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Several weeks ago the first reading for Mass one day was the story of Moses meeting with God in a tent during the Israelites’ time in the dessert. “The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp. Anyone who wished to consult the LORD would go to this meeting tent outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand at the entrance of their own tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses” (Exodus 33.7-8). This “tent” was a visible sign to the people of God’s promise that God would be with them on their journey. It was the regular place where Moses would meet God.
Now, as I reflected on this passage, there were a couple of things in particular that struck me. The first was that going to the tent to consult with God was a regular discipline for Moses. He didn’t have an idea one day just to pitch a tent, and see what happened. And his going to the tent was not an occasional occurrence. Rather, he had a regular place and a regular habit of meeting with God. It was in the tent that Moses spent time with God.
Second, it is also important to notice that Moses erected the tent “outside the camp.” It was not in the middle of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but outside the camp. It was a special place where one thing and one thing only happened: Moses met God. And as Moses walked into the tent, the heavens opened and a pillar of cloud descended to rest on the entrance.
I think this passage tells us something important about how we are to pray. It reminds us that just as Moses had a regular time and place where he met God, so too you and I need a regular time and place for prayer. Now in saying this I want to be clear. We can pray anywhere. But I believe a regular time and place for prayer can be a big help to our prayer life. In the years since I have been ordained, wherever I have lived, I’ve always had a special place (or at least a special chair) for prayer, and I try not to do anything else in that space. There is something about walking into that space, or sitting in a particular chair, that helps me prepare for and enter into prayer.
In addition to a regular place for prayer—away from distractions and interruptions—a regular time for prayer is also very helpful. When I was first ordained, while I prayed morning prayer prior to Mass, I tried to reserve an hour or so for prayer in the late afternoon before dinner and evening meetings. This worked for a while, but I found that often this time got interrupted and/or abbreviated by other pressing (?) matters. About twenty years ago I decided that I need to switch my prayer time to the morning—and I am not a morning person. It was the only way, though, that I could spend some interrupted time with God in prayer.
Walking with God in the midst of all of life is important, but to draw closer to God in order to “hear” the voice of God speaking to our hearts, minds, and souls, we need those special times and places when we can withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the world and spend uninterrupted time alone with God.
It is our abiding belief that God dwells with us—that God abides with us. We need to work, though, to make this truth a reality in our lives and not just a belief. The challenge for us is not to let ourselves think: “Wouldn’t it have been great to be like Moses and meet with God in the tent of meeting?” The reality is that we can meet God each day in our prayer. If we can realize this amazing gift, we can live in intimacy with God each day, and the world will see the promises of our God lived out through us.
Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary. I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during these challenging times.
Today I want to talk with you about where we are at currently and the challenges that we face as we move forward at The Basilica. With the rise of the Delta variant, I want to once again urge people to wear masks when you come for liturgies or other events at The Basilica.
At The Basilica, we have many children under the age of 12, who cannot be vaccinated yet, as well as many people with underlying health conditions. Given this, I think that asking people to wear a mask is one of the best things we can do to ensure their continued health and well being.
While it is heartening for me to see so many people back at The Basilica after many months, I want to make sure we are continuing to make The Basilica a safe place for them to be. As I have mentioned previously, in welcoming people back to worship, one of the challenges we face is resuming, renewing, and in some cases rebuilding our liturgical ministry teams. If you have been involved in our liturgical ministry and not been contacted yet, or if you are interested in becoming involved please contact Travis Salisbury.
As always, if you are not able, or don’t feel comfortable joining us in-person for any of our liturgies, we invite you join them via livestream. We will continue to livestream our daily Noon Mass and 9:30am Mass on Sundays. We are also looking for volunteers to help with this, so if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Mae Desaire.
On another topic, as part of the preparation for the upcoming Archdiocesan Synod, I want to invite you to participate in small group discussions to share your thoughts/ideas about the future of our Archdiocese. These groups will meet both on campus and remotely. You can register for one of these groups on our parish website. If you would like more information please contact Cathy Edwards in our parish office.
We are also looking for volunteers in our Faith Formation program and our R.C.I.A. program. You can call the Learning Office for more information about what this involves. During the coming weeks, we will be looking at bringing back on line more of our ministries. I will keep you informed as this happens.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for your ongoing financial support for The Basilica. As we begin to resume more activities on our campus, your financial support will be critical as we resume the many ministries, services and programs that are at the heart of our Basilica community. As your pastor, I want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Please know it is greatly appreciated.
In closing, please know that as we move forward, our primary concern, as always, will be the safety and security of those who come to our campus. I will continue to keep you informed as we move forward into our new normal--whatever that may be. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about these changes I invite you to contact me at the parish office. My contact information is available on our parish website.
One final thing, tickets are still available for our Basilica Block Party this weekend.
Let me close today in prayer.
Loving God, it seems that we turn to you most easily when we need comfort, consolation and hope.
And so we come before you today, knowing that you are waiting for us, to shelter us in the shadow of your wings. In you may we find refuge and relief.
Dear God, these uncertain days tempt us to lose hope. “Pandemic” is a frightening word, and we can easily feel confused and helpless. And so we look to you to lead and guide us, and to keep any anxiety at bay. Strengthened by your love, help us to choose to let your peace reign in us.
Good and gracious God, help us also to be your compassion and love to those who are suffering and in need of our care. Help us to be generous and stay in contact with the forgotten and lonely. May our prayers and support be with our world and national leaders, scientists, health care providers, and all who are instrumental in overcoming this crisis.
We look to you O God, of hope, may your love blanket the earth, as you teach us to live more generously each day. We pray this through Christ our Lord.
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