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Father Muench Says...

Find your desert

February 7, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Our Catholic Liturgical year, the flow of the Mass celebrations that follow the life and teaching of Jesus, is the powerful way that our Church puts a new and alive spirit into our spiritual lives as the People of God, filling with joy and peace each step in our walk on the road that leads to our becoming saints. Now, we are beginning to prepare ourselves for our next spiritual exercise, the weeks of Lent.

For some people, Lent seems like such a terrible burden. Today, I want to take this opportunity to convince you that Lent is a wonderful part of our spiritual journey every year. As people of faith, Lent is a wonderful opportunity in our time of formation – really a transformation. Lent must be a time when we grow in our faith. Lent must form us into that new person, ready to celebrate Easter, the Lord’s Resurrection.

I am certain that you remember that St. John the Baptist was formed and prepared for his vocation to prepare the way for Jesus by a time spent in a desert. The desert experience taught him through silence and fasting. So, the desert would be a perfect place for you to spend your Lent. I want each of you to find your desert so that you will make your Lenten experience to be a success. So, let’s find a desert – a place of silence and fasting.

First, I want to encourage each of you to discover the value of silence, especially during Lent. I believe you will be transformed by finding time for silence each day. This may be a few minutes for some or a more extended time for others. You see, silence will be your prayer in itself, a time for you to find a true experience of the presence of God. I am speaking of a time of quiet silence. No prayers. No words. Simply be quiet with Jesus and make time for the Lord to find us in a special way. I have and hope you have friends you can be with in silence for a time. I believe Jesus wants to be that kind of friend to you. The Lord leads and guides us even during these times of silence. I believe the Lord brings a message, a word even, during such times of silence, in those times when we come to the Lord with an open heart and soul and listen in quiet.

Our desert experience must also be a time of fasting. Fasting has always been a part of Lent. We fast, sensibly giving up something for Lent. We give up something that will be a good challenge for us. We demonstrate to ourselves and to God that we can do it. Fasting becomes a prayer for us. We decide to fast to demonstrate our dedication to our God. Fasting truly leads us to join Jesus on the way of the cross. Fasting allows us to join Jesus on the cross. Such dedication demonstrates our love for Jesus. We want to be there with him to support him in his suffering. We want to make room for Jesus in our heart. The challenge of fasting makes us a better person.

Each year as we begin the time of Lent, I spend some time encouraging you to make your Lenten desert experience even better by offering it up to God as a prayer for someone special, someone needy who needs your prayers, for a loved one who could use the support of Our Lord. I believe that this changes the time of Lent. It gives a powerful reason for going into the desert. With this special time with Jesus, you become a powerful intercessor, constantly bringing your intentions to the Lord. So, lets us prepare in gratitude for the adventure of Lent.

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