Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Praying for the Impossible

THOSE OF US WITH FAITH tend to be deeply disappointed in our attempts to influence the City of the World: we seem to always fail, even in relatively trivial political matters. The degradation of the culture seems to always be irreversible, society being controlled by a kind of ratcheting mechanism that allows change in one direction only.

Many of those who oppose or are ignorant of the Faith have had extraordinary success in changing the culture by using delaying or "Fabian" tactics, named after the Roman politician and soldier, Fabius Maximus, called the Cunctator (delayer), after his successful policy of never directly attacking the army of Rome's enemy Hannibal. This caused the attrition of the Carthaginians while simultaneously conserving Roman troops. These delaying, incremental tactics of the "Culture of Death" have steadily eroded our laws, morality, and even the beauty of the arts in a seemingly inexorable process that has stretched over decades.

We are like dogs under the master's table, eating only unwanted or inadvertently dropped scraps of food. We are overjoyed when a film, song lyric, or minor judicial decision has some redeeming quality, or is only slightly repugnant.

Moral theology tells us that we can legitimately use incremental means in the political process, for we should not make "the best the enemy of the good". However, this seems to have failed badly, with victories few, trivial, and often quickly overturned. This failure does not mean that we should abandon the world, on the contrary, we have a grave moral duty to cooperate responsibly with others in society. But perhaps we should change our emphasis, by not expecting much from worldly political and economic systems, nor by placing our hope in minor victories.

Perhaps instead we should pray for the impossible.

Why can't we pray and hope for a complete conversion of our society? Instead of making New Year's resolutions to moderate some vice, why don't we instead pray for perfect sanctity? Instead of hoping for some political solution to the problems in the Middle-East, why don't we instead pray for a change of heart and the desire for peace? Instead of just accepting as adequate our contemporary arts, why don't we instead pray for overwhelming beauty and goodness?

Humanly, these things seem impossible, impracticable, going against the social trend and is counter to institutional inertia. But God can do all these things, if it is His will. Our Lord said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matt. 7:7-8) Can we infer that if we do not ask, we will not receive?

Monday, December 25, 2006



The main altar at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri. Photo taken after the Christmas Mass at Midnight.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006


CHRISTMAS TREE in the rotunda of the Old Courthouse, in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Photos of Our Lady's Chapel at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Our Lady's Chapel at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel

Our Lady's Chapel is one of four side-chapels in the Cathedral, and was designed by the Tiffany Company. Church construction started in 1907.

Here are my photos of the other chapels:
The older photos were taken with my former camera, and the colors are squirrelly. The new camera shows the colors more accurately.

Lauds are said in this chapel on weekdays after the 7:00 a.m. Mass.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, statue of Mary

Statue of Mary and the Christ child.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, tabernacle

Tabernacle; the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved here, but instead is in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, located on the other side of the sanctuary.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, mosaic of the Trinity above the altar

Mosaic of the Trinity above the altar.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, mosaic detail on side of altar

Detail on side of altar.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel,mosaic detail on front of altar

Detail on the front of the altar.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, detail of twisted columns next to altar

Ornate columns next to the altar. I've heard that twisted columns were used in Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, floor detail

Detail of floor.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, view to back of chapel

A view to the back of the chapel.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, arch mosaics detail

Close-up view of the arch over the doorway. The shimmering blue of the cross background caught my eye.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, windows

Windows in side of chapel, facing west.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, mosaic of the Presentation of Mary at the Jewish Temple

There are four mosaic groups on the side of the chapel, featuring scenes of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and apparitions in the lunettes on the top. This is the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, mosaic of the Assumption

The Assumption.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, mosaic of apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Crusaders and Saracens

Mary with Crusaders and Saracens.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, column capital

Detail of column capital between the chapel and ambulatory.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, arch detail

Mosaics on arch.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, ceiling mosaics

The mosaics on the chapel ceiling are beautiful.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, ceiling mosaics

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel, ceiling mosaics

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - west ambulatory

An ambulatory is open to the chapel on the left, and to the sanctuary on the right. In the back is a statue of Saint Louis IX, King of France. It goes completely around the sanctuary, and leads to the large sacristy.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - west ambulatory ceiling Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - west ambulatory ceiling Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - west ambulatory ceiling Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - west ambulatory ceiling

Ceiling mosaics in the ambulatory next to the chapel.

Address:
4431 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - door into rectory with wreath
Door to the rectory of the cathedral in Saint Louis.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Louisiana Purchase

ON DECEMBER 20th, 1803, THE UNITED STATES took possesion of the lower Louisiana territory, in a ceremony in the Sala Capitular of the Cabildo in New Orleans, Louisiana. Three months later, the nothern Louisiana territory was transfered in a ceremony in Saint Louis. This action doubled the size of the United States.

Initially, the U.S. just wanted to secure the right to ship goods down the Mississippi River through the Spanish-controlled port of New Orleans, which is near the Gulf of Mexico. But in April, 1803, Emperor Napolean of France made the surpise offer to sell all of the Louisiana territory. At this time, the U.S. controlled the eastern banks of the Mississippi River, and many U.S. nationals were living in the colonial territory to the west. It was a great deal, and President Thomas Jefferson made the purchase (although perhaps unconstitutionally).

The Louisiana territory had passed from French to Spanish control after the French and Indian War, but was returned to French ownership in 1800, although still under Spainish government administration.

Although the Purchase cost the United States 15 million dollars, Napolean only got $8,831,250; the rest was in payments to bankers and in settlement to those who had financial claims against France.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cat


Of the cat

The cat is called musio, mouse-catcher, because it is the enemy of mice. It is commonly called catus, cat, from captura, the act of catching. Others say it gets the name from capto, because it catches mice with its sharp eyes. For it has such piercing sight that it overcomes the dark of night with the gleam of light from its eyes. As a result, the Greek word catus means sharp, or cunning.

—definition from a Medieval bestiary

Photos of the Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions, at Saint Louis University

The Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions is housed in the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, at the SLU campus in midtown Saint Louis, Missouri. Quoting the museum website:
At the invitation of Bishop Louis DuBourg, nineteenth century Jesuits arrived in St. Louis in 1823 hoping to work among the Indian people in the St. Louis area. They soon discovered that effective ministry would require the sending of men into the American west while the bishop discovered that the Jesuits could administer a college he had founded in 1818. Saint Louis University was taken over by the Society of Jesus in 1832 and missionaries like Father Peter De Smet, S.J. were sent from St. Louis, following the paths already blazed by St. Louis fur traders and frontiersmen.

The original Indian mission of St. Regis established in Florissant, Missouri, was made over into a Jesuit community dedicated to the training of young Jesuits. For more than 150 years, St. Stanislaus was an academic community and a community of prayer. It was also the "motherhouse" for the Missouri province, a sprawling complex of buildings, farms and orchards. Over time, it became a repository for art, missionary artifacts, books, and basic necessities. When the complex was finally shuttered in 1973, the original stone building on the property was dedicated as a museum. In 2001, the collection housed in the "rock building" was transferred to the Saint Louis University Museum of Art.

Today, the Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions fills the entire third floor of the museum. The artifacts illustrate not just Jesuit and Catholic life but also the frontier experience of the Jesuit missionaries. Art and artifacts reflect a universe of experience, and illustrate art over the centuries and the artifacts of continents and creeds.

Click here for photos of the old Saint Stanislaus Seminary, in Florissant, Missouri, located about 21 highway miles northwest of the museum.



Painting of Pierre Jean De Smet (1801-1873), born in Belgium, priest of the Society of Jesus, and great missionary to the Indians in the American West. From the Catholic Encyclopedia;
On behalf of the Indians he crossed the ocean nineteen times, visiting popes, kings, and presidents, and traversing almost every European land. By actual calculation he travelled 180,000 miles on his errands of charity.

His writings are numerous and vivid in descriptive power, rich in anecdote, and form an important contribution to our knowledge of Indian manners, customs, superstitions, and traditions. The general correctness of their geographical observations is testified to by later explorers, though scientific researches have since modified some minor details. Almost childlike in the cheerful bouyancy of his disposition, he preserved this characteristic to the end, though honoured by statesmen and made Chevalier of the Order of Leopold by the King of the Belgians. That he was not wanting in personal courage is evinced by many events in his wonderful career. Though he had frequent narrow escapes from death in his perilous travels, and often took his life in his hands when penetrating among hostile tribes, he never faltered. But his main title to fame is his extraordinary power over the Indians, a power not other man is said to have equalled. To give a list of the Indian tribes with whom he came in contact, and over whom he acquired an ascendancy, would be to enumerate almost all the tribes west of the Mississippi. Even Protestant writers declare him the sincerest friend the Indians ever had.
Father De Smet sought to preserve Indian culture and lands, while encouraging among them a moral life: opposing constant warfare between tribes, the enslavement of women, and the consumption of alcohol. He hoped to replicate in North America the relative successes seen with the native peoples in Latin America. But by the time of his death, national policy became overwhelmingly influenced by Darwinism: the struggle between the races was encouraged as an inevitable fight for the "survival of the fittest", and the Indians became targets for elimination. This attitude of our government was only changed in recent decades by new policies of socialism, which are hardly better.



Father De Smet's cassock.

Click here for two of Fr. De Smet's books, available for reading online.



An Indian jacket; decorated with holly?



Indian artifacts.



Two ancient globes, one of the heavens and the other of the earth.



A close-up of California on the terrestrial globe, which until three hundred years ago was thought to be an island. This supposition isn't surprising, since inland California is a vast swamp.

The globes are worth zillions of dollars, but of vastly higher value are these relics.....



Relics of Saint Victoricus, removed from the altar at SLU's Saint Francis Xavier Church during post-Vatican II renovation.



Relic of the True Cross.



Relics of some of the North American Jesuit Martyrs, missionaries to the Huron in what is now Quebec and New York State, who were killed in the 1640s by Iroquois and Mohawks. Their feast day is collectively on October 19th in the general calendar, and on September 26th in Canada.



Relics of the Jesuit Saints. I'm not sure if relics ought to be in a museum.



These old monstrances were used by Jesuits in Saint Louis.



Ciborium.



Station of the Cross.



A very old carved wood tabernacle door.



Painting of Jesus and Mary.



Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.













Joseph Rosati's catechism in French, dating from 1833. Rosati was Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Louis until 1843.



A classroom display. Life for the seminarians in the 19th century may have been difficult, but was quite comfortable compared to life on the mission in the wilds of the American West.





18th century hand tools used at the Jesuit seminary in Florissant. The seminary was self-sufficient, growing or making nearly everything they needed.



The seminary housed a winery, making sacramental wine, and it was the only winery legally operating in Missouri during Prohibition.



Wine bottle corking machine.



Statue in Carrera marble of the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents



The museum exterior.

The museum is free of charge.

Address:
3663 Lindell Boulevard
Saint Louis, Missouri 63108


Hours:
Wednesday through Sunday
11 a.m. — 4 p.m.
Closed on national holidays