Dear Friends in Christ,
The vine is frequently used in the Old Testament as a symbol of Israel. Israel is the vine, but Jesus is the true vine. Developing this analogy of the vine we learn that we are branches and branches need pruning. We cannot produce fruit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, unless we are pruned. Furthermore, we cannot produce fruit unless we remain in the vine.
Now in nature a branch doesn’t have much choice but to remain attached to the vine and because of this can produce the fruit of the vine – the grape – which gives us the blessing and fruit of wine. In the spiritual life, however, we can easily separate ourselves from the vine, and in order to remain with the vine (Christ) we enter the doorway of faith and take up the battle of prayer. The idea or notion remaining in Christ is about practising the presence of God. We tend to think that professional religious people – months, religious sisters, the clergy – find it easier to ‘remain’ in Christ than we do. Their vocation obliges them to say the Daily Office and to cultivate an active prayer life. However, lay people are called to do the same. We may not say the Divine Office (although many do), but we can certainly practice the presence of God during our day.
Now we all this isn’t easy – we are easily distracted and often side-tracked. We can start off our day with the best intentions, but before we know it, the day is dragging us downwards, not upwards, and God’s presence seems very far away indeed. What are we to do when this happens? The answer will shock you: laugh, smile and rejoice. God knows we are easily distracted, God knows that we need help and strength to live in his presence.
God isn’t shocked by our weakness but rather assures us that when we are weak, then we are strong. We remain in God’s presence through taking simple steps, little gestures, and easy movements. Pray during the day today, ‘Lord have mercy on me a sinner.’ Or, ‘Lord, send forth you Spirit and renew the face of the dearth.’ These simple prayers over time, if we persevere, will allow us to live and abide in God’s presence during the day