Fr. Daniel Gifford
EYES FORWARD, WHERE HE IS LEADING
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. This weekend, we are coming to the conclusion of a series of reflections, both in homilies and in the bulletin, on the words of this prayer that Christ taught us. Our goal has been diving more deeply into it, in order to allow Him to teach us how to pray, as we try to build and maintain a habit of praying it three times each day (once at the beginning of the day, once in the middle and once in the end). At first, we might think back to our reflections on the petition “Give us this day
our daily bread” when we look at the image of the Tabernacle in the Adoration Chapel which says “Panis Vitae” (Bread of Life). If we recall those reflections, we may remember that that petition pointed us both toward the Eucharist (contained within the Tabernacle) and toward the daily graces the Lord gives us, to help us carry out His will in our daily lives. It is fitting that we see these words on the Tabernacle that we can approach up close in the chapel, which we strive to make available to daily prayer at all hours of day and night (if you don’t know the code, just call or pop in the office to ask us). We come to the Lord and recall that He is present in the Tabernacle waiting for us to come and adore Him, but also that He gives us the grace we need to carry our crosses in our daily life, our “daily bread.” Then, we might be prompted to look around the chapel and see constant reminders of the call to holiness in our daily lives, especially in the vocation to marriage and family life (I reflected on how these images flow together some time ago, which you could revisit on our website, if you like:
https:// www.stlouisprinceton.org/post/in-the-light-of-his-glory). This is especially striking in light of this weekend’s Gospel, which reflects on marriage. Elsewhere in the Gospel, the Lord reminds us of the goodness and beauty of His plan for marriage. But, this weekend’s dialogue seems more aimed at understanding those words of the vows that tell us that marriage is “until death do us part” or “all the days of my life.” Marriage is a sign meant to point us toward heaven, which is where we find our true and final fulfillment. Even the great good of marriage, the original sacramental sign that God gave us to point to His Love, is not our ultimate fulfillment. This reminder can motivate spouses to be patient and understanding toward one another, not placing on each other the full weight of our quest for happiness. Spouses don’t expect perfection from each other. They simply seek to give each other their best, in order to help one another get to heaven, our final destination. Spouses have the privilege of helping one another fix their eyes on heaven, not allowing even their love for one another to become an idol that distracts their focus from the Lord. If even marriage can become such a distraction (and it is not hard to see how our culture degrades romantic love, as it makes it into an idol), then we can see how many distractions abound in this life. How often we are allured by the temptation to look to other things besides the Lord to fulfill us! Thus, it is good to remember the final petition of the Our Father to be featured in our reflections: Lead us not into temptation. We should not misunderstand these words. Clearly, it is not our Lord who leads us into the temptations we face. Rather, He leads us through them. When we pray this prayer, we humbly acknowledge that we are weak and cannot face temptation alone. We are asking Him to lead us along paths that we can walk with Him, not to allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. But, ultimately, it is His strength that enables us to stand strong and hold fast in the midst of any temptation. As we see in the Book of Job, it is the enemy who brings temptations, as part of his constant accusations against us, meant to dishonor our Creator. Meanwhile, the Lord allows these temptations, knowing that they can become opportunities for us to grow, if only we can humble ourselves enough to rely on His strength. So, when we look around we might feel that temptation abounds. Pleasures seek to distract us from our heavenly destination of communion with God. Fears seek to arrest our feet from moving forward, forgetting that we can trust the Lord to provide for our needs, one day at a time. So, when we pray “Lead us not into temptation,” we turn our eyes away from these temptations and look to where the Lord wants to lead us. He wants to lead us forward, toward Himself. Lead us forward, Lord. Let not these temptations become a snare to my feet, but keep leading me to Yourself. So, as we turn our eyes forward again in the chapel, we see that Tabernacle and we remember the Bread of Life. The Lord gives us the grace we need to walk each day and calls us to come and adore Him, resting in Him and trusting in His victory. ARE THESE WORDS CHANGING?: Some have asked, 'Are these words of the Our Father going to change?' You may have heard reports or seen headlines indicating that Pope Francis has criticized the translation of this petition and announced plans to move to a new translation. However, this announcement was with regard to the Italian translation of the prayer. No announcement has been made regarding any plans for changing the English translation. If you are interested in learning more, you can find a quite good, short (only five and a half minutes) reflection on Formed.org, entitled The Lord's Prayer: Reflecting on the Changes. NEW IMPROVEMENTS: I also want to give you a quick update about some significant improvements either recently completed or still underway. Masonry Repair: I’ve gotten a number of comments about the good work that has been done with the tuck pointing and extensive masonry repair on our Church building. Some have also asked when the project will be completed. The estimated duration of the project was two to three months. However, that type of work will naturally be impacted by the weather, which has not been very cooperative this year. In addition to the number of work days that were already lost due to weather, the early arrival of colder weather necessitated the temporary suspension of the project until spring. In order to avoid jeopardizing the integrity of the masonry, a string of consecutive warmer days and nights are needed. Unfortunately, we have already reached the point of the year in which that is not an expectation we can rely upon. The work will continue and be completed in the spring. Emergency Phone: As part of a more extensive overhaul of our phone system, we now have an emergency phone extension. This is something I hoped to arrange much earlier upon my arrival here, especially since medical emergencies and funeral planning commonly come up outside of office hours. I apologize that it took much longer than I expected to work out the logistics of this emergency number. In order to reach me for a medical emergency or funeral planning (thank you in advance for not using it for other purposes), simply call the parish number (815-879-0181) and follow the prompt on the recording. We have already had a number of opportunities to use this new emergency extension and it has proven to be convenient and helpful.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!