This weekend, our Sunday Gospel gives us a glimpse of the universal call to holiness, as we read about Jesus sending out the seventy-two. This scene is one of the unique features of the Gospel of Luke, which is not featured in the other gospels. At the most basic level, it shows us that the Twelve Apostles, those who would be ordained to become the first priests of the New Covenant, are not the only ones sent out on mission. All are sent out and many among the lay faithful (those who are not ordained), as well, are sent out on a clearly defined mission of evangelization. The reason that I specify “clearly defined” is that some are given a mission in which they are called to make a career (whether temporarily or more long term) in pastoral roles of service to the Church. In this category, we might think of missionaries - such as FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missionaries, who generally serve for a minimum of two years, or our Totus Tuus teachers, who commit to only one summer at a time. We might also think of some of our own staff, who work in Catechesis (Julia Mead) and Youth Ministry (Caylee Kennedy), as well as those whose roles are not strictly pastoral, but nonetheless entail working in service of the church (ie. Paula Lough, Renee Toomey, Bill Uher, Mark Mead). We might also think of the many volunteers in our various programs, especially those in leadership (such as our small group leaders, coordinators of the various liturgical ministries, or the officers for the Knights of Columbus or CCW, for example). But, regardless of whether one is called to any positions of these sorts, ALL Catholics are called to a life of holiness and are sent out on mission, to carry the Gospel into the world. The mission of evangelization is in great need of witnesses to the Gospel who are more actively carrying the gospel into the world, not just those called to specific roles of service within the Church. Every home, neighborhood, school and workplace is in need of Catholics living in those environments who carry their Catholic identity with them. Catholics must be willing to share their faith with a spirit of invitation and a heart that is not only in love with Jesus, but also filled with His love for others and His desire for the salvation of all. Those called to full time positions in mission work, catechesis or youth ministry, as well as those who volunteer with various programs in the parish, are called to assist the priest, within the Church, in his mission of forming the parishioners for their mission. Yes, you have a mission of your own! And the mission of the Church desperately depends on it. YOU are sent out to proclaim the gospel by your lives and make disciples of all nations (in other words, in all walks of life)! We can find many examples of lay saints, whose commitment to Christ inspired others to follow Christ as well. This week, let's consider the example of Saint Cecilia. On the ledge of our choir loft, we have a statue of Saint Cecilia (front cover). Of course, this is most fitting as she is
the patron saint of musicians. Saint Cecilia shows us how the call to holiness includes both service within the church and witness to Jesus Christ out in the world. Her intercession and the witness of her life inspires those who work or volunteer within the Church, especially those who help us enter prayerfully into our liturgies through beautiful music. But, it is also important to note how the witness of her commitment to Christ in her day confounded many and inspired them to seek and find Christ for themselves. You can find a fascinating audio-drama based on the life and memory of St. Cecilia on FORMED.ORG, which might be especially appealing to musicians and other artists, but also would likely be interesting and inspiring for any Catholic looking for an engaging story from the life of a saint. It is found under the “Listen” section and is entitled “Ode to Saint Cecilia.”
THANK YOU, MUSICIANS: With the Saint Cecilia feature this week, I also want to take this moment to thank all of our musicians. We have benefited for many years now from great organ music by Emilia Alm, Jeff Moore and Mary McCauley (who occasionally steps out of retirement for us on special occasions, when she is able). Additionally, it will soon be a year since David and Shelley Gorenz stepped up to help us organize and coordinate the efforts of various parishioners in rebuilding a cantor program. This has also included involving more of our parishioners being involved as instrumentalists, as well. On a few occasions, we have also had parishioners organize groups of musicians for Masses, such as Clare Suarez and Justus Bystry. Most recently, Mary Kieffer has agreed to help work with some of our youth to provide the music for our Children’s Masses at the 10:30 Mass on the Second Sunday of every month. It is such a gift to have so many involved in helping us enter into the liturgy, through the musical gifts God has given them. Thank you all!
THIS WEEK - ALIVE IN YOU: It feels a bit like we are having a weekly series of "Where is Father Gifford this week?!" This Tuesday, I am leaving with our High School Youth Ministry group for our summer mission trip: Alive in You. Speaking of being sent out on mission, we have a group of thirteen youth participants, four chaperones, Caylee and myself traveling down to St. Louis, MO for the week. The week consists of service to the poor during the day and activities in the evening that are not only fun and engaging, but also informative and spiritually enriching. With Mass every morning, Eucharistic Adoration in the evenings, as well as music and presentations, Alive in You is a great renewal experience for the youth and adults alike, assisting them in answering their own call to holiness and mission. Thank you to all of you who have already pledged to keep us in prayer, especially those who have signed up for a slot.
FATHER FABIEN RETURNING: While I am away these next two weeks, you will have the pleasure of another visit from Father Fabien, the same priest from the Society of African Missions (SMA) who visited last summer. The feedback I received from parishioners regarding his last visit was very positive. This arrangement not only gives parishioners an opportunity to support their mission in Africa, but also gives me the freedom to do things like joining our youth for Alive in You. I am therefore pleased to be able to continue this practice again this year. And on a personal note, I am also very glad to welcome Fr. Fabien back to Saint Louis Parish!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!