Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul at Mississippi Abbey
The great secret to sanctity is charity. Every saint knew this secret. But many saints also had little secrets to sanctity.
Therese of Lisieux had her little way of spiritual childhood. Francis de Sales had his way of gentle kindness: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Ignatius Loyola had his spirit of “agree contra,” to act against one’s evil inclinations. Teresa of Avila had the two things she looked for in candidates: a sense of faith and a sense of humor. St. Thomas Aquinas’ little secret to holiness was “Will it.” And for St. Vincent de Paul it was to find one’s dominant fault and conquer it. That became the favorite path in 17th century French spirituality. He lived up to his own name, for Vincent means “conqueror.” His principal fault was anger, a short fuse, a hot temper. He described himself as “tortured by black and boiling moods.” But he so completely mastered this fault that he became the gentlest of men.
When St. Vincent de Paul felt inclined to anger, he would refrain from speaking and also from acting, and above all, he would not make any decisions until the feelings of anger were under complete control. He once said, “Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things.”
Do you have a little secret to sanctity?