OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL TO GOD'S WILL
The most active saints are the most docile
to God's will. St. Vincent de Paul founded two of the busiest orders:
the priests of the missions, Daughters of Charity, and a lay group, the
Ladies of Charity. Though these orders are of extraordinary zeal, they
were founded with extreme slowness wherewith St. Vincent seemed to be waiting
for God's will at every step. . .which of course was his way of doing
This docility was like saying, "I won't
move until I get a word from God." Yet, while waiting for God's
next instruction, he kept himself busy with prodigious activity,
accomplishing God's last instructions.
Docility or waiting for God's will prevents
us from being involved in purely human activity which, of necessity, is marked
by many imperfections.
Docility is complete submission to the will
of God; it teaches us to wait for God's will and prevents us from
doing things hastily. This is the opposite of impetuosity.
"One must not try to hurry Providence," St. Vincent used to
say. So, one day, noticing that he was putting a bit too much of
himself in one of his missions in his great desire to succeed, thus
appearing to depend more on the natural rather than the supernatural, he
immediately stopped. Vincent considered impetuosity, i.e., going ahead
even before knowing God's will , as a reprehensible effect.
He who practices docility will always be
judged as having let many opportunities pass by or having made many important
matters wait. Answering this complaint, St. Vincent writes:
"Yes, I answer in six months what I can in a month. . .it is true, I am
slow. . .but I still have to see a work destroyed because of my
slowness. Yes, I will answer your letters immediately. . .only after I
have considered the matter before God. Besides, God is greatly honored
when one knows how to wait for His Will." In this sense, docility
is a virtue; we must follow God's plans and not expect God to follow our plans.
If one worries and torments himself on what
to do, he is not docile; he is probably working for himself. Waiting
for God gives one abiding peace, a sign one is serving God. Writing to
Mademoiselle de Gras, he praises her for not being too hasty or
excessively zealous in her dealings." Again, writing to Fr.
Levacher, Vincent states: "Good works are often spoiled when one
proceeds too rapidly." St. Vincent exhibited great docility in that
every time he received a proposal, he always refused first... until he was
sure it was God's will.