Step #1: Lectio / Read
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Have you ever been in a bad relationship? Or maybe you've known a friend in one? Where you start dating that person and slowly your world begins to change... but not for the better?
I was in a relationship like that in high school. I started dating this girl, and it all started off so well. (It usually begins that way, doesn't it?) But we became too infatuated with each other. I started spending less and less time with my other friends and my family. They tried to tell me, but I wouldn't listen. I made my girlfriend the focus of my life, which sounds really romantic as a movie, but in real life it's super unhealthy. My girlfriend also had some severe mental health issues, and unfortunately I tried to carry most of the burden of her struggles. I took the weight of her depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts on myself. I thought I was helping. But I slowly became an angrier person, losing my temper and swearing a lot more often. And her problems only increased. The relationship also became impure. We used the physical aspect of our relationship to ignore the reality: this relationship was bringing us both down.
After dating for a full year, by the grace of God, we finally broke up. If you've ever been through a breakup that was ultimately the right thing to do, you know how free you feel. That's how I felt. Finally free. I felt like I could see clearly again. A weight was lifted from my heart that I hadn't realized was there. It hurt to break up, yet at the same time I was overcome with a deep peace. It was only then that I realized how far from the Lord I had wandered.
I made my girlfriend the center of my life. But we can't do life without the Lord of Life in the center. No one and no thing can be in that center spot but Him. The more I made my girlfriend the center of my life, the more I pushed the Lord out. And the more I pushed Him out, the more miserable I became. That was a dark place that He saved me from.
The Lord talks about this in today's Gospel. I disconnected myself from the Vine: Jesus Christ. Whenever we lose our connection with Him, we cannot "bear fruit" and "without Him we can do nothing." If you're reading this Carpe Verbum today, then you're trying to stay connected to the Vine. Don't give up! Legions of things and people will try to cut you off from the Vine throughout your whole life. Don't let that happen! Rely on the Lord's grace, otherwise the world, the flesh, and the devil will bring you to a dark place.
If you struggle with committing to daily prayer, ask the Lord for more grace to remain faithful to Him! It's not easy, but it's simple: Without a prayer life, you can't have a relationship with Jesus. "Prayer doesn't help your relationship with God... prayer IS your relationship with God" (Mark Hart).
Today, recommit to staying connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, through committed daily prayer, rooted in the Word of God.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
Who/what is the center of your life? How does that affect the way you live your life?
How can you reconnect to the Vine? How can this affect the way you live your life?
What are some practical ways you can pray better?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Here I am, Lord."
"Remain in me, as I remain in you."
"Here's my heart Lord."
Step #5: Actio / Act
Weed out the things or relationships in your life that prevent you from making Jesus the center of your life. Be honest with yourself and trust in the freedom that comes from reconnecting with the Vine.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff, High School Youth Minister at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.