By Kathleen Billings

Copyright 2017 Kathleen Billings. All rights reserved.

We have a small family vineyard on our property, lovingly named “Frutto Della Vitae” Italian for Fruit of the Vine. When the month of August rolls around each year, we harvest the fruit of our labor.  It is a joyous time and a full -blown family affair, including our very own grape stomping. For our children, eating the grapes is their favorite part of harvest time, but stomping on them with their little feet is a close second!  My husband and I also enjoy eating the delicious grapes fresh from the vine, but our favorite “fruit” from our harvest is the fine wine that we make from our grapes.

Having a vineyard has allowed me to gain deeper insights into the spiritual life.  When we first planted our 53 vines 8 years ago, they looked like little twigs.  I could have never imagined back then by the looks of those tiny, scrawny little vines, that someday something so beautiful would come forth from them. Now I can see that each of those vines had in them the potential to bear much fruit.  Just like those little grape vine twigs, we also have the potential to bear plentiful fruit in our lives.

God as our creator, sees our potential and provides us with everything necessary for us to grow into what He desires for us to become in cooperation with His grace.

Do you trust Him and follow his plan for your life? Or, do you sometimes see yourself like those tiny, scrawny twigs and wonder what you are to become? I know for myself that there are days where I sincerely struggle to make light of what God is doing in my life.  It often looks messy before it looks beautiful. During the messy phase, I sometimes struggle to view myself, my dignity as a woman of God, through eyes of faith. Then, I re-focus myself spiritually and remember that God is growing something beautiful in my soul.  I remind myself that I need to trust Him even when I don’t understand what He is doing at times.

As the viticulturist, my husband has to ensure that each of our grape vines are properly cared for so they can grow into what they are meant to be. He knows that each vine has the potential to bear abundant fruit, so he provides them with everything necessary to give them optimal opportunity. The vines need sun, water, pruning, placement, protection from birds, protection from disease, and protection from nasty beetle bugs that want to eat the leaves on the vines.

God is the viticulturist of our lives.  He ensures that we have everything necessary to grow in holiness and live up to our full potential so we can bear abundant spiritual fruit in our lives.  God puts people in our lives to bring us closer to Him and He takes people out of our lives that perhaps are drawing us away from Him and into sin.  He gives us the Church as our guide, the Sacraments as our spiritual tools, and the body of Christ as our support system. He protects us from sin to the extent that we allow Him to do so.  Since we have free will, we can either choose to deny God access to the protection of our soul or we can purposefully choose to allow Him to lead us  away from the disease of sinfulness which produces poisonous fruit.

 Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit;  for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NAB) When I walk through our vineyard and see the beautiful grapes, my eyes are often drawn to the vines, the source of their beauty. It is the strength and integrity of each of the vines that allows the branches to produce prolific fruit.
Jesus is the vine in our lives, the source of our strength, integrity and beauty.  When we as the “branches” stay connected to Him, we will bear spiritual fruit in our lives – fruit that draws others to us because they see Christ in us.  Is this not what we are called to as Women in the New Evangelization?  To bear fruit to a world desperate to be fed truth and beauty?  How do you bear spiritual fruit in your life?

About the Author:

Kathleen Billings is married to her best friend, a mother of five beautiful blessings and three more souls in Heaven.  She has a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Together with her husband, Troy, they began and direct a vibrant parish based Marriage Ministry called BAM – Building Amazing Marriages. Kathleen has a personal blog entitled  where she writes about living her faith, in every season, as a wife and mother amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She is a regular blogger on marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website and is also a contributing author to the book “Amazing Grace for Mothers.” Kathleen has been an active Catholic speaker for the past 20 years – speaking at days of recollection, retreats for women, retreats for married couples, evenings of reflection and women’s groups.