Fr. Daniel Gifford
Old altar rail gates
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
Last week, we talked about one of the old altar gates, which now hang on either side of the back wall of the sanctuary. One question I did not address is, “Why this image as an altar rail gate?” The altar rail is where we receive Our Lord, under the appearance of bread and wine. So, opposite of the huge bundle of grapes (which becomes wine), we have an image of bread. Technically, it was both bread and wine, which were offered in the scene depicted, in which Melchizedek makes his offering in tribute to Abram
(Abraham) after his victory over the kings of the North (Gen 14). This scene has abundant significance, with regards to the old covenant, including the link of Abraham to Jerusalem (which some equate with Salem, of which Melchizedek is king) and also as a prefiguration of the Eucharist and Priesthood of the New Covenant (see Hebrews 7). But, let’s think a bit about the story for a moment. Abram has been called by God, given a promise that God “will make of (him) a great nation” (Gen 12). Yet, he still has no child of his own. This pain is aggravated further by his parting from his nephew, Lot. Once he receives news that Lot has been caught up in this conflict between kings and captured, he promptly rises to gather men and mount his rescue mission. In gratitude for the resulting defeat of the kings of the North, which he and his allies could not accomplish on their own, the king of Sodom comes to Abram, bringing with him this king of Salem, who is a “priest of God Most High” through whom God gives His blessing to Abram. Immediately after this, the Lord comes again to Abram and renews His promise: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward will be very great” (Gen 15). Abram responds by venting his concerns of his lack of offspring and it is then that God gives Him the famous promise of descendants as numerous as the stars. Again, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness, which is so easily forgotten. Not unlike Abraham lamenting the fact that he has no children, we do not always see the good things happening with our children and young people. It has been a priority of mine for weeks to help spread this good news. In just a few days, we will resume our Family Faith Formation for all grades, shortly after which Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will begin their sessions. Already, we have had classes for those preparing for sacraments (one week for First Reconciliation and Communion and two for Confirmation). Being with our children as they prepare for these sacramental encounters with our Lord has been a highlight for me in my time here. Meanwhile, our High School Youth Ministry (see pics, following page) has had two great gatherings already, filled with fun, fellowship, prayer, and beginning to plan for sharing the Good News with their younger brethren, through our Junior High Youth Ministry, which will be kicking off later this month! Thank God for the many signs of His goodness, alive in our young people!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!