Fr. Daniel Gifford
Empty Enough to Receive, Quiet Enough to Hear
Updated: Apr 5, 2019
This past Monday, we had another great celebration, the second of the two great solemnities that (usually) fall during Lent. Another way of saying this is that they are the only times in the entire season of Lent that we put on white (at Mass) and pray the Gloria. March 25th (Monday) is the Feast of the Annunciation, naturally, as it is exactly nine months before Christmas Day - fancy that! For that reason, the saint I want to
focus on this week is - no, not our Blessed Mother; we’ll save her for
later - St. Gabriel, the Archangel. This messenger from God came bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to this simple peasant girl, Mary. He can be considered the First Evangelist, the first one to proclaim the Gospel in its own time! But, only this very poor, young girl heard it. She heard it from the “lips” (figuratively speaking - angels don’t have bodies) of one whose name means the “Strength of God.” Her poverty aided in her purity of heart and focus on the Lord, and thus better disposed her to receive this Good News coming forth from the Strength of God. We must be empty enough to receive, so that we may be quiet enough to hear. What do we need to empty ourselves of, in order to receive the message of Hope and Joy, which gives us strength to carry our cross? Pride? Vanity? Distractions and attachments? Many things can clutter our lives. But, the more that our hands are empty, the more able we are to receive what the Lord wishes to place inside them. Lent becomes a time to discover a deeper meaning of emptiness. Emptiness is not nothingness, but a space for the Lord to enter. Like the emptiness of the desert, in which the words of the Father could have echoed in our Lord’s heart and mind: This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Consider the Good News coming forth from the Strength of God, which He wants to speak to your heart. Ask Saint Gabriel to intercede for you, that your life might be empty enough to receive the bold and beautiful words of hope the Lord wishes to speak into it. As you do so, allow the Tenth Station (front cover) to embolden your heart in emptying yourself to receive. The moment when Jesus is stripped of His garments can not only remind us of all that we need to strip away from our lives, but also offer a glimpse of His readiness to give everything. Like His Mother, when she offered her yes to the Strength of God, Jesus is ready and says yes to the Father, giving His life for our salvation. May we be empty and ready to say yes.
LENTEN SERIES, SESSION THREE: Indeed, the Lord has much to speak to our hearts. Join us again this Tuesday (or for the first time), as we consider some tools to learn to better listen and understand how He speaks, in Session III: Is That You, Lord? Childcare and a light meal are available, as usual. Also, visit our YouTube Channel to get caught up on the previous sessions.
ADA PREPARATIONS: Next weekend, we will kickoff the 2019 Annual Diocesan Appeal (ADA). Our goal this year will be $84,451, which is a notable increase from last year. I am grateful for the many examples of good stewardship and generosity truly exemplified by our parishioners. The evidence is within the New Testament itself that giving of our own resources to support the work of the Church beyond our local community is simply part of the Christian life, and the needs in our diocese are great. For this reason, in light of both our increased goal and the fact that we regularly do not meet the goal proposed to us, I ask every family to prayerfully consider some kind of increase in your giving to the ADA. Thank you for all of your support.
A KEY MOMENT OF HOSPITALITY: This coming Friday, we have a great many visitors to Saint Louis Parish for our Lenten Fish Fry. Recall how, last fall, we reflected on how Prayer (on which we have been focusing throughout Lent) was the first of Five Pillars, designed to help us lay a strong foundation and ready our hearts for mission, which comes to a key point of culmination with hospitality, as visitors are welcomed inside to encounter Christ at the Center of a community made new by the Power of His Love. Thanks in advance for showing this hospitality to the many visitors we are likely to have, that they may encounter Christ. And, consider inviting your neighbors to also join you in praying the Stations of the Cross before our Fish Fry! Remember, we have added a special time of 3:30 to accommodate the Fish Fry, as well as our usual Lenten devotion at 5:00.
ROOF REPAIRS TO BEGIN: Several months ago, I shared with you all that we were going to begin long-awaited and much-needed repairs on two large sections of the roof of the school building this spring. Now that the time for that work to begin is upon us, I am very pleased to be able to share with you that we have decided that the entire roof over the school building (with the exception of one section, not in need of repair because it was just done a few years ago) will be repaired. After much consultation with members of our Parish Council, Finance Committee, and Building and Grounds Committee, the decision was met with vast approval and enthusiasm. We continue to make use of that building regularly with programs for parishioners of various age groups, but especially for our children and young people. With the vibrancy of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Youth Ministry, Sacramental Prep, Childcare during our various adult formation opportunities, and the use of the gym every month for Second Sunday Stay and Play and a wide variety of other events, we can take joy in noting that the whole building remains in regular use and will for the foreseeable future!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!