Fr. Daniel Gifford
THE HOUSE TAKES SHAPE
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
There is a beautiful window (front cover) in the adoration chapel, which is the perfect focal point for reflection as we move into the grand conclusion of our preaching series, “The Lord Builds the House.” The window sits behind the tabernacle and to the left and it features the image of a strong and sturdy house (or church) with what appears to be the Eucharist at the center. It is often a part of my weekly custom to go into the chapel after daily Mass and pray, with this image being one that provides great inspiration for prayer for our parish family. We have been talking about intentionally working to foster within ourselves these pillars of Prayer, Humility, Integrity, Responsibility, and Hospitality, in order to be those living stones, through which the Lord builds the house (the parish community) into a strong and sturdy dwelling, where people come in, meet the Lord, and find they are at home. This building up of the community is essential to our participation in the Lord’s mission of making disciples, as He came to bring us into communion with the Holy Trinity. For this reason, our intentional acts of outreach in evangelization, through responsibility and hospitality, are rooted in our communion with and in Christ. Our mission flows out of our identity, which is rooted in this covenant relationship with the Lord. This was the foundation upon which the house is built: Relationship→ Identity→ Mission. For this reason, if the house is to remain strong, and indeed grow in sturdiness and stability, Christ must always, always, always be at the center. Our Eucharistic encounter with the Lord, in which He feeds us with Himself and perfects our communion with Him, must always be at the center. Part of the mystery of the image of the house, as an image of the unity of the Church, is that we are not dwellers within the house per se. The house is a dwelling for the Lord, who as the mystery unfolds further, also lays Himself down as the Cornerstone. We are to be the living stones that make up the house, that are responsible for - in a sense - holding up this immovable dwelling where people come in… but for what purpose? To meet the Lord. All of our efforts to build up community and fellowship must remain focused on this mission of creating an opportunity for souls to meet their Lord. This final pillar of hospitality is sort of a “make or break” moment for that process of building the house. The measure of hospitality can be described as the pillar in which the house takes shape, as it will be the final and extremely important factor, which influences people’s perception of this house - this parish family. We all know we must be hospitable, but it requires constant intentional effort. So, may we renew and even deepen our efforts to be hospitable, that people may not only meet the Lord here, but find a home, where they can dwell and live with Him.
WELCOME TO OUR HUMBLE ABODE: Next Sunday, we welcome and encourage all members of our parish family to stay after the 10:30 Mass - or come back, if you attend an earlier Mass - for our Parish Picnic, Activity Fair, and Fall Kick-Off. This is to be a time of fellowship for all, as well as an opportunity for parishioners new and old alike to learn about and even sign up for a number of the opportunities for fellowship and communal growth in discipleship, as everything finally kicks-off for the fall. We hope you and your family can join us.
HOSPITALITY IN THE LITTLE THINGS: Hospitality is often lived out in the little things. I have recently began a couple of new practices to hopefully attend to some of these little things, which I wanted to call to your attention.
1. You may have noticed that I am not always going to the central Park Avenue entrance to greet people after Mass anymore, but have recently begun alternating which exit I stand at. I realize people have different reasons, often very ordinary and practical ones, for choosing which exit to leave through. I want to increase the amount of parishioners and guests I have the chance to greet. So, if you don’t see me in the back, I’m not avoiding you. And if you see me at one of the side entrances, don’t be surprised, and don’t be shy.
2. I have also begun to clear out some of the clutter in the adoration chapel (ie. extra kneelers which were cumbersome and created confusion in the weekly set-up). I may follow up further regarding “chapel etiquette”, but helping to keep our chapel orderly can affect people’s experience when they come into pray, whether inside or outside of Mass. Thanks for any assistance you can offer in attending to this.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!