Palm Sunday a year ago
Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery
Dear brothers and sisters,
This was taken on Palm Sunday a year ago thirteen miles on a dirt road in a desert canyon north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
It was the destination of my pilgrimage I made to the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico to pray for the transformation of our country. I found myself as if I were the scapegoat of Israel driven into the desert bearing the sins of the nation. I journeyed westward in absolute silence all the way, applying my prayer for the transformation of our beautiful country mile after mile to the rubber of the road. I spent Holy Week and Easter last year at the Cathedral in Houston. When I went out the bayous of Louisiana were still dormant; as I returned after Easter the whole South was ablaze with azaleas and dogwood, nature itself proclaiming the resurrection of our Lord.
And this was my prayer at that time:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I have journeyed into the desert to ask God’s blessing upon our beloved country
And to seek cleansing and purification of my own sins and shortcomings.
I have traveled to Bourbon Street and the bayous of Louisiana;
Then westward on I-10 through Houston and San Antonio to El Paso;
I walked across the bridge to Mexico;
Then to Tucson to visit the Redemptorist Renewal Center outside of Tucson, Arizona.
I prayed for you there.
In the absolute black of night at 8000 feet on the way to the Grand Canyon, Shivvy and I stood upon a mountaintop in awe of a sky filled with stars.
And I prayed for our country there.
At the Grand Canyon I pondered the evidence of the origins of the earth billions of years ago. I sat on the edge of the canyon with my feet dangling over.
And I prayed for you and our country there.
I took a smooth water ride on the Colorado and pondered the greatness of this land.
I traveled eastward through Navajo lands to the four corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and pondered the hardship of those who eked out an existence in the desert. And I prayed for you and our country there.
I went north into the snow-capped mountains of Colorado and pondered the awesome Cliff Palace with hundreds of rooms of our ancestors, the cliff-dwellers of Mesa Verde.
And then south to Abiquiu, New Mexico to this sacred place in the midst of the stark desert beauty thirteen miles into a remote desert canyon.
Here I have pondered my own sinfulness and mused about Jesus’ own prayer in the desert. I came here to pray to enter in to the deafening silence, the whisper of the wind, the golden glow on the mesa as the sun reaches first the canyon walls on the opposite side.
And I celebrated with the eighteen Benedictine monks in this beautiful monastery for St. Joseph’s Day and Palm Sunday.
Each of you are in my heart and in my prayers this Holy Week.
As always, I wish to unite myself in still a new way this year 2008 with the Paschal Mystery of Jesus – his suffering, death and resurrection.
I pray with Jesus for the whole world for no one who has ever lived
has ever been excluded from his love.
This whole pilgrimage is my way of laying down mile upon mile (3558 thus far) to seal my prayer for the transformation of our beloved country
from my home on the ocean to the bayous, the prairies, the deserts, the canyons, the cities, the mountains, the mighty rivers of our most beautiful country.
May America be beautiful, not only in its vast and varied land but morally and spiritually as well from the mountains to the prairies from sea to shining sea.
Lord Jesus, we ponder once again the love you have for us
in accepting even death on a Cross for us.
as once again we enter the events for our salvation.
We beg your mercy and forgiveness for our beloved country
and for each of our families and ourselves.
May we unite ourselves with your suffering and death
So that we may share in your risen life.
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You
For by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!
Happy Easter, everyone.
Abiquiu, New Mexico
March 15, 2009
priest / writer