Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Temptation

So many people dislike Mondays - the first day of the week - the beginning of one more week - of work - school - stress - trials - temptations - just go away Mondays. Nobody - having enjoyed a weekend of relaxation - enjoys the thought of starting yet another week of stress - work - unhappiness. All of us know people who fit in this group - sad - unfortunate. To rethink Mondays - to replace the displeasure - stress - with positive energy would go farther - accomplish much. For those of us who do not hate Mondays - we face an uphill battle with those who have these negative feelings. It can be done - positive energy focused properly - works wonders.

For many - focusing on he negative aspect of Lent  - Mondays are the day after another Sunday filled with guilt of failed efforts - unhappiness - sense of unworthiness. Happily this past Sunday - Rose/Pink vestments were worn at Holy Mass - marking the  half way point of Lent. Yes something positive - it is almost over - not the best way to look at Lent - at least a positive note. With half the time gone - only a few weeks to continue on our Lenten Camino - only a few weeks to endure the task.  Looking with new eyes - like those of the man born blind - new opportunities - new hope - better days ahead. As so we continue with that thought in mind - positive energy - Jesus helping us through these last weeks of Lent - making the journey easier - making the outcome positive. Mondays will come and go - Tuesdays the second day of a new week - the second day of new positive energy. Ask Jesus - He will help you on this Lenten walk.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Walking Blind

One item that most people carry with them on the Camino de Santiago is a hiking headlamp - very useful for those times when walking in the dark - very early in the morning - late at night after sundown. It is also handy for those times when you have to move around the albergue in the night - after lights out. Making sure you can easily see where you are walking - avoiding objects - obstacles - that would cause you to trip - stumble - while on your Camino. Nothing could be worse than attempting to walk - blind - not being able to see where you are headed.

In today's Gospel - we hear the story of the man born blind - forced to be immobile - to sit - to beg - to rely on others. Jesus' disciples ask if it was his parents' or the man himself who sinned - who caused the blindness. Jesus replied - neither - rather that it was in God's plan - to allow a natural disability - not a sin - to be used to make the works of God visible through him. Many people suffer from blindness - spiritual blindness - their own desires - leading them away from God - away from His plan - to follow designs of others - to build their own reality - not God's. In relying on themselves - not God - they unwittingly create a thirst for the truth - in those around them - in themselves. It is only through the real presence of God - that light may be shined on their hearts - that their blindness be removed - their thirst quenched - that they follow the One Lord - Jesus - to wholeness.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Getting Stoned

According to the Urban Dictionary - being or getting stoned - refers to those who smoke marijuana - weed - grass - resulting in a -  high - euphoric - condition - feeling numb - relaxed. Many who allowed themselves too get this way reported that sitting on a couch - they felt their limbs to be so heavy - unable to move  as if their arms - legs - were heavy as stones - thus the stoned reference.  While walking the Camino de Santiago - getting stoned meant something completely different - terrain filled with all sizes of rocks  that made walking very difficult. One particular path was a downhill stretch where the path was filled with loose stones the size of croquet balls - often moving under foot - causing many to fall - injure arms - legs - some falling on faces - bruises galore. Luckily - they survived - feeling sore - but alive.

Most people know the scripture about the woman who was a public sinner and was about to be stoned to death - until Jesus appeared. When asked what His judgement was - He knelt down -drew in the dust and replied - that the person in the crowd who was without sin -  should  throw the first stone. None threw a stone - none were without sin - they all walked away - the woman untouched by a single  stone. For His part - Jesus - told that woman He did not condemn her either - rather forgave her - told her to go - sin no more. As we reflect on our own lives - as we see the sins in our lives - as we ask if we would be stoned or forgiven - we need to trust that Jesus is the same today as He was with that woman - 2000 years ago . To us He says - I do no condemn you - you are forgiven - go - sin no more.

Deacon Dale

Friday, March 28, 2014


While walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain we would take breaks as frequently as possible near water - streams running alongside the path - bridges over streams and rivers - places to rest - cool our feet - relax with back packs off. One interesting thing was how clear the water was - everywhere we looked you could see everything - fish - rocks - sand - ocassionly your own reflection in the water. You could see how tired and sweaty you were or were not - the sun shinning over your shoulder - beautiful reflections - piercing to your heart.

Today on our Lenten Camino we take time to pause and reflect on our lives - what is good - what is not so good. What we have fixed and what still needs repair.  As we quiet ourselves in our thoughts and prayers today - we invite Jesus into our hearts - we reflect on how we have or have not made Him a part of our lives. As we seek Him in a deeper way - we seek to see His goodness - His love reflected in our souls. Today we reflect in the waters of our spirit - and ask ourselves - do others see God reflected in us....

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 27, 2014


During the course of daily travel many people are inconvenienced by roadblocks - temporary barriers placed in the intended path of travel - interruptions -disruptions - to a direct and swift route. In an automobile - an irritation - confusion as to an alternate route - a delay in time of arrival. Walking on the Camino de Santiago in Spain - not an issue - barriers - simply walked around - change in path - inconsequential. Considering that most people would walk that route only once in a lifetime - they would not even know that it was not an original part of the Camino path - unless pointed out by another trekker or a sign. In life other roadblocks exist - leading to serious concern - anxiety - frustration.

During our Lenten Camino - roadblocks - mainly those of time limitations. Since our journey is a spiritual one and not a physical one - obstacles with this Camino - other commitments - other distractions. As we continue our Lenten exercise we need to focus - our energy - time - efforts - on the spiritual part of our lives. We must allow ourselves - time to be - time to rest - in the presence of God. Those who participate in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament - know - appreciate - this quiet time. Each of us - walking this Lenten Camino - with Jesus - needs to see past our roadblocks - into the heart of Jesus - to be.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mary's a grand old name

Mary has to be one of the most common names we all know - everyone knows a Mary - on the Camino de Santiago the Spanish version of Mary - Maria - is quite common. We heard it in the pubs and albergues - the majority of churches were named in honor of Santa Maria - Saint Mary. While walking the Camino - thinking - meditating - praying - our thoughts turned very often to Mary - Mother of Jesus.

Last night we had the privilege to view a special showing of "Mary of Nazareth" arranged by our church at the local cinema. The movie was very well done - acting excellent - the story of Jesus' life as viewed  through Mary's eyes. We realize that most of the movie has to be conjecture - an opinion or idea based on incomplete information - what we viewed was reasonable. Nobody actually wrote about Saint Mary - what she did or thought - from details shared by her - but one can make certain statements - known to be true of the majority of women - the majority of mothers - using that logic - Mary's actions in the movie completely believable. As we continue to walk our Lenten Camino - we pause and reflect - we look at Jesus - through the eyes of His mother - seeing - for the first time - Jesus in a completely different light - new ideas - not previously embraced. We see more - we see deeper - into our own relationship with our Lord - our Saviour.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You Snooze You Lose

While walking the Camino in Spain - it was a daily ritual for many - waking up very early in the morning - 5:00 AM - to get a head start - leaving the albergue before the majority of other peregrinos. The goal - walking in the cool morning to avoid the afternoon heat - having more daylight so they could walk father - being able to get to the next albergue early to guarantee a place to sleep. Many were compelled to start this early for the fear that they would miss out on something - afraid of "snooze - you lose" mentality. We did not subscribe to that philosophy - we slept later - had less anxiety - accomplished our daily goals - stress free

While we are on our Lenten Camino - we find that we do follow the idea - you snooze - you lose. Being attentive throughout our day - listening to God - seeking His presence - in every waking hour - is very important. There is no race here - the awareness - the importance - working on our relationship with God - a very high priority. This Lent - each of us has to stay awake - we cannot afford to snooze - for we know not the hour when He will return.

Deacon Dale

Monday, March 24, 2014

Singing on the Camino

Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela gives everyone plenty of time to think- meditate - pray - sing - photograph - draw - actually anything. When you have nothing to do but walk up to 500 miles - you find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands. Your mind needs to be kept alert - active - engaged. Walking with a partner - some of that time is spent in conversation.  In our case I filled some of the time with Arlene - singing. Hard to believe - since I am not a singer - on the Camino - I assaulted her ears - with improvised tunes - words - that spoke - feelings - for her ears only. It was fun - private - energizing.

On our Lenten Camino - in our free time - we experience silence - words - music - song. Most of the time during Lent - the music focuses on Jesus - God - penance. The tunes and words draws our minds and hearts closer to His presence - His reality - His acceptance - His forgiveness. As you continue your Lenten Camino - keep your ears open - for the songs that Jesus sings to you - it might be interesting - what you will hear.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Water - Water - Everywhere

One thing we learned very early in our research for walking the Camino de Santiago de Composterla - the importance of water - the lack of - the dangers of - the issues to cope with. As with any long day hike or trek - those walking must maintain good hydration. Walkers have to start their trek well hydrated - maintain their hydration - make allowances for the elimination of the same. When walking for six - seven - eight - hours - trekkers must be sure to carry water with them - in water bottles - hydration bladders - readily accessible when needed. We noticed on our walk that it was about fifty-fifty for those who carried water bottles - used hydration systems. We chose the hydration system - a 1.8 liter BIG ZIP Platypus bladder inside our backpacks - coupled to a hose and bite valve - ensuring ready access to free flowing water. We drank enough water daily that we never had to cope with thirst and because we perspired so much - almost never had to find a place to eliminate excess water.

Water is so life giving - it keeps us hydrated - it is cooling in hot weather - it cleanses - refreshes - it literally is a large part of who and what we are.  In today's Gospel - Jesus meets the woman at the well and He promises her - living water - water that will nourish so much - she will never thirst. The Gospel today looks forward to the Easter Vigil when the Elect - the catechumens - are baptized - given new life in Christ. The Liturgy - today and the next two weeks - focuses on baptism - reception into the Church - full communion - with those already initiated into God's family. For those of us - already baptized - already full members of Christ's church - we watch and observe these Elect - we celebrate the Gift - which we have already received - joyously waiting for their initiation - for their Lenten Camino to be completed - to reach that point in their lives when they will completely understand - you and I - as we constantly seek a deeper relationship to God - to Jesus - when we say - I Thirst.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weekend Walkers

As the temperature rises and the weather gets better - many people will take to the outdoors for all sorts of activities - among them walking and hiking - especially on the weekends.  On the Camino in Spain there is no difference between weekdays and weekends - every day is the same. The daily routine is identical - day after day - waking early - walking during the day - laundry late afternoon - early to bed. Even those who normally attend church services on Sunday morning - continue  their daily walk. Along the Camino - morning church is rare - evening services more  the norm - even on Sundays. It works for those walking - for  those who live along the Camino.

In America - in most other places - weekends are reserved for errands on Saturday mornings - church on Sunday mornings. Few places offer church services in the evenings - so Sunday morning services - for the majority of those - does not allow time for Sunday morning activities. On our Lenten Camino - we walk daily - even on Sundays - every day - the same as the next. Every day a gift from God - every day - a chance to grow closer to God - every Lent - a chance to grow in holiness. Spend your weekend with Jesus - He will walk with you on your journey.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Walking the Stations

Many pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela follow the popular French route - aka - the Camino Frances. One author - John Brierley - has a Camino guide - broken up into stages - each stage representing a year of Christ's life. Each stage - station - describes in detail where to walk - how to find waymarks - historical notes on each specific stage. This guide is used by a very large number of pilgrims - seeking a comfortable way to make the journey from beginning to end. It has maps - drawings - pictures - showing the way to Santiago.

As we progress  through the many days of Lent - our Lenten Camino will lead us to Fridays - that day of the week when Catholic churches around the globe hold Friday night - Stations of the Cross. A time of prayer - reflection - as Lenten pilgrims walk the individual Stations that Jesus walked - on His way to Calvary. Most parishes offer a prayer book - a guide - complete with pictures - drawings - that help participants follow the correct path - follow the spoken prayers - to lead them to their destination - to the Cross at Calvary - to experience - in their own way - the journey Jesus walked to His crucifixion - His death - His resurection. May your Lenten Camino bring you face to face with the Cross of Christ.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Camino Routes

When making the decision to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela - all peregrinos have to determine which route they will walk. There is more than one route to Santiago de Compostela - the Camino Frances being the most popular of the twelve routes available. Except for the Camino Finisterre and Camino Portugues - all others merge with the Camino Frances. Each route offers its own challenges - length - terrain - weather - mountains and hills - flat lands - time required to complete. Depending on the route selected and the abilities of the peregrino - pilgrim - the experience may be blissfully easy or amazingly difficult - always rewarding.

Which Rout Camino Guides

On our Lenten Camino - we have similar decisions to make - how much time we can - should -invest into this exercise - what type of spiritual Camino we will attempt - where it will take us. We need to recognize that just as in walking the Camino in Spain - walking our Lenten Camino may mean that we have to adjust - change - modify our plans - to achieve - positive results. No one knows until they are on their Camino - how situations may change - become easier - more difficult. The beautiful thing - on both Caminos - is that there is no wrong way or right way to walk a Camino. Your Camino experience is just that - yours - nobody else's. When God called you to journey closer to Him - He called You - only You - to walk that route. Everyone has their own route to follow - yours is yours alone. The important thing - take positive steps - one after another - at your pace - asking Jesus - to help you - each step of the Way.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Camino Sounds

While walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain we spent a lot of time walking by ourselves - no one to listen to - except each other. Much of that time we walked apart - giving each other space for private prayer time - time to be with our thoughts - time to empty ourselves to the Camino. In that private time there was only the sounds of the Camino - birds - wind - running water - an occasional dog - silence. Those sounds - the silence - provided the comfort - the solace necessary to fully appreciate the gifts of the Camino

On our Lenten Camino we need to do likewise - empty ourselves - turn off our electrical devices - tune out the sounds of the world - open ourselves to only His voice - His breath - His presence.  In that silence - we free our spirit to join with His - in that quiet - we become His - alone - to move and breath in His presence. The only sound we hear - our hearts - beating - as we join with His heart - as we grow in His gift of life.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Camino Time

When we were walking the El Camino de Santiago one thing that became very obvious almost immediately was the time factor. We had done our calculations - how fast we could and would walk - how many days to allow for completion of the Camino - what time to wake up - what time to sleep - when to eat - when to take breaks - everything was timed. It took only a few days to toss out all our calculations - the time factor - not a real concern. Instead of watching the time - instead of all the logical calculations - we listened - to our bodies - to our feet - to the Camino itself. What we realized - on the Camino - we were in the process of losing ourselves into time. Time no longer mattered - the important thing was our bodies - our nutrition - the experience. We stopped to take in our surroundings - the sights - the sounds - the stillness. We were absorbed into the Camino - we became the Camino - the Camino became us.

As we focus on our Lenten Camino - we ignore the time factor - how many days or weeks in Lent does not matter. How quickly we connect more deeply with God - with Jesus - is not important. Jesus does not wear a watch - nor does God - they are eternal - outside of time - in a place where time does not exist. One day is as a thousand and a thousand are as one. The important factor is connecting - connecting well - connecting for life. On this Lenten Camino we seek to go deeper than ever before - we seek a more meaningful relationship - one that will last a lifetime. We seek life - eternal life - for ourselves.

Deacon Dale

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Wearing of the Green

Today on the Camino - everyone is Irish - just as it is in America and many other places - celebrating the "Wearing of the Green" - worn in support of Irish people everywhere. One of the most interesting things we discovered walking the Camino de Santiago  was the diversity of the people of the Camino. People from the four corners of the world walk the Camino - Irish - German - Italian - Korean - Polish - English - Spanish - American - Canadian - French - Australian - just to name a few. These Camino people walk as a community - each on their own - each in harmony with the space and people who live - work - walk - there. It is peaceful and on the Camino - race - creed - color - language - unites - rather than divides. It is not the country - language - customs that bring them together as one body - it is the spirit of the Camino that accomplishes that.

On our Lenten Camino - we need to look into ourselves and see who it is that we avoid - ignore - do not invite into our lives. We need to ask why - what have they done - not done - what disturbs us about them? We need to seek harmony - first in ourselves - in our families - in our communities - in our lives. We need to look for ways to assimilate - to draw in - not push away - to accept - not reject - to become - not avoid. As we continue our Lenten Camino we must become more God like - more like Jesus - more welcoming. We need to evolve - to become - all that God calls us to be.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Camino Sun Shine

When we walked the Camino de Santiago last fall we had beautiful weather - everyday we had sunshine - rain only once on the last day of our walk. It was excellent - every day - bright - sunny - clear - hot - beating down on your head hot - in the mountains hot - in the plains hot - beating down on your head - day after day - hour after hour. One of the most important pieces of equipment on the Camino - a big hat - an SPF 50 hat - to block out the rays of the sun - not an option - a necessity. Walking for 30 days in a row - 6 hours or more a day in the hot sun - we needed our hats.  We appreciated the sunshine - the heat and intensity of the sun - not so much.

As we walk our Lenten Camino we do not have to worry about coping with an intense sun beating down on our heads - this Camino is different. It is walked not through the mountains and valleys of Spain - rather through the fertile fields of our hearts. We walk through those closets in our hearts where we have stored many things - joys - grief - happy memories - sad thoughts - blessed events - trying hours. In our hearts - we hold many things - good and bad - as we walk this Lenten Camino we will sort through all these - in the end - all put in proper perspective. On this Camino we - we are blessed with Jesus - His love - His compassion - His blessing - as He shines His love upon our efforts. On this Camino we celebrate God's presence - His Sonshine.

Deacon Dale  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Rest Days

Many people find that when they embark on a long journey - like the Camino de Santiago - walking 30 or more days in a row - that the challenge is overwhelming - to say the least. Unfortunately - too many push on - ignoring signs of exhaustion - pain - fearful they will be accused of - not being a real pilgrim - not being tough enough to handle the stress - failure. Many end up quitting their journey - having gone father than their body could tolerate - ending very early what should have been a rewarding journey. Their biggest failure - not taking rest days. Rest days are more than acceptable - they help give the body time to heal and restore itself - gives the mind time to cope with mental stress - assures a successful Camino experience.

God does not expect us to get it perfect the first time - or the second time - or the third time. Spiritual growth comes in short strides - baby steps - slowly - but surely. Our Lenten Camino is a spiritual exercise and like any exercise - must be started slowly and steadily - if success is to be achieved. Take a rest day when needed - do not stop your Camino - pause it when necessary - then once refreshed - continue. Only by being faithful to your Lenten Camino - will you achieve the end you seek.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Camino Tools

When we began investigating the possibility of walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain - we read books - blogs - online groups - everything we could get our hands on. It became apparent early on that certain equipment was necessary to walk the Camino - boots - backpacks - trekking poles - hydration equipment - technical clothing. Peregrinos are reminded - over and over - select lightweight - quality equipment - then field test - over and over - making sure you have selected the correct equipment. We did just that - we purchased and returned - boots - backpacks - poles - clothing - sleep sacks - almost everything. In regards to boots - I had to buy and try six different shoes/boots before I settled on the ones I would wear - and even then they were wrong. It took one year to plan and prepare to walk our Camino.

Walking a Lenten Camino is easier - no special shoes - no trekking poles - no special clothing - no backpacks. The only tools needed are your basic Bible and rosary. Two tools - most Catholics have those laying around - easy to use - easy to transport. Even then - if you do all your prayer and reading at home - no transportation issues. Two simple tools - no need to field test - no buying and returning - no size or weight issues. The biggest issue with these two tools - using them. In our busy lives we are too involved - too occupied - too busy. Your Lenten tools are there - you can spare the time - start today - open your Bible - anywhere - and see what God speaks to you in the words you read - then pickup your rosary - say some prayers - walk your Camino - day after day - after day.

Deacon Dale

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Camino Nutrition

Nutrition on a Camino is very important. When we walked the El Camino de Santiago last year in Spain we had to adjust our diet to accommodate 30 continuous days of walking for stretches of 6 hours or more daily. To ensure that we had enough energy for that daily ordeal - we did carb loading - eating lots of carbohydrates - to build up a store of reserve energy. That worked well for the first two hours - everyone knows that after 15 or 20 minutes of continuous exercise you will deplete both your readily available blood sugar and stored glycogen - putting the body into fat burning mode to fuel continued energy demands. After 2 hours - we stopped to refuel - normally with a drink with readily absorbable carbohydrates - Coke - normal - with sugar. Two hours later - time for more - a bocadilla - ham and cheese sandwich - with another Coke. At the end of the 6 hours of walking - tapas - more carbohydrates - finally dinner - fully loaded 3 course meals - loaded with carbohydrates and wine. A high carbohydrate diet for the entire Camino - in the process - energy levels well maintained - body weight dropped about 15 pounds.

When we consider the nutrition needed on our Lenten Camino - it is not carbohydrates that we need - rather - spiritual resources - time to be quiet with God - time to be alone with our thoughts. Jesus made it very clear - man does not live on bread alone. As spiritual beings - we need to connect our individual spirit with the Divine spirit - God. We need to allow ourselves time to consume as much of His heavenly energy as we can - to be able to walk this Camino. Even in times when we are spiritually hungry - when we thirst for more - God will provide. Gather up all the stores you can for yourself - when you begin to hunger and  thirst - ask Jesus into your life - he will fill the emptiness - in your soul.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Early to Rise...

When anyone walks a Camino they have to plan in advance how long and how far they will walk on a daily basis - departure and arrival times - very important. On the Camino de Santiago it is very important that you do not oversleep - most pilgrim albergues want you out of their facility by 8:00 AM - they also will not let you check in for the night earlier than 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM - so they have time to clean and prepare for the next evening's pilgrims. For the pilgrims - the peregrinos - walking should be started earlier rather than later - as the morning will be cooler and more comfortable than the hot afternoon.  It is also important to the peregrinos - that they stop their daily walk early enough - to guarantee that they locate a bed for the evening and a place to eat their evening meal.

As we walk our Lenten Camino we do not have to worry about being kicked out of our homes and our beds are going to be where they always are. For those of us doing this spiritual walk - the important thing is to start our day early enough so that we may fit our Camino journey into our day's plans. We want to allow just enough time for prayer - scripture - rosaries - chaplets - Holy Mass - meditation - reflection - whatever we have elected to do on this journey. We want to do this Camino well - gaining the most out of this spiritual exercise. Planning the daily schedule - helps assure us our Camino will be fruitful. When Jesus wandered in the desert - He did not wander aimlessly - He had a plan - an agenda - which allowed Him to focus on doing what His Father wanted of Him. As we walk this Camino - know that Jesus - walks it with you.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On A Roll

Taking those first steps of your Camino - starting the journey - placing one foot after the other - starting with one prayer - then another - anticipating the journey - awesome - a MasterCard Priceless* moment. Some things in life just cannot be repeated - the second time is never exactly like to first - it will pale in comparison - or be so much better - never the same. We have begun our Lenten Camino - we are now into the beginning of the first week of Lent and doing good - pacing ourselves -trying not to be too over zealous - avoiding the common error of early burn out. This morning began slowly - midday passed by smoothly - evening quietly approaches. The day has been good - refreshing - rewarding - our Lent Camino - now well on track.

With Jesus leading us - we will all accomplish our goal for Lent. Keeping our eyes focused on Him - paying attention to what He tells us - means success for our efforts. Like our canine friend on the skateboard - we will do well - as long as we keep our balance - with God - with prayer.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Camino Blues

One of the most frustrating things about planning a Camino journey - just like El Camino de Santiago - is the all too often Monday morning blues - that constant reminder that it is Monday - again - and you still have not started the Camino. Just as with the Camino in Spain - those seeking to walk a Lenten Camino - will feel the same frustration because they have yet to begin the journey. It is so typical of humans - we really want to do something - we plan - budget - prepare - then hesitate - balk - freeze up. Why we do that is any body's guess - maybe a natural part of unsettled resolve. When we made the decision to walk the Camino in Spain - it took a few days to settle in - did we really want to do that - were we sure - questioning each other for multiple days - then finally - making the commitment - taking the plunge. Once the exercise in making the commitment was over - peace set in - planning started - progress began. That is exactly what has to be done with our Lenten Camino - we made the commitment - didn't we? - we decided what we were going to do - right? - so now we move onward with our plans. Going to read Holy Scripture - get your Bible - going to pray more - make the time - now - looking for acts of charity - open the eyes - yes! - it is possible - today we start. Progress will come - usually at a slower pace that we had hoped for - but it will come.

When Jesus asked us to follow Him - he meant today - not tomorrow. When He asked us to pray - He meant now on our lunch break. He knows how difficult any journey can be - He was in the desert for 40 days - right? No journey starts off easy - there are always those last minute delays - but once started - it flows with unbelievable simplicity. Jesus tells us - God will not give us more than we can handle - He will be with us all the way - encouraging - helping - smoothing out the rough path - straightening the narrow - helping us constantly. He will let us walk on our own - for a time - we may think we are alone - but always - He will be there.  Now - start - and enjoy your Camino.

Deacon Dale 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lenten Camino Preparation

As we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent - we look toward a successful Lenten Camino. To accomplish this we must be well prepared - minds - hearts - bodies - in shape for the journey ahead. We need our equipment - prayer books - bibles - rosaries - holy cards - as well as other supplies. We must lay out a plan - an itineriary - where we are heading - how far to journey each day - a timeline for success. We need to plan for our nutrition - rest times - how to manage our thirst and hunger - providing for a complete camino experience. We begin with prayer - we walk with prayer - we celebrate with prayer. Although excited and anxious to rush into our Camino - we pace ourselevs - ensuring that we do not burn out - that we attempt too much - that we become an early failure. Doing what is sensible and reasonable is very important. Laying the ground work will help ensure a successful Camino. When we first began our journey with Jesus - we rushed into it - and failed early on. Now that we are more mature we recignize the error of our early attempt - this time we approach it a bit wiser - a bit smarter - planning this time for

God calls each of us to journey more closley with Him - Jesus is our guide - slow to anger - quick to forgive - always ready to come to our aid. To walk with Jesus - we pray - come Lord Jesus - help me in my Lenten Camino - be with me on this journey - guide me - that I may draw closer to you.  Spoken in earnest - He answers - come journey with me - take my hand - I will never forsake you.

Deacon Dale 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lenten Camino - First Steps

In Isaiah chapter 58 we are told - "Thus says the Lord - If you remove from your midst -oppression - false accusation - malicious speech - If you bestow your bread on the hungry - satisfy the afflicted" - in other words - if we live as Christ taught us - if we dare to walk a path that others do not follow - if we place the needs and concerns of our bothers and sisters above our own - we will become true disciples of Jesus. In this day and age - there are so many excesses - in the midst of so much need - there are too many seeking to acquire more - while others seek only the bare minimum to exist. Lent is the perfect time for us to stop in our path - to pray and reflect - to consider what we have done - what we are doing - to better ourselves - to better others - to better the world. In a world filled with so many who hunger and thirst - for the basic needs of life - who hunger and thirst for the basic words of hope - who hunger and thirst for a hand up rather than a hand out - we are called - to act.

As we walk our Lenten Camino with Jesus - we will experience the dry and loneliness just as He did in the dessert - if we stop and reflect - we will see the naked and hungry - if we put aside our personal desires - we will see the desires of the sick and thirsty - we will see - with the eyes of God. To walk a Camino - to walk any journey - is difficult when done by oneself - to walk with God is a completely different experience. We walk as people of faith - keeping our eyes open for the signs He gives us - pointing The Way. As Isaiah continues - "thus says the Lord - if you honor by not following your ways - seeking your own interests - then you shall delight in the LORD - and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth - I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob - your father - for the mouth of the LORD has spoken". We walk our Camino journey - first and foremost - to honor God - to empty ourselves - to draw closer to Jesus.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Lenten Camino

It has been five months since my wife and I walked approximately 400 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. While walking that Camino - we spent hours upon hours in prayer - for our Bishop - our diocese and its ministries - for our parish - our priests - many others' special requests - for ourselves. It was easy to do - no cell phones - no television - no distractions - just lots of quiet time to steep ourselves in prayer. As we begin our annual Lenten observance - I invite you to journey with me on a special Lenten Camino. Over the next 40 days - I will be praying and posting - reflecting on various topics - offering thoughts on multiple aspects of Camino - journey - pilgrimage.  As I begin - I wish to focus on a special Lenten presentation offered by my friend Tajci - Tatiana Cameron - whom I met a few years ago when she presented her Lenten program - I Thirst.  It was a powerful presentation and an excellent way to observe Lent. As you journey with me on this Lenten Camino - my prayer is that you will find yourself thirsting for more and more of all that Jesus offers each of us.

During Lent we are called to empty ourselves - to fast - to open ourselves to whatever God has in store for us. Jesus calls us to thirst - for Him - His Spirit - God's presence in our lives. We need to become empty - dry - hungering and thirsting for God - in our prayers - thoughts - deeds. We need to begin focusing on others - the invisible - the cast aways - the less fortunate - those whom society ignores. We need to actively look - to seek these souls out - to thirst for the blessings due them by God. By practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. - we hope to satisfy our thirst - for a world that is right and just - for a world where people care for each other - for a world where all are healed and whole.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lenten Sacrifice

One of the most common concepts of Lent is sacrifice - giving up something - emptying oneself - making more room for prayer - meditation - reflection. I agree wholeheartedly about the concept of sacrifice - not completely with what so many give up - chocolate - candy - television - smoking - Facebook. All of us have more free time than we like to admit - time to nap - time to waste - time for almost anything - except prayer. I personally think the best sacrifice one can make during Lent is that of self - giving up ourselves - thinking about others - doing random acts of kindness - unrequested prayers for the needs of anyone besides yourself - senseless acts of charity - with no recognition - no recompense -- nothing - except the knowledge that you did the right thing - at the right time - in the right way - building  the kingdom of God - one prayer - one random act of kindness at a time. I devote more time to pray - considering the needs of others - especially those who don't attend church - those who do not believe in God - those who walk a different path. My goal this Lent - growth in the time spent helping others - not in organized activities - but those known only to myself - known only to God.

God doesn't need more temples - churches - shrines - programs - edifices built in our image. He needs us to break free from the common - to do the uncommon - the unrecognized - the anonymous - the senseless - touching hearts - through prayer - personal sacrifice - random acts of kindness and charity. He calls us to be true disciples - not promoting or advertising what we do - letting our actions speak for themselves. God calls you and me - to true servant hood - to true discipleship - to live our Lent - not just think about it - but to live it.

Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday - Ash Wednesday - celebrated around the world as the beginning of the Lenten season of prayer - fasting - alms giving. As an older member of the Church the rules of the Lenten Fast no longer apply to me - yet I still fast and abstain from meat products. I am healthy enough and have no dietary restrictions that otherwise dispense me from imposing these rules upon myself. So - no meat - two small meals - was enough to suffice. As a deacon - I spent a large portion of the mid-day visiting nursing homes and senior centers distributing ashes to whomever wanted them. It was interesting that perhaps half of the people who requested ashes were not Catholic - one woman was a self professed Jew - who explained that any prayers and blessings from God - were just fine in her book. The day ended by assisting at Holy Mass in the evening - again distributing ashes to a large group - many who do not attend Sunday Mass regularly - but always show up for their ashes.  One young man even approached me after Holy Mass to explain that he arrived late and "did not get his ashes" - easily remedied - he left church very happy - smudged forehead - blessed by God.

God is pleased with any and all actions that bring us closer to Him - to Jesus - to His Holy Spirit. In these 40 days of Lent - each of us is called - by name - from God's lips - to enter into this season with expectant hearts - with open eyes - seeking Him - above all else.

Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday - also known as Mardi Gras - gets it's name from the French for fat = gras and Tuesday = Mardi - is an annual festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. The annual festivities begin on January 6th - the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany - when the three kings visited the Christ child - building to a climax on Fat Tuesday - which always occurs the day before Ash Wednesday. Partying continues until midnight on Tuesday - the beginning of Lent. In New Orleans - Mardi Gras - has been an annual event for two centuries. In the rest of America and around the world similar celebrations are observed - celebrating excesses of food - drink - revelry - letting the senses run wild for one last day before the period of abstinence and fasting of Lent begins.

God understands us - our need to act and do excessive things - prior to an extended period of self denial - prayer - fasting - alms giving. He may not condone - but allows us this indulgence - knowing that it will strengthen and steel our resolve to experience a good - fruitful - prayerful - Lent. Each of us is a promise - a promise to God - to ourselves - to be the best that we can be. We are a promise to each other - to our families - our friends - strangers on the street. As we prepare to begin our Lenten devotions - let each one of us - hold the promise of self denial - promise of commitment - in our hearts.

Deacon Dale