Friday, December 30, 2011

The Holy Family

Saint Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - nativity scene

At Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family according to the Mass of Pope Paul VI. From the first reading:
Children, pay heed to a father's right; do so that you may live.
For the LORD sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
He who honors his father atones for sins;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard…
— Sirach 3:1-5 (New American Bible)

Saint Stephen's Church

Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church, in Richwoods, Missouri, USA - exterior

Saint Stephen's Church, in Richwoods, Missouri. Photo taken on the Feast of Saint Stephen, Protomartyr.

A charming Christmas story is associated with this church: you can read it as well as view other photos of the church here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saint Mary's Church, in Brussels, Illinois, Destroyed by Fire

AN EMAIL FROM a parishioner of Saint Mary's Church, in Brussels, Illinois, informed me that the church was destroyed by a fire that sparked during the Christmas Vigil Mass. Firefighters and parishioners bravely managed to save many movable items in the church, including vestments, chalices, and statues, but the building itself is a total loss; fortunately, no one was injured, nor were adjacent properties harmed.

News stories and videos of the fire can be found here, here, and here.

My article on the church, dating from March 2009, is here, and a few additional photos of the church can be viewed here.

Immaculate Conception (Saint Mary's) Roman Catholic Church, in Brussels, Calhoun County, Illinois, USA - sanctuary

The sanctuary of the church, as it was in March of 2009.

The church dates from the 1860s, and was the center of life in this town, which is about 90% Catholic. This is a significant loss for the parishioners, who nevertheless hope to rebuild. However, it seems difficult to hope that this church, which was one of the finest country churches in the region, could be rebuilt in a similar manner today. The sense of filial piety, the respect for pious ancestors who have gone before, has preserved this church through the decades, and the same piety can move us to tears over the church's loss.

We live in a world that was made very good, yet is fallen. We are to expect sorrow and loss in this “vale of tears,” and while our reason should judge our feelings, we ought to mourn the loss of the good things in this life, such as this church. Jesus wept, His mother is called Our Lady of Sorrows, and we are to bear our crosses and follow Him. “Behold, I make all things new:” all sorrow and pain works out for the best insofar as we are united to God’s Will.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
December 21, 2011


Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,


One member of the audience described the Oratory’s first Gaudete Benefit Gala as a “magical evening.” Others used “fantastic,” “moving” and “extraordinary” to describe the memorable experience which exceeded their expectations.


From the jazzy welcome which greeted the first arrivals at the cocktail social, to the resounding “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” that closed the evening, this “magical evening” was a delightful interlacing of skillfully performed music and a delicious banquet. The overture, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” captivated the audience just before the first course, Winter Beef Soup, was served. Thereafter, choral and instrumental pieces by classical masters as well as contemporary composers were enchantingly interwoven with the elegant dinner, served in a joyful atmosphere.

Who can forget the Chocolate Oblivion Flourless Torte paired with timeless Christmas carols, sung with energy and expression by the Oratory’s choristers?

Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Nick Botkins, Mrs. Catherine Unseth, Mrs. Mary Hayworth, and Mr. Mike Kenney for their vision and execution of this beautiful gala, which showcased the Oratory’s choirs and orchestra. We will need support to renovate the music suite in the “1888 Building” and to refurbish the organ, and this fundraiser was a very good beginning. I would like to thank all of you who came to this sold-out event, and the many guests who came to hear our choirs for the first time. Last but not least, I would like to thank all the singers and musicians for sharing the gifts which you offer every Sunday in support of the Sacred Liturgy, and which were displayed so dazzlingly at this Gala. Thank you!
Thanks to Mr. Phil Roussin, we are able to share with you two selections performed at the Gala: the Ave Maria by Nicholas Wilton, and the traditional carol, Gloucestershire Wassail.


We are in the final weeks of our 5-week survey of the Oratory’s attendees. The wonderful changes we have seen at St. Francis de Sales in the past six years have been supported largely by the dedicated and increased attendance. A higher rate of participation in this survey will ensure a better understanding of the demographic changes which are taking place. We kindly ask everyone to participate this year, whether you did last year, or are a newcomer this year. Last year’s survey returns cannot be re-used; therefore it is necessary that everyone fills out a new one for this year. For your convenience, the survey is designed to take only a few minutes, and it can be filled out anonymously in paper form, or online at Your generous participation will help us gather information which will help the Oratory serve the faithful in the greater St. Louis area. Thank you very much for your help!


In November, we received the final report of a study which monitored the movement of the Saint Francis de Sales steeple tower. This study was conducted over a 15-month period, considerably longer than the previous report of 2005 which spanned 5 months. The results of this recent study are interesting in that they show a cyclical displacement, likely due to seasonal effects, rather than a continuous unidirectional separation of the tower from the nave. Thus, the net displacement measured was smaller than what the previous projection would lead us to believe. The study concludes: “The continual movement was not significant enough to be readily measurable over this time period,” and that “it is not a primary concern at this time.”

The report’s recommendations are two-fold: a. more long-term monitoring of the tower is needed, and b. that the damage already occurred should be addressed as soon as possible.

We are very grateful for this study which gives us a better understanding of the steeple tower situation, so that this important element in the restoration of St. Francis de Sales can be addressed in a prudent manner.

In the mean time, per recommendation of the report, we will attend to other much-needed repairs of the church, such as the stained glass windows, displaced masonry, broken brick work, and tuck-pointing. With the generosity of the faithful and friends of the Oratory, some of these repairs have already begun or been completed in the last few years. Gratefully, and encouraged by the latest information, we look forward to the next phase of collaboration with all our supporters to continue the restoration of St. Francis de Sales.


Canon Brieuc de La Brosse who was ordained priest by His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, in Florence on July 7, celebrated Solemn High Mass at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, preached the sermon and gave a first blessing to hundreds of faithful. Canon de La Brosse arrived in St. Louis last Saturday and was able to attend the Gaudete Benefit Gala the night before this wonderful and grace-filled Sunday. Thank you, Canon de La Brosse, for your visit and God Speed for your apostolic work in the Institute’s apostolates in Ireland! 


Solemn High Mass with Glorious Music and Veneration of the Relic of the Holy Crèche.
The first Mass of Christmas will be celebrated at midnight on December 25, and will include the veneration of the relic of the holy Crèche. Please join us, and invite your friends, neighbors and family to a memorable, traditional celebration of the birth of the Savior. Beginning at 11:30 PM, traditional Christmas carols will be sung by the Choirs of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, including the Girls' Choir, the Oratory Choir of Men and Boys, and the Polyphonic Choir. The music repertoire accompanying the glorious Sacred Liturgy will include the Lux Arumque by Eric Whitacre, and Missa Brevis for Strings and Brass KV. 194 by Mozart.

In the last Newsletter we announced a new Scrip program for the Oratory. By shopping with Scrip at the retailers you already frequent, a percentage of the money you spend is contributed to the Oratory. It is a year-round, ongoing fundraiser which may also be a shopping convenience at this time of the year. Everyone is cordially invited to check out the program, and to participate if you wish. The Oratory has some scrip in the form of gift cards on hand and available for immediate purchase from the following retailers.
Lowe’s - Shop-n-Save - Starbuck's - St. Louis Bread Company
JCPenny -Walmart - Sam's Club - Target - Land's End -LLBean
IHOP - Burger King - Walgreen's - Bob Evans - JoAnn Fabric
Little Ceaser's - Gymboree - Domino's -Chipolte  -Dillard's

To purchase or for questions about the program, please contact Mrs. Gretchen Clinton or the Oratory office at 314-771-3100.


His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, will visit the Oratory for the second time since his elevation to the cardinalate: On January 31, 2012 (Tuesday), at 5:00PM His Eminence will be the celebrant of a Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction. Immediately afterward, His Eminence will receive all faithful who wish to greet him in the hall during a festive reception. Please come greet the Cardinal and bring friends and family. The visit of Cardinal Burke is an opportunity for us to show our filial gratitude for his friendship and support of the work of the Institute worldwide and especially for his fatherly care for the good of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.


This last Mystery Photo in 2011 shows again a detail of the rich sacred art work we are blessed to see every day at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. Look around and remember: Where did you receive the greatest gift the Church offers to us every day? Go to the TraditionForTomorrow blog and drop your answer in the combox under the latest entry.

With my most sincere wishes for you and your families and friends on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and a Happy New Year 2012 I ask you for your prayers for the Institute and our community at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory,

Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

En clara vox redarguit

A HYMN, for Lauds in Advent:
Hark, a herald voice is calling;
“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day.”

Startled at the solemn warning,
Let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ, her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
Shines upon the morning skies.

Lo, the Lamb, so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heaven;
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven.

So when next He comes with glory,
Wrapping all the earth in fear,
May He then as our defender
On the clouds of heaven appear.

Honor, glory, virtue, merit,
To the Father and the Son,
With the co-eternal Spirit,
While eternal ages run.
This is a translation of the Advent hymn rewritten by Pope Urban VIII in 1632 in a classical Latin style; a far older version, found in the current Breviary, can be seen here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Columbia, Illinois, USA - manger scene

At Immaculate Conception Church, in Columbia, Illinois.

Monday, December 19, 2011


…HERE IS HOW you can print these posts cleanly.  Down at the bottom of the posts I put a new control:

Click it (not this one, but the one down there), and you will be brought to a new screen which reformats the posting, without the header and sidebar wasting ink and paper. There is some advertising that pops up after printing, but I have no control over that. Please let me know if you have any problems with this. It does appear to rearrange the photos somewhat.

Here are the “gadgets” which are located under each posting:

You can click on various items:

  • “comments” will take you to the comments on the post.
  • “Links to the post” will show if any other website has linked to this.
  • “Labels” is a list of categories for this post. If you click on any of the labels, it will pull up a list of similar articles here.
  • Clicking “Location” will bring up a map of the location.

Here are the other buttons you can click:

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, mosaic of Saint Isaac Jogues, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, and Saint René Goupil

Here is a photo of the mosaic of Saint Isaac Jogues, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, and Saint René Goupil, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Sts. Jogues and Goupil were early missionaries in New France (a region which included parts of Canada and much of what is now the central United States, including the Saint Louis area) and are two of the North American Jesuit Martyrs.

Blessed Kateri — or Catherine — was a virgin belonging to the Mohawk tribe. Undergoing extreme mortification for her love for Christ, and suffering persecution from her people, she had the reputation for great holiness during her life and was a subject of veneration immediately upon her death.

I took this photo yesterday, and learned that Pope Benedict today approved the cause of canonization of Bl. Kateri, and so may soon be known as Saint Kateri. Among other causes moved forward were 64 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Clayton, Missouri, USA - statues of Saints Mary and Joseph awaiting the Christ Child

At Saint Joseph Church, in Clayton, Missouri. Taken on the Fourth Sunday in Advent.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saint John of the Cross

IN THE NEW calendar, today is the feast day of Saint John of the Cross (24 June 1542—14 Dec. 1591), co-founder of the Discalced Carmelites and great Doctor of mystical theology.

Carmelite Monastery in Saint Louis, Missouri - Saint John of the Cross - 2

Photo taken in July 2006, at the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Ladue, Missouri.

Mysticism, broadly speaking, is the understanding or experience of the unseen and underlying unity of all things. Saint John of the Cross’ mystical theology is of union with God, Who is the Source of all things. From his book, Ascent of Mount Carmel:
The reason for which it is necessary for the soul, in order to attain to Divine union with God, to pass through this dark night of mortification of the desires and denial of pleasures in all things, is because all the affections which it has for creatures are pure darkness in the eyes of God, and, when the soul is clothed in these affections, it has no capacity for being enlightened and possessed by the pure and simple light of God, if it first cast them not from it; for light cannot agree with darkness; since, as Saint John says: Tenebroe eam non comprehenderunt. That is: The darkness could not receive the light.

The reason is that two contraries (even as philosophy teaches us) cannot coexist in one person; and that darkness, which is affection set upon the creatures, and light, which is God, are contrary to each other, and have no likeness or accord between one another, even as Saint Paul taught the Corinthians, saying: Quoe conventio luci ad tenebras? That is to say: What communion can there be between light and darkness? Hence it is that the light of Divine union cannot dwell in the soul if these affections first flee not away from it….

Thursday, December 08, 2011


TAKE A LOOK at this video; this is the trailer for an upcoming film, due out in May 2012:

TimeScapes 4K from Tom Lowe on Vimeo.

Photography is difficult. Photography at night is more difficult. Time lapse photography — where you take a photo every second or so, and join them together into a video — has its own difficulties. Adding smooth camera motion during the time lapse adds layers of complications. Likewise, videography or filmmaking is a difficult endeavor, while, slow-motion videography — where you shoot many more frames per second than standard to slow down motion — requires a certain vision and specialized equipment. But putting all of these together into a stunning, epic video such as this, is a great work of art that transcends mere technique.

One of the striking effects used by videographer Tom Lowe is his use of camera motion during time lapse sequences of the night sky. As the heavenly orb rotates overhead, the camera itself moves, showing us the three-dimensional quality of the foreground objects such as rocks and trees. It is so obvious, it seems — why hasn’t anyone done that before? And I must admit to a tinge of envy — which is not a capital sin that I usually succumb to — but ultimately this sublimated to finding inspiration in the art.

I find myself envious of the camera gear that Lowe uses, and his innovative technique. But ask a photographer “what camera do you use?” and if you are unlucky, you may get one of these answers:
  • “Why I have a Cannikon D8x Mark V, with a 10-300 mm f/0.95 zoom lens, which has a maximum frame rate of 100 fps, maximum ISO 10 million….”He’ll then go on and talk about his  camera gear for the next hour.
  • “I am an artist. What camera I use doesn’t matter all.” He’ll then go on and talk about himself for the next hour.
For a very long time, I was torn between these two opinions: they both seem to be true, yet they seem to be mutually exclusive, while yet both seem to be rather cold, naïve, or self-centered. Contemporary art theories tend to be partisan and lack universality. Only when I studied classical art theory, and then the artistic traditions of Holy Mother Church, did things become clearer. Well, you can’t take a photo with only a rock, and even the best artist would find it difficult to make a drawing if all he has is a piece of paper without any implement to draw on it. But give an unskilled person a slab of marble and Michaelangelo’s stone cutting tools, and they will be unable to make the Pietà; likewise give a Canon 5D Mark II camera to a novice, and they would not be able to duplicate Mr. Lowe’s work.

Aristotle explained that virtue — and art is the virtue of making things well — can only be gained with knowledge and with practice. Lowe has been making time lapse night photos for years now, but his work from only four years ago lack the polish of what we see above. Doing this kind of work full time for over a year, while living in an R.V., honed his skills tremendously, as is described here. Lowe also generously shares his expertise freely, as is seen here. If you would like to copy his technique, it’s easy: all you have to do is spend ten thousand hours of practice with tens of thousand dollars worth of equipment, along with thousands of hours of study, a thick enough skin to withstand criticism as well as the humility to realize that your work could always use improvement. Contrary to the two example photographers above, neither “being a genius” nor owning lots of equipment will make you good.

I think that a skilled artist will almost certainly advance the state of his art, out of necessity. As it happens, Lowe uses advanced camera technology, while manufacturers of this technology rely on Lowe to improve their equipment.

Questions that perplex Moderns — “what is art” and “how do you judge art” — have been answered in an explicitly Christian manner by Dorothy L. Sayers, in her book The Mind of the Maker. Following the three Creeds of the Church, Sayers explicitly lays out the divine Creation of the cosmos and human sub-creation in the arts in a Trinitarian manner, and how heresies about the Trinity are strongly paralleled by bad human art. According to Sayers, good art is trinitarian:
  • The art has to be true, even (or especially) if it is fiction; not merely true to nature, but especially true to psychology and metaphysical truths. For examples, the characters in a play have to be real human beings, even if they are simultaneously allegories of higher things. In Lowe’s films, these images are straight from the camera: they were usually taken at night, carefully exposed to capture the stars, while the moon often illuminates the objects in the foreground. His images are not computer generated graphics, despite his extreme use of computer graphics technology. They show what they depict.
  • The art must be done well, using excellent technique. Technique does include technology, such as the cameras and cranes Lowe uses, as well as the prodigious amount of computer processing that he must use afterwards to put the films together. Lowe invented some of the technique that he uses. Lowe does use expensive, specialized camera gear, but it serves the art and is not for its own sake.
  • Viewers must have a lively spirited response to the art. Art is not made in a vacuum, and art fails if it does not elicit a good response from the audience, even if the audience is merely the artist alone. Regarding Lowe’s films, I’ll let you judge yourself whether or not they are successful.
In conceiving good art, all three of these must be taken together at once, not separated or divorced from each other. Giving emphasis to one Person of the Trinity at the expense of others is often found in the heresies, and so in art, giving emphasis to one of these at the expense of the others leads to bad works of art.

For his film, Lowe chooses epic locations, which well-illustrate what is called “the sublime,” things that are high, lofty, on a far greater scale than the individual human being. They are not merely pretty places, although they are usually beautiful, rather they overwhelm, in an instant, the person viewing them. The stars in the sky are especially sublime, because although we can see them, they are forever out of our natural human reach, despite what science fiction stories try to tell us. His slow-motion videography shows us more ordinary things, but in a manner that we normally cannot see, giving sharp emphasis on things that we would otherwise miss, such as a bird landing on water, sparks flying from a fire, or a girl wiping sweat from her forehead.

TimeScapes: Rapture from Tom Lowe on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Feast of Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, in Pocahontas, Illinois, USA - statue of Saint Nicholas

Statue of Saint Nicholas of Myra, at Saint Nicholas Church, in Pocahontas, Illinois. Photo taken in April.

Born on the Ides of March, ca. 270-276, and died on December 6th 343, Saint Nicholas was born in Asia Minor of wealthy parents; when they died, he was taken under the care of his uncle, who was bishop of Myrna, and who raised him as a cleric in the Church. During his life he gained a great reputation as a great holy man and generous donor to those in need, and after his death a great intercessor: so much so that he is now referred to as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.

An examination of his relics — which are now found in Bari, Italy — determined that Nicholas was five feet tall and had a broken nose. His relics exude a liquid, called the Manna of Saint Nicholas, which is collected on this day.

Although this Saint is the original source for Santa Claus, the modern-day secularized figure is no match to his prototype. More information can be found here.

The patronage of Saint Nicholas is vast, and includes children, students, sailors, brides and grooms, longshoremen, fishermen, pharmacists, prisoners, repentant prostitutes, murderers, and thieves, pawnbrokers, the poor, spinsters, and Greece and Russia. His iconography often shows him with three golden balls or bags of gold.

The Rocheport Tunnel

Katy Trail tunnel, near Rocheport, Missouri, USA

A former railroad tunnel, constructed in 1892, on the Katy trail, at Rocheport, Missouri. The Katy is a 240 mile long state park that consists of the right-of-way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, and is now a hiking and biking path. This trail, which goes from Clinton in west-central Missouri, to Machens, northeast of Saint Charles, is largely flat and follows the floodplain of the Missouri River throughout much of its route. This is the only tunnel on the route: here the trail veers north of the river before crossing it and leaving the river valley behind at Boonville. Above the tunnel, after an exhausting climb, is an observation platform which offers views of the river below.

Under normal law, when a railroad abandons a line, the land reverts to the adjoining property owners: the railroad usually does not own the land, but has a legal easement on the property belonging to others. If the railroad is needed again in the future — closure is often due to transient financial reasons and not due to longer-term need — it would require a controversial or even tyrannical use of power to get it re-established. But under the federal railbank legal framework, this former railroad must remain linked to the existing railroad network; the government pays for maintaining the infrastructure such as bridges and this tunnel, pays claims to adjoining landowners who own the easements upon which the trail is built, while giving railroads the right to restore train service if needed in the future. While building roads such as this one is usually seen as a legitimate exercise of the power of eminent domain, it is both politically expedient and prudent to keep the status quo of this road instead of attempting to create a new one elsewhere in the future.

Katy Trail tunnel, near Rocheport, Missouri, USA - view from east

While the western end of the tunnel is a pleasant Romanesque arch, with brick and rustic stones supporting the soil above it, the eastern end at Rocheport is naturalistic and is cut through the native stone. In this photo you can see extensive nodules of chert or flint in the limestone rock. According to the journals of the famed Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery:
“. . . a Short distance above the mouth of Creek, is Several Courious paintings and carving on the projecting rock of Limestone inlade with white red & blue flint, of a verry good quallity, the Indians have taken of this flint great quantities.”
According to the journals, “uncouth paintings of animals,” known as manitous, painted or carved by the Indians, are or were visible on this cliff face, and on many cliffs in this region. Certainly more modern carvings can be seen near here, including some carefully lettered in the style of days gone by. A manitou is the Algonquin word for the patron or guardian angel of a particular place or thing, who may be prayed to in intercession to the Big Manitou or Holy Spirit, the Ruler of all. At the eastern end of the tunnel, appropriately enough, is a creek named Big Moniteu, after the Great Spirit. The bridge over the creek can be seen below:

Katy Trail tunnel, at Rocheport, Missouri, USA - view of hillside from east

Photos taken on November 25th, the feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Initial Impressions of the New English Translation of the Mass

I’VE NOW ATTENDED two Masses of the new English translation of the Roman Missal: the Second Sunday in Advent and a funeral Mass.

As the peoples’ responses have changed significantly, I ought to note that the first parish did very well by having an announcement before the start of Holy Mass, where “And with your spirit” (which replaces “And also with you”) was repeated several times; they also referred to printed cards in the pews, and these were nearly universally used by the congregation of the faithful, as evidenced by loud page turning at one point during the liturgy. I must admit that out to habit and due to inattention, I did respond “And also with you” on occasion, but I was in the minority. I did not hear the now infamous “And also with your spirit”.

One thing that became quickly obvious is that the hymns and music — solidly in the casual spirit of the old translation — seemed definitely out of character with the more solemn, formal, poetic, and more theological new translation. The difference seemed jarring to me. However, the new translation also came with comprehensive chants for the Mass. In the mind of the Church, chant is an integral part of her liturgy, and is proper to it.

At the funeral Mass (may Jack rest in peace) many in attendance were not Catholic, or are not practicing. In this case, I would guess that about half of the Catholics in the congregation used the old responses. As it turns out, afterwards the new translation became a topic of conversation. When did they change it? Why did they change it? A Protestant friend made note of the new translation of ‘pro multis’ as “for many” rather than “for all,” and interpreted that as meaning that all are called, but not all respond, while a Catholic friend pointed out some roughness in the new translation of the Credo.

In both Masses, the priests obviously kept close eyes on the new Roman Missal. There was, as you might expect, some stumbling over the new translations, but strangely enough, I got the impression or had feeling that they had always used the new translation, that nothing had changed, that something eternal flowed out from the liturgy. Odd.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
December 01, 2011



Dear Faithful and Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory,


We are pleased to announce a powerful, new fundraiser for St. Francis de Sales Oratory. It requires no selling and will provide a constant source of revenue. This program is so easy that everyone can contribute with very little effort and with NO additional strain on your budget.

Do you purchase gas, dine out, buy groceries, maintain your vehicle, or do home improvement? Of course you do! Need a gift for someone special or gift cards for the upcoming holidays? Do you read books or purchase electronics? Do you want to help and contribute to St. Francis de Sales Oratory?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you too can help transform and restore this magnificent St. Louis landmark just by shopping at stores you already frequent.

It is the scrip program. Scrip is simply a word that means “substitute money” – in the form of gift certificates and gift cards from national and local retailers. The way it works is simple. Scrip participating retailers agree to sell gift certificates to our organization at a discount. Families buy the certificates for full face value, they redeem them for full face value and St. Francis de Sales keeps the difference as revenue.

For example: I order $100 worth of gift cards to eat at Bob Evans. The Oratory orders the cards through the scrip management company, Great Lakes Scrip Center. Bob Evans has agreed to a 10% standard discount on the gift cards; thus, the Oratory only pays $90 for those cards. I pay full value for the cards at $100 because I was going to spend that anyway eating there. The Oratory earns $10 just from a small bit of pre-planning on my behalf. All of the participating companies have different agreed percentages: some higher, some lower.

Our first scrip order placed this week involved only 3 people, and $25 was earned for the Oratory. The potential is incredible and best of all THIS IS FREE MONEY. A portion of the money you are already spending will be coming back to the Oratory.

The beauty of scrip is that you put your regular household shopping dollars to work. You can contribute to the Oratory without spending a single additional penny. Just do your regular shopping with scrip at the stores that participate in the scrip program! Scrip can be used for just about any household purchase including food, clothing, entertainment, gasoline and even dining out. There are hundreds of participating stores. Many local businesses will also be included and available soon.

The complete listing of participating merchants can be found online and paper copies will also be available at the office and in the basement on Sundays.

Ordering is easy! You can submit orders online at or with paper copies. Simple go to the site to set up a family account. The ShopWithScrip enrollment code for St. Francis de Sales is 7B6B613B29666. Choose the scrip that you need and submit your order. Drop your check off at the Oratory office or after Mass on Sundays in the church basement. Weekly scrip orders will be placed every Monday and orders will be available for pick up on Wednesday or at your convenience from the Oratory. There is also the option of PrestoPay online. There are several retailers that have immediate e-scrip and reloadable options online for speedier service or unexpected purchases.

If you own a business and are interested in being included in the scrip program the benefits are three fold. Businesses receive cash up front and repeat business, fostering a positive community relationship. Consumers are more apt to patronize businesses that are on the scrip list especially if they are local. St. Francis de Sales benefits because of the profit we receive from the discounted card. The consumer benefits because they are able to plan ahead and purchase with the knowledge that by using gift card purchased through St. Francis de Sales, they are helping both the church and local businesses. If you would like to be included in the program, please contact Canon Wiener and we will be glad to add your business to the growing list. 

Any questions at all about the program please feel free to contact: Gretchen Clinton or the parish office at 314-771-3100.


Last year's survey

From our survey last year, we learned that our Mass attendees come from near and far, some regularly at least once a week, and some regularly, but less often, and still some who only visit occasionally. We also found – as one would expect from a normal population profile, a wide spread in age, from small children to nonagenarians. The comments from the survey also provided us valuable information which helps the Institute’s work at the Oratory to serve the faithful in St. Louis.

Having this baseline, we once again ask your help in conducting this simple survey this year, starting on the first Sunday of Advent. Whether you are a member of the Oratory, a frequent attendee, or an occasional visitor on Sundays or during the week, your contribution to this survey is important to the overall picture. Any answer given will be completely confidential, as no identifying information will be asked.

Since not everyone is able to attend Mass here every week, this survey will take place over be a period of five weeks. You may fill out a paper form, which will be provided in the weekly bulletins, or an online version of the form at this link Whichever form you choose, please fill out the survey only once, per household, during this 5-week period.

Thank you for your participation!


Saturday, December 17, at 6:30 PM in the Oratory hall
Ticket sales for the Gaudete Benefit Gala have been going very well, promising a very festive and joyful gathering. So far, at least 100 guests will be treated to a pampered evening of good food, drinks, entertainment and valet parking, in addition to sampling the Oratory’s repertoire of sacred music performed by our own talented musicians.

As you know, this Gala will benefit the Oratory music program, an important component of the liturgy and the Oratory community life. In the near future, the organ in the church must be repaired, and the music suite in our “1888 Building” must be renovated. Proceeds from this Gala will be used to fund these needs.

Music is a wonderful universal language of joy and peace, especially during Advent as we anticipate the coming of Our Blessed Lord. We hope that this Gala also provides an opportunity for you and your family to invite friends and neighbors to share in the spiritual bounty and cultural richness that the Church offers.

Please purchase your tickets ($35 each) as soon as possible, either by contacting the Oratory office or by purchasing them after both Masses on Sunday. No tickets will be sold after Sunday, December 11th.

For organizational purposes tickets are necessary for admission! Thank you.


The renovated restrooms in the Oratory hall are proving to be a much-appreciated benefit for all our families and visitors who gather in the hall every week. For all our upcoming events and gatherings, such as the Gaudete Gala, the renovation is a sign of our community’s hospitality and stewardship of this great church. Thanks to the generous contributions from all our benefactors, we are now only $3,215.00away from covering the total cost of $30,000.00 to renovate both restrooms.

We deeply appreciate your continued support to help us reach this goal so that we can close the books on this important project.



Before: Ramp in disrepair, with missing porch
Work to repair the exterior portions of the structures attached to the gymnasium has begun in earnest. The gymnasium, once an important part of the high school campus, is used now on a regular basis by the KIPP Inspire Academy, and by members of the Oratory community, especially our youths and homeschoolers. After repairing the gymnasium roof to make it leak-tight, we have begun with necessary tuck-pointing work on various outside walls of the gym. The old porch which extends from the second-floor apartment above the gymnasium, and the wooden ramp outside of the gym building the replacing the dilapidated exterior structures attached to it must be our next step. These are the old porch which extends from the second-floor apartment above the gymnasium, and the wooden ramp outside of the gym building must be replaced.

Current state: Porch being reconstructed              

For the porch, tuck-pointing of the exterior wall facing the parking lot was part of the work required by the city before the permit could be issued. With the generous help of volunteers, this has been done, and the re-construction of the porch has begun, as shown in the photos. We are very grateful for all the help from many volunteers, especially Mr. Paul Lohmueller. Once this porch is completed, we can turn our attention to the renovation of the interior of the second-floor flat.



The old wooden ramp on the north side of the gym building has become rotten and a serious safety hazard. St. Vincent de Paul Society at the Oratory has replaced the old ramp with a brand new one. The ramp is used by the Society volunteers to transfer boxes of donated food between the storage rooms and their cars.

We are very grateful for this additional contribution the St. Vincent de Paul Society makes to the Oratory community and the neighborhood in South City. St. Vincent de Paul Society at the Oratory does important works of mercy throughout the entire year, as this description regarding their activity in the month of July by the Society itself shows:
“The St Vincent de Paul Society at St Francis de Sales served 41 families consisting of 118 individuals during the month of July. The majority of those assisted were in need of food, but we also had several instances where we were able to provide needed furniture and dishes. In addition to the food items (hot dogs, bologna, 'Soup and Stew' containers, canned goods, breakfast cereal, bread and bakery items and other non-perishables), we also distributed $1,170.00 in vouchers for Shop and Save to assist our clients in securing perishable items. The ongoing prayers and financial support of SVDP is deeply appreciated and enables us to provide services such as these for the residents of the local community. Thank you for your assistance.” 


In closing I invite you to continue to pray with us the Annual Novena in preparation of the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. We are very honored to receive the visit of His Excellency, Bishop Edward M. Rice, on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:30 PM. He will preach to us about "The Purity of Mary". Monsignor Arthur Calkins will preach on the feast day, December 8. Father John Horn, S.J., Father Brian Harrison, O.S., Father Thomas Keller, Father Gregory Lockwood, Father Eric Kunz and Canon William Avis are participating also in this important liturgical event.

With my sincere best wishes and the assurance of my prayers in Christ the King,

Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Photos of Saint Mary's Church, in Glasgow, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Mary's Church, located in Glasgow, Missouri. Built on the highest hill in that Missouri River town, this church is a part of the Diocese of Jefferson City, and is located about 164 road miles west-by-northwest of downtown Saint Louis.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Glasgow, Missouri, USA - exterior at night

The town is named after one of the original settlers, James Glasgow. According to a history:
When Glasgow was established in 1836, there probably were no Catholics here. Beginning about 1860, German and Irish immigrants began to settle in and around Glasgow, lured by reports of the prosperity of the area and the similarity of the terrain to that of their homeland. With them they brought Catholicism. Irish settlers tended to live in town, engaging in various businesses; Germans took up agriculture. The wheat they produced bolstered the economy of the area. In 1866 a permanent parish was founded in Glasgow. Father Henry Meurs was named first pastor. The first church was completed in 1869. By 1909 about 300 of Glasgow's 1800 inhabitants were Catholic. The first church building badly needed repair. The people decided to build a new church rather than renovate the old one. On May 30, 1912, Monsignor O.J.S. Hoog laid the cornerstone. By July of that year newspapers reported railroad cars with brick, stone, sand and lime needed for construction were arriving daily. Some stained glass windows were imported from Germany.

On May 11, 1913, 700 people arrended the dedication of St. Mary's. The American Gothic edifice had cost almost $49,000, a sum equal to one-third of the total capital of the Gaslow Savings Bank at the time. The church measures 96 feet from vestibule to sanctuary. The vaulted ceiling made it possible to construct a nave unobstructed by pillars or other supports. Religious paintings, statues and a rainbow of colors streaming through the windows remind worshippers of religion's ultimate goal. The golden cross on the steeple can be seen for miles.
When the parish was erected it was part of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Msgr. Hoog was a missionary priest in central Missouri, and Vicar General of the Archdiocese.

The parish's elementary school was founded in 1869 and has about 114 students.

The town of Glasgow is scenic, and has a pleasant downtown area good for tourists.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Glasgow, Missouri, USA - interior by candlelight

I arrived just after sunset — which occurs quite early this time of year — and the interior was mainly lit by candlelight.

421 Third Street
Glasgow, Missouri 65254

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Orange Sky

A LIGHT MIST hung low in the sky yesterday evening; this made for interesting photography. Here are some photos taken in Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri; orange street lighting gave these scenes an unusual color.

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - suspension bridge at night in fog

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - river at night in fog

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - waterfall at night in fog

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - river at night in fog 2

This stream reconstructs the middle section of the River des Peres, which used to flow through (and now flows under) Forest Park.

Exposure time for these images ranged from two to four minutes, causing the flowing water to become a blur.