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Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

This is one of those gospel passages that can leave us with our mouths open and a puzzled look on our faces. “What did he say?” we ask. “What does he mean by that?” Jesus can be very confusing at times in the way he puts things. All I want to do today is use this passage to point out the obvious: We learn by experience.

“Nobody sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak,” Jesus says. “The very thing he has used to cover the hole will pull and the rip will only get worse.” Did Jesus observe that when his mother sewed or was Jesus himself into sewing?

“People do not put new wine into old wineskins,” he continued. “If they do, the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and in that way, both are preserved.” The wine people long ago learned that lesson from experience. We solve the problem by putting wine, new or old, into bottles. But how to get the cork out in one piece always remains a problem.

What I want to say from all this is: There are many ways to grow in holiness. Of course, our growth in holiness is the work of God the Holy Spirit within us. But we can help the Spirit along by our prayers and spiritual exercises. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of books advising us of the best prayers and the best spiritual methods. Use what you find suits you best, make up your own. No two of us are exactly the same, and even though some great saint recommends this or that exercise or set of prayers, it might not be helpful to you. We learn what is best for us through trial and error, through experience. Just as Jesus learned the best way to sew and store wine, experience is our best teacher if we pay attention and remember what we learned, then put it into practice. Write your own book for your growth in holiness.

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