Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Upcoming Events at the Oratory

At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis:
Wednesday, December 31- Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament: 5pm: Te Deum in Thanksgiving for the last year, w/ Benediction. The faithful attending this devotion may receive a plenary indulgence under the ordinary conditions.

Thursday, January 1- Circumcision of Our Lord: 8am: Low Mass w/organ; 10am: Solemn High Mass; 5pm: Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The faithful attending Masses today at the Oratory may receive a plenary indulgence under the ordinary conditions.

First Friday, January 2- Sacred Heart Friday: 6:30pm: Solemn High Mass: Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart, w/Benediction

Monday, January 5- Vigil of Epiphany: 5pm: Blessing of Holy Water

Tuesday, January 6-Solemn Feast of the Epiphany: 8am: Low Mass w/organ; 10am: Solemn High Mass

Christmas Photos of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, the Old Cathedral

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Christmas crèche 2

This manger scene dates from 1866 and is made from cast iron, and was purchased by parishioners in thanksgiving for the homecoming of their soldiers.

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - altar decorated for Christmas

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Christmas decoration on window sill

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - exterior at night

Monday, December 29, 2008

Night Views of the Missouri River

HERE ARE PHOTOS of the Missouri River, taken near Hermann, Missouri, on Christmas night.

The Missouri is one of the world's great rivers, known for its beauty, danger, and practical use.

View of the Missouri River at Hermann, Missouri, USA

This is not a prizewinning photo, but it shows somewhat the view of the river at night. This is looking northwest, from atop a bluff, about 200 feet above the river. The red light is a navigation marker, indicating the downstream left bank of the river. A gravel pit, illumined by the green light, is in the center and a tugboat is docked by it.  To the right, you can see the mouth of the Loutre River (loutre = French for 'otter'), which marks the boundary line between Montgomery and Warren Counties.

View of the Missouri River at Hermann, Missouri, USA - Highway 19 bridge

Looking west up the river, you can see an accumulation of ice between the wing dams in the stream.  In the background is the new Highway 19 bridge, as well as the Gasconade County courthouse.  To the left is Kollmeyer's Bluff, a railroad track, and Highway 100, illuminated by moving car lights.

Please have pity on your poor servant-photographer, who risked life and limb in the cold night on the edge of a hazardous cliff, while taking these photos for your enjoyment!

The Holy Family

THE HOLY FAMILY: some photos I've taken.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Zell, Missouri, USA - painting of the Holy Family

At Saint Joseph Church, in Zell, Missouri.

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Holy Family.jpg

At Saint John the Baptist Church, in Saint Louis.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Photos of Saint John the Baptist Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Christmas decorations, taken at Saint John the Baptist Church, in Gildehaus, Missouri.

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge (Gildehaus), Missouri, USA - sanctuary decorated for Christmas

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge (Gildehaus), Missouri, USA - Christmas tree and crèche

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge (Gildehaus), Missouri, USA - Christmas tree and Holy Family

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge (Gildehaus), Missouri, USA - outdoor crèche at Christmas

Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge (Gildehaus), Missouri, USA - exterior at Christmas

Photos taken on Christmas Eve. I also took this photo of the night sky here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ice Floes

ICE FILLED the Missouri River lately.

Ice floes on the Missouri River, at Hermann, Missouri, USA - Highway 19 bridge in background

Ice floes slide past the boat launch at Hermann, Missouri, on the Missouri River this past Christmas. The new Highway 19 bridge is seen in the background.

Ice floes on the Missouri River at Hermann, Missouri, USA

This photo, less artfully done, more clearly shows the doughnut-shaped ice floes. The flowing ice made a quiet shooshing noise, not unlike the sound a skier makes while sliding through the snow.

Ice floe on the Missouri River, at Washington, Missouri, USA

Starry Sky

Night sky with stars, near Villa Ridge, Missouri, USA

The stars on Christmas Eve.

Feast of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

"DEARLY BELOVED, let us love one another: for charity is of God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is charity."

1 John 4:7-8

Good News - Bad News

THE GOOD news is that it is warmer outside of my house than inside! Saint Louis weather is so very variable, that it is possible to get spring weather in December. It is nice to have a reprieve from sub-freezing weather.  According to Wikipedia: 
"St. Louis lies on the border between humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) and humid subtropical climate (Koppen climate classification Cfa), and has neither large mountains nor large bodies of water to moderate its temperature. Both cold Canadian Arctic air and hot, humid tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico affect the region."
The bad news is that we have a tornado warning. Continuing from the Wikipedia article:
"St. Louis usually experiences thunderstorms on the average 48 days a year. Especially in the spring, these storms can often be severe, with high winds, large hail and tornadoes. St. Louis has been affected on more than one occasion by particularly damaging tornadoes."
Click here for photos of the Great Cyclone of '96, a tornado that caused enormous misery and destruction in Saint Louis and surrounding areas back in 1896.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas decorations on a house in Hermann, Missouri, USA

A house decorated for Christmas, in Hermann, Missouri

A Christmas, Many Years Ago

A LITTLE Christmas story, as remembered at Saint Stephen's Church, in Richwoods, Missouri:
Father Tammany related how on that one Christmas Eve, while Pastor in Richwoods, he went over to church about 10:30 o'clock at night to stoke up the furnace and get heat in the church for the Midnight Mass. Father Tammany said it was one of the severest winters on record, and as he described it "with snow up to my waist" and "almost too deep for horse and wagon"... After he stoked the furnace, he commenced to get things ready for Mass.

Father Tammany said he wondered, though, if anyone was going to be able to make it through the snow to church, so he went to the front doors of the church to look out at the conditions of the weather and of the snow. As he did, he was later to describe, he saw one of the most beautiful sights he was to remember. The whole valley and the hills, and the roads leading to St. Stephen were filled with little lights -- the lanterns of the families with their children making their way from all directions through the deep snow to be present at Midnight Mass. Some were coming on the roads, some along paths, or through fields. Some looked like they were on horseback, or in wagons, and some appeared to be walking. Father Tammany was deeply moved by the sight. And so he told the story thereafter at almost every Midnight Mass at Little Flower Church while he lived.

Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church, in Richwoods, Missouri, USA - painting of church

This story is recounted in this painting by Estelle (née Recar) Sellers Rulo, who presented it to St. Stephen parish in 1996.

I recalled this story as I saw big crowds at Midnight Mass, who filled the church despite the cold.

Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr

DECEMBER 26th is the feast day of Saint Stephen, the first martyr. The joy of the season of Christmas is interrupted a bit as we consider the sacrifice that may come as a part of the Christian life.

Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church, in Richwoods, Missouri, USA - statue of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr.jpg

A statue of Saint Stephen, dressed as a deacon, and holding the stones of his martyrdom. This photo was taken in the church of Saint Stephen Protomartyr, in Richwoods, Missouri.

The record of Stephen's martyrdom is found in the Book of Acts, Chapter 7.
You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you also. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One: of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers. Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord

DOMINUS DIXIT ad me: Filium meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.

The Lord hath said to me: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.

Psalm 2:7
Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - high altar decorated for Christmas

Photo of the high altar at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, taken after Midnight Mass.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - veneration of the relic of the crib after Midnight Mass on Christmas

Veneration of the relic of the crib.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

THIS DAY you shall know that the Lord is coming, and tomorrow you shall see His glory.

Antiphon for the Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

News from the Oratory

From Saint Francis de Sales Oratory:

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

2653 Ohio Avenue

Saint Louis, Missouri 63118




23  December  2008   


Email news letter contains information about:











On the occasion of this year’s feast of the Nativity of Our Blessed Lord I wish you in the name of  the St. Francis de Sales Oratory and all its members a blessed and joyful Christmas!


We are all very much humbled by the numerous acts of generous support, friendship and genuine piety we witnessed during the time of Advent.  Many Catholics, both from St. Louis and even far beyond, showed their fervor and loyalty to the Infant King, soon to be born again into this cold world. How inspiring that even in bad weather, the faithful in great numbers attended the sacred liturgy and received sacramental absolution in our confessionals.


In the name of the Prior General, Monsignor Gilles Wach, the Vicar General and Provincial Superior in the US, Monsignor Michael Schmitz, all priests, oblates, seminarians and Sister Adorers of our beloved Institute, I thank you from all of my heart for your hard work, incessant prayers and many sacrifices by which our work at the Oratory was made possible throughout this last year. 


I invite you to come to our Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (December 24), at 12:00 AM, preceded by half an hour(11:30pm) of beautiful traditional Christmas carols sung by our fine choir. We are especially privileged to have this solemn liturgy accompanied by the Schubert Mass in G with orchestra.


Allow me again to draw your attention to our public awareness campaign “Tradition for Tomorrow” (  With this we wish to inform a broad audience in the St. Louis area of the necessary restoration of our church, and share with them the many exciting things going on at the Oratory. More and more it is becoming obvious that the anchor of the Fox Park neighborhood  in South Saint Louis is St. Francis de Sales Oratory.


In the night sky the 300 foot tower of St. Francis de Sales is now visible: We have illuminated the top part of the steeple and its beauty can now be seen even by night over many miles. As you approach St. Francis de Sales you will see that our church is inviting you to kneel down at the crèche of our Lord: “Venite adoremus” – come and let us adore Him!


With my best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year,


Canon Michael K. Wiener

Rector St. Francis de Sales Oratory

Episcopal Pro-Delegate



O Emmanuel

O EMMANUEL, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

O Emannuel, King and Lawgiver, the desire of the nations and the Saviour thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God.

Isaias 7:14, 33:22
Everyone have a blessed, holy, and merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

O Rex Gentium

O REX gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of nations, and their Desired, the Cornerstone Who dost make both one: come and save mankind whom Thou disdt form out of clay.

Aggeus (Haggai) 2:8, Ephesians 2:14, 20
Greater Advent Antiphon for December 22nd. Christ is to be King of all nations, bringing Gentile and Jew together in one body.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Photos of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - exterior at dusk

Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral), in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Advent wreath and altar

Photos taken tonight, the Fourth Sunday in Advent.

O Oriens

O ORIENS, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Day-Spring, Brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Psalms 106:10 (Septuagint)
Greater Advent Antiphon for December 21st. We wait in hope for Christ, who will illumine us.

This antiphon is prayed with the Magnificat, the great canticle sung by Mary when she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth.  Significantly, the canticle sung by Zachary, Elizabeth's husband and father of John the Baptist, refers back to same Psalm 106 from which this antiphon is taken.

That Christ is the new dawn is expressed in the tradition of priests saying Mass facing to the east (ad orientum).

O Clavis David

O CLAVIS David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui apreris, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner forth from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Isaias 22:22, Apocalypse 3:7, Luke 1:79
The Greater Antiphon of Advent, for December 20th; Christ is the key to Heaven, and here we are reminded of the keys to the Kingdom being given to Peter.

We have the hope of being freed from bondage. While the ancient Jews expected a triumphant Messiah who would free Israel from the oppression of the Nations, God rather gave us a suffering Messiah who would free us from the bondage of sin. However, as we remember the ancient hope of the birth of Our Savior, we also remain in expectation of his future triumphant return.

Friday, December 19, 2008

O Radix Jesse

O RADIX Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecanbuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence, whom the Gentiles shall beseech: come and deliver us, and tarry not.

Isaias 11:10
The Greater Advent Antiphon for the Magnificat in Vespers of December 19th, prays to Christ by his title 'Root of Jesse'.

According to Isaiah, there shall come a messiah: 
And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness.
And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.
Jesse was the father of the great King and psalmist David, and this prophesy says that the Messiah shall descend from the same Jesse. While one king had already sprung from this root of Jesse, spiritually, a greater King is promised to come.  As David established Jerusalem as his capitol, and as he brought the Ark of the Covenant to dwell there, the Messiah shall establish a new spiritual Jerusalem, which is the Church, housing a greater Ark, which is the tabernacle of the Eucharist.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Adonai

O ADONAI, et dux domus Israel, que Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedistit: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.

Exodus 3:2, 20:1
'Adonai' is Hebrew for 'Lord'.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Making Friends is Our Business"

ANHEUSER-BUSCH, a company where I worked for many years, is no more, and I just got news that a friend of mine was laid off this past Monday, along with about 1400 others. A Belgian company, InBev, has taken over the company and is now proceeding to cut costs dramatically in order to make up for its huge investment.

I predict that InBev will eventually become disappointed with this deal, and will likely lose money on it. A reason for this is simple: A-B was long considered a desirable company to own, although its stock price was considered to be high, and even though its price was rather flat for many years. The difference between a stock's price and its accounting book value is termed 'goodwill', and Anheuser-Busch had plenty of it, although less in recent years. When the new corporate masters attempt to cut costs, are they cutting accounting value or are they cutting goodwill?

Goodwill is hard earned, and as accountants know, it is not monetary. Anheuser-Busch had an old slogan "Making friends is our business", and although the company was hardly a perfect paragon of virtue, it still had many business practices that seemed rather old-fashioned compared to New Age 'enlightened', cutting-edge companies.  Please consider that friendship was considered by the ancient pre-Christian philosophers as being the highest form of love, and could be symbolized by two individuals standing side-by-side, both looking forward together. Also consider the kind of business practices that would result from an attitude of friendship instead of an attitude of competition.

A contemporary cutting-edge company will subcontract its work out to the global, Internet-connected marketplace, getting the lowest costs available at each moment, whereas A-B would typically have long-term relationships with strategic suppliers. Now this does not mean that A-B would not be tough with its suppliers, for it often was — but it would, except under remarkable circumstances, attempt to keep the supplier relationships going.  If you are a subcontractor, what would lead to the most goodwill: knowledge that you are the cheapest supplier at the particular moment, or knowing that you are just about guaranteed work for the foreseeable future?

A-B had the reputation of being a good place to work for your entire career, and until recent years, firings and layoffs were uncommon. Again, contrast this with a modern company that hires mainly contractors, who are hired for only short-term periods.  Which generates the most goodwill?

A Darwinian, self-interested company will devour its competitors, ruining them with low prices in the marketplace.  A-B, astoundingly, provided free consulting and business support to small brewers!  A company can only flourish in a healthy industry, and a healthy industry does not compete merely on low price, but on quality.  The new microbrewery industry partners produced beer of high quality and high price, helping the entire industry, and A-B. Then-president August Busch III once gave a talk on fatal mistakes made by other beer companies, all these were misguided attempts at cutting costs, and those companies soon collapsed; he told us this to illustrate that viable companies ought to simultaneously raise quality and keep prices at good levels.

Quality is not a perception, but is based in actual fact; the perception of quality is transitory if not backed up by actual practice. A-B not only had a reputation of quality, but it put a lot of money into quality. Word gets out, and this quality in fact became well known among suppliers and business partners, which adds to general respect and increased goodwill.

Anheuser-Busch was risk-adverse.  Whereas contemporary industry favors risk-taking and radical innovation, please consider that a typical venture capital firm is willing to accept one successful company in its portfolio out of twenty failures.  Needless to say, "vulture capital" has little goodwill, especially among the other investors and workers of the failed companies. Being risk-adverse, A-B had a significantly high 'hurdle rate' for new investments, much higher than was typical for American business.  Again, this was consistent with a long-term view of business. Going back to the venture capital business model, please consider the good possibility that the one successful company out of twenty may owe its success merely to a lucky, unrepeatable circumstance; simultaneously consider how unlikely the former success of A-B could be assigned to mere luck.  This is another factor in goodwill.

Traditionally, A-B supported its products with high-quality advertising, although that has declined in recent years. I recall how Miller Beer, many years ago, started a new advertising campaign which was edgy, quirky, and filled with sexual themes of a deviant nature, and media critics loved it; listening to these critics, Miller continued this campaign even though it was a marketing failure and sales plummeted. Miller soon lost its goodwill and was taken over by South African Breweries. Senior A-B marketing people were greatly distressed by this huge mistake by Miller, and were even more distressed when A-B's own media partners were pushing them to do the same. A-B did eventually lower its standards, and it did lose goodwill.

A-B sold beer, yet was also friendly to the wine industry, supporting it through its distributors and through some investments and marketing.  The company was hostile to hard liquor, which is sold to men who want to get drunk fast, and which ought to be contrasted to the company's long-term effort to associate beer drinking with food; ideally, it was a beverage that would be consumed with meals. Beer tends to be more self-limiting as compared to liquor, although the risk of alcoholism is always present and remains a problem. With the decline of A-B's marketing in recent years came the rise of the vodka culture, as well as A-B's capitulation to the liquor industry.

Modern thinking tends to reductionism and essentialism, and so alcohol is seen as the essential component of beer, leading eventually to hard liquor and especially vodka, which is essentially just alcohol. As modern religion attempts to strip away all supposedly inessential elements, such as elaborate churches and liturgy, incense, chant, and veneration of the Saints, so modern companies attempt to reduce their products and business to 'essentials' or 'core competencies'. This is deadly to both religion and to business and products. Beer is more than just a delivery medium for ethanol, and a beer company is more than a marketing organization for that product. Ethanol is a commodity, but commodity businesses have no goodwill. Some clever companies make strategic 'synergistic' investments, while failing to realize that synergy must exist in all levels of the company and in all relationships; it has to be a way of life, and is implemented by the policy of making and keeping friends everywhere.

One mistake made by A-B was the reformulation of Michelob beer to make it more similar to Budweiser (and most critically, that it be made with the same equipment): the quality difference was noticeable, and that product no longer could be sold at a significantly higher price. The brewery's current process for brewing beer is still elaborate, and this could be a target for cost-cutting. Suppose InBev gets rid of 'genuine Beechwood aging', would anyone notice? Maybe not, but that is another link in Budweiser's goodwill. We ought to consider that a consumer's perception of value must be backed up by actual value.

Anheuser-Busch employees historically had a great deal of respect for the company, would only purchase the company's products, and would influence their own family and friends to do the same. Likewise, many Saint Louisans would purchase the company's products out of local loyalty. That goodwill is now lost. As I feel no need to purchase their products, I don't.

InBev has made a bad investment.  According to a news report published today, lenders are now selling off AB InBev debt at a loss for 91 cents to the dollar.  

Goodwill is based on friendship, not money. It is sad to see a good company destroyed because this fact is ignored.

O Sapientia

O SAPIENTIA quæ ex ora Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, foriter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24:5, Wisdom 8:1
The first of the antiphonæ majores, or greater antiphons, of the Advent office in the Roman breviary, addressed to Our Lord using some of His titles from scripture, these antiphons are prayed from December 17th through the 23rd. These are collected together in the verses of that most famous Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel'.
The books from which this antiphon are taken are from the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and so may be unfamiliar to Christians outside of the ancient apostolic Churches, which is a shame, for they miss some great beauty, philosophical reflection, and approaches to Trinitarian theology.
The personification of Wisdom here is not a literary device, but rather ought to be viewed philosophically and religiously as a deeply Trinitarian mystery. Wisdom, we are told, is discovered by us, or is revealed to us, and is usually only understood in old age: it preexists us and all of creation, and is the proper attribute of all men and all women, in all states of life. Wisdom is becoming to both great kings and to slaves and to all between. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Photos of Saint Mary Church, in Carlyle, Illinois

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Mary Church, in Carlyle, Illinois. A part of the Diocese of Belleville, this church is located in Clinton County, approximately 49 highway miles east of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

The church is dedicated to Our Lady under her title of the Immaculate Conception.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - exterior 1

The parish dates from 1853, making it second oldest in the county. This originally was a German language parish.

This parish was subject to calamity on two occasions; the 1871 church was destroyed by a tornado in 1905, and this structure suffered from a massive fire in 1940. Click here for a detailed timeline of parish history.

Carlyle is the county seat of Clinton County, and is the site of a dam on the Kaskaskia River, operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam forms the largest artificial reservoir in the state, Carlyle Lake, 26,000 acres in size, which is used for flood control and recreational boating.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - nave

Photos taken after the vigil Mass of the First Sunday in Advent. Seating capacity is approximately 1000, and this church was filled when I attended.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - old high altar

The sanctuary and altars are marble, made with stone imported from Italy, Spain, and Africa, and native stone quarried in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - altar of Saint Joseph

Side altar of Saint Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, with a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the left, and Saint Anthony of Padua on the right.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - side of nave

The back on the church is decorated with symbols taken from titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Litany of Loreto. The round medallions at the top include her titles "Gate of Heaven", "Tower of Ivory", and "Vessel of Honor", and the square symbols on the choir loft continue with other titles from the Litany.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - 2nd and 3rd Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - stained glass window of Saint Isidore Farmer and Saint Christopher

Stained glass window of Saint Isidore Farmer and Saint Christopher.

The stained glass windows in the 1905 church came from Lewis Sealy, Sr., of Munich, Germany, and after the 1940 fire, were repaired by Sealy's sons who were then working for Emil Frei of Saint Louis.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Red Berries

RED BERRIES; photos taken yesterday.



I think the first is Winterberry, and the second, Japanese Honeysuckle.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, R.I.P.

ON THIS FEAST OF MARY, under her title Our Lady of Guadalupe, Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles, S.J., passed to his reward.

Click here for writings by and about Cardinal Dulles.

From Cardinal Dulles' article True and False Reform, in First Things:
In any discussion of reform, two opposite errors are to be avoided. The first is to assume that because the Church is divinely instituted, it never needs to be reformed. This position is erroneous because it fails to attend to the human element. Since all the members of the Church, including the Pope and the bishops, are limited in virtue and ability, they may fail to live up to the principles of the faith itself. When guilty of negligence, timidity, or misjudgment, they may need to be corrected, as Paul, for example, corrected Peter (Galatians 2:11).
The second error would be to assail or undermine the essentials of Catholic Christianity. This would not be reform but dissolution. Paul rebuked the Galatians for turning to a different gospel (1:6). The Catholic Church is unconditionally bound to her Scriptures, her creeds, her dogmas, and her divinely instituted hierarchical office and sacramental worship. To propose that the Church should deny the divinity of Christ, or retract the dogma of papal infallibility, or convert herself into a religious democracy, as some have done in the name of reform, is to misunderstand both the nature of Catholicism and the nature of reform.
Anyone seeking to reform the Church must share the Church’s faith and accept the essentials of her mission. The Church cannot take seriously the reforms advocated by those who deny that Christ was Son of God and Redeemer, who assert that the Scriptures teach error, or who hold that the Church should not require orthodoxy on the part of her members. Proposals coming from a perspective alien to Christian faith should be treated with the utmost suspicion if not dismissed as unworthy of consideration.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Photos of Saint Cecilia Church, in Bartelso, Illinois

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Cecilia Church, in Bartelso, Illinois. The church is located about 47 highway miles east of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, in Clinton County, and is a part of the Diocese of Belleville.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - exterior 2

The church has a very tall spire for its size.

According to a history of Saint Cecilia Church and town of Bartelso, dating from 1913:
Bartelso is a pretty little village situated in Santa Fe Township, and occupying the original site of Santa Fe. Its immediate neighborhood was settled by the whites prior to 1816. Up to 1876 it was a part of Carlyle and Germantown, but at the aforesaid date it was made a separate precinct...

The church was erected 1884 by the present Vicar General Rt. Rev. Msgr. William CLUSE, at that time rector of St. Boniface’s church, Germantown, Ill. It is a brick building of 500 seating capacity and the cost of its erection was approximately $25,000.00. Rev. Joseph SPAETH was appointed first pastor of the new congregation and on January 19, 1885, the first mass was said in the new church... Father BARTELS donated the site where the present church and other buildings were built and also donated the cemetery where he found his resting place. The village of Bartelso is named after him. The original name of the congregation was Santa Fe [Spanish: Holy Faith].
The church will be celebrating its quasquicentennial in June, 2009.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - nave

This was originally a German-language parish.

A Saint Cecilia church pastor, Fr. Bernard Kunkel, here founded the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, 1944, and continued it until his death in May, 1969.
Virtuous young ladies should understand that dressing modestly does not mean that they cannot appear attractive. However, the attractiveness of their attire should be a modest reflection of the beauty deep within their soul rather than an improper exposure of sensual beauty that has an attraction that is only skin deep.
Three years before his death, Fr. Kunkel realized that the earthly battle for purity was lost; subsequently, immodesty became the cultural norm, continuing to our present day.
I have a feeling when I fade out of the picture that will be the end of the Crusade. I cannot find anyone to help who will carry out my principles, as I would like them carried out... Of course we cannot worry too much about these material things; I will do what I can while I am able and after that, if it should continue, it will be in Our Blessed Mother's hands.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - sanctuary

Sanctuary decorated for Advent.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - high altar

Tabernacle, located in the elaborate old high altar.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - altar of Saint Joseph

Altar of Saint Joseph.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - baptismal font

The baptismal font.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - 11th Station of the Cross, Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

11th Station of the Cross:  Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - stained glass window of the Apostles James the Greater and Andrew

Stained glass window, showing Apostles Saint James the Greater and Saint Andrew.

Advent Wreath

Advent wreath, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Monday, December 08, 2008

Random Night Thoughts

COFFEE, in small amounts, and in the morning after waking, is a pleasant way to start a day. Tonight, after attending the Mass of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and it being a very windy and cool night, tempted me to drink some more coffee with dinner. A lot more.

Now I feel like one of those intellectuals in the coffee houses of Europe during the 17th century, with my mind whirring and no chance of getting any sleep, at least for a while. So this typing is not guaranteed to be interesting, relevant, or coherent.

Years ago, I had a friend Dave who was an aeronautical engineer, and we spent hours discussing aircraft design, a subject that always had a great appeal to me. One of our discussions was whether or not it was possible to design an electric powered aircraft, and we used as our target design the classic P-51 Mustang fighter from World War II, which was probably the greatest of propeller-driven aircraft. After drinking much coffee, we decided that yes, it was possible, but only if we used a very large capacitor to store the electricity, and this capacitor so happened to have about the same size and weight as the Mustang's impressive engine, which it would replace. So many seemingly good ideas never see the light of day, and we determined that this particular giant capacitor would explode violently with only the smallest amount of damage. Or, it could explode for no obvious reason.

Dave and I also discussed the design of unmanned aircraft. He reasoned that the commercial market for such things would be large, particularly for aerial photography, from surveying to news traffic reports, and so figured that such aircraft would be a valuable product in the future. Designing such a beast is easy, he said, because you don't have to make human accommodations, which complicates the layout and systems of the aircraft, and which also severely limits its performance characteristics. It is the control of such aircraft which is problematic. As I was the software guy, I worked up a general system design.

As it so happens, this also is easy, as long as you define and implement the system correctly. Autonomous aircraft are robots, and the design of robotic control algorithms was of great scientific interest since the late 1940s. But this research harvested little fruit and was largely abandoned by the 1960s, not to be taken up again until a couple decades later. A problem was that computers weren't fast enough. A bigger problem, not noticed at the time, was that the computer control programs were so controlling — you had one master control program attempting to do everything at once, which made these robots so slow as to be nearly unusable. Computer software in those days was kind of like the presidency of Lyndon Johnson — extreme micromanagement, with one master program trying to tell each component what to do at every moment. A dominant programming paradigm used in those days was called Master-Slave architecture; I would think that the name itself ought to have given its advocates some pause!

By the 1970s, a far more egalitarian-sounding paradigm, called Peer-to-Peer architecture, made its debut, and eventually became the foundation of the Internet. But a crucial design choice for this kind of architecture, called layering, ensured its success. Layering, implemented wisely, is like a good boss who hires excellent workers: he lets them do their job without interference, and the workers only report back upon completion of their tasks or if there is a problem they can't solve themselves. For example, your web browser sits at the very top of the Internet chain of command: you tell it to get you a web page, and the underlying layers do their job, which is no business of yours or of your web browser. No micromanagement. And because everything works according to standard interfaces, you can upgrade one component or another without changing the rest of the system, like a boss can get a new subordinate, or a subordinate can get a new boss.

But intolerable bosses still exist, and the invention of cell phones, laptop computers, and email makes a micromanaging superior a dreadful burden 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if you are on vacation far away. And of course there are dreadful workers, who can't and won't do their job. But that is a topic for another article.

So this is the key to my old robot airplane: you have good workers and good bosses. The workers do their job very well, and the boss doesn't interfere in their work unless something goes wrong or if there is something new to do, and all these work together in parallel, with a minimum number of meetings and status reports. For example, a low-level program in my robot plane would keep, say, an aileron fixed at a certain position called for by its boss, no matter what happens, and to the best of its ability; if this isn't possible due to equipment failure or other condition, it reports the problem back to its boss.  The boss program would determine what angle to set the aileron, but wouldn't tell the worker how to do it. The boss who decides which angles to set the control surfaces of the aircraft has its own boss, who decides the direction and altitude of the aircraft, but the bigger boss does not micromanage the details of how to do it. And there is an even bigger boss, who determines the general flight plan of the aircraft, which is ultimately controlled by the person who decides what he wants the aircraft to do, without bothering with the details. So the entire control system of the aircraft is a hierarchical series of layers, loosely connected to each other, each doing its job well, and each minding its own business.

'Minding its own business' is critical. A nosy boss is a bottleneck, as robotics researchers discovered back in the '60s and which countless workers discover every day. But this also means that the workers must be well trained and able to work very well independently. A good boss needs to know the limitations of his workers, as a good worker learns to ignore certain directives. If the boss program decides that an aileron needs to be set at 180 degrees, and if the worker knows this is impossible, it ought to strongly respond "no can do", and so the problem gets pushed up to the boss's boss, which is far better than a intimidated and submissive worker who agrees to an impossible task, only to fail sometime down the road. Likewise, if the boss program decides the left aileron needs to be set to 5 degrees, and this doesn't happen, the boss needs to bypass that component and quickly reassign the other control surfaces to compensate. 

Nobody likes a boss who is constantly breathing down his neck, which both irritates the worker and wastes the time of the boss. Likewise, each layer in my robot program must trust that the job gets done in a reasonable amount of time: the boss makes a directive to a particular subordinate, and then goes off and does something else, not waiting for completion. Likewise, a subordinate can waste his own time and that of his boss by reporting back too frequently, and especially by asking for guidance. That ultimately was the problem with the old robots of the 1960s: the master control program spent too much time checking and waiting on things that were irrelevant. As it so happens, computers back in those days actually were almost fast enough to do the job, but the programs running on them were not clever enough to know what was important.

The beauty of this system is that each task is well-defined and easy to implement, and individual programmers can work on each task largely independently: only the interface between tasks or layers needs to be designed in cooperation with others. The systems designer must strongly resist any demand to allow higher level functions to interfere with what goes on down below; for this means that the big boss programs must be not only experts in their own line of duty, but that of their subordinates also, increasing complexity and the possibility of erratic behavior or even failure. The same goes for lower layers: the program that ensures that the airplane's landing gear is down for a landing, and fails to do so, cannot have the excuse that it was busy calculating something else. Similarly, a good bishop will assign his priests to parishes, but will not schedule weddings at each church, giving him more time to write responses to angry letters from the people. A good hierarchical robot control system will allow for easy replacement and upgrades of its various layers, like a diocese may get a new bishop or newly ordained priests, with nothing much changing.

We never built our robot plane, but we had a great deal of fun thinking about it.

Have a good night!

Photos of Saint Boniface Church, in Germantown, Illinois

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Boniface Church, in Germantown, Illinois. Located in Clinton County, about 43 highway miles east of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, the church is the Diocese of Belleville.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - exterior front

This was the first Catholic community in Clinton County, dating back to 1829 with settlers from Germany.  At that time, this parish was in the Diocese of Saint Louis, under Bishop Rosati.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - sign

The church dates from 1854, and is the oldest in the county.

The present church was designed by the architect Robert S. Mitchell of Saint Louis. He also designed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (1862), at 917 Sindey Street in the Soulard neighborhood of Saint Louis (closed in 1965 and now destroyed), worked on a major renovation of the Old Courthouse (1851), the Rock Building at the old Saint Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, as well as a number of stately homes and the stone Unitarian chapel in Kirkwood.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - mosaic of Saint Boniface

A mosaic of Saint Boniface (ca. 672 - 754), Benedictine, bishop, evangelist to the Frankish empire, martyr, and patron saint of Germany.  Born in the kingdom of Wessex, in what is now present-day Devonshire, with the birth name Winfrid or Wynfrith (Ƿẏnfrið, using Anglo-Saxon letters).
When he had converted to the Lord a vast number of people among the Frisians and many had come through his instruction to the knowledge of the truth, he then traveled, under the protection of God, to other parts of Germany to preach there and in this way came, with the help of God, to the place already mentioned, called Amanburch. Here the rulers were two twin brothers named Detticand Devrulf, whom he converted from the sacrilegious worship of idols which was practiced under the cloak of Christianity. He turned away also from the superstitions of paganism a great multitude of people by revealing to them the path of right understanding, and induced them to forsake their horrible and erroneous beliefs. When he had gathered together a sufficient number of believers he built a small chapel. Similarly he delivered the people of Hesse, who up to that time had practiced pagan ritual, from the captivity of the devil by preaching the Gospel as far as the borders of Saxony.

— from the Life of St. Boniface by Willibald
Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - sanctuary

The interior of the church.

(My apologies for not providing more photos, for a large number of the faithful were at this time gathering in the back of the church for devotion.)

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - stained glass window of Saint George

Stained glass window of Saint George.  There is a Saint George church in nearby New Baden, founded by Catholics who once attended this church.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - second station of the cross, in cemetery

Station of the Cross in the Saint Boniface cemetery.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - cemetery

May they rest in peace.

Click here for photos of more Catholic churches in Clinton County.