Oases in the Desert
We often use the image of the desert for the season of Lent, recalling Christ’s 40 days there or the 40 years of Moses and the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. Along the way, Israel experienced not only a harsh and barren wilderness with venomous snakes but also the daily providence of God. Each morning (except on the sabbath), they collected manna for each household as their “daily bread.” God would also send them quail for meat. And for water, there were several times that God, through Moses, would bring them water from a rock to quench their thirst and replenish their supply. St. Paul sees the rock as a symbol of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4).
A place of water and vegetation on an otherwise scorched and barren landscape is known as an oasis. If you’ve ever been to Al’s Oasis along Interstate 90, that’s also the idea behind its name. Building on the analogy of the season of Lent being like a trip through the desert, what might we then see as the oases along the way? Usually Sundays and Solemnities are treated as times of refreshment and rest along the journey. The main Solemnities or high feasts that often occur during Lent include the Feast of St. Joseph, usually on March 19, and the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25).
This year, with March 19 occurring on a Sunday, the Feast of St. Joseph is transferred to the following day. St. Joseph, the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Foster Father of Christ, is the patron saint of the Cathedral and the entire Diocese of Sioux Falls. My home parish was also St. Joseph in Elk Point. Though he had probably died before the events of Christ’s public ministry, St. Joseph was privileged beyond almost everyone else to witness the more ordinary miracles of Christ’s hidden life in Nazareth, at home with Mary and in the carpenter’s shop. The Novena to St. Joseph runs from March 11 (Saturday) to March 19 this year, so please join in praying and interceding for our parishes and diocese, especially as we approach restructuring this July. EWTN has a nice St. Joseph novena on their website.
Bishop DeGrood has also dispensed from Friday abstinence from meat on March 17 this year for anyone attending a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at which meat is served. Some other form of penance must be observed in its place, if you do eat meat that day.