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From Pope Benedict XVI: “Set out to lead people out of the desert, toward the place of life, toward friendship with the Son of God” (Porta Fidei, 2).

forestMy brother Daniel was only eight years old when he and his friend Byron became lost in a forest in Louisiana. Our family had set up camp for the weekend in a park. Mom and Dad had given each of us large whistles to blow in case we strayed too far from the camp site. During the day everyone enjoyed themselves either sitting around the camp site or walking the many trails in the forest. That night everyone successfully made it back for the cookout, and we sat around the campfire afterwards sharing what we each had discovered that day.

During our campfire stories Byron told us that during the afternoon he and Daniel had gotten lost and were afraid they wouldn't be able to find their way out of the forest. They had been having a great time exploring the wooded trails. Eventually, they strayed off the worn foot paths, pushing aside vines and dead branches to discover the unexplored.

Daniel interrupted Byron and interjected, “After a while, we got hungry and realized we didn't know where we were! We tried going back the way we came, but we became more confused. We had walked too far, hadn't paid attention, and knew no one would hear us even if we whistled.”

“How did you find your way back?” we all asked.

Byron chuckled as he told the rest of the story, “I really was afraid because Daniel kept saying ‘We're lost! I don't know my way out! It's getting dark!’ Then when Daniel suddenly got really quiet, I thought to myself, We are doomed. Then moments later he said, ‘Follow me!’ I looked at him and said, ‘Daniel, you just said you don't know how to get back to camp!’ ‘You're right,’ Daniel answered, ‘I did say that, and I don't know the way back…. But now I am praying.’”

When invited to lead
others out of the desert

our response might be,
“I don’t know how
to get out myself.”
When Benedict XVI invites us to lead others out of the desert toward Life as found in Christ, our response might be, “I don’t know how to get out myself! How can I lead others?”

Leading out of a desert evokes the Exodus story and Moses leading the Israelites out of the desert to the Promised Land. The desert can be a place of thirst, powerlessness, lack of material goods and insufficient food. Deserts also remind us of John the Baptist and the early desert mothers and fathers who left all behind to seek a deeper relationship with God. The place of desert may even be a time of internal dryness from which we hope to emerge when we go outside of ourselves toward another. Leading others through the wilderness of life's desert lands can assist us in renewing our own faith. “Rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ,” writes Benedict XVI. Daniel's trusting prayer in the woods brought him the confidence to lead Byron out of the forest. Jesus has brought us confidence in grace to lead people out of the desert to abundance of life. He is the true way that brings us to the fullness of Life in God (Jn.14:6).

desert“The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, toward the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance” (Porta Fidei, 2).

Daniel and Byron shared the story of their journey around the campfire cookout after having emerged from their experience of having been lost. Byron never forgot the experience of Daniel's trusting prayer. We also share with others our hope, trust and faith through our journey stories. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our hearts burn within us when we unleash our dreams and entrust them to the One who will fulfill them. Our soul expands as we bring life to faith and translate our faith into daily living.

by Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP

Share what you have deepened about your faith with a child: click here.

Sample chapters for intermediate children and teens:
Christmas All Year Round
Nothing is too big for God

Reproducibles for primary age children click here. 

For further reading:

Advent Grace     The Mercy of God
  For intermediate children and teens:

Celebrate the Season     

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