Fr. Daniel Gifford
Book of Remembrance
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
Well, November is upon us already! Many of us may think of this month as a month
which holds the hope of Turkey and Football. Yet, this month is precisely about placing our hope in so much more! It calls us to turn our gaze toward eternity, as it marks the conclusion of the Church Year (as Advent generally begins right around the beginning of December or end of November). It began, of course, with the consecutive observances of the great celebration of All Saints Day and the more penitential All Souls Day. And before the month is over, we will conclude the Church Year, with the final great celebration of Christ the King. But, we maintain this focus of honoring and remembering those who have gone before us, including both celebrating the saints and praying for the poor souls in purgatory. This means praying for all of our loved ones who have gone before us from this life, whom you are most welcome to write in the Book of Remembrance at the front of the Church. This is not only a way of writing down those for whom we are praying and honoring their memory, it is also symbolic of the Book of Life, mentioned multiple times in the Book of Revelation (13:8, 21:27). You can see an image of this Book of Life in the window in the back, Eastern wall of the Church (front cover). Some of us might be, at first, taken aback by the skull which features prominently in this window. Yet, this is part of the importance of this focus on eternity, especially at the end of the Church Year. First of all, we may not prefer to at times, but we must call to mind the reality of our mortality. We were not made to live forever in this life, but rather given this life to prepare for eternal life in heaven. And it is true that we never know when or what circumstances will finally claim our earthly life. We need to remember this sometimes, but not for the sake of living in fear! Rather, we recall this for the sake of living with perspective. When we begin to consider the reality of our mortality and of eternity, this causes us to realize how utterly vain and silly some of the things we place so much value on truly are. It helps us to consider what is most important: our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Nothing can get in the way of this. Consider last week’s Gospel - love God and one another. This is what is important. May this focus on our mortality help us always remember that fact, that we may strive to make every step we take be a step closer to heaven. But, there is even more which that skull invites us to consider. Jesus entered into our mortality: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2). For this reason, our mortal bodies are redeemed and imbued with the hope of the Resurrection. Where did he offer His death for us? “Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull)” (Mt.27:33). Consider also that this window is right next to the depiction of the Anointing of Bethany, in which Jesus was prepared for His burial. And on the other side of that is the image of the lamb in the thicket on Mount Moriah (which we discussed several weeks back), a great Old Testament prefiguration of Golgotha (Fun fact: some scholars strongly suspect or even confidently hold that Moriah and Golgotha may in fact be the same place - they are at least very close!). As we remember those we love this November, may we always look to the Cross of Christ to find compassion, meaning and hope!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!