A couple of Saturdays ago, four of us Ursulines visited a local vineyard for their autumn festival. It was a rustic place with picnic tables set among many trees. There was good food, wine tasting, and great camaraderie. Having lived in Italy, I’m always delighted to see grapevines loaded with fruit at harvest. They remind me of Jesus’ passion for his mission, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” . . . “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you.” The vines also stand as vivid symbols of how we are connected, one to another, in a relationship never diminished but only strengthened by struggle, suffering and a share in the Cross.
The Sonoma County fires in California last night touched our Ursuline family. Ursuline sisters, colleagues and friends in Santa Rosa have lost homes, property and possessions. Recent hurricanes and earthquakes have affected people we know and love. Illness and bad news continue to break into our lives and those around us. But these are not the last word. We, God’s people, are a community that stands in solidarity with one another. Those who endure heartache and pain are supported by a communion that gives strength. Prayer, words of encouragement, and an attitude that no one ever stands alone bring hope. St. Paul said: “With Christ I hang upon the Cross, and yet I am alive. . . or rather it is Christ who lives in me.” The Vine is our source of life, as we reach out in love to one another. How marvelous!