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Remain in Him

On Tuesday night, while stationed at the entrance of the STM lecture hall for The Long Night Against Procrastination and overseeing a basket of iPhones voluntarily relinquished by students, I contemplated the sacrifices we endure amidst pressure. It’s that point in the semester when many of us, especially students and probably even their professors, are sacrificing sleep—and in some cases prayer—to meet looming deadlines. During one of the study breaks, I was chatting with one of our regular daily Mass attendees who expressed regret about missing Mass this week due to their grueling schedule. There was just no time.

When we are stressed out and running in a million different directions, it's all too easy to sideline our spiritual needs thinking we simply don't have the time. Yet, Jesus’s words from the Gospel of John, which we heard at Mass twice this week, remind us of our essential need for Him. He said: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me—and I in them—will bear much fruit; because without me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Jesus’s words are stark and unequivocal. They challenge our notion of self-sufficiency and urge us not to become untethered from Him, especially in times of stress or when there’s a lot being demanded of us. We must stay closely connected to Jesus, who intentionally and lovingly remains with and in us through it all. And yet, how often do we, driven by pride, overwhelmed by responsibilities, or lacking in faith, attempt to navigate life's challenges on our own? It is in these moments that we most risk detaching from Christ, the source of all life, grace, and strength.

We sacrifice a lot of things—sometimes even things that are healthy and good for us—when are under pressure. But lest we give into the lie that we can manage without Christ, let’s take his words to heart: “without me, you can do nothing.” Let’s have the humility to ask, "Lord, anything I try to do, help me to do it with You." Whether we’re striving to get the job done and to do it well, to overcome sin, cultivate virtue, or engaging any worthy endeavor, we must ask ourselves:  Are we trying to do this without God? Recognizing this tendency can lead us back to prayer, saying, "Jesus, help me to remain in You. I am the branch; You are the vine. I am the branch. I cannot bear fruit without You."

This is exactly what happened to me earlier today at Cross Campus. I was rushing between appointments, speed-walking from my parish office on Hillhouse Avenue to STM, checking emails and responding to texts, when I realized it was just around midday, time for Daytime Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. I experienced a moment of peace, reassurance, and a deep sense of God’s presence while praying the words of the psalmist: “O Lord, your love is before my eyes; I walk according to your truth. My foot stands on level ground; I will run the way of your commands; you give freedom to my heart” (Psalms 26, 119).

As we continue to move through the days ahead, let’s run the way of Christ’s command to Remain in Him.

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner is Yale's 8th Catholic Chaplain.