Fr. Daniel Gifford
With Christ, We Remain
Last week, we considered how Our Lord’s being stripped of His garments, not only illustrated the sacrifice He made and the corresponding pain that goes along with it, but also His readiness to do the Father’s will. Applying that same thought to the Eleventh Station (front cover), we see how His being nailed to the cross indicates His total commitment to this mission of salvation entrusted to Him. Taunters, scoffers and jeerers will mock Him, calling Him to come down from the cross to demonstrate that He is in fact the Christ, the Messiah of God. But, He will remain. He is nailed to the cross, fixed in place, unmoving. How can we live out this same commitment to the mission the Lord has entrusted to us? How can we commit to giving everything to this mission, with a total commitment that will not be moved by weariness or trials? This weekend, we can
see this exemplified by another saint on the calendar who is technically “skipped” this year, because he falls on Sunday: St. Jean Baptiste De La Salle. Jean Baptiste was a French priest who lived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who founded the Christian Brothers (short for Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools). Born a wealthy French aristocrat, he had no intention of embarking upon the education of the poor. But, the Lord had other plans. Once he embraced this as a genuine calling from God, he did not simply write a few checks from his surplus wealth. He entered into a life of voluntary poverty, so as to enter into the lives of the poor whom he served, founded a religious community committed to this task and developed a model of education that helped shape the future of education for generations to come. My alma mater, Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota (where I was a part of Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary) is a LaSallian Catholic university, under the leadership of De La Salle’s Christian Brothers. Part of our custom was to begin every class with the “LaSallian Prayer,” which began with the simple invocation, “Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.” Then, we would take a moment of silence to do as the prayer said. Finally, we would close by asking St. Jean Baptiste De La Salle to pray for us and then concluding, “Live, Jesus, in our hearts forever.” This prayer formed us, like De La Salle himself, to make our commitment to Christ permanent. We do not simply pray that Jesus would be alive in our hearts right now, in this moment. We invite Him - no, we beg Him! - to live in our hearts forever. We will not be moved by weariness or trials. We remain, with the help of Christ. As a side note, the seminarians for our diocese who still attend this same seminary are one of the groups always in great need of financial assistance, which your ADA giving helps to support. As I said last week, I thank all of our parishioners for your support and invite you to consider some kind of increase in your giving this year, as every little increase helps bring us one step closer to finally reaching our goal!
LENTEN SERIES, WEEK FOUR: The Lord has a mission for each and every one of us, on the larger scale of our primary vocation, as well as little ways that He calls us to serve Him on a daily basis. This Tuesday, we will conclude our Lenten series by bringing it all home, to review some of the key tools that have helped us learn to listen and to know what the Lord is saying to us, so now we can readily act according to His will. So, whether you’ve been coming every week, just a time or two, or will be joining us for the first time, I would love to see you Tuesday evening in Harkrader Hall for Learning to Listen to the Voice of God, Session IV: Thy Will Be Done. The action starts at 5:30 PM with a light meal and childcare will be available.
LAST WEEK’S LENTEN “CENTERPIECE”: We had a couple of really nice events last week, which a number of people worked so hard to help make happen. Julia Mead was very instrumental in helping to plan the Children’s Stations, Simple Supper and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd presentation at the beginning of the Holy Hour on Wednesday. Mary Archer was helpful in recruiting a crew of lectors (Kathy Hermeyer, Dave Boylan, Julie Hassler and herself) to provide readings for reflection and meditation during the Holy Hour. Christina Walters did an excellent job of coordinating the food at the Simple Supper, recruiting a number of parishioners to help provide delicious soups, breads and fruit. And finally, I want to also give a big thank you to our fourteen children who read the reflections for the Children’s Stations, as well as the three additional who served. Thank you to all who contributed in various ways to make these events a success.
CONGRATULATIONS: Last weekend, Kyle Jaeger and Madelyn Walters, our two confirmands in our parish Confirmation Prep program received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria. Last fall, Nathan Lough and Thomas Makransky were confirmed with Trinity Catholic Academy in LaSalle. Also, Isabella Villalobos will soon be confirmed with Holy Cross School in Mendota. We are proud of all five of our parish confirmands!
A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Recently, I have had a few people share with me that they received a phony text, email, Facebook message or something of this sort in my name. Sadly, this kind of thing happens fairly frequently, especially to priests and other ministers, as they expect people to trust us and want to help us. Please do be very cautious about what you receive, allegedly from people you may know. And allow me to say clearly, I will never initiate a conversation via those sorts of communication methods that will ask you for any money, donations, or personal information.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!