ranches are gone from our house to sow the little mustard seed.
VINCENT DE PAUL
Trust fearlessly in God who has called you and you will see that all will go well.
May your words be like seeds sown in their hearts, bearing a hundredfold the fruits of charity and good example to the poor faithful.
LOUISE DE MARILLAC
All truly Christian souls should have great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, especially in her role as Mother of God.… … When we are filled with gratitude for the graces that God has bestowed upon us through the Incarnation and the exemplary life of Jesus Christ, let us look upon the Blessed Virgin as the channel through which all these benefits have come to us and thank her … Let us take Our Lady as the model for our daily lives and bear in mind that the best way to honor her is by imitating her virtues.
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CHARITY WISDOM FROM OUR FRIENDS
A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment…. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. –Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 91
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Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. –Henri Nouwen
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The one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems [is] that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggression and hypocrisy. Thomas Merton
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A contemplative practice is any act, habitually entered into with your whole heart, as a way of awakening, deepening, and sustaining a contemplative experience of the inherent holiness of the present moment.….What would it be like to open and close doors, take some boxes out of the garage, file papers, answer the phone, not as rude interruptions into a carefully sequestered-off contemplative life, but, to the contrary, as living embodiments of the hands-on divinity of daily living? James Finley, The Contemplative Heart