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The story is told about a priest who accompanied a condemned convict to the electric chair. At a loss on what to say before leaving, he ended up uttering an awkward “More power to you!” Whereupon the convict told him: “My last request, Father, is that you remain. Hold my hand and stay with me.”

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In today’s gospel (Jn. 15, 1-8), Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. He further tells us that if we are to bear fruit, we must remain in Him. We cannot bear fruit unless we remain in Him. “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Let us ask ourselves today: Am I united and connected with the Lord? Am I drawing power from Him? Am I bearing fruits because of Him, or just because of me?

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Because we prayed, because we pleaded, because we believed and remained in the Lord, condemned Filipino Mary Jane Veloso was not executed in Indonesia last April 29. There were a lot of factors, and a lot of credit-grabbing as well, but we believe that the last-minute miracle happened because of the power of prayer and the power of God. Yes, miracles will happen if we remain in Him.

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As of this writing, we do not yet know how the Pacman-Mayweather “Fight of the Century” will turn out. Win or lose, however, I believe that Manny Pacquiao is already a winner—for telling the whole world that there is a God, and for reminding people who have forgotten that God’s power, presence and love are real. My hat’s off to you, Manny, for pointing, not to yourself, but to Someone above, and for acknowledging to the whole world the power of His love.

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But it is not enough that we remain in God’s love. We must remain in His love even if we are pruned, and especially when we are pruned. It is precisely at such times that we must hold on to Him, so that we can be strong. If you are going through a pruning at this point of your life, just listen to the Lord telling you: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46, 10).

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How consoling to hear from Jesus that our being pruned will result in our bearing much fruit! Our sufferings and pains are not meaningless. They make us better and stronger persons. Yes, a person who has not gone through any trial or pain will lead an empty and vain life. Let this, too, be a warning: Those who cause the suffering, pain and persecution of other people will be answerable for their greed and misdeeds not only in this life but also in the next.

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We learn from the great saints of our time, like Padre Pio and Mother Teresa, to persevere and remain in God’s love no matter the circumstances. St. Padre Pio’s prayer, “Stay with Me,” brings out his deep faith in God in spite of his trials and “the dark night of the soul” that he had to endure for many years. Mother Teresa also remained in the Lord even if she was devoid of spiritual consolation during the last years of her life. May we, too, at the end of our lives, be able to say to God when we finally meet: “Lord, I remained in Your love no matter what.”

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Sr. Adolfine Tonnies, the cofounder and first superior general of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters), is now a candidate for beatification. She received the religious name, Mary Michael, from our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, SVD. She remained in the Lord in the cloister, but she also founded new adoration convents in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, China and the Philippines. Today there are about 350 Adoration Sisters, living in 22 convents in various parts of the world, constantly in adoration and remaining with our Risen Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

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On a personal note, I would like to acknowledge the former governor of Pangasinan, Rafael Colet, who celebrated his 80th birthday last April 20. Manong Raffy has remained in the Lord through the years, as a loving husband to Manang Charito Zumel, as a father and grandfather, and as a public servant who tried his very best to carry out his mission, for the Lord and for the Blessed Mother. A man of principles, a man with a heart for people, a man of deep faith, a man who remains with the Lord—that’s Manong Raffy.

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help me to remain in You and to stay with You no matter what. Amen.

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TAGS: Adolfine Tonnies, Death Row, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao, mary jane veloso, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio
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