• Fr. Daniel Gifford

QUEEN CONCEIVED WITHOUT ORIGINAL SIN

Dear St. Louis Parishioners,

We continue our reflection on various titles from the Litany of Loreto, along with some

of the key Marian “Images of Saint Louis.” Since we celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception this weekend (Saturday, Dec. 8), our obvious title to focus on is “Queen Conceived Without Original Sin.” Last Sunday, in the opening homily for Advent, I invited us to allow Revelation 12 to be a backdrop in our Advent reflections, as we get used to having our brand-new Saint Michael statue in our sanctuary. As Michael fought the battle for victory against our enemy (the dragon, the serpent, Satan), the woman crowned with twelve stars was taken away to a place of refuge. Without a doubt, this woman is our mother, as the chapter closes with the defeated, bitter and resentful dragon going off “to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus” (Rev 12:17). Remember that the symbolic imagery of Apocalyptic Literature is often meant to work on multiple levels. Thus, this woman symbolizes both Holy Mother Church and Our Mother Mary. For this reason, it is this twelfth chapter of Revelation that is seen as the primary Scriptural basis for the understanding of Mary as Queen. You can see her in the glory bestowed upon her in Heaven in the window (front cover) behind the tabernacle in our adoration chapel. Her Queenship is not to be understood as a sign of Divinity. She is not God, but most certainly a created, human being like you and I, as the next words of the title reveal: conceived. But, her conception is different from yours and mine, as she was given the unique gift of grace, which is the Immaculate Conception. She is “conceived without original sin,” as is clearly evidenced by the greeting given to her by that other archangel, Gabriel: full of grace. The implications of the uniquely specific Greek word chosen by Saint Luke in this moment of his Gospel (Lk 1:28) are subtle, yet very clear. What is often translated into English as “full of grace” (or in some translations, even simply “favored one”) is more properly something like “having been already completely filled with grace from the beginning.” This is just one example of why the guidance of qualified Catholic Biblical scholars, such as those found on so many videos and studies on Formed.org (which you can access through our website) or within the resources used by our various parish study groups, can be extremely helpful in our reading of Scripture. I love Scripture, but I’m no Scripture scholar and would not have picked up on fascinating and important details like this without the help of scholars such as these ones. Making a little extra time for study and prayer, even once a week or a few minutes each day, is just another great way that we can retreat with our Mother and our Queen to that place of refuge, where she was taken (Revelation 12) to be alone with the Lord and allow Him to reveal Himself to us.

PERSONAL THANKS AND UPDATE: Again, I want to thank all who have expressed their prayers and concern for my mother, as she undergoes various treatments. The past couple of weeks have been especially eventful, as she underwent brain surgery to treat an aneurysm that was found during the preparations for her cancer treatments. The surgery went well, but did result in a brief scare with some complications, which sent me rushing back to Peoria last Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, by that evening she was already improving and the doctor was confident and hopeful, that she was making good progress in recovery. I am grateful for all of the prayers and support from so many parishioners. I apologize if I am not able to respond (or respond substantially) to every message or inquiry about her, but please know that I am grateful for your prayers.


LAST WEEK’S BULLETIN: We have two windows which are very similar: the Lighthouse and the Tower of Ivory. It occurred to me after the bulletins arrived last week that, while I was commenting on the Tower of Ivory window, we mistakenly posted the Lighthouse on the cover. The Tower of Ivory windom can be found here (to the left).

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!