Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bearing Fruit

Lord Jesus, Word of God, surrendering the brightness of your glory you became man so that we may be raised from the dust to share your very being. May there be innumerable children of the Church to offer homage to your name from the rising of the sun to its setting.
(Psalm Prayer, Week III)

As I prayed the Evening Prayer this night, I saw there a continuation of our thoughts on the purpose of our life: to use well our gifts and return them with interest when we are united with our Lord in heaven. Put another way, it is important that we make a difference to someone in this world; that our life was not just for ourself. As the prayer above notes, “you became man so that we may … share your very being (in heaven). May there be innumerable children of the Church ….” I think part of our duty in life is to contribute to the numbers of those “innumerable children,” but how are we to do this?

May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. Through Jesus Christ may he carry out in you all that is pleasing to him. To Christ be glory forever! Amen.
(Heb 13:20-21)

Certainly, Jesus is to help us spread the faith and lead worthwhile lives, as the Letter to the Hebrews notes. But we, even with his help, well, what are we to do? Earlier I wrote that parents can return their gifts with interest to the Lord through Baptism and the proper raising of their children – that can be their difference in the world to someone; it is their contributing to the innumerable children of the Church (“Look down, O Lord, on your Church and multiply in her your new generations.” – (From the prayers said on Holy Saturday to bless the baptismal waters) ). But what about single people, what about children in school, what about elderly alone, how can they contribute?

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.
I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.
Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

(The Introduction to the Devout Life, by St. Francis de Sales)

St Francis (his feast day is today) explained it well. God doesn’t expect us to all be preachers, all to be monks, or all to go out of their way to try to be his presence or example in this world. If all did this, it would be chaos. God gives each of us talents which fit well with our vocation in life. So some are meant to be single, some married, some priests, some working people, and some meant to go to school – and someone meant to have one vocation should not be seeking to imitate another for which he is not suited. Then, as St. Francis notes, “in whatever situation we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.”

In summary, to make your life worthwhile, to live a life of perfection, seek a vocation which fits your talents, being who you were created to be (see 1Cor 12:12-30). Then be content to live in that vocation well, living a life of Christian example and leadership by your diligence, consistency, and sincerity in Christian belief as shown through your actions. Then you will be “living plants of his Church, … and bring forth fruits.”

Still, you may be thinking “But wait, how can I, by living a good Christian life, bring “children to the Church?” The point is that YOU can’t. But every word you say will be heard, every action seen, and then it will be God and his Holy Spirit which grows his Church. You will just be his instrument. Be a good one. Through Jesus Christ may he carry out in you all that is pleasing to him.

Lord we recognize that all the favors we have received today come through your generosity, do not let them return to you empty but let them bear fruit.

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