“Remember, your mission is to scatter those seeds. Your mission is to open the door. It is the Holy Spirit who converts the hearts of men.” (John Martignoni, “Blue Collar Apologetics”).
My children – especially my eldest son – like to garden.
When he moved schools when he was in Year 2, his new school had a small gardening club. Because he was still new to the school and struggling to make friends, my eldest son often spent his lunch times in the gardening club learning to tend the garden and harvest the fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Even now, my children – but most especially my eldest son – love to buy plants and seeds and grow them. It is a rare thing for me to be able to cut up a piece of fruit without having the children collect up the seeds for germination and to see if they can get something growing in the garden.
At the moment our most promising seedling is a little tiny papaya plant, which my eldest son managed to grow from a seed I was planning on throwing away only a few months ago.
But the thing about growing fruits from the seed at home is that you need to be very patient. About ten years ago, one of my sisters managed to grow a little apple tree out of an apple seed from an apple she had been eating. She set it aside for me and planted it into a pot and she did the same with a sister seed in a pot of her own.
We collected that seedling and for years and years and years the seedling grew, until it became quite a tall tree. It never gave any fruit and when we looked into reasons why, one horticulturalist suggested that the seed had been genetically modified so as not to provide fruit to protect the patent of the grower over the fruit and stop competitors producing and selling the same fruit.
I did not know if this was true but when we heard this news, we began to neglect that apple plant and slowly and surely the poor old thing died…
And yet, several years after this news and the death of our own apple tree, my sister proudly announced that her own apple tree – which she had grown from a sister seed from the same fruit – had begun to fruit and her children were now eating of the fruit of that tree!
And I have been thinking about this rashness in our neglect of the apple tree over the last few days and weeks – for sometimes we do not see the fruits of our efforts for a long long long time.
You see, fruit trees take a large investment in time and effort to grow and there are so many variables in any case. We invested six or seven years into our apple tree before we gave up on it. We are like those who pray but fail to preserve in prayer. You see, for us the horticulturalist was like a temptation of the soul. They distracted us from our mission of nurturing the seed and then the tree and in hoping for the fruit. And so – having been tempted into a lack of faith – we gave up on that tree and instead let it die.
It is the same with prayer.
Saint Monica prayed for her wayward son, Saint Augustine for thirty-one years prior to his conversion. THIRTY-ONE! She did not stop after one decade or two or even after three decades of apparently fruitless prayer. Saint Monica with her son Saint Augustine was like my sister, who persevered with her tree – hopeful that it would give fruit – even when she had no earthly evidence that it would! And eventually – even when she least expected it – her faith bore fruit.
With hindsight, I guess that my sister realised the power of conversion. She realised the power of conversion – even if it was a hidden power – the power of the Holy Spirit…
You see, it is as though she followed the advice of John Martignoni from his book, “Blue Collar Apologetics”… “Remember, your mission is to scatter those seeds. Your mission is to open the door. It is the Holy Spirit who converts the hearts of men.”
And my sister scattered those seeds to me.
But I lost courage when I was tempted and distracted and I forgot to nurture them.
Thank God that only happened to me with an apple seed!
Thank God it was only in that...
Because Pope Francis says, “Let us find the courage to reclaim the soil, the effect of a conversion of our heart, bringing to the Lord in Confession and in prayer, our rocks and our thorns.”
For my greatest wish is to persevere in prayer. It is surely my greatest wish…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.