Fr. Daniel Gifford
Encountering the Risen Christ
Last weekend, one of the images that ended up being a thread running throughout all of our Triduum homilies was Divine Mercy, which we celebrate this weekend with even greater focus. Divine Mercy is symbolized most acutely by the Blood and Water pouring forth from His pierced side on the cross. This blessed stream is Divine Mercy. Thus, our Risen Lord appeared to Saint Faustina and commanded her to paint the image she saw, which is today known as the “Divine Mercy Image.” This image features the Risen Christ moving toward us, pulling aside His cloak, to reveal the font of that blessed stream: His Most Sacred Heart. But, instead of seeing the Heart itself, an overwhelming light pours forth, which is split into two rays of light one pale-blue (water) and the other red (blood). The image of the Blood and Water now transformed into light scattering the darkness fills us with peace, hope and joy. Yet, as I have mentioned numerous times before, the earliest Christians saw in that Blood and Water the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. The sacraments are true encounters with the Risen Christ, most especially in
the Eucharist at Mass. Thus, Divine Mercy is truly a profoundly Eucharistic devotion, as we see evidenced in the words prayed at the beginning of every decade of the Divine Mercy Chaplet: “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Jesus…” When we go to meet the Risen Christ (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) in the Eucharist, our hearts should go out to meet Him with the faith of Saint Thomas. Although He initially doubted, when the Risen Christ revealed to Him the font from which that Blessed Stream flowed, by inviting him to place his hand in His pierced side, Thomas responded: “My Lord and My God.” May this simple profession of faith be on our hearts when we meet Christ in the Mass. We see the Mass depicted in the window in the back sacristy/confessional (front cover), as the Chalice symbolizes the Liturgy of the Eucharist, while the Book symbolizes the Liturgy of the Word. When we attend Mass or visit the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle or Adoration, do we consider that we are encountering the Risen Christ? What about when we open the Scriptures, whether in the Liturgy or in our own private prayer? Do we slow down and quiet our hearts to listen to Him speak? Consider the subtle symbols of the Holy Trinity in these images: the three tabs in the book and the three rays of light surrounding the chalice. The sacraments draw us into communion in Christ, who brings us into communion with the Trinity. This relationship of communion is further nourished by the reading of His Word in Scripture, where He truly speaks to us. Part of the mystery of the Blessed Stream of Divine Mercy is that, while it flows ever outward to bring nourishment and healing to the world, when we get carried away in its current, it draws us into its source. Just as the Risen Christ told Mary Magdalene He still intends to take us to the Father, so also does He intend to draw us into the Love of the Trinity when He visits in the Word and in the Eucharist. May we open our hearts ever more to this encounter that we may allow Him to take us home to the Father.
CHILDREN RECEIVING SACRAMENTS: Speaking of the Eucharist, seven of our parish children will be receiving their First Holy Communion this year. Patience Bystry, Meiah Glafka, George Keutzer, Sam Lawrence, and Ellie Longeville will be receiving First Communion at a special Mass next Sunday afternoon here at St. Louis. Gretchen Carden will be communed that same day with her classmates at Peru Catholic School and Brady Peach will be communed in June, after being baptized along with his sister Quinnlyn. Congratulations to all of our First Communicants and all those to be baptized.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END: It seems that this year is drawing to a close, as we continue into the Easter Season. This past Monday, Men’s Study concluded a great year of study, prayer, and fellowship with a joy-filled and casual Easter dinner together. On Palm Sunday, High School Youth Ministry concluded their regular routine of Sunday gatherings with a beautiful and powerful Eucharistic Procession. They have already shifted to a more casual plan of socials, small groups and getting ready for Totus Tuus and Alive in You (see Caylee’s updates for more). Various other groups will be wrapping up in the coming weeks. But, as we enjoy various celebrations to celebrate the Easter Season, various sacraments, and other landmarks in our lives, let us remember to look back as well as forward. Let us look back and thank God for the blessings of this past year. Let us also look forward and begin to consider how we will keep our eyes on Christ and keep growing in our faith, by keeping daily prayer and Sunday Mass a priority, even as our daily and weekly rhythm begins to change.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!