Today is the optional memorial of St. Vincent. For us deacons, it is one of those options we want to exercise in the Church’s liturgy.
St. Vincent died during the Diocletian persecution. He was a Spanish deacon from the diocese of Saragozza and died at Valenzia, Spain after suffering horribly the tortures of a martyr. His martyrdom was immediately held in memory by the Church and continues to be so after 1700 years.
St. Augustine wrote of him in his Discourse 276. He said Vincent was given two favors from God: the first was the courage to speak even when tortured; the second was the strength to suffer. Augustine notes that none of us (deacons take note especially) dare presume on our own strength when we are called to speak and give witness because for us to speak well, we must rely on the wisdom of God himself, and none of us, when called to suffer, dare presume on our own strength to do so but rather on the strength that God will provide.
He then made another interesting comment. He said that the world puts forth two battles for us to fight: the first is the battle against worldly praises and allurements; the second is the battle against the fear of being crushed by the world.
How true that is. Somehow we often end up thinking that for us to have the energy or strength to carry on in ministry we need the accolades of the world to strengthen us because we fear the demands of giving ourselves to those in need. Both the desire for recognition and the fear of the burden are great temptations.
St. Vincent taught us that the world’s praises are not important and the demands of ministry are well met with the strength of God and the wisdom and words that he provides us at the right time.
We deacons are called to avoid the spotlight in what we do and to be servants of Jesus, knowing that it is he who provides us the strength and wisdom to live diaconal lives.