Abide 2019 – Bangalore

Driving past beautiful vineyards, Bangalore CFCI members headed to Barnabite Vidyabhavan on 20th October for Theme Day 2019. With much excitement, they entered the venue only to behold a stunning miniature vineyard on stage! After a wonderful time of worship, the MCs introduced the theme for the year – “Abide” – along with the theme verse:

“I am the vine and you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in him shall bear much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

They explained how this year’s theme would address the relationships between God our Father who is the Vinedresser, Jesus His Son our Saviour who is the Vine, and we His people who are the branches.

What does it mean to ‘abide’ was one of the first questions put to the participants and it was explained as remaining and dwelling in Christ. God is calling us to move on from toiling on our own to abiding in Him. How then can we do this? Simply by placing ourselves where God can use us; just like Zacchaeus who climbed the Sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus and in turn was seen by God! The session concluded with the participants being encouraged to yield to the Spirit so that they remain rooted in the Lord and produce fruit. The use of Spiritual Disciplines like Prayer time, Word of God, Spiritual reading and Sacraments would further give each one of us the grace to abide.

As the vines grow, it is important to prune them so as to control and direct their growth for the upcoming harvest. Similarly, God needs to keep a check on our lives otherwise we will grow ‘wild’ – far from the vine. That pruning is not about punishment but growth was the underlying thought of the next session. The speaker emphasised that this process was all about Trust – being reliant on the Lord as a branch is upon the vine. Pruning may be painful but when we know why He is doing it, we will joyfully cooperate as a vinedresser is never closer to the branch as when He is pruning it. An inspiring take-home was the message that God is pruning us because we are indeed bearing fruit!

Following the morning sessions, the participants got into groups for sharing. This was followed by lunch and then the third session of the day which focussed on the Eucharist as being the greatest source of grace that we need to abide in the vine. It also highlighted some key points to follow, as we prepare to worship the King of Kings – dressing appropriately, being in a state of grace (via regular confession), reading the Scripture in advance so that we begin to till the soil of our hearts and most importantly, asking for the grace we desire during the Eucharist.

The talk helped the participants to prepare well for the Holy Mass that was celebrated by. Rev. Fr. Subash Sebastian, crsp, the Superior of that Centre. Besides an enriching homily, he welcomed the community wholeheartedly and also spoke of how the Holy Mass was the first ever to be celebrated in that hall!

The final session of the day dealt with bearing fruit that serves others rather than pleasing oneself. It was reiterated that the best fruits are produced when we abide in the vine continuously and that love (our love for God and our love for others) is the basis for us to bear fruit. It was stressed that we should be the kind of people to “feed” others through our words and our work. As Christians each of us has been entrusted the “Isaiah 61 Mission” and that can be fulfilled with four simple attitudes of the heart… to CARE about people, to PRAY for them, to DARE to speak of Christ to them and to SHARE our testimony or the reason for the hope we have.

The day ended with extraordinary insights on how closely our lives resembled a vine and a sincere prayer in each one’s heart to receive the grace to grow and bear fruit just as the vines do, season after season, year after year…

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