Pruning Hope

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia

The Catholic Thing—Today we begin the liturgical season defined by hope. The preface for Mass says that we dare to hope. Indeed, hope seems a more daring venture than ever. And yet for precisely that reason, it holds more importance than ever. In keeping with Chesterton’s famous aphorism — Hope means hoping when things are hopeless – hope’s importance increases in proportion to its absurdity.

We dare to hope. At this time in our nation and in our Church, many find it difficult to hope at all . . . never mind to abound in hope, as Saint Paul exhorts us. (cf. Rom 15:13) In this context we do well to recall our Lord’s familiar image of the vine and branches:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (Jn 15:1-2)

It has always seemed to me that this beautiful image of the vine and branches is somewhat compromised by the harsh words about pruning. I don’t know much about horticulture, but I know enough to know that pruning – although necessary – seems, while it’s happening, gratuitous and cruel. A perfectly good branch is cut away. We can understand the bad branches being done away with. But pruning does away with plenty of good as well.

Friends of mine out in the country recently planted vines on their land. I’m yet to go out there to help with the pruning, but I’ve already learned two more things. First, that pruning is best done in the late winter and early spring. In other words, at the very time of year that we’re anticipating new growth, things are cut back even more. Second, that the vinedresser must be merciless. He must prune even if it seems to… Read More>>

CBJ editor note:  As you continue reading this article (link above), you will find in its last 3 paragraphs perhaps the greatest, most powerful and non-worldly yet simple inspiration for Christian Hope that we’ve ever read… Brilliant reading of Scriptures!… and an exceptionally powerful motivation when things might look bleakest in our lives and/or business ventures.


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