Praying to Vincent

I spent some time sitting in the chapel of the Vincentian Residence on the campus of St. John’s University in New York yesterday afternoon before my friend John drove me to the airport for my return flight to the Twin Cities. As I sat there gazing at a statue of St. Vincent, I was suddenly and powerfully struck by the realization that I had never before prayed to St. Vincent. Of course he has been included in prayer on certain communal occastions: I’ve said “Amen” at a Mass on Vincent’s feast after the opening prayer invoked Vincent, and there have been times when Vincent has been included in a Litany of Saints at a communal prayer service of one sort or another. But I realized I had never, on my own, sat down and prayed to Vincent.

For many people, this might not seem a strange omission. But I have a deep and abiding commitment to Vincent’s charism. I consider myself a member of the Vincentian family. Vincent inspires me and I speak about him often. I try to model his life of seeing Christ in all and especially in the poor. He is one of the people who stand front and center when I visualize the communion of saints. So the realization that I had never prayed to Vincent struck me as a startling omission.

And so I sat there in the chapel yesterday afternoon and I prayed a heartfelt prayer to Vincent. I sat there for some time, seeing Vincent before me. Talking to him and asking for his assistance as I try to follow in his footsteps. As I walked out of the chapel, I felt heartened and strengthened by his support. (Lucky for me, he doesn’t seem to have held a grudge that I ignored praying to him for so long.)

And I will continue to pray to Vincent…

….to discern in my own life as skillfully as he discerned his path

….to work as tirelessly as he did to better the lives of the poor and marginalized

….to see Christ in all that I encounter as his eyes saw

….for his strength, his fortitude and his love.

St. Vincent, walk with me and pray for me. St. Vincent, walk with us and pray for us.