Saturday, April 30, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
April 29, 2011



The night before His death for our salvation, Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and at that very moment also instituted the priesthood of the New Testament by which the Sacrament of His Body and Blood would be consecrated and given to men. The Sunday which closes the octave of Easter, traditionally known as Low Sunday, Quasimodo Sunday or Dominica in albis, commemorates the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, that Sacrament by which those separated from our Eucharistic Lord by sin may be brought back to the state of grace. No wonder, then, that, in these dark days of ours, Divine Providence should have chosen this Sunday as the day on which the mercy of God should receive special praise from men, a mercy which was made known in the fullness of time by the Incarnation of His Divine Son. It is the very message of mercy first received by Our Lady of the Annunciation, then by the shepherds in Bethlehem, and countless times throughout history, especially in the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary.

Those who go to Confession (within a week’s time) and receive Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday receive a plenary indulgence, the remission of all sin and punishment. It is a day on which we should implore the grace of perfect contrition for our sins and desire to be enflamed with charity toward all poor sinners, confiding them all to the infinite mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ, who reigns from the sweet wood on which He hung for our redemption.
This Sunday, May 1, we will witness again the crowning of the statue of the Blessed Virgin in our church. During the 10 AM High Mass, the crown, emblem of the reign of the Mother of God over all saints and angels in heaven, will become again the visible sign of Mary’s queenship. She who was elevated over all creatures to become the mother of our savior, is now also the Ianua Caeli, the Gate of Heaven: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy allows us to ask for God’s forgiveness through the “sorrowful passion” of Jesus (‘For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and the whole world’.), the Rosary of the Blessed Mother lets us ask for the intercession of the heavenly queen: “… pray for us now and in the hour of our death. Amen.”
In his 1954 encyclical proclaiming the Queenship of Mary, Ad caeli reginam, Pope Pius XII summed up numerous historical references to this Marian title from ancient tradition, and from the sacred liturgy, which serves as a faithful reflection of the truths taught by the Church. The Holy Father wrote:
… she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.” But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation.
In this holy season of Easter, we especially recall that, by His words to the Apostle John from the Cross, “Behold thy Mother,” Our Saviour gave to us His mother Mary to be our own. Mary’s divine motherhood and her glorious queenship are inexorably entwined. By instituting the liturgical celebration of the Queenship of Mary, Pope Pius XII wished “to exhort Our children in Christ to a strong and tender love, as becomes children, for Our most gracious and exalted Mother.”

Throughout the ages of the Church, her children have looked upon the Blessed Mother and Queen of Heaven for help when we are in times of crisis. And in the Spring time, when we are surrounded with the fragrance and beauty of a blossoming creation, it is fitting that we look to our royal mother with love and tenderness, as we crown her Queen of Heaven, with the simple devotion of children.


At the beginning of the celebrations of this year’s Easter Vigil, the Easter candle was inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters “alpha” and “omega”, as well as with the numbers of our current year. Five grains of incense were inserted into the candle's cross, symbolizing the Five Wounds of Christ. Then, after the candle is lit in the new fire, it is carried into the Church, symbolizing the risen Christ, the true source of all light and hope. It will remain in the sanctuary on the gospel side throughout the days of Easter, until Ascension Thursday.

PHOTOS by Mr. Abeln - Rome of the West
O blessed night! This is the night of which it was written, and the night shall be lightened as the day, and night shall be the light of my delights!
Thus sings the deacon as he fulfils his most solemn duty of the entire year: the chanting of the Exsultet by which the lingering clouds of Passiontide are cast away and the first light is seen from the Sun of Justice who is about to rise. On Holy Saturday in St. Louis, 2011, the rains let up outside St. Francis de Sales Oratory at the moment the procession left the sacristy to make for the entrance of the church. Of all gifts which God has given to man in the created world, none is more excellent than the gift of fire. And on this holiest of nights, fire, too, must be blessed and consecrated to Divine worship. For tonight the fire will be used to light the Paschal candle, glorious symbol of the presence of our risen Lord among us during the forty days of unbounded joy which follow the forty days of penance.


The sacred liturgy is a means and a sign of the unity of the Church. This is clearly evident as we peruse the recently published photos of Palm Sunday from Africa.
The Solemn Palm Sunday liturgy at the Institute parish Notre-Dame de Lourdes in Gabon was celebrated by Monsignor Gilles Wach, Founder and Prior General of the Institute, who just visited us a month ago. Also present was Monsignor Michael Schmitz, Vicar General in the Institute. The palm procession, led by the clergy, and servers in the distinctive Institute blue cassocks, included over five hundred adults and children as it wound through the streets of Libreville.

(RIGHT PHOTO) His Grace, the Most Reverend Basile Mvé Engone, S.D.B., Archbishop of Libreville (center), Msgr. Wach and Msgr. Schmitz at our parish Notre-Dame de Lourdes, Libreville/Gabon
As Canon Michael Stein recently described to us, this Institute parish, founded less than four years ago in Libreville, capital city of Gabon, has quickly swelled to nearly one thousand families. Yet, in spite of the differences in distance, language and culture, the Palm Sunday liturgy in Gabon is as familiar to us as our own in St. Louis.


Few architectural complements can add the same beauty and vitality to a gray, man-made edifice as a well-tended garden. Thanks to the design and implementation by Oratory member families, the Oratory’s little renovated garden, between rectory and convent, is growing and thriving.

With the statues of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin looking on, the paved brick walk guides the way around the perennials planted last summer. Against this backdrop, the delicate leaves of the newly planted trees and the nodding Lily of the Valley blossoms are flourishing in our lovely Spring weather. As this little garden continues to grow, may Our Lord bless our work in the vineyard as He has blessed our well-tended garden!


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

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