• Fr. Daniel Gifford

TOWER OF IVORY

Dear St. Louis Parishioners,

Happy New Year! As we begin a new Church Year, we will shift to a new theme for our

bulletin, which will extend from Advent through the Presentation of the Lord (February 2, which was traditionally the conclusion of the Christmas Season). During this time, we will reflect on a Marian theme, reflecting on different images from around our Church and grounds, which either feature Mary directly or otherwise pertain to her, together with various titles from the Litany of Loreto. This week, as Advent draws us back into the Old Testament spirituality of awaiting the Savior, we will reflect upon the titles “Tower of David” and “Tower of Ivory.” The title of Tower of Ivory (shown in the window in the chapel, to the right of the tabernacle; front cover) is a reference back to Song of Songs 7:4, in which it refers to the beloved, from the lips of the lover, personified in King Solomon, but also symbolizing our God. Throughout the Old Testament, God has spoken through the prophets to His beloved people, evoking the imagery of Bridegroom and Bride, since marriage was intended from the beginning as an image of His love for us. Solomon uses the image of the Tower of Ivory as a symbol of beauty and majesty to describe his beloved, but also as a symbol of her purity. This reference to the Tower of Ivory has also been likened to the Tower of David, in Jerusalem, as an additional reminder that the beloved in the Song is also a reference to God’s people, Israel. Since it is a symbol of purity that is preserved and unstained, guarded safely and set apart from the contamination of the outside world, articulated within a book of the body of Scripture known as “wisdom literature,” over time, the “ivory tower” took on a negative cultural connotation, indicating someone who has been so given over to intellectual pursuits that they have lost touch with the reality of the outside world. The true understanding of how the Tower of Ivory evokes the love and pursuit of wisdom is much more profound. Song of Songs speaks on a number of different levels, as Scripture so often does. Throughout Wisdom Literature, Solomon personifies Wisdom as “Lady Wisdom,” and in the Song, on one level, he sings of his love for her and pursues her, just as a lover pursues his beloved’s heart. The resulting union with True Wisdom does not make one ignorant of reality, but rather enlightens the mind to see and understand reality more clearly and completely in all of it beauty and glory. Tradition has likened this image to Mary for a variety of reasons. As the Immaculate Conception, her purity is preserved unstained and her beauty is unparalleled. As the Mother of the Church, she symbolizes most profoundly the beloved of God. As the Mother of Christ, she bears the Word of God Made Flesh, Wisdom Incarnate, in her womb. May our pondering of God’s great love for Mary prompt us both to deepen our love for our mother and to open our hearts to receive His great love for us!

DECORATIONS: As we progress into the holidays, I want to acknowledge the hard work of our decorating committee, under the leadership of Rita Tracey. Just last week, we had a special one-shot arrangement for Christ the King and as we move through Advent and into Christmas, the beautiful decorations will continue to evolve. Since their crew is rather small, if you feel called to join their ranks and assist them, please do contact Rita.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!