At Mass last Sunday (click here for readings). I encouraged us to take a “Desert Day” once between now and Easter. (Click here to listen to the homily)
Someone came up to me after Mass and said, "I'm dropping my kids off with you for the day!" I laughed- I told her, "That's cool- I'll put 'em to work."
Someone then came up and said, “Great idea, but what do I do for the day?” Good point! What follows is a suggestion. Add and subtract as you feel called to do; this is a template and I write it with awareness that folks have jobs and kids and commitments. I will say this, and this way part of the challenge I offered: minimizing those extra commitment for one day so that you and Jesus can be together is part of going to the Desert. Sports, scouts, social gatherings, etc: all of those things are beautiful and fun and life-giving. I simply offer an alternative for one day: sideline those and spend a good day with the Lord.
So, that being said, here’s a proposed Desert Day:
You’ll need your Bible, ‘spiritual reading’ if you got it, and maybe a journal to keep some notes about your Day. As you commute, leave the radio off or tune to Joy 99 or other Christian music on your iPod to keep your heart and mind in a prayerful place.
8:00am – Morning Mass at MQP – no better way to start the day than with Daily Bread.
8:30 – grab breakfast and go back to the Scripture readings of that day. Jot down some words or sentences that struck you. What are the thoughts, feelings and desires going on inside of you? Offer a prayer and move on.
9:30 – Go down to the Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End. Spend a while there: look around at the beautiful mosaics and art work. Remember that religious art was designed to ‘life our eyes and hearts to God.’ Spend some time there; after a while, sit somewhere in the Cathedral, maybe in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, and jot down the thoughts, feelings and desires stirring in you as looked at the mosaics. Offer a prayer and then move on.
12:00 – Lunch time; a sandwich or something portable and find a park or somewhere quiet to sit. Eat slowly, go to your spiritual reading, take a walk, maybe find and read some of your favorite Bible passages. After a while, grab your journal again and jot down the thoughts, feelings and desires that moved in you as you read either the Bible or spiritual reading. What has God revealed to you so far today? Moments of peace, a felt presence of His Love, or maybe a word of encouragement of challenge that He’s whispered to you.
2:00 – head to one of the following chapels for some Eucharistic Adoration.
All of these places of 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration. Go spend some quiet time with Jesus and take him your prayers of petition and intercession. Take your Bible and find something that appeals to you and read in his presence for 15 minutes. Then go back to your journal. Maybe pray a Rosary or Chaplet or Novena. Maybe write a letter to Jesus or God the Father and just share with them your heart, your desires, your fears and questions.
3:00-3:30 – if you need to get home, call it day. If not, try this.
3:30 – find someplace where you can still be alone and yet allow your brain to relax for a bit and allow your heart absorb some of the prayer that’s been stirring in you. Maybe a walk, or some exercise; maybe walk around the bookstore or wash the car , or some chores around the house, or something like that. No more than 30 minutes or so; anything more will take you out of the rhythm of the day and may become a distraction.
4:00-4:30 – go to Scripture once more. Go back the readings from Mass that day and see if there’s anything new to mine. Are there new thoughts, feelings and desires that arise in your heart- write those down.
5:00-5:30 – dinner time, rather alone or with family. In either case, end with a prayer of gratitude for your Day in the Desert with Jesus.
Try to stay low key that night. Stay in, try to stay unplugged from computer and TV. Have a family night or catch up on reading and things around the house, or call some family or friends you hadn’t talk to in a while and catch up.
At bedtime offer a prayer of gratitude, maybe read through your journal for the day and review your heart’s movements, turn out the light and go sleep in the arms of Jesus, Mary and all the saints. Sleep in peace- you’ve spent the day with the Lord and in the depths of our heart, He’s been communicating with us and to us. Soak it up- it’s a beautiful thing!
Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Let me know.
Peace to you,