Father David celebrates sunrise Mass at Big Schloss

Father David Dufresne, Parochial Vicar at the Basilica of Saint Mary, led an early morning hike for young adults and celebrated a Mass at sunrise on July 11 at the George Washington National Forest. They started their hike at the Wolf Gap trailhead and celebrated Mass at the top of Big Schloss.

John Royals participated in the hike and wrote this reflection:

I found myself late Friday night, or rather, early Saturday morning on the side of a mountain preparing to make a two hour hike in the darkness of night to the summit of Big Schloss in West Virginia. I was tired and not mentally prepared for what was to come. The journey up the mountain was difficult, you could only focus on what was immediately in front of you, on what the little light of your “snap on cap” flashlight could show you. I was reminded of the all too familiar “Yea, though I walk through the Valley of Darkness I shall fear no evil” even more so as I had taken the back of the line and would occasionally look behind the group with my flash light off to peer into the inky blackness of the mountainside forest. Just when I though that the journey up the mountain couldn’t get worse, after the hundredth lose rock I happened to stumble upon, we came upon a small clearing and shinning down upon us with the half moon and the multitude of stars like a light of hope in the darkness that would say “all is not lost, follow me and I shall bring you to salvation.” It was surprising to me that I could find such profound beauty in God’s creation through the black tones of the earth and the silvery clouds that seem almost an ocean on the side of the mountain.

When the group reached the summit, we had a few hours to rest and gather ourselves before sunrise. During that time, we were able to converse with our neighbor and catch up with them. It had been a long time since we all had seen each other, we have the pandemic to thank for that. However, it was a good reminder that even in the darkest times all I have to do is reach out to my neighbor or a friend and strike up a gentle conversation and after a short while I was able to see Christ through the camaraderie of friendship.

Shortly after sunrise, Father celebrated mass. We all gathered around the alter that was prepared at the top of the mountain. Twenty of us that had journeyed a hard hike through the night we about to bear witness to the celebration of our salvation with the rising sun shining behind Father as he lifted Our Lord up to the heavens and for a brief moment, I saw two suns in the early morning sky. I am thankful to Father David for such an amazing experience of Christ and camaraderie.

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