Fr. Daniel Gifford
MOTHER OF DIVINE GRACE
Merry Christmas! As we continue to celebrate the Octave of Christmas, it is a great time to continue to reflect upon our Blessed Mother’s role in God’s plan for our salvation. Later this week, we will conclude the Christmas Octave (but remember, the Christmas Season still keeps going!) with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (January 1st). Thus, it is a good time to consider one of our images of the Annunciation (front cover), the day when Mary became the Mother of God. We have a handful of Annunciation images around our grounds. The one featured this week hangs in the hallway of the Atrium, assisting in the reflection and learning of our children in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Awhile back, I went around taking pictures of these images hanging in our halls, even those behind glass, for my own reflection and meditation. In most cases, the ones behind glass will be switched out for a copy of the same image we find online, when it comes time to feature it for the bulletin. But, every once in awhile the light and glare catches it in a way that is unique and striking. For example, if anyone was looking close at the cover with Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin this fall, you might have noticed the silhouette of yours truly pretty clearly reflected on the bulletin cover - that wasn’t exactly striking, just amusing. Well, when I looked at the picture of the Annunciation image from the Atrium hallway, I was struck by the way that Mary appeared bathed in a column of blue light. May this be another little reminder to us of the great favor bestowed upon her by God, in having made her for this moment, when she would offer her simple yes to the announcement of the angel. She gave her yes to the proposal of our Lord, who desired that she carry His Son into the world. Thus, she embraced her vocation as the Mother of God and also, as the title from the Litany of Loreto reminds us, Mother of Divine Grace! The angel greeted her “Full of Grace,” indicating how the Lord had prepared her for this lofty vocation. By her yes, she leaves us all a model of how to allow Divine Grace to work in our lives, that we may be empty vessels carrying Christ into the world. Divine Grace is nothing less than the very life of God, which comes to dwell within us and work in us, especially through the sacraments. May we all seek to imitate Mary’s yes to the Lord, that Divine Grace may work in our lives.
SEEK 2019: Later this week, I will depart with our Youth Coordinator Caylee and a small group of the young adults in our parish for Seek 2019, which you may have seen and heard advertised since early this fall, when we began recruiting for the trip. This excellent Catholic conference is hosted by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) for college students and other young adults seeking an opportunity to grow in their faith. Caylee and I both attended the conference back in 2017, with St. Joseph’s Newman Center at Bradley University, along with approximately 13,000 young people from around the country (see the little illustration I made at the time, to the right/left). This year, the most recent numbers approximate that 16,000 will be in attendance. The trip does include next weekend, so you will have a visiting priest for Masses. Please keep our own young parishioners, as well as the thousands of young people attending the conference, in your prayers.
BAPTISM OF THE LORD CHILDREN’S MASS: Last weekend, my bulletin letter included a little “teaser” that I am planning a special celebration for the final Christmas Mass: The Baptism of the Lord (January 12-13). Since the earliest brainstorming of “Second Sunday Stay and Play,” the idea of expanding it to include a “Children’s Mass” was one of the possibilities being explored. Since the first “Second Sunday” of the new calendar year happens to fall on the last Christmas celebration of the season, we are going to go ahead and try to have our first Children’s Mass next month. So, Sunday, January 13th, the 10:30 Mass will be a “Children’s Mass.” What does this mean? For now, it basically means that younger families with children are encouraged to sit toward the front and a few rows on each side will be reserved for this purpose, beginning with the second row (the first row will remain set aside for those with limited mobility, as it ordinarily is). The homily will be directed primarily toward the children, and hopefully their love of the liturgy will continue to grow. Presumably, we will most likely do this again on the second Sunday of February and beyond. But, as usual, I welcome feedback from parishioners.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!