Finding Our Way

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD
Fall 2023

It was about 11am on Wednesday, August 8th of this year. I heard the unmistakable whirring sounds of the helicopter blades and looked up into the bright, late-morning sky. When I saw the shiny red helicopter, I knew they were looking for me.

By that point, I had been missing for almost 22 hours. It was Day 13 on the John Muir Trail (JMT), which stretches 214 miles between Yosemite Valley and Mount Whitney and boasts 47,000 feet of elevation gain. My two buddies (Fr. Joseph Illo, former CANFP Board member and Donncha Ocochlain, Fr. Illo’s parishioner) and I had departed Tuolumne Valley on July 26th with the plan of summiting Mount Whitney on August 11th or 12th. However, my getting lost was certainly going to delay our ascent to the summit by a day or so.

On the previous day, August 7th, around noon, I had somehow mistaken a side trail for the main JMT and had continued down the wrong trail for a number of miles. Fr. Illo and Donncha were ahead of me, so I was anxious to try to catch them at our prearranged meeting spot, the Bench Lake Ranger Station. Unfortunately, I just got more and more lost. Needless to say, we had no internet or satellite connections in that remote part of California. For the first six hours, I went through many emotions. I was panicky, frantic, desperate and desolate. Bushwhacking through dense brush and hopping from boulder to boulder, I was anxiously worried that I would sustain an injury. It was a most desperate situation. Meanwhile, I pleaded with God to help me. I think I expected Him to magically send one of His angels to point me in the right direction.

Finally, about 7pm that evening, I realized that God was not going to save me without me using my own resources. I was praying for a miracle, but I also needed to use my head. For the past seven hours, I had been hiking along a river that was flowing downstream, thinking that the trail I was searching for was following that rtiver. But I finally realized that the reason I could not find the trail was because I was following the wrong river! I needed to return to the way I came, find the mistaken trail I was on and follow that trail back to the JMT. By then, it almost 8pm and getting dark and so I decided to camp for the night. Fortunately, I had everything I needed: tent, sleeping bag, food and water.

First thing the next morning, I began hiking upstream. Sure enough, I found the mistaken trail which, subsequently, led me back to the JMT. I had not seen a soul for almost 23 hours, so in a strange sort of way, the helicopter gave me some consolation even though I had no luck in signaling the pilot. I decided to stop and wait to see if any hikers would be coming down the trail. Before long, three young men from San Francisco came along. I told them I was lost and needed their help. With the help of their GPS, the four of us hiked to the ranger station which was only two miles away. At the station, I met up with Fr. Illo and Donncha and the 24-hour ordeal came to a merciful and consolation-filled end.

Perhaps, we NFP folks (practitioners, users, physicians, promoters, etc.) can recognize a bit of our own journeys in my dramatic tale. There are times when we feel lost, anxious, tired, perhaps even panicky and desperate. Yet, then we realize that God gave us a mind, heart and soul and that He wants us to use them to discern how we are to live according to His loving design, in our particular state of life. Among the many insights I received hiking the JMT was the awesomeness, abundance and beauty of God’s creation. We hiked through a lot of snow, through many mountain passes and through a number of raging rivers this summer! God’s creation is truly amazing and beautiful! Yet, God desires for us to cooperate with creation, whether we are talking about a mountain wilderness or our own bodies. When are able to do this, we are truly practicing right worship. We are able to live St. Paul’s exhortation “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship”. (Rom 12:1)

Johm Muir trail
Fr. Berg John Muir trail

About The Author

Fr. Blaise Berg, STD
Rev. Blaise Berg, STD, President and Treasurer of the CANFP Executive Board, is Assistant Professor of Dogmatics at St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, CA. Fr. Berg earned a BA from the University of San Francisco, an MBA from California Polytechnic University, a Baccalaureate degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.B at the Pontifical Gregorian University Rome, a Licentiate Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.L. from the JPII Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. and a Doctoral Degree in Sacred Theology, S.T.D. from Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He has served on the CANFP Board since 2003.
Johm Muir trail
Fr. Berg John Muir trail


Commenting on articles is a member-only feature. Please sign up for one of our memberships to leave a comment.
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Continue Reading Similar Articles

Spring 2024

The Gift of Children

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

One Sunday when I was a parish priest, I was greeting parishioners filing out of the church after Mass. A

Winter 2024

The Contraception-Transgenderism Connection

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

Transgenderism did not simply show up out of nowhere. Indeed, it is the result of a hundred years of mutations

Summer 2023

Destination: Heaven

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

As a parish priest, on any given day, one of my favorite appointments is to meet with a newly engaged

Spring 2023

Follow the Science!

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

Follow the science! More than any other time in the history of the big wide world do we seem to

Fall 2022

Worldview from Silicon Valley

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

Last July, my bishop asked me to take on a new assignment as a full-time theology professor and formator at

Summer 2022

NFP and Sports?

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

When our Executive Board decided to go with the topic of “NFP and Sports” for this newsletter, I was rather

Spring 2022

A World in Need of the Truth and Beauty of Our Message

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

We live in a world where we are bombarded with different messages. I cannot check my phone messages or email

Winter 2022

Following the Star

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

As I write this column, it is early January. For Christians, the Christmas season is almost over. A week or

NFP Usage vs Contraception Usage

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

From October 13th – 15th, Sheila St. John and I participated in a “NFP Leaders’ Summit” in Baltimore, MD, organized

Ever True

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

Another anniversary of Humanae Vitae (HV) has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday when so many of us

Who Am I?

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

My family’s 2020 calendar for the month of December featured a photo of me on Christmas Day when I was

NFP is a Pearl of Great Price

by Fr. Blaise Berg, STD

Why have I been on the Executive Board of CANFP since 2003? It’s complicated. Because I believe in the goodness

Create An Account

This is not a membership, this is an account for our CANFP website. If you decide you would like to sign up for one of our memberships later, you can do so with or without this account.

First Name *
Last Name *
E-mail *
Username *
Password *
Confirm Password *
Edit Profile
Order History
Shipping and Billing
Login Information
Notification Settings
Notification Subscriptions

CANFP conducts varied outreach programs to the community at large, in addition to serving our members (NFP users, teachers, and advocates).

CANFP provides education programs tailored to the audience, not only on Natural Family Planning, but on the wide variety of topics related to it.

Programs can be continuing education for NFP Professionals, introductory information for a lay audience of youth or adults new to the topic, or specifically tailored to the interests of a professional audience, such as educators, physicians, or clergy. Content is faith based or secular, whichever is suitable for situation.

CANFP offers a variety of resources for those just discovering Natural Family Planning, as well as to meet the varied needs of our CANFP Members. Most resources are available to any visitors to our site. Some resources do ask you to register as a site user in order to access them, others are available only to CANFP Members.

CANFP statewide conferences, regional events offered in collaboration with local partners, events featuring CANFP speakers, or exhbit, as well as other events throughout the state of interest to our NFP community.  Come meet one of our experts at one of these events or book a speaker for your own upcoming event.

CANFP depends on the gifts, talents, and generosity of our members and supporters. The success of our mission depends on the collaboration of our members. Please consider contributing your time treasure and talent through CANFP to share the good news of NFP with the world! Both volunteer and contracted positions available.

Stay informed by joining our email list

* indicates required
Which role(s) best describes you?