Monday, April 30, 2018

I myself bring forth fruit in him (Hans Urs von Balthasar)


    Have patience, my grapes, it is I who will bear you to term.  At first you did not seem much more than tiny acrid skins, hanging underexposed in the shade of the leaves – a scared little crew.  You did not yet believe in me, and you worriedly conjectured how you would nourish yourselves with the scarce rain and deprived of the sun.  And you did not know that all power wells up from within, from me.  Without me you can do nothing.  I do not say little, I say nothing.  But whoever remains in me and I remain in him, he is the one who brings in much fruit.  I myself bring forth fruit in him, and he is the fruit.  It is just in this that my Father is glorified:  that you bring in much fruit. 

   Whoever believes in me, whoever eats and drinks me, has life in himself, eternal life, already here and now, and I will raise him up on the last day.  Do you grasp this mystery?  You live, work, suffer; and yet, it is not you:  it is another who lives, works, and suffers in you.  You are the ripening fruit, but what brings the ripening about, what ripens:  it is I who am that.  I am the power, the fullness, that sheds itself into your emptiness, filling it up.  But by filling, the fullness fulfills itself in the emptiness, and thus you are also my fullness.

   My grace is always fruitful, 
and my gift is for you to pass my grace on.


   Thus do I blossom before you, Father, and for you I bear the world’s vine-branches.  You recognize the life that flows in my boughs:  it is your own life with me.  What flows down into me vertically from you, my Source, this I have spread far and wide horizontally over the earth’s expanse.  And what was our eternal life, shared by both of us horizontally, up above in the circle of eternity, this have I brought down vertically to the very depths of the earth.

--Hans Urs van Balthasar, 
Heart of the World, 
chapter 4, The Father’s Vineyard

Image source:  Icon of Christ the True Vine, late 20th century, Dormition Convent

Saturday, April 28, 2018

They say it's your birthday!

   You may sometimes (by your own admission!) march to the beat of a different drummer, yet you always manage to bring harmony to our liturgy, both in song and in sanctity… 

   You never fail to deepen our understanding of God’s love for us all with the wisdom of your homilies and at scripture class… 

   You offer sage counsel to those who are troubled in heart, and bring good humor to so many situations… 

   You generously regale us with delicious dishes at parish potlucks and auction dinners, and with your knowledge of art and art history on occasions too countless to mention… 

   You have shared your life and your vision and your passions with us in so many ways…  May you enjoy every blessing on your special day, and know how much you are loved. 

 Happy Birthday, Fr. Pat! 
 We are so grateful for you! 

Photo source:  Paul Venables, SFO, on the occasion of going to pick up Annette & Danny from the airport!

Friday, April 27, 2018

We must be pruned to grow (Dorothy Day)

    We must be pruned to grow, and cutting hurts the natural man.  But if this corruption is to put on incorruption, if one is to put on Christ, the new man, pain of one kind or another is inevitable.  And how joyful a thought that in spite of one’s dullness and lethargy one is indeed growing in the spiritual life. 

--Dorothy Day, cited in David Brooks, 
The Road to Character, p.102 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sunday Gospel Reflection, April 29, 2018: I am the vine, you are the branches...

 What does it take to remain in Christ? 

   Just after washing the disciples’ feet in John’s Gospel – an act of profound humility – Jesus commences his Last Supper Discourses, which were intended to give the disciples a sense of what their life in community was meant to be, beginning with a profound understanding that the life Jesus calls them to can only be lived from him, and in him.  The disciples cannot go out and proclaim the good news as independents, disconnected from the source of truth that is Jesus himself.  Only if they remain in him can the disciples glorify the Father and bear much fruit.  Without me you can do nothing, Jesus reminds them.  He is the origin and the author, the source of all truth; he is the true vine, and his disciples are the branches.

   If, as Jesus requests, the disciples remain in him, they will be in a constant state of awareness of God’s presence and activity in their lives.  Only then can they pray that, to him their soul shall live, as Psalm 22 insists – for they will be ready to live in and for the Lord.  In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples learn that their greatest enemy, Saul, has met Jesus on the road to Damascus and has undergone a radical transformation of heart.  If God could convert their worst enemy, what would the Lord not do for them?  They, like Saul, like us, have the capacity to be completely transformed by God’s grace, so that to him their soul shall live.  But they must, as the First Letter of John stipulates, believe in the name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded them.  For, as the Letter reminds them, Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them. To love, to bring Jesus’ love to bear upon the world, to love in deed and truth, is to remain in him, connected to him, as branches to a vine.  Let us celebrate that connection as we go forth through the Easter season, that we might, as Jesus wished, continue to bear much fruit.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

When your vision has gone (David Whyte)

   When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also.   
When your vision has gone 
no part of the world can find you. 
Time to go into the night 
where the dark has eyes 
to recognize its own. 
There you can be sure 
you are not beyond love. 
The dark will make a home for you  
The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see.  
You must learn one thing. 
This world was made to be free in. 
Give up all the other worlds 
except the one to which you belong. 
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn 
anything or anyone   
that does not bring you alive 
is too small for you. 

--David Whyte, Sweet Darkness,
The House of Belonging,  1998