This past weekend I accompanied about 49 young adults longing for Confirmation in the Catholic Church. We 70 pilgrims went on a pilgrimage to Camp Kulaqua near High Springs. We began with Eucharist at the Queen of Peace gym in Gainesville. Twenty-four hours later we ended with our souls afire. We journeyed into our hearts and souls. Confirmation is about confirming the Holy Spirit within us. It teaches us to have the courage to go with Jesus up the mountain and to experience his transfiguration and listen to God say to us, “You are my beloved son! You are my beloved daughter! With you I am well pleased!”
Moses brought the Hebrew people out of their slavery in Egypt. Jesus will bring us out of the slavery of our passions and self-centeredness. During the retreat we were all given an orange. We were asked to be totally silent for about twenty minutes so we could listen to and fall in love with the orange. As we walked around the beautiful spring, we slowly appreciated this gift of an orange. We experienced her bitterness, woundedness and sweetness.
We were like a deer that longs for flowing streams. Our souls were longing for God alone. As Jesus cried out, “I thirst!” on the cross, we also cry out in our Lenten pilgrimage, “I thirst.” We learned so much by taking the time to fall in love with a simple orange and all of God’s creation. We were grateful for those who planted the seeds and nurtured the tree of life giving fruit. We accepted the marks and distinctness of the skin and sections. Just as Jesus gave himself to us to be savored and eaten, we too become fruit for the world. Jesus said that you will recognize the people of our Beloved God by their fruits.
For all of us on the retreat, we went a little deeper into the depths of God’s love. We are aware that the world, the sufferings and all of the crosses are still part of our lives. The difference for us who believe is that we know we do not walk alone. We walk with Jesus above, below, beside, under and within us.
In the Liturgy of Hours this morning all the priests, religious and many laity breathed in the beautiful Psalm 42. It reminds us that our journey and conversion is not complete. The Mass never ends, we take it with us. Thanks be to God!
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, my God.
My soul is cast down within me
as I think of you,
By day the Lord will send
his loving kindness;
by night I will sing to him,
praise the God of my life.
I will say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning,
oppressed by the foe?”
With cries that pierce me to the heart,
my enemies revile me,
saying to me all the day long:
“Where is your God”?
Father in heaven, when your strength takes possession of us we no longer say: Why are you cast down, my soul? So now that the surging waves of our indignation have passed over us, let us feel the healing calm of your forgiveness. Inspire us to yearn for you always, like the deer for running streams, until you satisfy every longing in heaven.
As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you my God.
When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God?
I pray you have a most wonderful day in this season of lent. Keep begging God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, courage, reverence and a wonder and awe in the presence of God. And then you will bear much fruit:
Love, joy, peace,
Patience, kindness, gentleness,
Generosity, purity, faithfulness,