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Wine and the Slow Work of God

Posted on November 4th, 2013

When I was in Italy, we visited the small, fortified city of Volpaia where we were given an in-depth tour of their winery. Their best, highest quality, and most expensive wines are aged over years in oak barrels. The barrels themselves are only used three times before they are replaced. The cheapest, most plentiful wine is aged very quickly in stainless steel containers.

It is easy to offer wine from stainless steel containers in our churches. It is plentiful and quick. The problem is the taste is very different from wine that has had time to age in our hearts. This wine is scarce and slow.

Consider this prayer by Pierre Tehilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), the French Jesuit priest and theologian:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.  We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability -and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Where might God be inviting you to slow down and let the wine He has deposited in you age sufficiently before being released to others?

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