The Way of St. Vincent Is Our Way. 13. Continual renewal

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoCharismLeave a Comment

Author: Miguel Pérez Flores, C.M. & Antonino Orcajo, C.M. · Translator: Charles T. Plock, C.M.. · Year of first publication: 1986.
Estimated Reading Time:

13. Continual renewal

No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No, they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.
Matthew 9:16-17

… the Congregation of the Mission, faithful to the Gospel, and always attentive to the signs of the times and the more urgent calls of the Church, should take care to open up new ways and use new means adapted to the circumstances of time and place. Moreover, it should strive to evaluate and plan its works and ministries, and in this way remain in a continual state of renewal.
Constitutions, 2

Communities in the Church have generously responded to the call of Vatican II to renew themselves. Renovation cannot be thought of as a static reality; it is a dynamic reality. “Keep renewing yourself or die”. The rapid pace of life demands it.

1. Past, Present, Future

While admitting the difference that exists between the Church and the Congregation of the Mission, can we not apply to ourselves the words which Paul VI spoke when referring to the past, present and future of the Church?

The Church, they say, is venerated because of its antiquity, because of its steadfastness during the passing of time, but the same Church lacks the freshness which preserves it new and young… This is a strong objection… and it is worthy of our reflection.1

The Pope goes on to say:

Without ignoring this objection, the Church is young. What is more surprising is that her youthful energies flow from her unalterable persistence throughout the ages. We can be more precise: the human members of the Church cannot change the unalterable laws of history of time. We can measure their effect people grow old, die, and disappear from this planet because of these laws… But the Church not only possesses a supernatural quality not subject to history, but she also has the immeasurable energy to renew herself.2

2. The Way of the Spirit

The Congregation shares responsibility in the task of renewal. This is affirmed by the General Assembly of 1980 in the Introduction to the Constitutions:

Those apostolic works which, after due reflection, no longer seem to correspond to the Vincentian vocation in the modern world are to be gradually phased out.3

Community is always in the process of coming to be, especially by renewal in the principal areas of our way of living and acting, which are: the communal following of Christ, the evangelization of the poor, prayer, community of goods.4

It is the function of the Superior General … to work very carefully … so that the apostolic activity and renewal of the Congregation continually be promoted and that the Constitutions and Statutes be applied as appropriately as possible.5

The General Assembly, immediately representing the entire Congregation … has the right to guard the patrimony of the Institute and promote necessary renovation.6

3. Openness, Availability, Active Love

On-going renovation demands that each member of the Congregation be attentive to the movements of the Spirit, for only in this way will our renewal be animated by an evangelical and a Vincentian spirit. Saint Vincent asked the Congregation to take on the fundamental attitudes of openness, availability and active love.

Openness is a participation in the nature of perfect love, for it is a loving activity that inclines the heart to all that is good and destroys those obstacles which impede one’s giving in love. It is similar to fire, which burns not only at the center, but also consumes all that tries to detain it.7

I give thanks to God because you are disposed to do the will of God in all things and in all places; you are disposed to live and die in any place that he commands. This is the availability of good servants of God and of true apostolic persons. They do not hold themselves aloof from anything they do. This is also a sign of God’s true children, who freely join in the plans of so worthy a Father.8

Blessed be God for this holy openness, which makes us suitable instruments to carry on the work of God.9

  • Am I really willing to renew my life and the life of the community?
  • When the community organizes a self-evaluation, do I actively participate?


O Lord, grant us the grace to participate in your attitudes of openness, availability and love in doing your will. God, our Liberator, we beg this of you with confidence—grant us freedom of mind and will so that nothing keeps us from carrying out your commandments. By working in this way, we know you will take us by the hand; you will help us to be faithful to your plan; you will lead us to glory. We pray in your name, Lord Jesus, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.10

  1. Paul VI, Audience of June 12, 1974.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Constitutions, 13.
  4. Constitutions, 37.
  5. Constitutions, 151, 1.
  6. Constitutions, 137, 1.
  7. “On Openness,” May 16, 1659, O.C., xi, 526.
  8. Letter to Jean Martin, August 9, 1652, O.C., iv, 418.
  9. Letter to Lamberto of Couteaux, January 3, 1653, O.C., iv, 502.
  10. “On Openness,” May 16, 1659, O.C., xi, 537.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *