• Fr. Daniel Gifford

Dare the Desert, Our Place of Refuge

Dear St. Louis Parishioners,

You may recall back on the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, I wrote in the bulletin

about the Parent Meeting & Evening of Recollection which was to be that Thursday.

Alas, that was one of the “casualties” of the extreme weather we’ve had this winter, as we had to postpone it until Ash Wednesday. Well, although the weather is still pretty bitterly cold, it brings me joy that as I write this, I have confidence that it will have actually happened by the time you read this! The theme for that evening was In You, Lord, I Take Refuge (Psalm 31), which was originally chosen after the seasons of Advent and Christmas, when the theme of going to our Safe Refuge to be with the Lord kept coming up! Well, I think providence was at work here, because Lent is the perfect time to return to the theme of Safe Refuge. If you look back at Revelation 12, which was the primary inspiration for that theme, you will see that the place of Safe Refuge to which the Woman was taken was nothing other than {drum roll, please} … the desert. As we enter the desert season of Lent, we must strive to embrace it as a true place of Safe Refuge, where we go to be with the Lord, to discover deeper intimacy with the Lord. This awareness should make us bold in daring the desert. The desert can be scary, not unlike the cross, where the Lord is closer than we can possibly imagine. Of course, the promise of deeper intimacy with the Lord could be the scariest thing of all. Intimacy can be scary, as it involves committing our hearts to another, allowing them to be bare and vulnerable before that Other. Let us pray for boldness and “daring in love” (as St. Therese of Lisieux spoke of, when she was inspired by the courageous love of saints like Mary Magdalene). We have so many examples of this “daring in love.” Each week of this Lent, I will focus on at least one example of a saint from within the week or so in the Liturgical Calendar, about whom I will share a bit in the homily or the bulletin or both. This past Thursday, on the second day of Lent, the Church commemorated two women of God who went to their martyrdom with precisely the kind of “daring in love” of which St. Therese was speaking, namely Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. I encourage you to look up more about their specific story, as they provided great inspiration to countless Christians of the early Church, as evidenced by the invocation of their names in the First Eucharistic Prayer. They exhibited the kind of faith, hope and love that caused those responsible for their martyrdom to quake, hopefully with the kind of quake that moved the stone away from the tomb, that it moved their hard hearts. The witness of the martyrs has always been a boon to the people of God in the midst of all kinds of trials and tribulations. They show us how to approach our own crosses with the kind of daring in love that Christ ultimately models in His being condemned to the Cross, in the First Station of the Cross (front cover). May we dare the desert with this same kind of faith, hope and love that we may discover it as a true place of Safe Refuge, where we grow in intimacy with the Lord.

LENTEN SERIES, SESSION ONE: Indeed, once we recognize that prayer is about growing in intimacy with the Lord, which requires that we be vulnerable with Him, we begin to realize what a bold and frightening invitation it can be to accept. This is why we will begin our Lenten Spirituality Series with this basic question - Prayer: Do I Dare? We will discuss the basic elements of this daring intimacy with the Lord and begin to look at some key ways to enter into that intimacy. Join us this Tuesday (March 12, 5:30-7 PM) for Session One of Learning to Listen to the Voice of God. Remember, a lite meal will be served and childcare will be available.

RECONCILIATION NEXT WEEKEND: Next weekend will be the week in which I will go in the confessional after all four of the weekend Masses. Next week’s bulletin will elaborate on how fitting that is for the saint we will discuss… but, I’ll let that remain as a cliffhanger for now. In the meantime, if you are one who finds it difficult to get to any of the many midweek options for Reconciliation, you may want to take some time to do an examination of conscience this week, so that you are ready to celebrate the sacrament after Mass next weekend.

In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford St. Louis, pray for us! Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!