Loving God Laboriously

Today is the feast of one of my hero-saints, St. Vincent dePaul.

In honor of his day, let me share an excerpt from an address he once made to missionaries:

We must love God, but let it be in the work of our bodies, in the sweat of our brows. For very often many acts of love for God, of kindness, of good will and other similar inclinations and interior practices of a tender heart, although good and very desirable, are yet very suspect when they do not lead to the practice of effective love.

There are many who, when outwardly recollected and interiorly filled with lofty thoughts of God, stop there; and when it comes to the point and they find themselves in a position to act, they stop short. Their over-excited imaginations flatter them; they rest content with the sweet conversations they have with God in prayer; they even talk about these like angels; but apart from that, when it is a matter of working for God, of suffering, of self-mortification, of instructing the poor, of going out to look for lost sheep, liking it when something is lacking, accepting illness or some other disfavor, alas! then there is no one left, they lack the courage. No, no, we must not deceive ourselves.

Now let us apply the lesson; especially since there are many in this world who give every appearance of virtue, and in fact are virtuous, but yet incline to the gentle, smooth path, rather than to a laborious and solid devotion. The Church is like a great harvest which needs laborers, but laborers who really work! Nothing is more in keeping with the Gospel than to heap up light and strength for the soul in prayer, reading and solitude, and then to go out and share this spiritual food with others. This is doing what our Lord did, and after him, his Apostles . . . That is what we must do, that is how we must show God by our works that we love him.

As you reflect on Vincent’s words, ask yourself:

What resonates with me?

What do his words mean for me and how I live my life?

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