Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Saints Day

Excerpts from various liturgies for All Saints Day:
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of all the Saints: at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God...

I beheld a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, standing before the throne...

Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests...

You have drawn near to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem...

The glorious company of apostles praises you, the noble fellowship of prophets praises you, the white-robed army of martyrs praises you, all the saints together sing your glory, O Holy Trinity, one God...

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God...

Photos of All Souls Church, in Overland, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of All Souls Church, in Overland, Missouri. The church is located about 15 highway miles northwest of downtown Saint Louis and is about two miles south of Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport.

This church is built in honor of the Holy Souls, those souls of the faithful departed who need our prayers. Most traditional religion, including Eastern Orthodoxy and Orthodox Judaism, pray for the dead, although the theology of this practice is more highly developed in Catholicism.

This photo was taken at sunset.

Overland is built on what was the Spanish colonial "King's Road" to Saint Charles, dating from 1772, which was an overland trail to the West that bypassed treacherous parts of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The route was renamed Saint Charles Rock Road in 1865 when it was paved with crushed stone macadam.





According to the 2007 parish census, this church has approximately 1,834 Catholics.

On the altar are the Greek letters Α and Ω, alpha and omega, the first and last letters in the alphabet:
Ego sum Alpha et Omega principium et finis dicit Dominus Deus qui est et qui erat et qui venturus est Omnipotens .
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Apocalypse 1:8)
is a combination of Χ (chi) and Ρ (rho), the first letters of 'Christ' in Greek.

The tabernacle.

Liturgical vessels, ready for Mass.

The communion rail.

Detail of communion rail. Perhaps the bird is a pelican chick, drinking from the Precious Blood, as in the allegorical story of the pelican who smote his own breast to feed his dying chicks. Note the use again of the Chi-rho emblem, and a basket of loaves. Other symbols on the railing include the fish and torch.

Mary's altar.

Joseph's altar.

Mosaic icons of Mary and Jesus.

Elaborately dressed Infant Jesus of Prague, under glass.

One of the confessionals. The use of confessionals are a way of guaranteeing the anonymity of the Sacrament, since the priest typically cannot see the penitent. While most associated with the Counter-Reformation, an early kind of confessional in women's monasteries dates from the Middle Ages, where the priest was separated from the Sisters by a grille. Sometimes the grille was in the outside wall of a church. A form of confession still practiced in the East has the penitent kneeling in front of the priest, under his cope.

Sigmund Freud noted that Catholics who regularly received the Sacrament of Penance did not need his new therapy of psychoanalysis; ironically, in recent decades, a new practice of face-to-face confessions was encouraged by some theologians, in imitation of psychoanalysis.

A view down a side-aisle. In the back you can see a crowd forming, waiting for a wedding rehearsal.

Abstract stained glass window.

9550 Tennyson Avenue
Overland MO 63114

Monday, October 29, 2007

Upcoming Events at the Oratory

At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri:
  • Tuesday, October 30, Votive Mass of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Masses at 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (Every Tuesday)
  • Wednesday, October 31, Mass of Saint Joseph. Low Masses at 8:00 a.m. and Noon.
  • Thursday, November 1, ALL SAINTS DAY. Holy Day of Obligation. Masses at 8:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m, and Solemn High Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 2, ALL SOULS DAY. Masses at 8:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m., and Solemn Requiem Mass at 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 3, Requiem Mass at 8:00 a.m.
  • Sunday, November 4. Low Mass at 8:00 a.m., Solemn High Mass at 10:00 a.m., Confirmations with Archbishop Raymond Burke. Plenary indulgence. Reception following Mass in Oratory hall.
  • Sunday, November 25. 99th Anniversary of the dedication of the church. Msgr. Schmitz, Vicar General and Provincial Superior will be celebrant. Mass followed by the Kirchweihfest, or church picnic
  • Monday, November 26. Mass at 8:00 a.m., celebrated by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.
  • Thursday, November 29, Novena of the Immaculate Conception begins nightly at 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, December 7. First Friday. Solemn High Mass at 7:00 p.m., followed by Benediction.
  • Saturday, December 8. IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. Holy Day of Obligation.
  • Wednesday, December 12. Solemn Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Masses at 8:00 a.m., Noon, and Solemn High Mass at 7:00 p.m.
Saint Louis Art Museum, in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - fountain of NeptuneThis lovely fountain is on permanent exhibit in the main hall of the Saint Louis Art Museum. However, this statue, which dates from the early 16th century, is of the pagan god Neptune. The fact that nominally Christian patrons supported such non-Christian art undoubtedly led to the vicious iconoclasm of the Reformation. Likewise, the introduction of pagan art in Catholic churches in recent decades has filled Protestant churches with former Catholics. Art has immense power, and it must be used extremely carefully, not according to whim, but rather according to sound doctrine and faith.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mausoleum Chapel at Calvary Cemetery, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USAMausoleum chapel, at Calvary Cemetery, in Saint Louis, Missouri.
All Souls Roman Catholic Church, in Overland, Missouri, USA - exteriorAll Souls Church, in Overland, Missouri

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Do Not Read If You Are Squeamish

WARNING! Do not read if you are squeamish or easily offended!

There is a controversial new science museum exhibit in town featuring preserved human corpses in various states of dissection. This museum was involved in another controversy when it promoted the morally repugnant Amendment 2 to the Missouri Constitution allowing clone and kill medical research.

I haven't been to the exhibit, nor do I plan to see it. Promoters suggest that persons ought to see it before condemning it, but the same bad advice can be given to those who oppose dog fighting or gladiatorial games.

Instead, I offer these controversies found on Wikipedia. Perhaps the article is not authoritative, but it indicates some problems:
The shows have been surrounded by controversy for a number of reasons. Von Hagens prepared some "artistic" exhibits, such as a man carrying his own skin (based on a 16th century drawing by Gaspar Becerra); a man on horseback holding his brain in one hand, the horse's brain in the other; and a man kneeling in prayer, holding his heart in his hands. These exhibits are seen by some as denigrating the deceased. Some religious groups object to any public exhibition of human corpses. Others accuse von Hagens of sensationalism.

Von Hagens has been repeatedly accused of using bodies from deceased persons who did not give consent, such as prison inmates and hospital patients from Kyrgyzstan and executed prisoners from China (this latter led to a lawsuit against Der Spiegel, which von Hagens won). He maintains that all bodies exhibited in Body Worlds came from donors who gave informed consent. A commission set up by the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2004 confirmed Von Hagens' claims. However, Von Hagens does not make the same claim for all bodies prepared by his plastination institute, only the ones exhibited in Body Worlds. There is also the issue that the children and unborn fetuses included in the exhibition had no way of giving informed consent to the display of their bodies; in the case of children informed consent would have to have been obtained from their parents.

The exhibit has also been accused of perpetuating gender stereotypes. The male plastinates are presented in active, "manly" and heroic roles (such as ‘the horseman’, ‘muscleman’, ‘the swordsman’, ‘the runner’ and ‘the chess player’) while some of the female plastinates are shown in the context of motherhood, beauty and passivity (such as 'the ballerina' who is actually wearing pink ballerina slippers; 'pregnant woman' a plastinate whose womb is exposed to show her unborn child and 'angel' whose feet are posed as if she were wearing high heels, complete with bits of her feet shaped into stilettos). There are, however, women portrayed as athletes, namely the swimmer, the figure skater and the archer.

There have been concerns regarding regulations for bodies exhibits in general. Reporting from Dalian, China for the NYTimes, David Barboza described "a ghastly new underground mini-industry" with "little government oversight, an abundance of cheap medical school labor and easy access to cadavers and organs." There have also been legal process problems with these displays. State Anatomical boards normally oversee the handling of bodies for medical purposes and have objected to the lack of oversight for bodies for public display. Dr. Todd Olson, director of the Anatomical Committee of the New York Associated Medical Schools (NYAMS), suggests that without state or federal laws “you have no documentation of who this is”. In addition, there are claims that the exhibit of bodies for commercial profit has reduced the donations of bodies for medical learning. The Director of North Carolina State Board of Funeral Services, Paul Harris, stated "Somebody at some level of government ought to be able to look at a death certificate, a statement from an embalmer, donation documents," Harris said. "That's a reasonable standard to apply."

International Trade experts object to the way bodies-for-commercial-display are imported because the way their categorization codes, as "art collections" don't require CDC stamps and death certificates that are required for medical cadavers.

In an ethical analysis, Thomas Hibbs, Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture at Baylor University, compares cadaver displays to pornography in that they reduce the subject to “the manipulation of body parts stripped of any larger human significance.”

Lucia Tanassi, Professor of Medical Ethics and Anthropology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, explores in a 2006 lecture "Plasti-Nation: How America was Won", questions for ethicists regarding this new scientific frontier reshaping the social anatomy of the body and the biopolitical ground that it occupies. She calls it provocative how ethics committees have contributed to the popularization of the exhibits without setting forth any process of a line of inquiry, pointing to an ethics report from the California Science Center. As part of that review, bioethicist Hans Martin Sass, was sent to Heidelberg to match donor consents with death certificates. However, there was no actual body count, matching body inventory with paperwork. She states that the Institute for Plastination does not have even a basic level of documentation that is routine for anatomical labs, such as tagging.

There have also been concerns regarding the educational aspect of these exhibits, especially regarding the inclusion of these displays for school field trips. In North Carolina the Superintendent of Public Instruction stated that she 'would not recommend this material for school field trips'. St. Louis Diocese Archbishop Raymond Burke strongly suggests that Catholic Schools avoid scheduling field trips, as cadaver exhibits raise serious questions for Catholics. Concerned with how 'some kids process' these 'graphic' images, Des McKay, School Superintendent in Abbotsford British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver, barred field trips to exhibits of plasticized human beings. In an editorial to the Abbotsford News, Rev. Christoph Reiners questions what affect the exhibits will have on the values of children attending for school field trips.

Von Hagens maintains strict copyright control over pictures of his exhibits. Visitors are not allowed to take pictures, and press photographers are required to sign agreements permitting only a single publication in a strictly defined context, followed by a return of the copyright to von Hagens. Because of this, a German press organization has suggested that the press refrain from reporting about the exhibition altogether.

In 2003, officials of Munich tried to prohibit the exhibition there, arguing that it violated laws regulating burials and did not respect human dignity. Von Hagens appealed and managed to obtain a temporary injunction allowing the exhibition to take place, but was required to cover the artistic exhibits mentioned above.

The exhibition in Hamburg in 2003 took place in the rooms of an erotic art museum on the Reeperbahn, the city's red light district. Prostitutes and cab drivers were admitted for free. Von Hagens added a new exhibit, "Early Bird", a man with an erection. Initial objections of a local official to the artistic exhibits were overruled by officials of the Hamburg Senate.

Annoyed with the repeated legal harassment which he encountered in Germany, Von Hagens announced in the summer of 2004 that the exhibition would leave Germany for good. The exhibit has been travelling in the United States and Canada since then.

Various religious groups, including the Catholic Church and some Jewish Rabbis have objected to the display, stating that it cheapens human life, is inconsistent with reverence towards the human body, and is more artistic and exploitative than educational.
I recall when this was first exhibited some years ago in Germany: it was not promoted for scientific or educational reasons, but rather explicitly for sensationalism. It is amazing how something can be legitimated merely by changing the words associated with it.

In moral theology, a virtuous person would not take scandal from this kind of exhibit, and would view such cadavers with dispassion; indeed, viewing it with the same kind of educational interest that is being promoted by the museum and media. A virtuous person may want to avoid viewing it for other reasons though, as seen in the above controversies — do we want to encourage the morally questionable methods of the promoter? Squeamishness, however, is a fact, even though it is a vice in adults, and it is extremely likely that children viewing this exhibit would be traumatized by it, perhaps severely. The media acknowledges (but usually dismisses) this objection.

We must also consider the vice opposite to squeamishness, which could be called morbid curiosity, a kind of decadence, which no one talks about. Viewing this exhibit could be an occasion of sin for some people, those who have an attraction to death and decay. Occasions of sin encourage, or at least makes psychologically more acceptable, actual sins, so it would be prudent to avoid this kind of morbidity by prohibiting this exhibit. The fact that the exhibit is skewed more towards humor and sensation versus pure intellect ought to be worrisome for this reason. In history, public executions, human sacrifice, and torture were seen as decadent spectacles, and those societies grew ever more violent and self-destructive.

Decadent morbidity has been on the rise in recent decades, especially in the creative media, and should be worrisome. That is, we should be worried about pleasure regarding death, for pleasure motivates action in that direction. The virtuous alternative is not prudishness or denial of death, but rather the Catholic memento mori which reminds us of the "Four Last Things" of death, judgment, hell, and heaven.

Sadly, the Liberal media in Saint Louis seem to unreservedly recommend this exhibit.

Photos of Sacred Heart Church, in Crystal City, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Sacred Heart Church, in Crystal City, Missouri. The city is located in eastern Jefferson County, on the banks of the Mississippi River, about 36 highway miles south of downtown Saint Louis.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - exterior front

The parish dates from 1881.

What is now Jefferson County was sparsely settled in colonial times, being more the home of the wild men and beasts of the forest. The earliest towns tended to be located on the Mississippi or Meramec Rivers, for convenience of transportation.

Crystal City is named for glass crystal which used to be manufactured here. In town are outcroppings of Saint Peter's Sandstone, an exceptionally pure, white sand used for making clear glass.

From the history of Crystal City:
...The first settler in the area was Charley Conners, who built a log cabin here in 1803.

Around 1843 an Eastern company conducted a search in this area of Missouri, looking for land with valuable minerals. In 1868 Forrest Sheppards, a mineralogist and geologist, located silica (sand rock) near the mouth of Plattin Creek. The sand was of superior quality for glass manufacturing. What followed was an enthusiastic pursuit of development, and The American Plate Glass Company was founded here by Captain Ebenezer B. Ward of Detroit, in 1871.

In 1876 the Crystal Plate Glass Company built four gas-fired furnaces and produced plate glass. The glass was made on large square tables, ground with sand, smoothed with emery and polished with rouge.

Before glass was actually produced, brush was cleared and homes were built for the workers and their families moving to this new town, originally called New Detroit. As the town grew, the residents sought their own identity, and the name of the town was changed to Crystal City. American Plate Glass Company was sold in 1877 to the Crystal Plate Glass Company of St. Louis, and in 1895 the factory; town and all its holdings were acquired by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, which later became PPG Industries.

Purchased in 1895 by Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company who in 1908 built a new factory powered by steam generated, direct current electricity. Crystal City Works Nine became the largest plate glass plant in the world.

By 1899 the area’s population was estimated at 1,200. Crystal City remained a company town until 1906, when PPG began selling lots to private citizens, thus promoting Crystal City’s growth.

Around 1903, just before the St. Louis World’s Fair opened, the St. Louis, Memphis and Southern Railroad purchased the company-owned railroad’s right-of-way through Crystal and Festus to establish what became the Frisco Line. It is now the Burlington Northern.

In 1925 Union Electric brought a power line down the east side of the Mississippi River from Cahokia. It crossed the river to a tower on Buck Knob to supply the new factory. Between 1925 and 1930 PPG constructed a continuous flow tank and 1,100-foot ribbon grinder and polisher.

By 1964, PPG had established a separate division for auto glass and all production was being done a Greensburg and other plants.

During World War II PPG set up the Bomber Department and produced canopy subassemblies for the Curtis Wright Company. Work done by the Duplate Department led to the formation of an Aircraft Glass Division within PPG.

In 1965 PPG obtained a license from an English firm to use their prints to build a Float Tank and Tin Bath. The new float glass replaced the production of plate glass. The last plate glass was made in Crystal City in 1972.

In 1985 first word of Work Nine closing was announced, but it was operated until December of 1990. In May the glass factory at Crystal City turned over to the salvage company. June the first, the doors of the main office were locked. Glass was shipped until December.

The Monday after Christmas 1991, Union Electric shut off the power and the last life drained from Crystal City Works Nine. Today, nothing of the glass factory remains, other than the company headquarters building and the hospital. Both are now used for other purposes.
As Crystal City was a company town until 1906, free development beyond the town limits led to the creation of the city of Festus. The "Twin Cities" appear to be an organic unity, and it is difficult to tell where one city begins and where the other ends. Although originally named Tanglefoot,
As the new town developed, residents wished to have a more dignified name for their city when it was platted. Legend says that Elizabeth Posch, local business owner, opened her Bible and declared that the first proper name that she would come upon would be Tanglefoot’s new name. The name was Festus for Acts 25:1.
There still is glass manufacturing in the area. Saint-Gobain has a factory in Pevely, five miles north of Crystal City.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - nave

The church has a traditional basilica plan, with three aisles, symbolizing the Trinity, and a semi-circular apse designed for better acoustics: many ancient churches and synagogues were of this design. The lower windows here are darker with Christian symbolism, while the clerestory windows above are lighter in color and are more abstract.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - sanctuary

The church is painted with rose colors. As a mixture of the color of red, symbolizing blood, and white, symbolizing purity, rose is an appropriate color for the Sacred Heart, and is made explicit in the red and white rays of light emanating from the Heart of Jesus in the Divine Mercy. Rose is also a joyful color, used as liturgical colors twice a year during the penitential seasons.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Trinity

Symbolic representation of the Trinity at the top of the apse.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - altar

The green altar cloth shows rose vines growing from hearts, nicely continuing the theme of the color rose and the Sacred Heart. Wheat and grapes are represented in the mosaics on the altar.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - The Holy Family

The Holy Family to the left of the altar.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - tabernacle

The tabernacle to the right of the altar. It is located above a carved wood representation of the Last Supper.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Stained glass window

Stained glass window with a symbol of baptism.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Station of the Cross

XIVth Station of the Cross: Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Holy water font

Holy water font.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon

Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon, flanked by Saints holding roses, in a niche on right side of nave.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - baptismal font

Baptismal font, holy oils, and Paschal Candle, located in a niche on the left side of the nave.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - choir loft

A view to the back of the nave, showing the organ pipes and rose window.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - rose window

A somewhat more accurate photo of the rose window.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Crystal City, Missouri, USA - exterior side

555 Bailey Road
Crystal City MO 63019

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Quasi-Scientific Poll

I've been pondering the difference between how a camera photographs an object versus how it appears to the human eye. Just like in moral theology, there are objective, subjective, and relative factors that go into a photograph: and cameras are lousy with the latter two.

The eye reacts differently to a tiny picture on a computer screen compared to how it reacts when it is looking at an object directly, for the eye judges color relative to its wider environment, and there are visual subjective factors due to the fact that we can't interact with the object. There may be sex differences also. Biologically, men's eyes have their color receptors concentrated in the center of vision, while women have them spread out more evenly, which is one reason why (besides bad manners) men tend to stare directly at objects of interest more than women do.

Please take a look at these two photos, which were processed somewhat differently, and select which one you think looks more realistic. Click on the photos to make them larger. Mark your opinion in the poll below!

Photo A:

Photo B:

Select the most realistic photo.

Which photo do you think shows the most realistic color?

Photo A, and I am a male.
Photo A, and I am a female.
Photo B, and I am a male.
Photo B, and I am a female.

 Current Results

New Archdiocesan Website

Take a look at the new design of the website of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. I especially like the ability to simultaneously search for Mass, Confession, or adoration times and location.

However, now all of my many existing links to the website are broken!

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Fall Color

HERE ARE MORE photos of Fall color, taken at Faust County Park, in Chesterfield, Missouri.

This park was once the frontier farm of Frederick Bates, Missouri's second governor, and includes his 1820s home. The park also has a number of historical buildings reconstructed on this site. It is a lovely, photogenic area: photos of a wedding party were being shot here, and a professional photographer was taking pictures of an aspiring young fashion model.

The park is located on the bluffs above the flood plain of the Missouri River, and is bounded on one side by Olive Boulevard. This thoroughfare is also known as "Olive Street Road", being an extension of Olive Street in downtown Saint Louis, and before that it was "Central Plank Road", a street expensively paved with wooden boards. This old wagon reminds us of this history.

Goods destined for the Western interior of the continent could not be directly shipped up the Mississippi River to the Missouri River, due to navigation hazards near the confluence of those rivers. Instead, they had to be unloaded from the boats in Saint Louis, and shipped overland to the Missouri River, where they would be loaded back into boats for delivery to points west. This overland route became Olive Boulevard. It was along this historical road that Governor Bates placed his farm. He had convenient transportation both to Saint Louis, and to the state capital, which at that time was located at nearby Saint Charles.

Numerous large Black Walnut trees here remind us that this was once a pioneer settlement. The walnuts are found inside of these baseball-sized husks. Extraction of the nuts is difficult and messy, and the nuts have to be cured before they can be eaten. Besides providing an excellent nut, the wood of these trees is highly valued.

Faust Park is also home to the Butterfly House, which is landscaped with varieties of flowers, like these, especially attractive to butterflies and bees.