Holy Family

Holy Family

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul

Good morning. Today’s reading is one of those passages we sometimes would prefer to skip over. Once again it’s one of those Gospel passages where Jesus is making it very clear to us that we need to take the high road and avoid giving into our negative feelings no matter how justified we might be. This calling to not respond to people’s mean spirited ways I must admit is a tough one for me. It requires humility and it admittedly is not one of my strong suits or better honed virtues. This looking the other way requires for all of us humility and it requires practice, for some of us it requires much practice and a great deal of patience. Our Saint for today, Saint Vincent de Paul suggests that the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal against the devil is the virtue of humility. Every marriage has conflict and the more we learn to deal with conflict from a position of humility, learning to bite our tongue, the better off and happier both parties will be. One way I’ve learned to bite my tongue is by taking time to think about my own behavior, and the very first thing I try to do is to pray—asking God for the grace to say the right thing or perhaps to avoid saying anything at all. Over the course of thirty years I’m getting better at choosing my battles. I sometimes find myself repeating in my head the words of Frank Costanza from Seinfeld: “Serenity now!” Being hard of hearing sometimes comes in handy as well. Something else which helps in learning to be more tolerant of others is learning to be more accepting of ourselves. If we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves it is likely to spill over into our relations with our spouse or others. Now, granted there are times when things just need to be addressed, but how we approach those situations can make for all the difference in the world. The noted author and researcher on marriage, John Gottmann notes that how we approach a discussion with our spouse determines how the discussion ends. He discovered that happy couples differ from unhappy couples in the way they initiate discussions. He coined the term, “soft-start-ups” as a way to increase the likelihood of having a successful discussion with our spouse. He suggests that if couples can approach their spouse in a positive manner, avoid assumptions, and make a point of being clear and polite throughout the process they will more likely complete their discussion in a mutually satisfying way. And of course timing is everything, try to avoid discussing something touchy in the midst of things which are likely to distract from having our partner’s undivided attention, and as we are reminded in today’s reading choose your battles. Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and works of Saint Vincent de Paul. “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”

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