Making wine is a long and arduous process. Long before a bottle of wine ever gets opened, many seasons have passed and hundreds of steps have taken place. The land has to be bought, the soil has to be made right, plowed and prepared before the seeds/vines can be planted. We hear a little about the process in the first reading from Isaiah and again in the gospel. The wine press has to be hewn, and a watchtower has to be built. This doesn’t even speak of the need for proper weather conditions, the laborious work of the harvest, and the pressing of the grapes and seemingly never-ending wait during the fermentation process. It takes years to achieve something truly amazing when it comes to wine. The same can be said of the Christian, it can take years to achieve something truly amazing.
The soil of our hearts has to be right for the seed of God’s Word to take root and grow. It’s only through our connectedness to God that we can withstand the difficulties of the seasons. Sometimes we suffer. Sometimes our prayer life is very dry. Sometimes we are persecuted like Christ was by others. We, like the grapes, undergo a great deal of duress but, with time, those are the grapes that produce the best juice and have the sweetest taste. Through all these ups and downs and through all of these seasons, if we remain connected to Him who is true and if we remain connected to that which is “honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious” as we hear from St. Paul, then we will know peace and we will, in time, bear great fruit. As St. Paul wrote it’s in “Making our requests known to God,” that we come to trust in His plan, His timing, and ultimately, His will for our lives.
In 1901 Yvonne Beauvais was born. She was French and she would eventually become Mother Yvonne Aimee of Jesus, at the Monastery of Malestroit in Brittany. And as St. Paul wrote, she made her requests known to God, and with time she came to trust our Lord’s plan, and His timing, and His will. Very early on in her life Yvonne entrusted herself to Our Lord. Saying, “Jesus, I give myself to you completely, make me a saint, a great saint, a very great saint.” Not shy in asking, she made her request known. And our Lord did make her a saint, but that didn’t mean she didn’t suffer or experience ups and downs, and seasons of dryness.
When she was a young sister, she was attacked and tortured by three men she knew well. It was a crime against her and what the Church represented. She forgave. During World War II she struggled to keep her sisters safe. But she also helped the French resistance by hiding French soldiers within her monastery. She made them dress like nuns. If a German inspector were to look into her chapel he would see many sisters at prayer, never knowing that hiding beneath the bulky habits and heavy veils, half of those praying were men. Again she forgave.
Mother Yvonne had a way with troubled souls, she was able to calm the most distressed of people. She communicated joy and hope to those who despaired. Early on in her life as a sister, Yvonne Aimee received the inspiration of a small prayer, “O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in your merciful goodness.” She found it very helpful for those who suffered, to remind them that they are loved and not forgotten. It became a popular prayer within France. She had cards and medals made with the prayer on it. Even Pope St. John XXIII gave them away. She had a goal: to draw souls to trust in the Heart of the King, to hope in His merciful goodness, and to abandon to Him all their worries, their fears, their cares and even their sins.
It can take years to achieve something truly amazing when it comes to wine. The same can be said of the Christian, it can take years to achieve something truly amazing. Mother Yvonne died in 1951 at the age of 49. Now her full religious name was Mother Yvonne Aimee of Jesus. As Christians each one of us can add that to our name – of Jesus. It means He is our cornerstone. And so we make our requests known to Jesus, we give to Him all our worries, we give to Him all our fears, we give to Him all our cares, and we give to Him all of our sins.
And in return, maybe even after many seasons, he makes us his saints, his very great saints, which means he gives us His Heaven. “O Jesus, King of Love, I trust in your Mercy.”
Pax et Bonum,
Fr. Christopher J. Ankley