THE STRENGTH OF GOD
Updated: Jul 27, 2018
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
The first time we meet the Archangel Gabriel—whose statue (front cover) is the final feature in our trek around the Life Garden—is in the later chapters of the Book of the Prophet Daniel. As a prophet during the Babylonian exile, he represents a time of great desperation for God's people. Generations later, during another time of great
desperation, namely Roman rule, again this archangel, whose name means the strength of God, would enter the scene. First, in the Temple, Gabriel would appear to the priest Zechariah to announce the birth of the prophet who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Yet, the message of the coming of the Messiah Himself would not be given to a priest, but to a peasant girl of great faith, named Mary. Generations prior, he had explained to the prophet the apocalyptic visions, which had at their center the Kingship of God, regardless of the vain challenges of worldly rulers. The prophet was told to wait, for the time had not yet come. The peasant girl was told that the time had come and the King would come to live within her. How must her poverty have enabled her to learn to wait upon the Lord? As we hear in the Gospel the Lord's invitation to “come away with Him and rest,” may we learn to wait upon the strength of God, that He may make Himself known to us, even in times of great desperation.
VISITING PRIEST: Well, it’s time for me to go away with Him and rest awhile again. I will be away for our annual Junior Clergy Days (diocesan retreat for priests ordained less than 10 years), followed by a short time of vacation. While I am away (July 23-August 5), you will have a special treat. Father Fabien Sognon is an S.M.A. Father from Togo, in Africa. You can read more about the S.M.A. Fathers elsewhere in this bulletin. But, I am very excited that you get to spend a couple of weeks with Father Fabien, as I got to know him, when he spent multiple summers at my home parish, while I was in seminary. He is a wonderful man and a great priest, who has had experi- ence serving in the Diocese of Peoria, and now serves as one of their regional superiors.
PARISH RENEWAL: When I return, we will turn our eyes and hearts toward parish renewal. The Lord Builds the House (Psalm 127). Let us work as humble and committed laborers to help support the house. If we are to do this, we must adopt the mindset of beloved sons and daughters of the Father. This is the first step toward coming to know ourselves as members of a household, which is in constant need of attention. Far too often, when we hear the words “parish renewal” we think of it as a new project or as simply a moment in time. I consider it an ongoing real- ity. Still, we are going to take a few weeks to enter into this mentality in a focused manner. I will begin a preaching series (more information on that to come) on the weekend of Sunday, August 12th, which will conclude on Sunday, September 16th. Each week, there will be a midweek event, to supplement the homilies. The idea is that all parish- ioners are invited to come to whatever you are able to attend. Please begin praying that we would always remain open to allowing the Lord to build the house.
RCIA: As I have already mentioned and you may have seen in the bulletin, one of the things we are excited about in this coming fall is the return of RCIA. I am very glad to formally share with you that Susanna Prushinski has agreed to take on the role of RCIA Coordinator, overseeing the revival of our program. As her work with Mar- riage Prep, Family Faith Formation, and various bible studies has shown, she has a gift for journeying with other adults to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ in the heart of the church. Not only is she well equipped with a strong theological foundation, but she is driven by a deep spirituality, which enters into the reality of human experience and sheds greater light upon it. She was very helpful to me in a handful of the lessons in Foundations of Faith (last year’s makeshift small-group rendition of RCIA) and I am very excited about her now taking the reins. Pay atten- tion to her notices in the bulletin, because RCIA is not just for someone who is already planning to become Catho- lic. It might be for you or for someone you know, whom you may not previously have considered.
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford
St. Louis, pray for us! Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!