Good wine comes from good grapes, and good grapes come from good vines, but a good vine can come from either good or bad terrain. The terrain helps determine how much effort the vine has to put in to be productive, and it also helps determine the characteristics of the grape the vine produces. In the Christian life, we often hear, “thrive where you are planted,” this is consistent with the metaphor of our lives as the branches of the vine.
Christ can make something good out of our every situation, especially when we stay close to Him. That means that we have to embrace our life in Him, we have to become good branches of the vine wherever it is planted, and that means we want to be consistent, for we do not want our fruit to vary much from time to time. We want to be able to produce good wine consistently.
The good Christian strives to be consistent throughout. Let us think about food for a moment. Do you ever taste something unevenly seasoned without thinking something is not quite right? It is the same with us...
We need to work on our interior life so that the person we are may be defined by our faith in the Most-High, and that our faith may permeate and infuse our external life with the Christ-like quality we receive from communion with our Lord. The mind does control the body, the same as thought controls the action. We must remember that our minds are forged by our experience. So what are the experiences that we seek? Do they bring us closer to Christ? Do we keep Him in mind when we go out into the world?
Our Christian consistency is built and maintained by those experiences we seek. We forge minds and spirits by seeking to experience Christ in the world. For us believers, Heaven is partially here, for we can find Christ in the Eucharist and each other, but only if we seek it as such and recognize it as such. What is our desire while on this Earth?
May we stay close to our Lord and bear good fruit. Amen.
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
I am in Israel, on a pilgrimage through the Holy Land. It is nightfall after the first-day experience of the Church of the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Church of the Annunciation, and the magnificent sacred grounds of Mount Tabor, where Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the high mountain. The breathtaking moment of being where the Apostles were with Jesus is a gift for us to think of often.
For a moment in the midst of this Lenten Season, let us listen; hear the voice of Jesus say, "Thank you for loving me."
As we immerse in the magnificence of God's love for us to the depths of Jesus' Passion, may all we will offer during this penitential time empower us to serve the highest calling this side of the heavens.
I will be walking with seventeen pilgrims on the Via Dolorosa soon, and I think of our spiritual father, Saint Peter Julian's words above. Imagining the intensity of falling deeply into the sufferings of Our Lord and Savior on the ground on which he walked. He came to teach us to care for one another, to be attentive to one another. He came to love us beyond our sins and to serve with the same Passion of His love.
Walking with someone changes our relationship with them. We begin to see as others may see and grow in compassion to expound and help one another find truth, holiness, and salvation.
Waiting for a Savior
I remember when my son was a baby, and bedtime was a battle. The moment I sat with him in the rocking chair, he pushed his little legs against my body, arched his back, and wailed. He resisted sleep with everything he had. Eventually, as I persevered in rocking and soothing him, I could feel his little body melting, slowly surrendering… finally giving in. I would hold him for a while as he peacefully slept and wonder why was he fighting this? What kept him from surrendering to the peace and comfort of sleep? Then I realized how I also fight against things that are good for me. I resist change when it means giving up something I’ve grown attached to for the fleeting comfort it brings. Why do we do these things?
Ah, the struggle! Self-preservation mode kicks in when we are in danger or perceive that we will lose something we value if we give in. The human heart rebels. The mind gets confused; We misidentify our enemy. Instead of fighting against sin and vice, we resist the medicine we need. To surrender means giving up the fight and letting the other side win. Whether or not this is good depends on whether the one we are fighting is for or against us. If we are defending ourselves or others against an enemy, then putting up a fight is a good thing. But what about when we fight against the very thing we need? The first step is then to correctly identify our enemy.
People often use battle images when talking about the struggle for our souls. It is, after all, a spiritual battle. But, it is important to remember that our fight is one of resistance, of endurance, of trustfully waiting for the One who fights for us. I once saw a movie where bad guys abduct a little girl, hoping to get a hefty ransom for her. The girl was really annoying to them because she was never scared. She kept telling the bad guys they would really regret it when her dad showed up to rescue her. She was confident in her father’s love and his power to save her. She did not believe the lies they tried to tell her… she didn’t even listen to them. She resisted, and she waited. And when her dad showed up and beat the bad guys, she didn’t fight him. She ran into his arms and went home with him.
What a blessing for Mrs. Franchet to have Father Eymard on her side. He was there to guide and steer her in the storm of life. We all need someone like that. We need to have people we can turn to that can help us discern the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need someone to help us differentiate the enemy, to help us discern when to surrender and when to resist. We need the Church to teach us and guide us. Let us then help each other throw out the water seeping into our little boats and entrust ourselves to the Love of the One who died for us. We need each other so that together, we may persevere.
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.