Vincentian Virtues – A Lenten invitation

Simplicity Here is a Lenten invitation – In the liturgy, we recently retold the story of David and the five smooth stones with which he overcame the giant Goliath.

Vincent had his own take on the story and those 5 stones. He called them the virtues that anyone who wished to walk in the way of Vincent should practice. He called them simplicity, humility, meekness, mortification, and zeal.

For the next five Mondays CMEAST will draw on a series of reflections by Fr. Emmet Nolan of the Eastern Province. Each reflection will offer a perspective from Vincent and a series of markers that can serve as guides to how well we live them.

As a beginning, remember that Vincent treasured simplicity. In fact, he called it his gospel.

Listen to how St. Vincent describes simplicity: “Jesus, the Lord, expects us to have the simplicity of a dove. This means giving a straightforward opinion about things in the way we honestly see them, without needless reservations. It also means doing things without any double-dealing or manipulation, our intention being focused solely on God. Each of us, then, should take care to behave always in this spirit of simplicity, remembering that God likes to deal with the simple, and that he conceals the secrets of heaven from the wise and prudent of this world and reveals them to little ones. But while Christ recommends the simplicity of a dove he tells us to have the prudence of a serpent as well. What he means is that we should speak and behave with discretion. We ought, therefore, to keep quiet about matters which should not be made known, especially if they are unsuitable or unlawful … In actual practice this virtue is about choosing the right way to do things.” (CR 11, 4-5.)


  • Do I always speak the truth?
  • Do I say things as they are or as I want them to be?
  • What causes me to conceal or hide something from another?

Some signs of growth

  • Congruence between word and deed
  • Is transparent – especially in regard to motivation
  • Is honest (truthful)
  • Is single-hearted
  • Can reveal his inner self to others in an appropriate way
  • Has a clear self identity
  • Lives without the clutter of unnecessary concerns and things
  • Is authentic

Some signs for need growth

  • Incongruence between word and deed
  • Manipulates others
  • Has hidden agendas
  • Has a divided heart
  • Is preoccupied with frivolous concerns and things
  • Is perceived by others as a phony and a hypocrite
  • Is confused about his true purpose in life (confused self-identity)


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