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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel Gifford

Confident as Children

“Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! The strife is o’er, the battle done; Now is the victor’s triumph won: O let the song of praise be sung. Alleluia!” This classic Easter hymn always takes on a new layer of significance as we enter graduation season. I will never forget how it felt singing this at Mass and Vespers at the end of each year in seminary. Neither can I forget how exponentially greater it felt when I was doing so as my own class was preparing to graduate and return home to our respective dioceses to be ordained and begin to serve in the vineyard of the Lord, as priests of Jesus Christ! What a gift - and

what a responsibility! Alleluia! As many of the younger members of our parish family and extended family celebrate graduations from various levels of education and perhaps others may be celebrating retirement, we recognize how the Lord allows these various milestones to be glimpses of the final victory of the Lord’s Resurrection. Throughout the Easter Season, this year, my homilies have been emphasizing how the victory of the Lord’s Resurrection is revealed in the Book of Revelation, which provides the Second Reading for most of the Easter Season, and how these revelations help us to understand how the Lord’s victory is simultaneously revealed and concealed in the Mass. This week, we jumped forward to the end of the book and have skipped over a large portion of it, which contains many of the vivid images that many people find much more puzzling and perhaps troubling. Essentially, those images all reveal how the Lord is fighting for us. The ravages of sin, suffering and temptations of all kinds seek to turn our hearts from Him and rob us of the victory for which He endured the cross. This victory is His, it is established with certainty, and it is a gift He wishes to extend to us. “The strife is o’er, the battle done… Alleluia.” At times, we feel acutely, that the battle is still underway, demands our constant vigilance and at times wears us pretty thin. But, we persevere with the certainty that the outcome is sure. “Now is the Victor’s triumph won… Alleluia.” One of the most famous of these images of the Lord fighting for us, which has come up a lot this year, is the one (Revelation 12) in which the Woman clothed with the sun and crowned with twelve stars is under attack and taken to her place of Safe Refuge, while the Lord sends Michael and his angels to fight the battle. This image closes with a description of the dragon’s bitter jealousy at defeat by telling us who the children of the Woman, against whom he does not relent in his attacks, truly are: “Those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” This makes us children of the Woman (representing both Mary and the Church) and children of the Most High God. And so, we go to Him with confidence, as children. When we look at an image of the children coming to Jesus, such as the one which hangs in our Atrium hallway (front cover), we should have great gratitude when we consider the peace and serenity in which the battle that still rages is concealed from their eyes and ours. The Mass is our place of Safe Refuge, where we go to the Lord as children and the spiritual battle that rages is concealed from our eyes, but it is indeed present in our midst. It is good to allow Revelation to lift the veil and show us this battle that is hidden from our eyes, but we reflect upon it from a standpoint of confidence in His victory. While we do not even hear the cries and clamor of battle, we do hear our Victor promising us that He will not stop fighting for us. He will lay down His life that we may have life abundantly. His Body will be given up. His Blood will be shed. For us. So, we come forward as children, grateful and confident, to receive the victory for which He endured the cross. And we express our gratitude with a single word: Amen.

PARISH TUITION ASSISTANCE FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS: As we consider children coming to the Lord, I wish to share with you again of Saint Louis Parish’s ongoing commitment to help make Catholic Education more accessible to our children. We have received questions about whether we will be offering the tuition assistance to area Catholic Schools again next year. After our last Finance Committee meeting, I am pleased to report that the decision was made unanimously and unhesitatingly to continue to offer this assistance. This tuition assistance amounts to a 50% match paid directly to the school, based on the parish members’ paid out of pocket costs for tuition. This offer will be extended to active parishioners sending children to an area Catholic elementary school (K-8) or high school, including St. Bede Academy. In addition, our parish continues to pay assessments to those Catholic elementary schools where some of our parish children attend, resulting in our parish families being eligible for the parishioner rate at those schools. For further questions, please feel free to discuss financial details with Renee Toomey (Business Manager) or pastoral concerns with me.

GRADUATIONS: As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, this time of year contains many celebrations of students graduating from various levels of education. To all of our graduates, congratulations. You remain in our prayers, as you move forward to the next stage of life into which the Lord is now leading you. May you continue to walk with Him and always allow Him to lead. He will take you to places that you never dreamed. Trust me. I never dreamed of coming to Princeton, but I’m really glad it was in His plan!

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!

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