Fr. Daniel Gifford
To love God and to love another
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
It is hard to believe that it has already been just over two months that I have been with you. If I have not said it enough or recently, let me say it again: thank you for the way that you have received me into this parish and made it very joyful and fulfilling for me to
become a part of this wonderful community and call this home. While I am at it, let me also reiterate that if there is anything I can do to help make the transition as positive as possible for you, please consider me available. As I reflect on these past two months, there is much for which I thank God. Still, there is one thought that overwhelms me as I look back and also forward. It is one simple desire, namely the hope that I always have to send the message, in word and in deed, that I am here for two simple purposes, which actually encompass two facets of one single mission. In the end, it is the only mission that matters. My single mission in being here is to love God and to love you. That is all of our mission on this earth: to love God and to love another, especially those entrusted to us in a particular way. That is the message that God has sent to His family throughout the ages, in the law, as Jesus declares in this weekend’s Gospel. Yet, it is also what we are to learn, first of all, in the family. In our adoration chapel, we have a window (see pictured) that prompts us to meditate on how marital love reflects the spousal Love of Christ, for His Bride the Church, revealed especially when He gave His life for her on the cross. Over the years, I have had numerous wise husbands and fathers witness to me the simple truth that, as I just was reminded of recently by a deacon (James Keating) who played a role in my seminary formation and spoke to the priests of our diocese earlier this week, the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother (and the same, of course, goes for the mother). This is where we are to first learn the simple mission to love God and one another, entrusted to and stamped into every human person: in the context of the family, through the witness of married love. It is no accident that this window sits right next to the Holy Family window, which has the “Pray and Work” window on the other side, which as we discussed last week has particular reference to the religious life. In the family, we are to be formed in our mission to love. The witness of the parents living out their vocation is to bear fruit in the children, who embrace their vocation either to marriage or to priesthood or consecrated life. It is also striking that this Sunday’s Gospel follows after a passage (the only scene or episode skipped, since last week’s Gospel) in which Jesus teaches on the Resurrection and eternal life by answering a question about marriage. Marriage does not persist into heaven, but rather is meant to be a profound image of heaven in which the spouses devote themselves wholly to helping one another and their children to get there! This brings us full circle, leading us to better appreciate the gift of the family of the Church, where we also are to be formed in this mission of love. This is the family that will be perfectly united in heaven, taken up into the eternal communion of the Holy Trinity! Let us, then, thank God for the gift of our wonderful parish family. In particular, let us cherish this gift, as we prepare for next weekend, in which our family will gather for an important occasion. We devoted the front page to our Day of Recollection because we hope that no one misses out on the opportunity! I look forward to sharing this wonderful moment in the life of our parish family with you all.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!