Fr. Daniel Gifford
EXALTATION OF THE HUMBLE
What a wonderful gathering we had last weekend, as we celebrated our parish feast day and looked forward to all that we have coming up in the fall. First, let me begin by thanking everyone for helping to make it such a great success. Thank you to everyone who attended, contributing to the overall community engagement. Thanks to all who brought a dish to share at the potluck - so many delicious choices were offered! Thanks to all of our volunteers, who helped with the individual booths, for your respective groups. And finally, I want to thank our parish staff, especially Paula Lough and Julia Mead (co-chairs), for all of the hard work in planning and preparations. Job well done! This great celebration provided us another opportunity to witness how the intercession of Saint Louis inspires us to be good stewards, giving of our time, talent and treasure to serve and build up the community. When we do this, we embrace living as faithful citizens in the Kingdom of God, which was the focus of that great king, who always sought to point to Christ the King. For this reason, we celebrate also the example of humility that our patron offers us. We don’t work for any glory of our own, but seek to serve and advance the glory of the King of creation and of our hearts: Jesus Christ, our Crucified and Risen Lord. Our readings this weekend certainly point us toward this
humility, as does the example of Our Blessed Mother. As Our Lord has made clear, the one who humbles himself or herself shall be exalted. Thus is the one who identifies herself as “the handmaiden of the Lord” greatly honored in becoming the Mother of God and finally crowned in heaven (Revelation 12). Many images of Our Lady depict her in her dual role as Mother and as Queen, including the one we are featuring this week: Our Lady of Czestohowa. Our copy (front cover) of the image hangs in the hallway outside of Harkrader Hall, next to the Annunciation image featured two weeks ago, and was donated by Ron Pioterek, whose funeral was celebrated here at Saint Louis just a few months ago. When I first met Ron, he and his wife Ruth were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. When I prayed with him in his final days, there was a certain gleam in his eyes, as he spoke of having gifted Our Lady of Czestohowa to the parish. May we all strive to have such a devotion to Our Lady, that she may teach us the humility of true children of God! This notion of allowing her to teach us this humility is quite appropriate for this particular devotion, as the more simple, original image from which the, now much decorated, Our Lady of Czestohowa evolved was a popular Eastern Catholic icon known as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). This “One Who Shows the Way” was originally clothed simply in a mantle covered in fleurs-de-lis (a meaningful image for us) and was so named because of the gesture of her hand, which directs our attention toward Christ, whose hand is raised in blessing toward us. Over the years, this image which hangs in Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestohowa, Poland, has withstood a great deal of turmoil and is believed to have miraculously both been protected from Hussite raiders in 1430 (who inflicted the two slashes on her cheek) and in turn protected the monastery from Swedish forces in 1655. In gratitude to Our Lady, not only was the image restored after such incidents, but also has been further decorated with crowns of gold and jewels. She who humbled herself has been exalted, in more ways than one. The image is devoutly venerated, especially by Polish Catholics, and has made Jasna Gora a very popular destination for pilgrimage. In fact, many Polish pilgrims testify to having made dangerous, secret pilgrimages, amidst the threat of Nazi occupation in World War II. One such daring pilgrim was none other than Karol Wojtyla, later known as Saint John Paul II. As a final fact, which makes her feature on this weekend’s bulletin especially appropriate, her feast day was celebrated just this past Monday (August 26th), the day after our own! Our Lady of Czestohowa, pray for us!
TEC KICKOFF: Just like we had our parish fall kick-off event last weekend with the Feast Day Potluck & Activities Fair, Peterstown TEC will be having its own kick-off event next weekend. This will consist of a Sunday Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Peterstown, followed by a social with music, games, snacks and guided tours of the center. Any high school teenager or adult, especially if you have been on a TEC team or have thought about doing so, are welcome to join us next Sunday night, at 5 PM in Peterstown. Likewise, any teens who will be sixteen or older this year, who haven’t yet made a TEC weekend, are encouraged to mark their calendars for the next available weekends: November 2-4 (Guys) & December 7-9 (Girls).
LABOR DAY: This Monday (September 2nd), our Labor Day Mass will be moved to 9 AM and will serve as the only public liturgy for the day (no adoration, confessions, or evening Mass), as is our custom for civic holidays. It is good to take this time to remember what we were made for. Human work is indeed a good and noble thing. Nonetheless, we cannot be defined by our work or our utility. Even our work and our productivity will be better served by this recovery of priority and purpose in our lives. The intuition that prompted the establishment of this holiday is a manifestation of the fact that the need for a sabbath is indeed built into us, rather than being an arbitrary command of God. Let us embrace this day of rest to prioritize relationships and rest in our life. And let it be a reminder to prioritize our relationship with the Lord and to guard that relationship with a true weekly sabbath, a true day of rest consecrated to the Lord.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!