Fr. Daniel Gifford
HUMILITY, THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE
The cover of this week's bulletin reminds us about the great opportunity we will have next Saturday to spend a day reflecting on humility as a foundation for prayer, with the help of Dr. Lawrence Feingold. Humility is both a foundation and a fruit of prayer. It is needed to approach the Lord, but also grows within us the more time we spend with Him. One who lacks humility takes God's gifts for granted or even takes credit for them. Meanwhile, humility moves our hearts to recognize the presence and activity of God in our lives, causing us to overflow in gratitude. This causes us to live lives of thanksgiving and praise. Without humility, we expect the world to notice and appreciate our own accomplishments, while humility wonders at the words of this weekend's psalm response: "The Lord has revealed to the nations His saving power." This kind of humility that overflows into gratitude and praise causes us to behave like Naaman (in our first reading) and the one leper who returned to thank the Lord (in the Gospel). Notice in the story of Naaman how his gratitude overflows into praise of God, into genuine worship and adoration. Recognizing the gift God has given him, he is able to recognize the truth of who God is and the need to regard God as holy. His thanksgiving overflows into praise. This is what we are to remember in our praying of the Our Father, when we come to the first petition of the prayer: “Hallowed be Thy Name.” This prayer both requires humility and causes humility to grow within us, as we begin to ask the Lord, not for any credit or glory of our own, but that His Name would be regarded as holy. Far too often, we fall short even of thanksgiving, lacking the humility to recognize God’s gifts and thank Him for them. But, this thanksgiving is really only supposed to be the first step to living a life of praise, one that selflessly seeks to glorify God. When Jesus teaches us this petition in the Our Father, it should remind us that God has told us numerous times in the Old Testament that He intended to make His glory known in us, His people. He intends to reveal His glory and His saving power to the nations through the people He calls His own. So, the petition moves us to pray that His Name would be known and
recognized as holy in our own lives. Consider how the images on the tabernacle in the main church (pictured here in this letter) invite us to reflect on this desire that His glory would be seen and known, that His Name may be regarded as holy. Atop the cross rests what appears to be a Eucharistic Host, displayed as if in a monstrance, with rays of glory emanating from it. On the cross-bars of the cross, we see the symbol of the Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end) as the Lord is identified in the Book of Revelation. And along the bottom, we see the words of the beautifully simple prayer: Veni Jesu (Come, Jesus). When we reflect upon Our Lord waiting within the tabernacle, hidden under the humble disguise of the appearance of bread, the desire may grow within us for Him to come forth and show His glory. We may begin to desire that the world would begin to see that the living God, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who ever was and ever shall be, is ever present and active in our lives, from beginning to end. We may desire that the world would see the greatest of gifts, that God Himself is present to us and gives Himself to us in the humblest of forms, in the Holy Eucharist. In His humility, He hides His glory, inviting us to search for Him, to long for Him, to pine for Him. When we take the time to accept this invitation, we no longer take Him for granted, but we begin to see His glory and desire that all would see it and show Him fitting worship and adoration. We desire that His Name would be regarded as holy. When we stop and notice His gifts, we cannot help but to be humbled and to overflow in both thanksgiving and praise. Then, the prayer He taught us begins to become our own: Hallowed be Thy Name.
ANOTHER RECOMMENDATION ON FORMED: On a related note, since I have recently encouraged you to check out Formed.org (again, if you haven’t for awhile), I have a more specific recommendation for you. On Formed, you can find a couple of great studies to add to your watchlist while you’re folding laundry or whenever is your best time. There is an engaging and enriching feature on the Eucharist in the series called “Presence: The Mystery of the Eucharist.” If you want to go a bit more in depth for a longer study on the same topic, I also recommend the study called “Lectio: Eucharist with Dr. Brandt Pitre.” While the first is more of a creative series, the second entails a more involved bible study, which looks closely at how everything we believe about the Eucharist is deeply rooted in Scripture.
ST. LOUIS LIVE! THANKS: This is the first bulletin article I’ve written since our second annual Saint Louis Live! Due to time constraints, I have not even had a chance yet to acknowledge this year’s guests in the bulletin. This year, we welcomed Steve Kelly, Jeanie Gelsomino, Dcn. John Murphy and Patsy Bystry (along with her mother, Rachel). I am grateful that the Lord called this diverse group of people to share a bit of their own journey in growing in prayer. And I am very grateful to them for being willing to share that with all who came to join us for that fun and inspiring event. Thank you to all of you for your generosity. Also, thank you to Dave Roden, our host, and Vince Gelsomino, our co-host and musical accompaniment. Stay tuned, as the video should be appearing on our YouTube channel very soon!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!