Saturday, February 28, 2009

Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus at Saint Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church, in University City, Missouri, USA

At Saint Andrew Kim Korean Catholic Church, in University City, Missouri

River des Peres - Then and Now

River Des Peres near Manchester Road. Photograph by John W. Dunn, ca. 1890. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. NS 28040. Scan. Ⓒ by Missouri History Museum, All rights reserved. Used by permission.

River des Peres drainage channel and tunnels, near Manchester and Macklind Avenues, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
River des Peres near the intersection of Manchester and Macklind Avenues, in Saint Louis, Missouri.  Photo taken February 26, 2009.

As these photos show, the River des Peres in Saint Louis, Missouri, was once a natural stream and now is largely placed in a channel, with significant parts of it flowing through tunnels.

As with many watercourses in the old colonial territories of Louisiana and Canada, this stream's name is French: la Rivière des Pères, meaning River (or Creek) of the Fathers. The ‘fathers’ in the name were the Jesuit priests Pierre-Gabriel Marest and Jacques Gravier, who founded a mission to the Kaskaskia Indians at the mouth of this stream.

There has been recent work to beautify the lower sections of the river. Due to silting of the lower channel, that section of the river now has enough perpetual flow to allow canoeing. As far as I know, this has yet to be done, but I'd like to try it this summer!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lenten Prayer

SAINT AUGUSTINE, in his commentary of the second penitential Psalm, writes “not by the merits of works, but by the grace of God, man is delivered, confessing his sins.” According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, God's love “is eternal and unchangeable; whereas, as regards the effect it imprints on us, it is sometimes interrupted, inasmuch as we sometimes fall short of it and once more require it.

Psalm 31 (Septuagint numbering), Blessed is he whose iniquity is remitted.
BLESSED is he whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Because I was silent my bones wasted away, as I cried out all day.
For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: I am twisted in my affliction whilst the thorn is fastened upon me.
I have acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my guilt I have not concealed.
I said "I will confess my injustice against myself to the Lord:" and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.
For this shall every one that is holy pray to Thee in due time.
Though in a flood of many waters, they shall not reach him.
Thou art my refuge, from the tribulation which surrounds me: my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me.
God answers David:
I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in the way in which thou shalt walk: I will fix my eyes upon thee.
Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding.
With bit and bridle bind them fast, else they will not come near to thee.
Many are the sorrows of the sinner, but mercy shall surround him that hopeth in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye of righteous heart.

Sacred Heart Villa

Sacred Heart Villa private Catholic school, in the Hill Neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - exterior front

Sacred Heart Villa, a private Catholic school, in the Hill Neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1940, the school is owned and directed by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an Italian congregation which served immigrants from Italy. Today, The Hill has some of the best Italian restaurants found in America and remains one of the most charming neighborhoods in the City.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lenten Prayer

POPE INNOCENT III recommended the praying of the seven Penitential Psalms during Lent, which include Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142 (numbering according the Septuagint version).

The Psalms are not pleasant or nice. They run the full range of emotion and so seem unsuitable for modern worship styles. Contemporary men lose their faith when bad things happen to good people, but the Psalms bring us back to a core principle of faith: “The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord”.

Psalm 6, Prayer of a man chastised by God.
O LORD, do not reprove me in Thy wrath, nor in Thy anger chastise me.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am weak, heal me, Lord, for my body is in torment.
And my soul is greatly troubled, but Thou, O Lord, how long?
Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul; save me on account of Thy mercy.
For who amongst the dead remembers Thee, who of the dead will tell of Thee?
I have suffered and wept, every night have I washed my bed and drenched my blanket with my tears.
My eyes are filled with grief, I have grown feeble in the midst of my enemies.
Leave me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my appeal, the Lord has accepted my prayer.
May my enemies be put to shame and come to ruin. May they be turned away and be swiftly put to shame.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

“Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people; and give not Thine inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.”
— Joel 2:17



Ash Wednesday

“ seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves.”
Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, February 23, 2009

Photos of Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, located about 17 miles northwest of downtown Saint Louis, in suburban Saint Louis County.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - church and school

The shrine was home to Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852), who lived here in the years 1819-1827 and 1834-1840.

The church, in the background, was originally constructed in 1819-1821, and has been enlarged and restored since.  The brick structure replaces a log church dating from 1790. The old school, foreground, dates from 1888.

The church is owned by a non-profit organization, but it remains consecrated, and Holy Mass is sometimes offered here.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Rectory exterior

The rectory now houses a bookstore and museum, as well as the confessional used by Mother Duchesne.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent exterior

The Convent where Mother Duchesne lived, dating from 1819.  Click here for photos of the interior.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Church nave

The nave of the church.  The pews are original, and are rather small for contemporary Americans. The high altar dates from 1881, and replaces older altars which can be found elsewhere on the premises, including in the convent.

The unusual arched ceiling give the church excellent acoustics.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Church altar

A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is above the center of the altar of sacrifice. Beneath are relics of the martyr Saint Valentine, in an effigy. The paintings are thought to be from the workshop of Rubens.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Church altar detail

The altar is ready for a Gregorian Mass.

The Blessed Sacrament is not reserved here.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent balcony 2

A balcony in the convent offers a view of the altar.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Church pipe organ

Pipe organ in the choir loft.

These photos were taken on August 31, 2008, and were taken for a particular project but not used until now. My older photos of Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine are found here and here.

Photos of Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri: Mother Duchesne's Convent

HERE ARE PHOTOS of the convent where Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne lived, at Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine. It is located in the city of Florissant, in suburban Saint Louis County, Missouri, about 17 miles northwest of downtown Saint Louis.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Exterior side

The shrine was the home of Saint Duchesne in the years 1819-1827 and 1834-1840; earlier, she had started a school for girls in nearby Saint Charles, Missouri.

The church's cornerstone was built in 1819-1821, and is one of the oldest churches in this part of the country.

Click here for other photos of the church taken the same day.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent exterior

The convent, constructed under the supervision of Mother Duchesne, dates from 1819, and is an excellently preserved example of the Federal style.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was born on 29 August 1769 at Grenoble, France, and became a member of the Visitation at age 19, against the opposition of her parents. Her religious order was violently disbanded under the Reign of Terror; after this ended, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart under under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. At age 49, Mother Duchesne came to the Louisiana Territory of the United States, settling in the Saint Louis area, where she met with much failure and disappointment.

Describing this difficult life she wrote, “Poverty and Christian heroism are here, and trials are the riches of priests in this land.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - old altar in Convent

An older altar from the church is now located in the convent. ‘E.V.S.O.D.’ stands for Ego Vobiscum Sum Omnibus Diebus "I am with you all days" (Matthew 28:20).

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent parlor

The convent parlor.

Mother Duchesne never managed to master the English language, nor did she accept the lax customs of the Americans. Her formal, old-world style was reflected in her students: up until the 1960s, alumnae of Sacred Heart academies were known for a culture and refinement far exceeding their peers.

At a time when schooling was considered only important for wealthy boys, Mother Duchesne worked to provide an excellent education to girls of all classes and races.

Although she was cultured and refined, Mother Duchesne lived as did Saint Francis of Asissi, in extreme poverty; this fine but simple convent ought to contrasted with the shacks she often lived in. According the the Jesuit missionary Fr. DeSmet, “No greater saint ever died in Missouri or perhaps in the whole Union.” 

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent, Duchesne icon

Icon of Mother Duchesne. She was beatified in 1940 and canonized in 1988.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne's bedroom (a closet under the stairs)

Mother Duchesne's bedroom was this closet under the stairs, near the doorway into the church where she often kept vigil.

"Everything in and about her was stamped with the seal of a crucified life."

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne's bedroom interior (a closet under the stairs)

The faithful leave prayer petitions in the Saint's little bedroom.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent kitchen

The kitchen.  A garden is behind the nearby rectory.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent office 2

An office, with a portrait of the Saint above the fireplace.

From an early age, the Saint wanted to evangelize the Indians, but this desire was checked by need, and she remained obedient to her superior, Mother Barat, and to her Bishop.

But in 1837, the Potawatomi were expelled from Michigan and Indiana, and under the great hardship of the “Trail of Death”, were relocated to Kansas. The band and their priest, Fr. Benjamin Petit, were struck by typhoid fever, and soon these Catholics were in dire need of a shepherd. Mother Duchesne, dismayed by the poor treatment of the Indians by the government, pleaded to go on mission, even though she was at the age of 71.  According to the Jesuit missionary Fr. Verhaegen, “She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent bedroom

A room shown as an infirmary.

Mother Duchesne, writing about the Potawatomi:
There are no difficulties here except when people worry too much about tomorrow...
Once baptized, they never revert to drunkenness or stealing. Whatever is found is placed at the door of the church to be claimed by the owner. Not a single house has locks on the doors, yet nothing is ever missing. The Indians gather in groups (men and women separate) for morning prayers, Mass, and catechism. In the evening they assemble again for prayers.
Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent dormitory

Sister's dormitory.

Mother Duchesne remained among the Potawatomi for only a year, and unlike the young Sisters, was unable to learn their language. Click here for a scanned Missal in the Potawatomi language.

The Lord's Prayer in the Potawatomi language:
Nosinan wakwig ebiyin, ape kitchitwawenitamag kitinosowin, kitokumawin ape piyamikuk, kitebwetako tipu wakwig, apeke ichu tebwetakon chote kig.

Ngom ekijikiwok michinag wamitchiyak, ponigitediwichinag kego kachikichiinakin, echi ponigitediwiket woye kego kachikichiimidjin; kinaimochinag ewi pwa patadiyak; tchitchiyikwan nenimowichinag meyanuk waotichkakoyakin.

Ape iw nomikuk.
Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent dormitory 2

The other end of the dormitory.

Mother Duchesne would keep all-night vigils in the chapel, on her knees in prayer. The Potawatomi called her Quah-kah-Ka-num-ad — “Woman Who Prays Always”.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent garret

The garret is on the top floor.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - Convent balcony

A balcony in the convent overlooks the altar in the church.

Mother Duchesne met her heavenly reward on 18 November 1852, in Saint Charles, Missouri. Her final words were “I give you my heart, my soul, and my life, oh, yes, my life, generously.

Her relics are entombed at the Shrine of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, in Saint Charles.

These photos were taken on August 31, 2008. My older photos of Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine are found here and here.


EVANGELICALS OFTEN proclaim the great joy in having the certain belief of their salvation. On the hand, there must be no greater sorrow than having a certain belief that one is damned with no hope for forgiveness.

Regarding our final destination, we Catholics do not know for certain what shall be the state of our souls in the final hour of the final day.  It is for this reason we must have remorse for our sins, repent of them, and do penance.

The Lenten practices of fasting, almsgiving, and penances together have the threefold fruits of making reparation for our past sins, purging our souls of the desire to sin in the future, and drawing us closer to God in love. The Sacrament of Confession is of course closely linked with all these.

Lent begins Wednesday.  May we sorrowfully repent in that season, while we joyfully hope for Easter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


SEE THE ARTICLE, The EUCHARIST and MASS MEDIA, over at The LION & the CARDINAL, for a thoughtful view on the Eucharist and social communications.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Walk Around Downtown Washington, Missouri

LOCATED ABOUT 51 highway miles west of downtown Saint Louis, the City of Washington in Franklin County, Missouri is a quickly growing town that still manages to retain historic charm.

Here are some photos that I took during a walk around a few blocks of Washington's downtown, just before sunset.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - street view of Saint Francis Borgia Church tower

The spire of Saint Francis Borgia Church is prominent. The church dates from 1869, and the parish was founded by twelve families from Hanover, Lower Saxony, who settled here in 1833. Early European presence here included the Spanish Fort San Juan del Misori, as well as frontiersmen who followed Daniel Boone here from Kentucky.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - Washington Farmer's Market

Washington Farmers' Market hosts trendy parties on its patio and is in a building that dates from 1856.

The city is named after first U.S. President George Washington, and was originally called St. John's Settlement. When a ferry boat across the Missouri River was licensed here in 1814, the area became known as Washington Landing. The region of the present downtown was platted and subdivided in 1839, the year of the founding of the present City.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - high covered porch

Washington has the largest number of nationally registered historic buildings in the state. The balcony on this building, I think, is a nice touch, and has a great unobstructed view of the Missouri River.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - Lewis & Clark

Lewis and Clark slept here. At the time of their expedition, this area had the westernmost permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - Bank of Washington

The newest building downtown, the Bank of Washington, is nearly complete, and incorporates some Victorian features.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - winery

The oldest surviving wood frame building, dating from 1846. This is across the street from the old Washington waterworks, a delightful example of Victorian engineering design, which I completely neglected to photograph.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - The Art Center

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - 1880 Bank

Old bank building, 1880.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA -house 1

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA -house 2

Fine ornament on this home, built in 1888.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - Old Dutch Hotel

Old Dutch Hotel. This is my favorite photo of the set.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - Calvin Opera House

The Calvin Opera House, from 1909.

Downtown Washington, Missouri, USA - sign of the City of Washington 1839

These photos are only a small sample of the charm of this area.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Upcoming Events at the Oratory

View from the top of the old South Side National Bank Tower, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Saint Francis de Sales Oratory at dusk

At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri:

Forty Hours Devotion

Sunday, February 22:

Confessions, ½ hour before each Mass.
Solemn High Mass, 10:00 a.m., with procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Exposition all day and Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00 p.m.

Monday, February 23:

Confessions, ½ hour before each Mass.
Low Mass, 8:00 a.m. followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Low Mass, 12:10 a.m. at St. Joseph's Altar.
6:30 p.m., Solemn High Mass, followed by Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday, February 24:

Confessions, ½ hour before each Mass.
Low Mass, 8:00 a.m. followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
Low Mass, 12:10 a.m. at St. Joseph's Altar.
6:30 p.m., Solemn High Mass followed by Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and Benediction.
Conclusion of 40 Hours Devotion.

If you would like to sign up for an hour of adoration, you may do so by commenting at this post at Saint Louis Catholic, or by picking up a sign-up form at the Oratory.

Fat Sunday Brunch

Sunday, February 22
Quinquagesima Sunday, hosted by the Knights of Columbus.

“Before Lent begins, come enjoy one more fun, delicious brunch at St. Francis de Sales with our family and friends.”

Cost: $10 per adult
$5 per child (5 to 12 year olds)
Under 5 - free
$40 maximum per family!

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 25

8:00 a.m., Low Mass with Distribution of Ashes
12:10 p.m., Low Mass with Distribution of Ashes
6:30 p.m., Solemn High Mass with Distribution of Ashes

Lenten Retreat

Co-sponsored by Credo of the Catholic Laity.

Saturday, February 28

9:00 a.m. Confession, Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
10:00 a.m. First Conference, His Excellency The Most Rev. Bishop Robert J. Hermann, Archdiocesan Administrator
11:00 a.m. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament — Silent Adoration — Confession,
11:30 a.m. Solemn Benediction.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Second Conference, The Rev. Samuel Weber O.S.B., Director of the Office of Sacred Music for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis
2:30 p.m. Coffee Break
3:00 p.m. Third Conference, The Very Rev. Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
4:00 p.m. Solemn High Mass

Sunday March 1:

10:00 a.m. Solemn High Mass

2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118

View Larger Map

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Women less tolerant of each other than men are, study finds"

SEE THE ARTICLE Women less tolerant of each other than men are, study finds, from the Telegraph.
The research, published in the US journal Psychological Science, found that women formed a negative view of their peers much quicker than men did...

They wrote: "Women may simply weight negative information more heavily than men do, because negative information disrupts the establishment of intimacy, which serves a more important function in same-sex relationships for women than for men...."
I have a different theory.

Most boys, starting from about the age of reason, get into fights with their peers constantly, and puberty only makes the fighting worse. This habit of fighting typically ends with age, or prison.

Now, the fighting was initially only gameplay: when I was a boy we would play Cowboys and Indians or American GIs versus Nazis, but as I got older we just got into fist-fights or wrestling matches, and these generally started over trivial matters.

Even the most liberal and pacifistic of parents — who would never give violent toys to their boys — are shocked when their sons imaginatively turn yardsticks into swords, and bananas into guns, which they use to pretend fight with their friends. Ultimately, the best any parent can hope for is eventual maturity and good health insurance.

As I mentioned, my fights with my friends would often be started over the most trivial of matters, usually over some fine point of honor. None of us actually enjoyed the fights, which usually drew blood and sometimes broke bones, and so we quickly learned how not to get into a fight. Every man usually has ‘hot buttons’ which will nearly guarantee to start the fists flying, and so most men will learn, from hard experience, what buttons not to press. 

In the interests of self-preservation, young men who do not end up in prison learn to be gentlemen who treat other men with honor and a certain amount of tolerance.

Most girls do not learn this lesson. Cat fights are extremely rare — I've seen only two — and so girls can dishonor each other with impunity since they don't risk bloodshed. I'm often shocked at how badly women treat each other, but they can get away with saying things that would give a man a fist in his face. It is for this reason that boys were once taught the old rule that you never, ever hit a girl under any circumstance, and likely the reason why men tend to ignore most everything a woman says. It keeps things peaceful.

‘Enlightened self-interest’ is a low level of morality, and most men don't get beyond it. Women are more likely to attain higher levels of morality, spiritually based on duty and love, so we can expect that women may eventually show higher honor and tolerance for their peers as they get older. Being a ‘lady’ is rather superior than being a mere gentleman.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Feast Day of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and Saint Valentine

TODAY IS, according to the new calendar, is the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and under the old calendar, the feast of Saint Valentine.

Cyril and Methodius were brothers who evangelized the Khazars, Bohemians, and Moravians in the 9th century, and with the permission of the Pope, translated the Liturgy and Bible into the Slavonic language. They invented the Cyrillic alphabet.

The Feast of Saint Valentine was celebrated yearly on February 14th in the Roman calendar from a.D. 496 until the calendar reform of 1969, and commemorates a Roman priest-martyr, buried on the Via Flaminia, the road that goes between Rome and Ravenna.

In honor of the Saints:
I'm just not good at it.

St. Peter's Sandstone

Saint Peter Sandstone mines, in Pacific, Missouri, USA

Old sandstone mines located at the extreme southwestern corner of Saint Louis County, Missouri, just 1000 feet from the Franklin County line, in Pacific Missouri. These mines are on the northern side of old U.S. Route 66 and are south of Interstate 44.

These mines are in the St. Peter Sandstone formation. There is an active quarry of this mineral just behind this ridge. This sand is of exceptional purity and is used, among other things, for manufacturing clear glass. The sandstone is also known as Ottawa Sand, after the town of Ottawa, Illinois, where it is also found. The town of Crystal City, about 30 miles to the southeast, has similar mines and is named after the glass made from this sand. According to Wikipedia:
The St. Peter Sandstone is an Ordovician formation in the Chazyan stage of the Champlainian series. This sandstone originated as a sheet of sand in clear, shallow water near the shore of a Paleozoic sea and consists of fine-to-medium-size, well-rounded quartz grains with frosted surfaces. The extent of the formation spans north-south from Minnesota to Missouri and east-west from Illinois into Nebraska and South Dakota. The type locality for the formation is St. Peter, Minnesota. In eastern Missouri the stone consists of quartz sand that is 99.44% silica.
And from the Argonne National Laboratory website:
Ottawa silica sand is unique. Its rounded grains of clear colorless quartz, diamond-like in hardness, are pure silica (silicon dioxide) uncontaminated by clay, loam, iron compounds, or other foreign substances.
Glass has been locally manufactured from this sand since at least the late 19th century.

This sandstone, when freshly exposed, is easily crumbled by hand into sand; and the sand which comprises it is beautiful and delightfully fine, and would make a nearly ideal beach sand — and according to geologists, the St. Peter Formation was once a huge tropical beach.

As mentioned, this sandstone is exposed in Pacific and Crystal City, Missouri, and can be seen on the roadside in many place in between.  It is also exposed at the abandoned Klondike quarry in Saint Charles County, Missouri, which is now a park. Tavern Cave, located at the base of the bluffs northeast of St. Alban's, is also made of this material. There is a fresh outcropping of the sandstone at the Black Madonna Shrine, south of Eureka, Missouri: you can see it just beyond the stations of the Franciscan Chaplet.

The fresh sandstone is extremely friable, but weathering ‘case-hardens’ the stone, giving it a tough, durable patina, seen in the photo above, where the originally pure white stone turns yellow, then brown, and eventually to gray, as seen at the bottom of the cliff. This patina means that the sandstone can form huge, sheer bluffs, as seen in downtown Pacific, across the street from Saint Bridget of Kildare Church. A grotto in the cliff face is used for a Nativity scene, and a park at the top of the bluff has wonderful views of the town and surrounding countryside.

The St. Peter sandstone is quite uniform and has no bedding and almost no fossils. This means that exposed weathered sections tend to be rounded in shape and lack the stair-steps seen in most sedimentary rock outcroppings hereabouts. You can see exposures in Jefferson County and no doubt elsewhere. Very little plant life can grow on the exposed rock, and rainwater quickly runs off of the rounded surfaces, making natural outcroppings of this rock very distinctive, with unusual desert plants and animals living on it, rarely found elsewhere in Missouri.

In the photo above, the rock is overlain with Joachim Dolomite, as is the case nearly everywhere the rock is found. It is named after Joachim Creek in Jefferson County, Missouri, which in turn is named after the father of the Virgin Mary. Many caves are found in the Joachim formation, especially in Perry County, Missouri. Geologists believe that this rock was formed directly over the St. Peter Sandstone, and come from deposits in somewhat deeper water than the sandstone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo of Saint Mary of Perpetual Help Church, in Villa Ridge, Missouri

Saint Mary of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, in Villa Ridge, Missouri, USA - exterior

The parish dates from 1905, and this church from 1910. It is located about 46 highway miles west-by-southwest of downtown Saint Louis, in rural Franklin County, Missouri.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Saint Louis Area Genealogy and History Sources

MANY READERS of this website are interested in genealogy, and so my sister-in-law suggests that I post links to local genealogy sources and websites. I've found these Internet sites interesting sources of information on the history of the Saint Louis area, and so may be of use to amateur genealogists:

Saint Louis County Library (Library main branch has extensive historical archives.)

City and County of St. Louis Missouri Genealogy Web Page

Moser's Directory of Towns, Villages and Hamlets Past and Present of Missouri

St. Louis Street Index

History's Time Portal to Old St. Louis

Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Built St. Louis: Architecture links

CONTENTS of the JEFFERSON COUNTY portion of GOODSPEED's HISTORY OF Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, & Gasconade Counties, Missouri

History and Genealogy of Franklin County, Missouri

History of St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren Counties, Missouri

1913 Commercial History Of Clinton County, Illinois

Randolph County Illinois "...Where Illinois Began..."


A Brief History of St. Clair County, Illinois

Neighborhoods of the City of Saint Louis

Missouri Spatial Data Information Service

Midwest Gazetteer (emphasis on southeast Missouri)

These websites have some national information which may be of interest: Commercial Real Estate Information and Construction Data

Geographic Names Information System (United States Geological Survey)

Historic Markers

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610 to 1791

Stone Quarries and Beyond

Here are Amazon links to books and items which I've found useful:

Missouri Atlas & Gazetteer (Shows all roads and detailed geography.)

Illinois Atlas and Gazetteer

The Streets of St. Louis

Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers (Provides an answer to the question "Are we there yet?")

Garmin MapSource Topo U.S. (Topographic maps for Garmin GPS units, includes locations of old cemeteries, churches, and schools. Especially useful is the landmark search feature.)

Books by prominent and prolific local historian, Fr. William Barnaby Faherty, S.J.,including his most recent books Centuries of St. Louis and The Saint Louis German Catholics by Reedy Press.

If any reader knows of other sites of local historical or genealogical interest, please leave a comment!


SORRY THAT I haven't posted in a while. I just haven't felt inspired.

The English word ‘inspired’ comes from the Latin verb inspirare, meaning ‘to breath into’ and was used in antiquity to describe the action of divinity filling the artist with graces. Nowadays, the word ‘inspired’ merely means having an urge or feeling to do something, which is how I used the word above.

The other day, a correspondent sent me a link: TED: Eat, Pray, Love Author on How We Kill Geniuses, which describes a contemporary attempt to bring back the old meaning of the word ‘inspired’. According to that article, contemporary society tends to put excessive demands on talented people, which is deadly in some ways: it leads to disproportionate pressure to perform, and leads to narcissism.

From the article:
Instead of seeing the individual as a genius, we should view the brilliance as a gift from an unknowable outside source...
Or in other words, some works are inspired by divinity. The article continues:
She looked at other societies to see how they regard this pressure on artists and found an answer in ancient Greece and Rome. In these places, people didn't believe that creativity came from inside. They believed it was an attentive spirit that came to someone from a distant, unknowable source, she said...
This view served the artist's mental health, she suggested, because by attributing the artist's talent to an outside force, the artist was relieved of some of the pressure to perform, and was not narcissistic. If an artist's work was brilliant, the outside force got the credit.
All that changed with the Renaissance when mysticism was replaced by a belief that creativity came from the self. For the first time, people started referring to an artist as being a genius rather than having a genius....
This is consonant with Catholic teaching: inspiration is a free gift from God, an unmerited grace.

Divine inspiration is de fide, a part of the Faith, but we must proceed with caution, since much of contemporary religion's view of grace is far from orthodoxy.

Consider these two views:
  • Atheistic, materialistic view: Nobody is inspired.
  • New Age, pantheistic view: Everybody is inspired.
Although seemingly very different, these two views have much in common, and both imply the moral equality of persons. Tawdry grace is indistinguishable from no grace. "If everybody is special than nobody is". There is little cognitive distance between these views; according to the article: 
Gilbert received a full standing ovation for her talk from an audience of people who generally don't give in to beliefs about muses, fairies and god forces.
Unorthodox opinions about grace and inspiration are a core part of the modern worldview. Please consider:
  • The doctrine of sola scriptura: that believers receive inspiration of the meaning of Scripture by reading Scripture itself, and that this inspiration is the sole foundation of faith.
  • Churchmen who discern the "movement of the spirit" in an ordinary, unremarkable manner. Contrast this with scriptural descriptions of inspiration, which are typically terrifying.
  • Denominations that place inspiration of the spirit above any sacred tradition, doctrine, rational opinion, or logic. Denominations where the gifts of the spirit are ordinary and expected parts of worship.
  • Occult practices commonly found among rationalists, including Enlightenment intellectuals and contemporary scientists.
  • The philosophical opinion of the zeitgeist or ‘spirit of the times’, which is a theoretical underpinning of Marxism, Naziism, and the unorthodox interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.
But Catholic teaching also says that we each have to use our own free will to cooperate with grace, which is only briefly mentioned in the article as "Just do your job." Forgetting about our cooperation with grace can lead to problems.

Heterodox opinions about the interrelationship between free will and grace led to the Reformation and to the subsequent splintering of the denominations. The influence of these heresies is so great that Protesting views have greatly shaped the opinions of Catholics and even secularists. One problem is where someone believes that they are in fact inspired and that their inspiration is binding on others. Closely related is the attitude that most people lack free will and so must be forced to do the right thing. Others recognize the subjectivity of inspiration, but are instead led to the conclusion that only personal subjectivity is true and that there is no higher truth. Fatalism can develop when a person believes that they are in fact without grace and that there is nothing they can do about it. Also common is the opinion that grace is received merely by a single act of the will at a single point of time.

The Catholic view instead states that grace elevates our free will, and that we must cooperate with inspiration and other grace at all times by developing and practicing virtue, which as I personally know, is a difficult matter. We must keep the commandments, exercise ourselves unto godliness, and we each shall expect a reward according to our labors. Likewise, the practice of art is also a virtue, although not a moral virtue, and so inspiration must be substantiated by the skills and talents of the artist: feeling alone is insufficient.

The article linked above is rather abstract by not identifying the source of inspiration, and therefore is well-suited to our New Age where people are ‘spiritual but not religious’.

What appears to be inspiration can indeed come from God and His angels, but certainly it is filtered through ourselves, and so an inspired moment can be largely, or even entirely subjective. But inspiration can come from another source.

Demonology is a subject that I care to know nothing about (out of fear, mainly!), but the process of ‘discernment of spirits’ is required to test supposed inspiration. This is a subject that can scare the hell out of you, but unfortunately, many do not preach or teach the doctrine of hell, because it is very unpleasant.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Some Observations

PROBLEMS ARE EVERYWHERE in contemporary Catholic life, including in the newer ecclesial movments. Some observations:
  1. Venerate your founder only after he is long dead and canonized.
  2. Choose a rule for your order that is ancient, tried, and tested, like the Rules of Augustine and Benedict. Most experiments end in failure.
  3. Court the wealthy as little as necessary. The sick and poor are the wealth of the Church.
  4. If you have to convince someone that he has a vocation to your religious order, then he does not have a vocation to your religious order.
  5. Whatever is asked of a member of an order goes at least double for the leader of the order.
  6. The purpose of an order is either the personal sanctity of its members or the service to others though charity. Period. Growth and influence are not valid ends for an order.
  7. Being able to accept criticism is a mark of humility.
Links to the terrible story of the founder of the Legion of Christ:

Requiem in Pace

May he rest in peace, and prayers for Amy Welborn and family.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The End of the Season of Christmas....

Saint Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Christmas manger

....taken last night after Candlemas at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.