Fr. Daniel Gifford
THE FAMILY, THE MAGNIFICENT LIGHT
Dear St. Louis Parishioners, The Great Light of the World has dawned upon our darkness, restoring hope to our hearts and giving guidance to our steps! As He continues to teach us and form us, He tells us that He has made us the “Light of the World.” We are to reflect His glory and beauty to a world that is in desperate need of His
Light. Since it comes from Him, the light within us grows cold the more that we distance our hearts from His will. Thus, these next two weeks, we will see the Gospel shift its focus back to the commands of the Lord and how they are meant to bring, not only our outward actions, but our whole hearts into sync with His. This week, we place particular focus on the magnificently brilliant light He made to shine out boldly to the world: THE FAMILY. The Enemy has utilized countless weapons in our culture to try to dull this incredible light. As we have just come off of a secular holiday - ironically named after a Catholic Saint - meant to celebrate human love, it is good that we remember the purpose of such romantic pursuits. They are meant to discern a marital vocation, in order to lay a firm foundation for the family, to kindle the fires of that MAGNIFICENT LIGHT meant to shine to a world in urgent need of its glow! Fittingly, then, we focus on restoring God’s plan for this wonderful gift that is marriage. Recognizing how desperately we need this light, I invite you to join me in praying that we might once again fall in love with God’s plan for love! This week, I want to highlight a number of upcoming opportunities, four steps if you will, to assist with this process of falling in love with God’s plan for love.
PRAYING FOR 20/20 VISION: Step One of renewing our love of God’s plan for love is recalling the vision for our monthly special moment of prayer in this Year of Humility: Praying for 20/20 Vision, As We Contemplate the Humility of Christ. There is a need to recover clarity of sight, to allow His Light to help us to see more clearly the beauty that He saw when He looked upon creation, before the fall, and said “Behold it is very good.” Where do we bring our petitions for this recovery of sight? We bring them to Christ Himself, in the place where we encounter His humility most boldly: The Holy Eucharist. We strive to humble ourselves before Christ in an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, where He humbles Himself before us.
HOLY HOUR FOR MARRIAGE: Step Two is to come for that special “20/20 Vision” Holy Hour this week on Tuesday, February 18th, at 7:00 PM in the Church. The Holy Hour for Marriage will bring our prayers, for the renewal of marriage, to Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. We will offer this time of prayer for the renewal of every individual marriage, as well as for marriage as a whole. This dual purpose is not unlike Christ’s miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana, which was a blessing to the specific marriage of the couple whose wedding feast He was attending, but also elevated the Sacrament of Matrimony as a whole to the level of a Sacrament of the New Covenant. Perhaps you want to offer this hour of prayer for specific couples among your family and friends who are newly married, preparing for marriage, or experiencing difficulties in their marriage. Perhaps you want to offer it for young people who are receiving so many mixed messages about marriage, dating and sexuality, that they may desire and hold fast to purity and to seek to better understand the beauty of God’s plan for our sexuality. Perhaps you want to offer it for the discernment of your own vocation, as you believe you may be called to marriage, but have not yet found your spouse. Perhaps you want to offer it for the recovery of an environment in which people can have an honest, reasonable, and respectful conversation about marriage and sexuality, without anyone who supports God’s plan being accused of hate. On the same note, perhaps you want to pray that those who seek to promote God’s plan for marriage and sexuality in our culture would be aided by grace in order to more effectively speak the Truth with Love and Joy. Perhaps you want to offer it for anyone who experiences same sex attraction or is confused about their sexuality and has only heard the narrow view that the culture offers them (which only offers the options of either indulge or repress), that they may find genuine, compassionate assistance and accompaniment in carrying their unique cross. We might pray that people in this situation know that they are not alone, and that they don’t have to be afraid or ashamed, but neither do they have to go the way of indulgence, toward which the culture directs them. Perhaps you want to pray for more souls to discover the truth behind God’s plan to preserve the unity between love and life in the marital embrace, including understanding better the dangers to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of both the individuals and the couples, which are brought on by artificial contraception, as well as the corresponding advantages to Natural Family Planning. Perhaps you want to pray for the truth of these matters to no longer be concealed, even within spheres of the medical community, that spouses might be directed to that which helps their marriage remain healthy. Perhaps you want to pray for a deepening of your own understanding of some of these matters. All of these things and more will be among the intentions for which we intend to offer this time of prayer.
LEARN MORE: Step Three is to learn more about God’s plan for love, as well as how to both understand and communicate it more effectively. You will find more helpful resources than I can really list here if you simply browse Formed.org for the relevant topics (some under “Current Topics,” others under “Apologetics,” “Documentaries,” “Sacraments” and even “Youth Programs”). But, we will also have a great opportunity on Thursday, February 27th to view a resource, which is not available on Formed.org. We will view “Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae” in Harkrader Hall at 6 PM that evening. This documentary features a number of more scientific and historical details, which helps us better understand, not only the truth of God’s plan, but also why it is so seldom known and embraced. Adults are most encouraged to come and high school and junior high age youth are also encouraged, but only with a signed permission slip or if they are accompanied by a parent.
PARENTS, TAKE A DAY: Finally, Step Four is a very special Day of Recollection for parents of babies through high school age students! It will take place at our parish on Saturday, March 7th from 8:30am-12pm. This day will feature guest speaker Kathleen Billings, who will provide reflections on the theme of “Families, Be Who You Are”. There will be time for prayer, as well as childcare with special activities for children ages 3+! This is a great opportunity to experience renewal in your family and engage with other families striving for holiness, so don’t miss out on this special event!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!