THE SPIRIT DESCENDS UPON US
“Today the Bridegroom claims His bride, the Church, since Christ has washed her sins away in Jordan’s waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine, alleluia.” The Church prays these words in Morning Prayer of last Sunday’s celebration of the Epiphany. They represent a kind of weaving together of the three main events that the Church acknowledges as Epiphanies: the adoration of the magi, the baptism of the Lord, and the miracle at the Wedding feast of Cana. If you noticed me referring to last weekend’s Gospel, in the homily, as “the first epiphany” or even that I briefly referred to this weekend’s celebration of the Baptism of the Lord as “the second epiphany,” and wondered what that was all about, this is the reason. These instances each represent moments of the identity of Christ being further revealed, in one way or another. On the
day of His Baptism, Christ was identified as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, as the voice of the Father, identifying Him as the Beloved Son, was accompanied by the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. This offers us a glimpse both of who the Lord is and also of who we are through the grace of Baptism. When we were baptized, we received the Holy Spirit and the Father embraced us as His beloved children, as we were incorporated into Christ, as members of His Body. The Holy Spirit is truly present and at work in every Christian Baptism, bringing us into the very life and love of the Holy Trinity. The same Holy Spirit who descended upon Christ at His Baptism descended also upon you and I on the day of our baptism. This is also the same Holy Spirit who descended upon Mary in the Annunciation, that Christ may be conceived within her womb. Have you ever noticed that a dove is commonly depicted in artistic renderings of the Annunciation, such as the window in our own nave, despite the fact that the text of Luke 1 mentions nothing about a dove? This is because the story of the Baptism of the Lord offers us the image of the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, so the same symbol is often used to represent the Holy Spirit coming upon her. This is also why the small statue of the dove (front cover) is normally placed over the statue of Mary in the Northwest corner of the Nave. It is sometimes moved, as on Pentecost, when it is often moved to a more central location at the altar. But it is normally there above Mary, in part, to remind us that the same Holy Spirit who descended upon Mary was given to us at our baptism, since it is from the story of Our Lord’s Baptism that we learn this symbol of the dove. When we stop to light a candle before Our Blessed Mother, or even when we pass by, may we not fail to lift our eyes. And in lifting our eyes to see this Spirit Dove overshadowing Our Lady, may we remember that He has overshadowed you and I at our Baptism. Let this remind us also who we are by virtue of that Baptism. We are children of God and children of Mary. May we embrace this identity and allow our Mother Mary to teach us an even greater openness to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. CONSECRATION PREPARATION - WEEK THREE: The morning of the first Saturday gathering for the preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary turned out to be a treacherous one indeed, with roads covered in snow and ice. I know of some who hoped to attend. It is not too late. We still have three more Saturdays to go. Anyone who would like to gather to support one another in this blessed time of spiritual preparation is most welcome to join us in the adoration chapel at 9:30 AM. We will make our consecration, whether it is your renewal or your first consecration, on the Feast of the Presentation (February 2).
PERSONAL THANKS: Please allow me to take a moment to thank anyone and everyone who remembered me in your Christmas prayers, as well as with cards and gifts. I am continually overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Saint Louis Parish. I am not deserving of your gifts, but neither do I take them for granted. Truly, thank you for your kindness. Most especially, I want to express my most sincere gratitude for your prayers. This is truly the only gift that I need and I am frequently humbled with the recollection of how much the grace of God is active in my life because of the faithful prayers of God’s people, lifting me up to Him. I cannot thank you enough for this greatest of gifts. I especially want to thank everyone who has expressed sympathy, concern and prayers for my family, after the loss of my dear grandmother at the beginning of January. These moments are particularly important times to recall that we are not alone, but are embraced by the Body of Christ. Thank you for being vessels of God’s consolation to my family. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of the faithfully departed, especially all the good people of Saint Louis Parish whom we have lost, rest in peace.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!