Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

THE BOOK OF ACTS ends abruptly, with Saint Paul in Rome, under house arrest but still preaching. Also in Acts, we find Peter being miraculously released from jail — and this latter event is used in the readings for today's Mass.

Tradition and ancient writings find both Peter and Paul in Rome, where they both were martyred; Peter by crucifixion upside-down, and Paul by beheading, since he was a Roman citizen. That they both earned their crown of glory in Rome is providential: the great persecutor of the Jews and Christians would itself be conquered by Christian Jews. Both Saints were familiar faces in that City, and the many ancient artistic depictions of them, including recently discovered ones, are quite similar:
The two chief Apostles, on the other hand, are always easily recognized and are of marked individuality. St. Peter appears as a man of great energy, with a short, thick beard, and close cut, curly hair, which in the earlier frescoes is partly, in the later wholly, gray. St. Paul is represented as the Apostle of intellect, bald, and with long, pointed beard, dark brown in colour.

Catholic Encyclopedia, Portraits of the Apostles
The Roman co-Emperors Constantine and Licinius, in the Edict of Milan of A.D. 313, proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire, including toleration of Christians. Soon afterward, Constantine started the construction of a new capital of the Empire, a city he named after himself. Constantinople was to be a new start, and the old ancient power blocks of the Senate, Tribunes, and other traditional offices were swept away, consolidating power in himself.

Many were dismayed that the leadership of Christ's Church did not follow the Emperor to Constantinople, but this is also providential. Just when Rome became a Christian city, it ceased to be a seat of worldly power. It is unthinkable that the Church ought to abandon the tombs of the great Apostles Peter and Paul, and the places of martyrdom of countless Saints and their cemeteries. By remaining in Rome, the Church distanced itself from Imperial meddling, and was better able to follow Christ.

Tyrants despise any power besides themselves, and the Church is the greatest threat to any despot. Indeed, religion is often seen as being merely a tool of politics, as was seen in the Sadducees of ancient Jerusalem, and in much contemporary religion in the United States today. A savvy Pontiff may have seen the move to Constantinople as being a good way to influence the Emperor, but rather what typically happens is the opposite, and religious leaders ending up being manipulated by power. This was seen in a major way in the Iconoclast controversy; and during the 20th century, the Orthodox Churches were severely persecuted and often controlled by Communists.

By remaining in Rome, with the tombs of the great Apostles, the Church was better able to follow the example of these holy men.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Refracted Light

SEE A NEW blog on photography: The Refracted Light.
The name ‘Refracted Light’ refers to the process where waves, when hitting a boundary at an angle, will change velocity, and so will also change direction.  This principle is what makes optics and cameras possible: light waves, when hitting the glass of a lens at an angle, will be bent.  Lenses are precisely constructed to focus these light waves at a point, where an image can be captured. This name perhaps is evocative of photography.

But the name also comes from the poem Mythopoeia, by J.R.R Tolkien, who is better known for his epic novel of high fantasy, The Lord of the Rings. Quoting the poem:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Tolkien wrote this in defense of creative myth-making, rebutting his friend “who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though ‘breathed through silver’”. Tolkien's imagery can also apply to photography: a thousand photographers can each photograph the same scene with the same camera, yet a thousand different images result. Photography may be our most objective art form, but the single white light of Truth gets refracted through each person, producing many hues.

Photo of the Former Ursuline Academy, in Arcadia, Missouri

Former Ursuline Academy, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - exterior of chapel

This chapel belongs to what once was the Ursuline Academy and Arcadia College, in Arcadia, Missouri. It closed in 1971.

The chapel and most of the buildings on the former campus are for sale, and can be purchased through Arcadia Valley Realty. This is located in one of the most beautiful areas in Missouri, and this campus could be well-suited for one of the newer, quickly growing religious congregations. I estimate that roughly $3 million would be needed to restore these buildings to excellent condition.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Please Donate

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - convent, bedroom

A Sister's bedroom, recently restored, at the convent of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. The church is seen outside of the window.

The Oratory need help with its ongoing restoration projects. To donate, visit:

At Cliff Cave Park

SOME LOVELY SCENERY at Cliff Cave Park, in Oakville, Missouri.

Moon rising over the Mississippi River, at Cliff Cave Park, in Oakville, Missouri, USA

Moon rises over the Mississippi River.

Sunset with wildflowers, at Cliff Cave Park, in Oakville, Missouri, USA

This prairie area, with many wildflowers, has lately been restored after it was damaged by flooding.

Click here for my old photos of the cave itself.

Photos of Sainte Marie du Lac Church, in Ironton, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Sainte Marie du Lac Church, in Ironton, Missouri. Located in the beautiful Arcadia Valley of Iron County, this church is located about 89 highway miles south-by-southwest of downtown Saint Louis, and is a part of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The name of this church is French, meaning ‘Saint Mary of the Lake’.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - exterior

The exterior of the church, which was built in 1957. The church hall adjoins on the left, and the rectory is behind the camera.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - nave

The interior layout of the church is very similar to the many neo-Gothic churches built around the turn of the 20th century, but it uses instead the architectural vocabulary of Modernism.

In an article, the pastor says that his flock has dwindled to about 200 families, mainly due to loss of jobs in the area, but the CCD program is growing.

Ironton is located in the Arcadia Valley along with the nearby towns of Pilot Knob and Arcadia. It is in the geological core of the Ozark Mountains, the Saint François Range, which has extensive mining history as well as incredible scenic beauty. Nearby is the highest point in Missouri, Taum Sauk Mountain, as well as the geologically interesting Elephant Rocks and Johnson's Shut-ins. This valley saw extensive fighting during the Civil War, including the Battle of Fort Davidson, and numerous reminders of this dark period of American history can still be seen. Nearby are the buildings of the former Ursuline Academy.

Click here for some of my old photos of the Arcadia Valley.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - stained glass window with Jesus

Stained glass window of Jesus.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - devotional station - the Presentation of the Infant Jesus in the Temple

The church has the familiar Stations of the Cross, as well as a set of unfamiliar (to me, at least) devotional stations; here is undoubtably the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - cornerstone

Cornerstone of the church.

Many more photos of this church, by Tina aka Snupnjake, can be found here.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary above spring source

A statue of the Blessed Virgin stands above a spring, which fills the lake seen in the photo below.  Life-giving waters spring forth from rock, and so therefore are a symbol of God's grace.

Sainte Marie du Lac Roman Catholic Church, in Ironton, Missouri, USA - statue of Our Lady of the Lake

A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child stands on small island in a lake on the grounds of the church. Ducks and geese call this lake their home.

These grounds were once the garden of the Lindsay-Emerson home, later called Emerson Park, then Grant Park, and later Villa Sainte Marie du Lac of the Sisters of St. Mary Hospital.

During the Civil War, Union troops encamped here on the grounds of the home of John W. Emerson. At this spot Ulysses S Grant received his appointment to the rank of Brigadier General from President Lincoln; Grant himself later became President of the United States. A statue in his honor is located on this lawn; it was placed by veterans of his unit in 1886.  The landowner, John Emerson, landscaped these grounds after the war, turning it into a park, and later most notably founded the Emerson Electric Company.

350 South Main Street
Ironton, Missouri 63650

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why not try being a better person?

We want our banker to be trustful, our doctor to be well skilled and competent, our broker to be honest, our friends and family be loving and caring; the list of demands on other people's character goes on and on. If we desire all of the people that make up our world to have good character and virtues, how can we excuse these same standards from our own lives?

Don't you think we would feel better by trying to do good?

Why not try being a better person?
— from Are You Happy Yet? by Harry John Abeln Sr.

That is good advice Dad, and have a happy birthday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saint John's Eve

CLICK HERE for a nice reflection, from Recta Ratio.

Photo of Old Saint Agnes Church

Old Saint Agnes Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - exterior at dusk

The former Saint Agnes Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri. From the Archdiocesan archives:
St. Agnes Church (St Louis City) was established in 1891. Its pastor, formerly pastor of Assumption (St. Louis City) wanted to move his community away from the breweries. It was built at Sidney and Salena. Its school (1905) was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1983 the school merged with Notre Dame Consolidated Elementary at the St. Francis de Sales site. The Girls’ Club of St. Louis bought the school. St. Agnes parish merged with St Francis de Sales parish in June 1993.
It is completely legitimate, and even laudatory, to have sorrow over things lost, such as this one of the many closed parishes in the City of Saint Louis. The closure of the churches is due to many factors, but population loss is primary, although loss of the Faith is more crucial in the wider view of things. Local urbanists often decry the fact that the City has less than half the population it did a century ago — but those were also the days when awful and squalid living conditions were the norm. However, the case can be made that people were generally happier back in those days, due to the graces that flowed from churches like this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some Recent Sunsets

Sunset over Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA


Sunset from Smallpox Island, near Alton, Illinois, USA

Feast of Saint Thomas More

by Saint Thomas More
Tower of London, 1534-35

Give me thy grace, good Lord:
To set the world at nought;

To set my mind fast upon thee,
And not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;

To be content to be solitary,
Not to long for worldly company;

Little and little utterly to cast off the world,
And rid my mind of all the business thereof;

Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me displeasant;

Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for his help;

To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love him;

To know mine own vility and wretchedness,
To humble and meeken myself under the mighty hand of God;

To bewail my sins passed,
For the purging of them patiently to suffer adversity;

Gladly to bear my purgatory here,
To be joyful of tribulations;

To walk the narrow way that leadeth to life,
To bear the cross with Christ;

To have the last thing in remembrance,
To have ever afore mine eye my death that is ever at hand;

To make death no stranger to me,
To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of hell;

To pray for pardon before the judge come,
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me;

For his benefits uncessantly to give him thanks,
To buy the time again that I before have lost;

To abstain from vain confabulations,
To eschew light foolish mirth and gladness;

Recreations not necessary — to cut off;
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at right nought for the winning of Christ;

To think my most enemies my best friends,
For the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.

These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasure of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all upon one heap.

Danger - No Swimming

Sign - "Danger No Swimming", at riverfront, in Washington, Missouri, USA

A sign, warning against swimming in the Missouri River, at Washington, Missouri.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day



Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - view of tower with moon

Tower of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, taken around sunset yesterday. The moon is seen in the lower left corner.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Car of Commerce Chute

Car of Commerce Chute with Pelican Island, at Sioux Passage Park, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA

A view of the Car of Commerce Chute, with Pelican Island on the right; taken from Sioux Passage Park in extreme northern Saint Louis County. The chute, which is near flooding in this photo, is a narrow side-channel of the Missouri River.

According to a history of this park:
The confluence of the Missouri River and Mill Creek was a favored campsite for Indians of the late woodland and Mississippian periods. The area featured good hunting and fishing. A source of flint for the manufacture of tools and weapons was readily available. An easily accessible spring provided all-important drinking water. The area provided the needs of the early inhabitants. It is possible that Indians of the Middle Woodland period inhabited the area as early as 100 A.D. The Sioux Passage Park Archaeological Site, listed in the National Register in 1974, is located in the park.
Sioux Passage is located at spot where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers run parallel to each other, and an overland short-cut can be taken between the rivers. This recalls an historical event: a band of Sioux in canoes were being pursued by their enemies down the river: these Indians were able to take this shortcut, thereby eluding their pursuers. The nearby town of Portage des Sioux commemorates this overland portage.

Pelican Island is over 2000 acres in size, and is one of the few remaining large islands on the lower Missouri River, and likely gets its name from the birds who nested there. It is a nature reserve and can be accessed by boat, or on foot during extreme drought. Some old maps show a causeway to the island, but recent aerial photos show that causeway to be largely destroyed by the river.

Car of Commerce Chute and Pelican Island, at Sioux Passage Park, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA

Another view of Pelican Island and the Chute.  The island is basically a large, heavily forested swamp.  The trees on the opposite shore are covered with vines of native grape.

Tree trunks in Car of Commerce Chute, at Sioux Passage Park, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA

Tree trunks were floating by like toothpicks in the stream of the river. At the time of early European exploration of this region, flooding would wipe out entire forests, filling the Missouri River with enormous rafts of trees, making river travel hazardous or impossible. The trunk in the foreground is called a snag — tree roots get waterlogged, and sink to the bottom; the current pushes the floating top of the tree downstream and the trunk therefore acts like a spike.  Snags would impale boats going up the river, making these serious hazards to navigation.

The name of this stream seems odd, but is taken after a steamboat which sank here in 1832. “Car of Commerce” was actually a fairly common steamboat name; at least five boats with that name did trade along the western rivers. Before the age of automobiles, ‘car’, from the Latin carrus, was a poetical word meaning ‘chariot’.  Here is a historical record of the Car of Commerce wreck; click image to go to the document:

Musick's Ferry was located near the other end of the chute. The remains of very many sunken steamboats, and modern-day steel barges, can be seen in the riverbed during times of low water.

Click here for a map of the area.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some Fountains at Shaw's Garden

HERE ARE SOME photos of fountains at the Missouri Botanical Garden, popularly called Shaw's Garden after its founder, Henry Shaw (1800-1889). I've found that floral photos rarely turn out very well unless it is sunny, so on this mainly overcast day, I turned the lens towards a few of the garden's many fanciful fountains.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - fountain of three fish

Three Sturgeons, by the Florentine sculptor Sirio Tofanari.

As I've written before, I have a fascination with fountains and flowing water.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - Ottoman fountain

The Ottoman garden is similar to what might have been found in a sultan's garden in Constantinople. Islamic water gardens developed from the conquered Christian Byzantine empire designs, modified by its own theology.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - wall fountain

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - pond in Chinese garden

Soon after arrival, there was an intense downpour. Large raindrops can be seen here, while I was safely under a gazebo in the Chinese garden.

Overcast days are typically terrible for taking photos. Strangely, subjects that look fine to the eye turn out poorly in the camera.  But human psychology can help: when lighting is dim, the eye's sensitivity to blue light increases, while the camera has no such correction. Using the computer afterwards to boost the camera's sensitivity to blue solved the problem and rescued a number of these photos, restoring them to an approximation of what I saw that day.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - fountain of nude woman on dolphin

Young lady, show some modesty. I don't care if you think you are a “goddess”.

This is Sunglitter, by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles. There are many Milles sculptures in Saint Louis; he typically used pagan or mythic Nordic nationalistic themes.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - raccoon fountain

Detail of Three Playful Raccoons.  This and the following three sculptures are by native Missourian, Robert Lee Walker.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - fountain with otter and fish

Detail of Four Playful Otters with Fish.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - fountain of geese

Three Dancing Geese.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - peacock fountain

This is my favorite shot of the day.  Two Playful Peacocks.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - sun fountain

Solar powered pump doesn't work on an overcast day.

Besides not working on this particular day, note that this fountain lacks monumental quality and permanence unlike the others shown here, and it emphasizes the least interesting part, the solar panel. My engineering and design background leads me to believe that a sun fountain could be implemented in a much more satisfactory and delightful manner. I am available for consultation.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - Japanese fountain

A bamboo fountain in the Japanese garden. Ritual purity is a significant part of Japanese religion. Water is used for purification and cleansing, and so is a natural sign or symbol for the interior cleansing of the soul. This is found in Christian baptism.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - waterfall in Japanese garden

Cho-on-baku; or, the Waterfall of Tidal Sound, in the Japanese garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden), in Saint Louis, MIssouri, USA - trees in Japanese garden

Last year, I took a photo of this pleasant little landscape, but my focus was poor. Here I try again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Holy Family Log Church, in Cahokia, Illinois, USA - exterior at dusk

Holy Family Log Church, in Cahokia, Illinois.

Monday, June 14, 2010


ONE OF THE DELIGHTS of the change in seasons is the variety of plants that come into bloom over time. Hereabouts, Hydrangeas are now in bloom.

hydrangea flowers

I took this photo yesterday in Clara's Garden, at Sacred Heart Church, in Florissant, Missouri.

These flowers are unusual because they can have a range of hues.  I've heard two theories about this: one is that the flowers respond to the pH of the soil, with pink flowers growing in acid soil, white in neutral, and blue in alkaline, very similar to the laboratory's Litmus paper test. The other theory is that rusty nails driven into the ground will change the color of the flowers.

The name Hydrangea derives from the Greek, meaning ‘water vessel’. The genus Hydrangea is native to the Americas and East Asia, although it seems that the common cultivated species, as seen here, come from Japan. Hydrangeas form flower heads with fertile flowers in the center being surrounded by showy sterile flowers: but in cultivated species, all the flowers are sterile and so the plant does not propagate, which is a very desirable trait for decorative non-native species. However, these flower bushes tend to be long-lived, lasting for decades.

Flag Day, and a Proposal

JUNE 14th is observed in the United States as Flag Day, in honor of the flag of the Republic.


This flag image is from the excellent vexillogical website Flags of the World. Vexillogy is the study of flags, and Catholics ought to be reminded of the Latin hymn Vexilla Regis, for a use of that Latin word.

The description and use of the flag is put forth in the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1. From the code:
§ 6. Time and occasions for display

(a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

(b) The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

(c) The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.

(d) The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year’s Day, January 1; Inauguration Day, January 20; Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, third Monday in January; Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12; Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February; Easter Sunday (variable); Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May; Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May; Flag Day, June 14; Father’s Day, third Sunday in June; Independence Day, July 4; National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27; Labor Day, first Monday in September; Constitution Day, September 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25; and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States (date of admission); and on State holidays.

(e) The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.

(f) The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.

(g) The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
Flag etiquette is sometimes ignored these days. So for edification, here is the relevant section:
§ 8. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
It parades, it is often international custom for a flag bearer to dip his flag in honor, towards the dignitary host of the event. The United States forbids this. The statement “this flag dips to no earthly king” is attributed to the flag bearer at the 1908 London Olympics.

The flag is not humiliated towards any earthly king, but an exception is made towards Christ the King. Church flags take precedence. This is an obvious sign of humility in governance. Earthly power comes and goes, for it is a passing thing, easily taken away as it is given. As the Declaration of Independence states, the nation is bound absolutely to follow the “Laws of Nature and of Nature's God”. This concept was taken from the sole Catholic Founding Father of the Republic, Charles Carroll; the other Founders had placed their hopes in the worldly institution of Puritan Parliament, and that institution failed them. Rather, only a government in harmony with the laws of human nature has a chance of success.

For my own contribution to vexillogy, I offer this following design of a patriotic banner for American Catholics:

Patriotic flag for American Catholics

Not a replacement for the Flag of the Republic, this perhaps could be used as a minor symbol by patriotic Catholics who wish to both proclaim allegiance to the Republic while also being explicitly Catholic.

It is based on what is called the Betsy Ross flag, and has squarer proportions than the official flag of the United States of America, so as to make larger the canton, or upper left blue rectangular area. It includes the traditional thirteen horizontal red and white stripes used in the American flag, symbolizing the thirteen colonies which declared their independence from Britain.

The five-pointed stars are arranged in a circular pattern, also reminiscent of the Betsy Ross Flag. This pattern was actually taken from the flag of the European Union, with its gold stars, but with the darker Navy Blue color used in the American Flag. That I used the European Union flag as the exemplar does not mean that this flag is the daughter of that banner, but rather is her sister: for the EU banner was explicitly modeled after the Betsy Ross canton.

Although the EU flag is derived from the early American flag, there are twelve, rather than thirteen stars. The EU thought 13 to be an inauspicious number, while the number twelve has many positive connotations, such as the 12 hours of daylight, 12 months in a year, 12 constellations in the zodiac, the Twelve Tables of the Roman Law, the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 12 Apostles. It also represents the first 12 founding nations of the EU. However, the designer most specifically took this from Revelation 12:1, “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Therefore I use twelve stars, making this a symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary as our Queen Mother, and of the Church.

I retained the use of five pointed stars out of tradition, although perhaps a six-pointed star, the Star of Creation, is better suited for this task; even some early American flags used six-pointed stars. Five-pointed stars have mixed symbolism, both positive and negative, amenable or hostile to the principles of the Republic, and so this type of symbol confusion is inevitable when a symbol is too simple and therefore too common.  But for our purposes, this five pointed star is an ancient symbol of the Morningstar, and the planet Venus seen in the morning is in itself an ancient symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the center of the stars is a very simple representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, surmounted by a cross, making this an explicitly Christian symbol to even casual observers who may not be familiar with Catholic symbolism. The devotion to the Sacred Heart, we must remember, is devotion to God's wounded love for us: we are the unfaithful spouse of a great King. The heart symbolizes God's love, and the cross symbolizes God's suffering. This is most specifically the Sacred Heart of the Vendée, and so is a symbol of religious liberty and a sign against tyranny. I got this idea from a flag used by patriotic French Catholics. That the symbol of Jesus in within the symbol of Mary here ought to remind us of the Incarnation.

In the Catholic Church, June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and in the United States, June is a very patriotic month, second only to July, so I thought this particular project seemed appropriate at this time.

The colors are also symbolic, with red representing blood and therefore the moral virtue of courage; white represents purity and therefore the moral virtue of temperance and ought to remind us of the use of white in the Te Deum; navy blue represents the moral virtues of prudence and justice, and it also represents Heaven. The gold of the stars represents the Divine light, the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, the nobility of the Church, and wisdom.

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - high altar with Sacred Heart statue and tabernacle

Most Sacred Heart Church, in Florissant, Missouri.

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri, USA - statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine, also in Florissant.
“If, amidst the impiety which Jesus Christ meets with at the hands of heretics, He at least were honoured and ardently loved by the faithful, we might in some degree console ourselves for the outrages of the one, by the love and sincere homage of the other. But alas ! where are we to look for that crowd of adorers, earnestly bent on honouring Jesus Christ in our Churches ? Are not our Churches deserted ? Can there be greater coldness and indifference than what is shown towards Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament ? The scanty number that are to be seen in our Churches during the greater part of the day, are they not a visible proof of the forgetfulness and want of love of almost all Christians?”

— from Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by Fr. John Croiset, S.J., spiritual director to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Feast of the Sacred Heart at the Oratory

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri:
Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday, June 11 at 6:30pm the St. Francis de Sales Oratory choir will sing a Mass composed by Mr. Kevin Allen of Chicago, Illinois.
His work written in 1991 is based on the well known Chant Mass setting “Orbis Factor.” The Mass is scored for Ladies choir, String Orchestra and Gentleman’s Chant Schola.
Mr. Allen will be in attendance. All are warmly invited and welcome to attend.

Confessions 30 minutes before Holy Mass.

St. Francis de Sales Oratory
2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118

314. 771. 3100

Monday, June 07, 2010

Photos of Corpus Christi Procession at Saint Ambrose Church

PROCESSION FOR the feast of Corpus Christi, at Saint Ambrose Church, in the “Hill” neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri.

Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Corpus Christi Procession 1

Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Corpus Christi Procession 3

Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Corpus Christi Procession - flags

Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Corpus Christi Procession 2

Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Corpus Christi Procession - interior of church
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - statue of Matthew the Evangelist

Statue of Saint Matthew the Evangelist, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.