A Reflection of Heaven

11-17-2019Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

So, you’ve likely noticed the scaffolding covering the front of the church and have asked, “What’s wrong?” I’m happy to report that nothing is wrong. Something is right! From the beginning, a decorative mosaic was planned in the triangular space on the facade of the church called the pediment. Our own parishioner-artist, Alice Judd, has created this beautiful mosaic through a generous donation. The mosaic features one of the most ancient Christian symbols of the Resurrection – the peacock. Between two peacocks is a stylized chalice with a cross. Grape vines come forth from the chalice symbolizing both the Most Holy Eucharist and the Church, spreading through the world. I will provide a fuller explanation when the mosaic is ready to be revealed.

As I mentioned in my column last week, November is National Black Catholic History Month, and today we mark it as a parish. Why? There are many reasons but one major reason is that we all must do our best to become on earth what the Book of Revelation says heaven is: “I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and language” (Rev. 7:9). This can’t happen if we see parishes as “black” or “white” or even any other race or ethnicity. Nor can it happen if we try to pretend that nothing is wrong/can be improved now, or that all obstacles are simply in the past and we must just “move on.”

Let us speak frankly: I have been told by multiple African-American converts that one cultural hurdle they had to overcome was that St. Mary’s is perceived as a “white church.” We must admit that it was once true and was the reason that our neighboring parish, St. Gerard’s, was initially established in 1942 during the time of segregation. This is still in the living memory of many people who suffered. Certainly, preconceptions must be overcome on both sides, but let us lead the way and do our best to reach out and evangelize all our brothers and sisters of any race or language, so that St. Mary’s – and the whole Catholic Church – will be known in Aiken and abroad truly as “a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7).

Our novena to Father Augustus Tolton ends this Thursday the 21st with a public recitation of the prayer at the end of the 5:30pm daily Mass. Of course, you may pray the novena any time. Extra copies are in the narthex of the church. Remember, Fr. Tolton needs two miracles to be declared a Saint. That could be you or a loved one! “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16).

Next week is the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Advent will soon be upon us, so get your Advent candles ready and be thinking of activities for you and your family to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Also, we will be doing Straw For Jesus again this year as a parish, so be thinking of Works of Mercy and acts of kindness you can do to make a soft bed of hay for the Savior.

Father Wilson