My Friends, I am delighted to tell you that you were all with me as I traveled the Holy Land of our Christian faith – and places of our Jewish heritage as well and revered places of our Muslim brothers and sisters. Over the next few blogs, I hope to show you how you were there and how I lifted you in prayer. I believe in the spiritual connection we can have with each other simply by intention and prayer. Our faith teaches that we can connect if the heart and mind are lifted in sincere prayer as we recall people we know and do not know. Thus, I would say at every site: “I place my family members here; I place my dear friends and my sisters in community, and I place here those I have not met but who read my blog or attend my workshops. Please God – bless them all with the graces of this holy place.”
With this in mind, I stepped into the village of Cana the site of the first miracle of Christ when he changed water into wine. Cana is not far from the Sea of Galilee. The town is full of visitors and our guide thinks its because the wedding, being the center of the miracle, is immensely attractive to most people. At the supposed wedding site, a small side chapel is where couples renew their marriage vows, often with a religious cleric to bless them. We had three couples who came forward to do this. I prayed for all the couples in my family and among my friends and associates and I asked God’s blessing on their sincerity to commit to each other in a union of faith and love. I read recently that a gentleman would never renew his wedding vows because once he made them, they were for good! While that is true, renewing them puts into perspective all the couple has experienced from the daily humdrum of life to the dark times and the joyful times their commitment has taken on. And every now and then, a time to remember these events can generate deep gratitude and even more love!
This past week my congregation witnessed the public profession of final vows from one of our newest members. We were all proud of Sister Romina and we participated in serene awareness of what might lie ahead for her. Whether taking marriage vows or religious vows, one becomes somewhat aware that there is a finality in the rootedness of saying the words but not in the living of them. The living of the vows is what makes them eternal. The living of the vows just grows and grows in challenges and mysteries. Thus, vows carry all of us to greater heights, deeper meanings, expanded feelings and sometimes, overwhelming mysteries of grace. Over time, we might become totally ravaged by doubt, an errant heart suggesting we may have made a mistake in saying our vows, proclaiming an everlasting love that wobbled and cracked over the years – sometimes to the breaking point. We might be tempted to think we could do better in another life. All this might be true – and is for some of us. But if we are open to the commitment of the vows we first made, even a trickle of grace from the roots of that first commitment can surface for most of us and we can renew our vows with a sense of thanksgiving for having lived that act fully. It all comes down to the reality that if you are capable of commitment, the vows you make will grow with you, inside of you for you – you and the Other to whom you make those vows.
The guide takes us through the archaeological dig underway at the site where the miracle occurred. There are several levels of the house and its surroundings being excavated and numerous jugs that had been used for wine and water. The wine containers are larger and do not have spouts, so nothing is wasted as wine is extracted by ladles or plugged spigots. At a Catholic Mass, a small portion of water is mixed with a larger portion of wine sacramentalizing the blend of the human race with the Blood of Christ. Could not the miracle at Cana symbolize the water of the couple mixed with the richness and grace of a superior wine, the Blood of Christ, through the vows this couple has made?
For this week, think of any vows you have taken in life: sacramental, to another person, to God, to your vocation. Perhaps you could ask the following:
Am I faithful to my vows? Do I reverence and take to heart the challenges my vows have presented to me?
Do my vows lead me to deeper love?
One of my favorite secular songs has a spiritual meaning appropriate to this reflection on vows. The title is, “Love Changes Everything.” The lyrics are wonderful, especially the last line of the chorus: “Love will never let you be the same.”
Check it out on Google. Please do. Through your vows, “love will never let you be the same.”