Fr. Daniel Gifford
The True Feast
“Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty, you might become rich.” We have prayed these words as the Gospel Acclamation for two weeks in a row now. Meanwhile, the psalm responses have felt rather like they were building on one another, not only for those two weeks, but for the past several weeks. We recalled that “In every age, O Lord, You have been our refuge” (9/8), like the Prodigal Son coming to his senses and remembering the abundant faithfulness of his father, who still has many blessings waiting for him. Thus, we resolutely determined “I will rise and go to my Father” (9/15). But, it was the faithfulness of the Lord that raised us on our feet once more, with this determination to return to Him. It was Our Father who lifted us up, when we had sunk quite low, so we praise Him with gratitude: “Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor” (9/22). Now, it seems like our joy at this prayer of thanksgiving and praise is just continuing to overflow: “Praise the Lord, my soul!” What a mystery, that Our God has indeed come down to us, entering into our poverty to lift us up into the true wealth of heavenly glory! This weekend, especially by our Gospel, we are invited to ponder what it means to seek that true wealth of union with God, even when it means forsaking the goods of this world, that we may not be diverted by them from our eternal goal. So, it is good for us to consider the example and witness of the great
Saint Anthony of Padua, whose statue sits in our courtyard (front cover). I believe there is a great irony, in which the Lord may be trying to get our attention, to the fact that most of us know Saint Anthony best as the saint to whom we pray when we have lost our material things. I still recall the first time a priest friend playfully suggested to me, “I think Saint Anthony hides things from us.” Let me be clear: this is not an official church teaching. But, I think there really might be something to that. At times, it might be in our best interest to temporarily lose track of the material things we cling to, in order to recall that we can live without them, and to turn a glance to Saint Anthony, not just to regain our material things, but more importantly, to regain perspective. What do we see when we turn our glance to him? We see a man who answered a call from the Lord, choosing to live in voluntary poverty as a Franciscan, forsaking the goods of this world. We see the simple garb of Franciscan poverty worn by a man who is filled with joy, as he beholds in his hands the greatest treasure we can set our sights upon: Jesus Christ Himself. Perhaps in our seeking after worldly wealth, we can fail to recognize that we are indeed like the Prodigal Son, who resents that no one will feed him from the pig trough. If we understood the Feast that awaits us when we allow the Lord to lift us up and bring us home to Himself, we would not waste our time on this resentment. We would simply rise and go to our Father, even when it means forsaking the goods of this world, which is meant to feed the swine. If only we knew that we were made for so much more! We were made to feast on the banquet of love and triumph that awaits us in the Father’s House. Let us set our hearts on that banquet today.
A FEAST WHILE WE’RE WAITING: Well aware of the irony, I now want to invite you to a banquet of… well, the swine that feed from those troughs. By the time you read this, I will have begun making pulled pork this (Sunday) afternoon for the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, which will be served with other delicious fixings and a variety of beverages, adult and otherwise. Whatever your gift of time, talent, and treasure consists of -- whether it is as a money-counter, a liturgical minister, helping with our youth or with your peers, or even serving as a prayer warrior -- I would love to thank you. Please allow me that opportunity by coming to enjoy a night of food, fun, and fellowship.
AFTER DINNER, THEN A SHOW: Just a few days after the dinner (this Thursday, October 3rd), we will be bringing back the very successful event from last year: Saint Louis Live! By now, you have heard me mention that we are focusing even more on prayer in these final months of 2019. It has always been one of my goals to keep our reflections on prayer very practical, more based in the concrete reality of our busy lives, than lofty and idealistic. Well, I am happy to share with you that Saint Louis Live! is actually part of the key to that goal. I am very excited to hear testimonies from a few of our parishioners about their experience of prayer in the lived reality of their lives. Like last year, we will do this in a fun, engaging and highly entertaining format. You won’t want to miss it. I hope you can join us!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!