Fr. Daniel Gifford
Even Over Troubled Waters
This weekend, our first reading from Acts of the Apostles features a sort of turning point in the life of the Church: The Council of Jerusalem. This was prompted by the objection of a group who believed that the new Gentile converts needed to be circumcised, according to the Old Law, in order to participate in the New Covenant. Since the laws of the Old Covenant were given to them by God, they could not simply disregard this concern, but had to gather the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem to discern together this question of which of the ritual laws (distinct from the moral law, which does not pass away, since it is based in our nature) of the Old Covenant were still pertinent to the New Covenant. It was a difficult moment, but the Holy Spirit guided the Church, as the Lord Jesus promised He would. This is a fitting time to feature one of my favorite of the windows that are “hidden” back in the sacristy, where most parishioners sadly don’t usually see them. This is the window which features one of the great images used to depict the Church: The Great Ship, the Bark of Peter (front cover). We see a prefiguration of the Bark of Peter back in Genesis with Noah’s Ark, the place of Safe Refuge for Noah and his family, amidst the great flood that came as a result of the sins of humanity. When we look directly at the New Testament, we see even more interesting imagery with the ship. We see the boat of Peter becomes the seat from which the Lord teaches and preaches (Luke 5, Mark 4) and also the place from which the Lord makes the efforts of His Apostles fruitful beyond imagination (Luke 5, John 21). We also see the image of the ship carrying Our Lord and His Apostles along their journeys, just as ships would often carry Paul on his own missionary journeys in Acts of the Apostles, even when it results in a shipwreck (Acts 27). We also see that, at times, the ship is assailed by storms, striking fear into the hearts of His servants. As the great ship of the Church, the Bark of Peter, carries us along the turbulent seas of history, we must not allow the fear of the storm to reign in our hearts. We set sail amidst so many difficulties and we trust that the Lord is the Captain. The storm will try to strike fear into the hearts of the crew, turning us against one another or even against the Captain Himself (Mark 4:38). We must have confidence in our Captain, who truly guides the ship, even over very troubled waters. Let us set sail on whatever mission He has given us with great confidence, flying high the banner of His victory, the standard of the cross!
THE GIFT OF THE PRIESTHOOD: This weekend is a time to celebrate the gift of the Church, as the weekend before Memorial Day has been known in our diocese for some time now as “ordination weekend.” So, as many of the priests in our diocese celebrate anniversaries around this time, we also welcome Father Daniel McShane to the ranks of the priests of the Diocese of Peoria. At the present moment that I am writing this, it is not yet known to which parish he will be assigned (although it should be known by the time most of you are reading it). You can check the Catholic Post for news about that. Please keep Father McShane in your prayers, as he begins to live the gift, the mystery, and the responsibility of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
FATHER ED’S JUBILEE: Speaking of ordination anniversaries, Father Ed Harkrader, Saint Louis’s pastor from 1988-2001, will be celebrating his 50th Jubilee this year. I am grateful to the CCW for taking the initiative of planning a celebration for him on Saturday, June 8th from 5-7 PM. I hope you can join us to congratulate him, wish him well, and thank him for his many years of service to Christ and His Church, especially at St. Louis Parish!
MEMORIAL DAY AND ASCENSION: This year, we will continue the custom of moving our Memorial Day (Monday, May 27) Mass to 9 AM. This will be the only public liturgy for the day (meaning no adoration or confessions later in the day), as is our custom, when we move Mass to 9 AM. Also, this coming Thursday is the traditional day (Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter) for the Ascension of the Lord. However, it is the current practice in most of the United States and other parts of the world as well to transfer the Ascension from Thursday to the upcoming Sunday. Thursday’s Mass will be at the regular time and it will NOT be a Holy Day, as it is not the day when the Ascension of Our Lord will be celebrated. Next Sunday, we will celebrate the Ascension.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!