This painting has been on my mind for a while now, and I felt like it was just the right thing to share with my fellow Vincentians. About a month ago, while talking to Fr. Josh at SEEK, as we mentioned being members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, he quickly whipped out his phone to give us a sneak peek of this painting above that he had commissioned for the Adoration Chapel at his parish back home. Instantly I had fallen in love with this, but at the time had no idea in just a few weeks I would have the opportunity to sit beside it in that very Adoration Chapel.
This past week was our winter board meeting for the National Council, and it wasn’t like this had come out of nowhere, it had been on my calendar for quite some time. However, clearly I didn’t put two and two together. Someone had mentioned once I arrived that Baton Rouge was home to Fr. Josh, and his parish Sacred Heart. For kicks and giggles, of course I google-mapped the distance from our hotel to the Church, and I couldn’t believe that it was only 10 minutes away. My first efforts to get to it didn’t go quite as well as planned, however I did make it into the chapel. After chatting with some of my Vincentian friends on the board, we realized we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to attend Mass there on Sunday. We knew there was a pretty good chance Father Josh wouldn’t be there, but we figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
Clearly the Lord had been putting this on our heart for a reason. His homily was just what we needed to hear. Sometimes as Vincentians we are such doers. We use every minute, every ounce of strength, every bit of energy to serve. But, what is wrong with that? Aren’t we called to serve? Isn’t this our very vocation we are living out? Yes, of course. However, our spiritual growth is the primary reason for why we do what we do. In order to grow spiritually, we have to remember to make time to pray. He said, “Satan doesn’t mind good works. What he doesn’t like is prayer.” Father went on to say, “when do we see Satan and demons in the bible? It is not when he is doing his work, healing the blind, and raising people from the dead.” Father pointed out various times that Jesus tried to pray that Satan tried to disrupt or tempt. He reminded us that that happens for us as well. He challenged a woman who didn’t believe in Satan to set aside some time each day consistently for one week, and she would see how he works to disrupt. She returned the following week, disappointed to report he was so right.
Father shared stories of the effects of prayer on various Saints and their orders. He talked about some of the orders and missions that nearly ended due to de-prioritized prayer, as in the case of St. Catherine Drexel’s order, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and, on the contrary, the increase in vocations within Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. He remarked that at one point the sisters who worked along side Mother Teresa asked to cut an hour from their daily prayer in order to increase the time they could have to serve others. Teresa’s response was to add another hour of prayer. Prayer and faith is what helped her order grow and their works increase. We must remember to do the same. When we get overwhelmed by our workloads, when we feel like we just need to keep doing, we must remind ourselves to find time to pray and truly grow in our spiritual life, as that is what will ultimately help our mission continue. That is what will help us keep going! Christ will strengthen us. If we don’t keep God at the center and invite Him into our lives and our works, it is all in vain.
As we approach Lent, instead of giving something up, try to find some time each day to devote in prayer, even better if in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
St. Mother Teresa, Pray for us.
St. Vincent de Paul, Pray for us.
Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, Pray for us.
I place myself in Your presence, Lord,
I place myself in Your hands.
My ears, my mind, and my heart, my God,
Are open to Your voice.
Make of me what You will.