This past Thursday, as I attended Holy Mass, there was a slight disturbance that took place which broke into a deep sense of pondering it.
We also look at distractions as nothing more than aggravations or personal spiritual attacks, which take place to disturb us from where WE want to be, and seldom look at them as a means to ponder our Lord more deeply.
Just before the liturgy of the Word at Holy Mass, as the Lector began to read, she realized that the microphone was not working. She fumbled about trying to get it to work for a while and after a few silent moments summonsed the altar servers and they went into the back to turn them on. As I was focused on the problem, I realized my attention was taken away from our Lord. It was a moment of silence in which I heard our our distinctively say to me, “Pray”. And in that very moment of hearing Him, I prayed for the problem to be fixed. The very second my interior prayer ended, the microphones worked and the Lector continued on. It was not me who made this work. It was not me who did anything. I did nothing. It was our Lord who did everything. And this is true for all prayers. Its not us who make the flowers grow. We dig the holes and plant the seeds, we water them and it is our Lord who makes them grow.
As I pondered this moment in the last few days I came to see how helpless and useless we truly are without the direction of our Lord. In that moment of silence, my focus being on the little distraction, and not on Him, I couldn’t even remember to pray for this issue for her to come to a close, without the direction of our Lord to have to tell me to pray. And in that moment, He showed me that in asking, we truly do receive and “without me you can do nothing”.
How deep a fact that is of our Lord, to come to grips with this? It draws me into John 5:30, in which our Lord says, “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
From desolation, comes new growth. Ever seen a vineyard after the harvest, just after all the vines have been pruned back? It’s a sure sign winter is coming. The entire field looks desolate. No greenery, all the fruit has been picked and sent to market or been pressed into wine. The same goes with how our Lord prunes us back. Sometimes He has to cut us all the way back to the spur, in order for a new shoot to emerge in the spring. What He is doing is removing everything in our souls that do not belong there in the first place. Causing the survival instinct to kick in (Fear of the Lord), and grow again, in a different way. A way which will produce the fruit, or good works, which we were intended to produce. Although it seems painful as we go through the dryness, God always assures us, he is in the field, constantly watching and nurturing his little plants.
Throughout the winter, the soul looks at what it used to be and realizes it no longer is that fruitless plant. It is only a pruned stick, but alive, as it is still attached even in the smallest amount, to the true vine.This is repentance. It does not cry for what it was, but rather looks to the spring to bud anew. Desolation in great or small amounts, is not a death sentence from God but rather His tender loving hand, forming the now tiny branch to do what it was intended to do. To grow where He needs it to grow rather than still a wild vine trying to choke out the branches that do produce the sweetest fruit.
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’