St Vincent de Paul: for the orphans…..

..and the widows and the poor. This saint had the big heart.  The heart that, maybe, darn near broke from compassion.  The heart that put compassion first foremost and above all.  So, for all you adoptive families and mission going gals out there – he’s your man.  Heck, for all you guilt ridden, distracted, interrupted moms out there (ok, me…), he’s a great saint to consider hitting up for prayer.  He gets it. And, it’s his feast day today!

I also gotta wonder if he wasn’t one with a sense of humor, another joyful saint.  I mean, look at that face. All the paintings and images I’ve ever seen of him show that smile and a little spark in his eyes.  Love that.  But, I digress.

Anyhow, he’s French, from the late 1500’s.  No easy time that.  But, enough, to distill what he was about, I can do no better than to excerpt one of his letters (from this morning’s Office of Readings):

“It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible.  If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind.  Offer the deed to God as your prayer.  Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of god’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out.  So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule.”  {From St. Vincent de Paul’s epistle 2546: Correspondance, entretiens, documents, Paris 1922-25, 7} 

Now, c’mon moms, does that not describe your every waking moment days in a nutshell? I think so!  It does mine.  What? I’m not surrounded by the poor? Well, not in the common sense of the term, no.  However, the poor are the little among us too.  They are the ones who need help, the ones who have no voice or a very tiny small one, the ones who might get overlooked. The poor get dismissed, either because they are the classic newspaper image of poor, impoverished and not just outside our door; or because they are children, our children even, and we forget their needs are so mighty as well.  So,  yeah, they count too.  Overwhelming? Poor ALL around us?? Well, yeah.  But, happily, we get props for trying to connect and make a difference, one glass of juice at a time, one band-aid at a time, one ear to listen, to serve, at a time.  I believe it.  The trick for me is remembering to DO it.  Again.  And again.  And again…well, you get the idea.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!

>Windows into heaven


“The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary and says, You shall bear a Son.”

You all know it: I like icons. You see them often enough on this blog. I do. You might think we are Eastern or Greek Orthodox. Or heck, Ethiopian Orthodox maybe? But no. We are Roman Catholic. But still, we really like icons in our house. Because icons are ‘windows into heaven.” They help us see the unseen. The help us visualize and pray but aren’t realistic and lifelike to have us really attach to the image like a photo. And I think that is cool. They help us leap the divide of earth and heaven, material and spiritual.

I’ve been thinking about this icon today. For one thing it has the Archangel Gabriel in it, one of my favorites and the namesake of our dear boy. He is the messenger. God’s messenger. And in this icon he brings tidings of the greatest joy. A son. The Son. And Mary learns she will be a mom. And she says, “Fiat.” “Yes, I will.” And the heavens rejoice.

And today Gladney families got news of the iceberg breaking up and movement to come. And maybe even some families experienced tidings of great joy. And the moms will say, “yes, I will.”

I know for me, just knowing about the beginning, the not so distant anymore, coming of good tindings brought me great joy today for all of these families, waiting and waiting. And I think of the rejoicing to come. And the message sent: God is faithful. He sends his son, and a mom will say yes. And there, in that message, is typified the joy, real joy. A living breathing icon in our homes, a window into heaven played out by our own selves.

How cool is that? I love icons.