John 15:4-5 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in them bears much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
One word keeps popping up for me lately, and when that happens, I know I have some pondering to do. The word is “deliberate” in the context of being more deliberate in my actions, more mindful and intentional. So often our actions throughout the day are automatic. We are not present to our actions, but like horses bolting for the barn door, our minds race on to other things. We do things impulsively or rashly, we fail to ponder. We neglect to live in the sacrament of the present moment, and in so doing, we lose the joy and grace unique to each moment.
It is a mistake to think that the ordinary actions of our daily lives are merely ordinary. Because we abide in Christ and He in us, every action that we undertake apart from sin, has the potential to be an act that bears abundant fruit. We can eat mindlessly, or we can pray before meals proclaiming a blessing on the food and those who prepared it, enjoying every bite with deep gratitude to our loving Father, who knows how to give good things to his children. As we interact with people it is easy to forego listening as we formulate our response in advance, or even to think about our next appointment or job on the to-do list. Or we can be attentive to those we are with, and see Christ in them no matter who they are. We can grumble at the thankless monotony of our daily duty or we can say several times a day, “Lord if you want me to do this, let’s do it together.” Or “Thank you Lord that I have good legs and arms to carry a laundry basket up three flights of stairs.” Or “Lord this is a very unpleasant task. I link this task to your holy Cross and ask you to use it for the salvation of a soul that is in great need right now.” Or “Lord, I take this moment of pure joy and lay it in your Sacred Heart.”
In living the Rule of the BSP*, we discipline our bodies through fasting and our spirits through prayer. The logical next step is to discipline our minds by being deliberate in our actions, by being present in them, and by living each day in holy joy. How often we come to the end of an hour not knowing how it passed. So many daily joys pass by unnoticed. How many wasted minutes will we have to account for at our judgment?
The word, deliberate, is sometimes used as a verb, especially when speaking of a jury that is sent to deliberate over all the evidence they have heard. This is another clue about what it means to be deliberate in our actions. We are meant to ponder and mull over things, not so as to paralyze us or prevent us from ever doing anything, but to slow us down and make us aware that even small actions have consequences. And if at times we are not entirely certain what God’s will is for us in that moment, we can, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
Of course our Blessed Mother is our perfect model for a life lived deliberately. While there is little we know for certain about the life of the Blessed Mother, I think we can surmise that she was always deliberate, mindful, and intentional. Jesus did abide in her in a singular, physical way before his birth. Yet this was just a pre-figuring of her desire and pledge to have him abide in her always. I am currently reading a booklet called, “The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will” (http://luisapiccarreta.co/?page_id=2868). This book has been approved for distribution by the Archbishop Pichierri of Trani. It may be read online, or purchased from Amazon. In it are some wonderful insights into the prodigies of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and her life lived completely in the Divine Will. The book is meant to be read during May, one section per day to lead the reader deeper into the Divine Will.
I am beginning to understand that being deliberate is a pathway to living in the Divine Will. By accepting the duty or leisure, sorrow or joy of each moment and inviting God into it, we are learning to let Jesus ABIDE in us—really abide in us every moment. We receive him in the Holy Eucharist as often as we can. Our hearts, then, are like tattered carriages that have been commissioned to transport a great King. Let us not out of shame for our own poverty draw the curtains closed so that he cannot participate in our daily life. Let us open wide the curtains and enjoy together the daily adventures that an intentional life brings. Let us always be aware of Who is riding in our carriage, focusing on the King, not the carriage, on the glorious Divine Will, not our own tattered will. Let us imitate our Celestial Mama, who never for an instant exited the Divine Will, who in every moment of her life crucified her own will as a perfect offering to God. Fiat!
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.
“Beloved child, the gifts of God the Father are being lavished on this generation. Those who pick up the gifts and receive them with a grateful heart will be lavished with still more. That is the message you heard in today’s Gospel. The fruitful will be given more responsibility. Do not limit me in what I can give. If I set no limits, why should you? Realize that my gifts always come with a promise and a purpose of fruitfulness. At no time is my purpose static, but always moving in an upward spiral. Ponder these things, my children. Be gracious with the gifts I have given you. Work tirelessly for the kingdom and at the end you will have the joy of hearing me say to you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s joy.’”
Heavenly Father, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. May we always accept with joy and gratitude the gifts you offer. May your gifts to us always bear fruit for the kingdom, for the glory of your holy name. Amen.