One of my favorite Gospel quotes is: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-3) This message spoke to me during the retreat in preparation for my first vows and recently in the prayer before our Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team meeting.
Pruning can be a painful process – but the fruits are well worth it. Looking back at the time before I entered the community, I thought religious life was a life of prayer and helping the poor. The concept of helping the poor has evolved in me over the years. I have come to see the poor not just as those who are materially poor but those in need of love, a spiritual life, and equal justice. The need to work on justice and dignity is present not only at the human level but also in the life of other species and the earth. This understanding broadens my view of ministry and daily prayer. Today, I realize that the call to live religious life is a call to live prophetically. This prophetic life is a dynamic one that must be built on faith and in the reality of life where I am living. So, it calls me to be open to on-going transformation and to accept the pruning necessary for new branches to form.
Another example of needing to be pruned happened when I was first called to religious life. At that time, I was worried that I would need to leave behind my love of engineering, life experiences, friends, and even my personal freedom when entering religious life. Later, I realized God did not ask me to cut them off completely but pruned me to see how to view them to bear more fruit and so that God’s work in me could be accomplished a hundredfold. Thus, I am reminded of what Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:17).
Now, we are dealing with COVID, job layoffs, violence, and division in our country. The questions that have been raised within our community echo inside me: “What does the world or our society ask from us?” “What does the earth ask of us?” These are all big questions. To respond prophetically, you and I must be pruned so a new way of thinking, living life, and doing ministry can bring forth and bear more fruit. How willing are we to be pruned for this process? And God will make the way for us to live such prophetic life.
The call to live in religious life is the call to live prophetically in our time, with one another in God’s grace. This is an authentic call from God. Are you willing to be pruned by God and to accept this call to be prophetic? If so, contact us or visit our vocation webpages to learn more about the discernment process. We also have a virtual Discernment retreat this March 12-14, 2021 at no cost. An online register link is coming soon.