Saturday, March 28, 2015


In my previous post I reflected on my attitude going in to an upcoming parish mission that I was preparing to preach, so I thought I might give a brief report on how things went.

I preached at all the Sunday masses, and then gave a conference on three successive nights.

How did it go? Well, to be frank, my first criterion is always whether I had fun doing it. So, no problem on that score: I had a blast! (I hope that’s not too irreverent of an expression to use about preaching the Gospel during Lent.) It was a pleasure to be able to break God’s word open to people who’d come out specifically to hear a word of encouragement.

My second criterion is the expression on people’s faces during the conferences. That seemed fine, too. Nobody fell asleep. Or if they did, at least they didn’t snore.

Then there are the comments from folks afterwards. There were lots of positive remarks in that department as well.

Finally, people kept coming back each night, and that has to be worth something, right? So, thanks for your prayers.


For me personally, the most important thing happened on Tuesday night during a conference on the image of the “Wilderness” in Exodus. 

Susan H. Minteer Watercolor
I was preaching about the wilderness as a symbol of the unknown future. The Israelites charged out into the desert with no idea at all of what was to come next. They had to be led by the pillar of fire, but had no idea of where it was leading them. The lesson was that you and I are in the same situation as those Israelites: In our own Wilderness experience we don’t know what God has in store for us either.

Suddenly I blurted out “And I hate that! I can’t stand this bit about not knowing the future!” I don’t remember ever doing such a thing before while preaching a retreat or a mission. People suddenly got a surprise peek into my soul.

Upon reflecting now, I realize that maybe someone needed to hear that off-the-cuff confession, and that my straying off my script for ten seconds was the most valuable thing about the entire four days for them. The Lord is always surprising us, right? (Wait! That’s the part that I said I hate! Woops! Oh well...)

Getting back to last week’s post,I must say that I really profited from the metaphor of simply being a fellow-backpacker pointing out helpful hints that I’d learned over the years. And in that context, I guess my offhand complaint about being uncomfortable with an uncertain future was not only in character, it was probably a valuable thing for my trailmates to hear that Tuesday evening.


If you’re looking for some reflections on Palm Sunday or on the theology of the Wilderness, check out the list of labels in the column to the left on this blog. “Palm Sunday” and “Wilderness” are both there; they will take you to some previous posts of mine.

Meanwhile, let’s pray for one another that we may all have a blessed Holy Week!  


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