Continuing with my reflections on life as a disciple I am drawn by today’s Mass prayers to our struggles in our journey.
The ongoing struggle of our journey home is a never ending contest between our desire to follow the Lord and our inability to live up to His expectations. Throughout our life we can identify the many times that we failed to meet His example. I would venture to say that in those exceptional moments, good or bad, we tend to remember Christ’s teaching and bear good witness. It is in our daily, normal routines and encounters with those around us that we tend to not rise to the level of discipleship. This problem or challenge seems to be universal – the Collect for today’s Mass shows that it is a concern for everyone
Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
With this prayer we hear Holy Mother Church acknowledging our struggle and our need for help.
For me, the reason this happens is clear; I can’t or don’t keep Christ in my heart and mind at all times; at work, I am thinking of work; driving I am thinking of driving; shopping, shopping and so on. So when situations or opportunities of evangelization or witness come up – I am not prepared.
So how do we constantly keep Christ in our hearts and minds? St. Paul gave us the answer when he admonished the Thessalonians to “Pray without ceasing.” We need to train ourselves to live our life in prayer, indeed we need to live our life as prayer. With this type of constant connection we are strengthened in the ways of God; we are viewing the world as it comes to us through eyes of the Holy Spirit. There is never a need to remember our faith, call to mind Christ’s teaching because He is one with us; His ways become our ways, it is who we are. The communion antiphon today celebrates Christ’s words ‘I am the true vine and you are the branches…Whoever remains in me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, alleluia!’ This is more than metaphor or analogy, it is what happens – we are fed and strengthened if we remain in Christ, and this is only done through the sacraments and prayer – both.
This renewal of our life into a life of constant prayer will be a lifelong task. Our abilities to attain this connection will ebb and flow as we journey, but with constant attention and discipline we will notice that the ebbing comes farther apart and is weaker and our life in prayer will lengthen and grow stronger. Never despair by looking at the goal and compare to where we are now; but look at where are now to where we were before, notice the small steps and victories. When we notice these small progressions and with Christ’s help we will notice that we are, as the Prayer after Communion today prayed for, passing from former ways to newness of life – through Christ our Lord.