Forty Days in the Desert

Sunday, February 21st 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin

This weekend is the First Sunday of Lent. The Lenten Season is our Catholic opportunity to reevaluate our Christian conduct and priorities, to examine our lives, and to take concrete steps to reform our lives and return to the path that leads us back to God and makes us disciples in Jesus Christ.

The apostle Saint Peter reminds us in the 2


Reading of the blessings we receive from Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection — “Christ suffered for sins once… that he might lead you to God.” And again, “[Baptism] is… an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

To receive the blessings more readily from Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, we are called to endure our own 40 days “in the desert.” In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert and was tempted by Satan and where he faced trials and confront evil. During this trial, He committed to intense prayer and fasting. It was not necessary for Jesus to go into the desert so that He might be purified, but rather, to endure temptations we experience for our own sake. Jesus experienced temptations just like us, yet responded very differently, never falling into sin.

Catholic Christians have always believed we have a responsibility to be the best disciples of Jesus as possible. Though we are not perfect (even the saints were not perfect), we are still called to be holy. This was a central teaching of the Second Vatican Council because spiritual growth and holiness are integral to our Catholic faith.

In an effort this Lent to help our parishioners to be better disciples and Catholics, I am asking and encouraging each parishioner over 18 years old to take a survey called the Disciple Maker Index (DMI). Beginning February 20


, the survey will be live for us to take and will remain available until March 22


. Obviously, to get the best assessment of our parish, as many possible parishioners must complete the survey. We prefer that it be done on-line, but if necessary, a “hard copy” of the survey will be available at the parish office. The link to the survey is

and is also available on our parish’s website (

Your responses are confidential. No one from the parish will see your answers nor will we be given access to your answers. Please, be assured of this process is confidential. A composite of the survey results will be available in a few months. The DMI survey allows us to assess how we are doing both in our discipleship in Jesus Christ as well as in our spiritual growth.  With the results of the DMI survey, our parish leadership will gain valuable insights into how we can help our parishioners become better disciples of Jesus Christ.  In the end we want our parishioners to rediscover the joy of being a Catholic Christian as well as to help others to rediscover their faith in God.

If you have questions about the DMI survey or if have any issues about taking it, feel free to contact Ree Taylor at


I invite each parishioner to fully participate in this Lenten season by reevaluating where we are spiritually with God and trying to be more Christ-like, whom we are called to imitate. With your completion of the DMI survey, our parish leadership can do our part to accompany our parishioners on their Lenten Journey and assist them in their spiritual growth and efforts to be holy. In our Lenten desert time, we can make every effort to confront evil by weeding out the roots of sin in our lives through our individual prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Let us do our part to purify our hearts so that we might be ready to receive the glorious gift of Jesus Christ and partake in the riches that pour forth from such a great Gift.