Fr. Daniel Gifford
QUEEN OF ALL SAINTS
Where is our place of Safe Refuge? This theme has been with us, popping up time and again, throughout this entire Liturgical Year so far, starting with Advent. We must each seek out the place of refuge in the Lord, where our hearts find rest with Him and regain strength to carry our cross each day. But, part of the key is that when we go forth from the time of rest and prayer, we don’t leave Him there. We invite Him to remain with us, that wherever we are, we might find safe refuge in Him. This is the key to finding safe refuge in our homes, our workplaces, and even the places we may travel on vacation. Wherever you are, invite the Lord to be with you that you may seek refuge in Him, even in the many stages of our pilgrimage toward the final Safe Refuge of Heaven. This weekend, we begin a sort of spiritual pilgrimage focused on that final Safe Refuge, on which we will remain throughout the year. This spiritual pilgrimage is our reading of our primary guide through the Year of Our Lord 2019: the Gospel of Luke (symbolized by the Ox, featured in the rose window over the choir loft, which includes the symbols of all four Gospels - front cover). One of the key themes in Luke’s Gospel is this element of pilgrimage toward Jerusalem, where Our Lord will fulfill the Passover by His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Back on the Feast of the Holy Family, I discussed how St. Luke ends his “infancy narrative” with a Passover Pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52). After fast-forwarding to the beginning of His ministry, we see Him begin a trek through Galilee, where He first proclaims the Kingdom and prepares His Apostles for the pinnacle in His mission. The great turning point in the Gospel comes in Chapter 9, when He finally “sets His face” toward Jerusalem, “resolutely determined” to make His final Passover Pilgrimage. The theme of pilgrimage comes up time and again in the Gospel, until finally it closes with His journey home to that final Safe Refuge, for which we are all longing, by the Father’s side. This is why commentators have referred to Luke’s entire gospel as one long Passover Pilgrimage. Strikingly, Luke will follow up by writing the “sequel” of sorts, in Acts of the Apostles. In this second book, Luke will portray, through many stirring and inspiring tales of how the Holy Spirit guided the infant Church, the journey of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, which will become symbolic of the New Jerusalem. Again, we see the focus on that journey toward our final Safe Refuge. Lastly, one more key aspect of Luke’s Gospel is the evidence we have of his love for Our Lady, in the attention he gives her throughout those first two chapters of his gospel. Most of what we know about Mary’s role in the early life of her Son comes from Luke. Consider Luke’s own journey. This thorough historian was a man who spent a good deal of time on pilgrimage, as he traveled around to gather the accounts of those who knew Our Lord firsthand. It is fascinating to consider what it must have been like for him to listen to those stories from Mary’s own lips, which we now refer to as the Joyful Mysteries. In pondering this bond that must have been formed between Our Lady and Saint Luke, we are happy to call to her today by yet another title from the Litany of Loreto: Mary, Queen of All Saints, pray for us!
STATUE STANDS MEMORIAL: You may recall that our prominent image, to remind us of the call to the place of Safe Refuge with the Lord, is our new statue of the one who fights for us while we rest in safety with the Lord: St. Michael. Both St. Michael and St. Louis sit on stands custom-made to safely hold their considerable weight. The construction and installation of these stands was a multi-faceted process, which included strong and sturdy steel frames beneath the wood panels on the outside. These heavy reinforcements, hidden from sight, remind me of the long tradition we have of parishioners who have helped to build this parish into what it is now. Often unseen and unsung, each faithful living stone has helped to make it possible for us to have a beautiful space where we can gather and worship Our Lord. Back in August, I was honored to celebrate the funeral Mass for one such man. I knew his smile before I knew his name, as he sat faithfully always in his spot toward the middle of the Mary-side of the Church, on the center aisle. When I got to know him and his family, I was delighted to learn of his role in having been one of the parishioners who helped build Saint Louis Church. This is why I spoke with his family about finding a memorial for him that reflected this contribution to the construction necessary for us to continue in our worship of our Lord and growth in faith. I am happy to share with you that these steel frames, visible to the eyes of Our Lord who he so loved, are donated in memorial of Mr. Peter Doyle.