Into the desert – A Lenten Journey

Forty years of wandering, 40 days of temptations, 40 bags of food, hope and charity. While God may be fond of the desert, we associate it as hot, dry and hostile.

May 04, 2018

By Cassandra Wenceslas
Forty years of wandering, 40 days of temptations, 40 bags of food, hope and charity. While God may be fond of the desert, we associate it as hot, dry and hostile. While the silence can be undeniably deafening and the stillness of the heat jarring, God specifically chose the desert for us. This Lent, St Louis Youth Ministry (SLY) experienced His grace by walking steadfastly with Him through this spiritual desert, growing in obedience and charity.

As the one who cried out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” also said, “He must become greater; I must become less. - John 3:30.” SLY, in collaboration with SSVP, spent a beautiful, abnormally cool weekend April 20-22 to come together to donate 40 bags of food, clothes and toiletries to Miriam Home and over 40 marginalised families living on the fringes of society. The volunteers, 20 youths and 10 adults, in groups of five, spent an average of half an hour with each family. The name of the game was to overcome contradictory beliefs and sharp cactus of loneliness, as well as to engage in meaningful conversations with the underprivileged families.

When asked what the vision of this charity drive was, Paul Francis, President of SSVP expressed that “The Eco Green Lenten Bags initiative with the youths was a groundbreaking experience. The gleam of appreciation on their faces while carrying the bags loaded with rations set the tone for the day and for our future.” For the people of Israel who wandered through the desert for 40 years, the experience is recalled quite nostalgically and even romantically. Hosea refers to it as a place to reunite with his estranged wife: “I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. - Hosea 2:16.” We found a place of covenant for us to experience God’s presence and guidance to do His will. Parishioners answered the call of Sacrificial Giving and each family donated rice and oil, clothes and basic toiletries. The poor may not have wealth, but they have dignity and the right to be treated with respect. It was emphasised that we give them our best instead of the usual leftovers.

These marginalised families who face an invisible war are the ones whom the Lord referred to when he stressed “I was hungry and you fed me. – Matthew 25:35-40.” The cooperation between SLY and SSVP reinforced Pope Francis’ invitation for us to respect the less privileged. From feeling barren as an unforgiving desert, the youths came to feel a deeper sense of gratitude for everything they have been blessed with. As quoted by our future leaders, “Appreciate more, complain less.”

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