Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photos of Saint Joseph Church, in Tiff, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Joseph Church, in Tiff, Missouri. This charming church was built in the late 1930s, and can be found, with much difficulty, in the unicorporated community of Tiff, a former mining settlement which has now mostly reverted to wilderness. Located about 63 road miles southwest of downtown Saint Louis, the church is in Washington County, in the Old Lead Belt mining district.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Tiff, Missouri, USA - exterior

According to a history of the church:
In the early 1900's before a church was erected at Tiff, Missouri Father Luke Kernan, pastor of St. Joachim Old Mines, would come to Tiff to offer Mass in the home of Frank (Toksoe) Boyer, a two room log structure. The early community at Tiff was begun early in the century when a man from Buffalo, New York, by the name of John Campbell, came and organized a Corporation under the laws of the state of New York called the South East Missouri Barytes Company. He sold shares to the local land owners and built the earliest barite (tiff) washer at Tiff, Missouri. He also bought mineral land and constructed homes, approximately forty in number, for the miners. He built a bungalow for himself across the road from the present St. Joseph's School building and a Company store adjacent to the present Sitzes store. The tiff washer was located somewhere in the same general area. He operated the store on a pattern after the plantation stores of the South. Miners took their pay for ore in merchandise. After this Company store was built, Mass was offered and the sacraments were administered in the hall above it until the first church was built.

On June 10, 1905 Archbishop John Joseph Glennon acquired the property consisting of thirty-two hundreths of an acre from the South East Missouri Barytes Company for the erection of a church at Tiff. Father Kernan was still pastor at St. Joachim at this time and it was under his direction that the first church was built. It was a structure of plain rectangular design made of wood with bell tower and the sacristy extending out from the building approached from the outside by a stairway. The front was entered at ground level. The altar was plain. The body was filled with bench type seats. It was heated in winter by a wood stove in the rear. It was dedicated to St. Joseph. The man who built the church was "Coot" Cole. Reverend Tim Dempsey of St. Patrick's Church in St. Louis donated the necessary vessels and vestments. Father Kernan and sometimes a Redemptorist priest from Mt. St. Clements College in DeSoto came to minister to the mission parish. They would spend the night at John Campbell's...

In 1935, on a Friday evening in Lent, following the Stations of the Cross, the frame church caught on fire and burned to the ground. All was lost, including records. Soon afterwards, Father Cook set out to build a new stone church.

On Sunday, August 9, 1936, the cornerstone was laid for the new church. The Most Reverend Christian Winkleman of St. Louis officiated at the ceremony. Ten visiting priests also attended and listened attentively as the Bishop congratulated Father Cook for his work and his efforts at St. Joseph's. Following the ceremony a picnic was held and ladies of the parish served dinner to the large crowd which attended the ceremonies. Much planning and work went into the new church. Father Cook was his own architect, contractor, and did much of the work with his own hands. He obtained a stone cutter from DeSoto, John Norris, who taught Mr. Henry Bourisaw how to cut stone and Andrew Aubuchon who worked with Mr. Bourisaw. The stone was gotten in Washington County near Washington State Park. The carpenter, Earl Bohn, also came from DeSoto. Men of the parish worked under him. Among them were Lucian Aubuchon, Harry Aubuchon, Steve Boyer, Charley Boyer, Elmer Boyer, Edward Boyer, Wallace Boyer, and Tom Daugherty. They mixed and poured the concrete by hand. The stone church cost the parish about $6000.00....
A priest, designing and building a church? That almost seems inconceivable today. However, if we put the most important things first, this is believable. The church itself is more important than any other part of a parish campus; and the altar and tabernacle are the most important parts of a church. If a parish priest concentrates on these first, and places the most importance on these, then the rest will naturally follow.

For photos of the interior, see an article in View from the Back Pew.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Tiff, Missouri, USA - statue of Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph, foster-father of Our Lord, and chaste spouse of the Virgin. He is represented here with lilies in his hand, symbolizing purity. Saint Joseph the Worker is a fitting patron for a mining settlement.

According to the maps, this parish has a cemetery, but I was unable to locate it during my brief visit.

The town of Tiff is named after an ore of barium, better known as the mineral barite or baryte, which was once mined here.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Tiff, Missouri, USA - old school

The former school. Notice that there are new windows and doors in this structure.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Tiff, Missouri, USA - exterior 2

Another view of the church, showing the nicely-designed chimney, as well as Our Lady and the children of Fatima.

Maps incorrectly place the church at what is actually a bridge of the Missouri Pacific Railroad over the Shibboleth Branch; the actual location is 900 feet to the northwest. Click here for the correct location on the map. Be aware that routing software and GPS devices may not be able to produce a good route to the church; several of the roads here are blocked off.

"Brat bans"

A NEW TREND: banning children from public places. See the article, The no-kids-allowed movement is spreading. From the article:
When did kids become the equivalent of second-hand smoke? Blame a wave of childless adults with money to spare. "Empty nesters continue to wield a huge swath of discretionary spending dollars, and population dips in first-world countries mean more childless couples than ever," writes AdWeek's Klara.
This is a trend that I first noticed in the past year: in Saint Louis there is a group which only allows childless adults, and my immediate reaction was that it was quite odd. As of yet I haven't noticed any businesses hereabouts banning small children, but since (as far as I know) I'm not a parent, perhaps I haven't noticed that this trend is already here.

But really, this is a trend long coming. Decades ago, I've visited synagogues and Christian denominations whose congregations were gray and childless. A deadly silence filled these worship facilities, since, for whatever reason, children were not valued or wanted. As culture ultimately derives from cult, or religion, we ought not be surprised at our culture's increasing hatred of children. If the hatred of children is a core idea in cult, then we ought to expect that this idea will spread to the wider culture. This hatred of children has varying motivations, since it is often rooted in the ideas of saving the planet as well as enjoying wealth.

I've heard many parents complain about how badly they are treated by those who think children are unnecessary or evil, but as these parents generally aren't sensitive (since parenthood tends to make one grow up quickly), their judgmental attackers go away without being charged with a hate crime.  As the article above explains:
Most parents with young children have self-imposed limits on spending and leisure. This new movement imposes limits set by the public. And the public isn't as child-friendly as it used to be. As businesses respond to their new breed of 'first-class' clientele, are parents in danger of becoming second-class citizens?
I'm sure that few would think that they hate children; they simply think that children ought not be seen, heard, or exist at all. If you do a little bit of research on the child-free movement, you quickly find out that the majority of these people simply do not like children, and especially don't like their noise, dirty appearance, and disorderly conduct. For most, it is not ideological, but rather practical. If there are screaming children in your church, how can you hear the priestess' sermon about how god is non-judgemental and does not want to impose her views on you? Now we ought to realize that there are ideologies and philosophies that state that children are ontologically evil, and these philosophies have become mainstream. That's why we call this the Culture of Death.

Now I must admit that I often wish for mandatory prison time with hard labor for teenage boys (in order to beat the obnoxiousness out of them) and an absolute ban on 12-year old girls in public (for the sake of my eardrums). However, I try to be tolerant, and I do not propose making these musings public policy, while child-haters are very quick to impose their views on others, by custom or by law. We see this mildly in the United States, with snarky remarks to parents of more than two children, or severely in China, where they kill if you do not obey.

Another objection is that couples ought to hold off on having children until they have the means to afford to raise one adequately. While this seems to be prudent, please consider that this advice often leads to a child that will be noisy, dirty, and disorderly, and likely will grow up to be a self-centered, intolerant, child-hating adult (who ironically also hates his parents). You reap what you sow. This perfectionism has led our culture to spend enormous sums of public and private treasure to produce children that adults hate, and tends to produce children who never quite achieve psychological adulthood. (Notice: I do not claim to have achieved psychological adulthood).

There are lots of children where I go to church, and most are very well-behaved, because they are taught good behavior by their parents. Babies will scream of course, because that is a part of their nature; and the parents of these line up in the far back of the church calming down these little ones. I hardly find it distracting, for these children show love and hope.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Catholic Art

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - large view of high altar 4I HAD A BRIEF conversation with a Catholic theologian, and we were talking about art; we both were somewhat puzzled by how very little can be found in the way of formal Catholic art theory; the last word, it seems, is Art and Scholasticism by Jacques Maritain, and that book dates from 1920-1935.

The amount of theoretical writing on the subject of art in sacred scripture, or by the Saints, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the Popes and the bishops, clergy and religious, or theologians is apparently slight. There is no compendium of the artistic doctrine of the Church. This is strange, especially considering the great artistic patrimony of the Church.

But we ought not be surprised, for what we have is enough. Foremost is the great Catholic artistic tradition itself: it speaks for itself and ought not need any apology.

But self-conscious philosophical writings on aesthetics starting popping up during the Renaissance, by men who were more conformed to the world and the flesh rather than to Christ. The Iconographic and Gothic styles of church art, despite being successfully employed for centuries, were quickly rejected because no one could intellectually defend them.

With my own eyes I have seen hundreds of books on art theory at Washington University's Art and Architecture library, the vast bulk of which is on the art styles of the past century. So much is written on so little — quite the opposite of what we find with liturgical art. But the modernist theories are usually based on the systems of Kant, Hegel, Marx, and sometimes Freud: these are heresies and cannot be the basis for an authentic Catholic art.

Anyone who would be foolish enough to oppose Modernist art could be counterattacked with an vast array of intellectual weapons, as well as suffer ad hominem attacks such as being called a philistine. A Catholic artist or a Catholic patron of the arts therefore finds it hard to justify, intellectually and personally, an authentic Catholic style of art. This is a difficult situation.

The most common Catholic response is capitulation.  A contemporary Catholic church may show little that is distinctively Catholic either inside or out. We live in a time where the faithful work long hours, pay high taxes, suffer from the decline of Catholic schools, and are constantly propagandized by the mainstream media, so what alternative do we have? Our culture strongly encourages or forces a certain kind of conformity.

Christ the King Chapel, Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - altarThere have been attempts to ‘baptize’ art forms, and some adaptations have been more successful than others. We are beginning to understand how influential the Jewish Temple and synagogues were to early Christians in forming liturgical worship, art, and architecture. The Romanesque likewise worked very well for Christian worship, despite its pagan roots, and there are many local traditions that flow out of the local artistic customs — as we see with Celtic art, or the arts of Asia. Shawn Tribe and Matthew Alderman write about ‘The Other Modern’ — a now-defuct movement to aggressively Christianize the otherwise secular Modernist styles. This movement died out in the 1960s, but it provided Catholic art and architecture which is sometimes very good. But a purely iconoclastic modernism is not acceptable, and I find it hard to justify the ‘baptism’ of some more recent artistic trends — their artists need to be baptized first. As Saint John Vianney once recommended, a pastor ought to strengthen the faithful in his flock, helping them to evangelize their heathen neighbors; likewise a Catholic artist or art patron ought to first strengthen the authentically Catholic arts and artists, helping them to evangelize the world.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - interior in the afternoon When I visited the Washington University art and architecture library, I was seeking books that described the roots of the classical tradition — the tradition that came up from ancient Greece and Rome, and the Christianization of the tradition in Catholic Europe of the Middle Ages; I was also interested in the roots of the traditions in other cultures, such as China, India, and Japan. First things first: this seemed relevant to my enjoyment of traditional Catholic church architecture and I wanted to know how it can be intellectually justified. Before I started my research, I emailed some prominent educators in the tradition; and they replied that not much in the way of theoretical art writings were available: Vitruvius was the primary intellectual source from antiquity. I went to the library searching for commentaries about Vitruvius (I already had a copy of his Ten Books on Architecture, purchased long before I became Catholic.) Oddly enough, the first book I saw on the bookshelves was Maritain's Art and Scholasticism; this immediately seemed important to me, and I copied out significant passages.

Vitruvius himself tells us the roots of his (and ultimately our) tradition, although it is easy to skip over that section in his work; he describes the education of an architect, and that education is the schools of Pythagorus, Socrates, and their followers. In these schools we thankfully do not learn much about the demonic pagan gods, nor do we fall into the skepticism, deceit, and power-mongering of Socrates' enemies the Sophists. Rather we learn about beauty, harmony, justice, virtue, and love, and the One true unknown God who is the ultimate Source of all good things. When we marry this philosophy with the religion of the Jews and the revelation of Christ, we get the Catholic intellectual tradition.

I pursued this research into the roots of the Catholic artistic tradition for a while until the illness and untimely death of a girlfriend led me to abandon it, and instead I went on a prolonged pilgrimage to many churches, whose photos can be seen on this blog.

Saint Joseph Shrine, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - tabernacleMy photography of churches is easy, because I merely try to represent their inherent beauty in an image.  (Please accept my apologies for not posting more photos of churches lately; I've been very busy with some projects and gasoline is expensive.) Recently I've gotten commissions to take photos that are more landscapes; I find this very difficult because a natural landscape does not naturally have a good composition — despite what the Impressionists say — and so I have to go back to the basics: what is beauty? Why is something beautiful? So I am going back to the roots of the tradition, learning the basics of proportion and symmetry which lead to the perception of beauty.

The iconographic tradition relies strongly on proportion and harmony, and is making a resurgence lately, not only in the East but also in the Latin Church. There are two main reasons for this: Pope Benedict XVI highly recommends it, as is seen in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy; also consider the fact that an artist can actually learn this living tradition from active iconographers. On the other hand, a contemporary artist who wishes to learn the Gothic must most likely reconstruct the tradition from historical sources; while there may be some workshops in some places that maintain ancient Gothic churches, I am not aware of any art or architecture schools that teach the practical tradition of the Gothic style.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Springfield, Illinois, USA - Saint Aloysius Gonzaga.jpg We are fortunate enough to have a large body of existing Catholic art and architecture, worthy for devotion and liturgy, and which may be used by contemporary artists as inspiration for their own work. But even when we have examples, we still cannot easily use these as prototypes for new work unless we know the design principles behind them. Suppose we need to adapt an existing design, for example, we need to add a door in a particular wall; if we do not have an existing example of this sort of thing, then we risk producing a modification that appears disharmonious. But if we know the principles behind the design, then we can create the modification in a way that looks authentic and harmonious. Even something as simple as a Gothic arch or rose window can look ridiculous if the designer doesn't know the principles behind its geometric construction — and I've seen many odd imitations. So an artist must not only be familiar with older art and be able to imitate it, but rather ought to know its construction. Knowing the design behind the design will give an artist great flexibility.

So we must be aware that the living Catholic artistic tradition resides in the artists themselves far more than in books of art theory, and that these artists may or may not hand down the traditions to new generations. Sadly, there have been several times in history when this handing-down was lost or nearly lost: such as the end of the Gothic era that occurred because of the Reformation, and when the Baroque academies were shut down by revolutionaries. Because of the risk of the loss of continuity, writing some things down is very important, but this writing is likely to be found more in trade journals (and now websites) rather than in magisterial documents.

The living tradition also is handed down through the Bishops and their priests; for it is they who primarily commission churches and their furnishings. They, more than any artist working in a studio, will likely know of what art is effective for spurring on the faith and what is not. But even a bishop cannot act in a vacuum, for it is the laity who pays for this art and architecture. And so we can conclude that artists, clergy, and the laity all ought to move towards the same goal.

Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois, USA - infant Jesus of Prague.jpg It turns out that Art and Scholasticism is not the last word in Catholic art theory; indeed Maritain (who was a close friend of Pope Paul VI) is known for having ended up on the side of Picasso and modernism. A critique of Maritain can be found in the book Aesthetics by Dietrich von Hildebrand (who was a friend of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI). Unfortunately this book is not found in an English translation. However, we must keep in mind that Catholic art is more important than Catholic art theory, and that faith is more important than art.

Disharmony is often seen in the arts these days, but these arts have revolutionary purpose, and as we see very clearly now, the goal of this revolution is death. But the idea of life-giving harmony is found not only in what is left of the Western tradition but also in the ancient traditions of the far East and elsewhere, and so these principles are very likely universal on a natural human level. But a Catholic artist must build upon the natural law and delve deeply into revelation and prayer in union with the Church. I've seen churches which were designed around prayers such as the Litany of Loreto or the Rosary, or the Sermon on the Mount, or a Psalm. And so the foundations of an authentic Catholic art style must include the stones of the universal human tradition and the liturgy and doctrine of the Universal Church, as well as the living stones of Catholic artists and art patrons.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory


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



In many respects, ordination time is the highest point of seminary life in Gricigliano. Many will not forget the dates on which the new graces of Holy Orders are received. For four new priests this year, the memorable ordination date was Thursday, July 7, when they received the most sublime dignity ever conferred on men, through the hands of His Eminence, Raymond L. Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Ordination and Pontifical Solemn Mass took place at the church of San Michele e Gaetano in Florence. Now, with great joy, we may pray in thanksgiving for four new Canons of the Institute: Canons Federico Pozza, Bergerot Bertrand, Matthew Thermed and Canon Brieuc de La Brosse.

In the same church the previous day, July 6, nine subdeacons and two deacons were ordained by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana.

July 5 saw 51 seminarians and oblates receive minor orders, from tonsure to acolyte, at the hands of His Excellency Msgr. Luciano Giovannetti, Bishop Emeritus of Fiesole, in the Chapel of Immaculate Conception in Gricigliano.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
July 4 was the milestone date when eleven “First-Years” received their cassocks from Monsignor Wach, who also celebrated the Solemn Mass in the church of San Michele e Gaetano. Among those who received their cassocks was Mr. Ben Norman, whom we know well from his pre-seminary discernment spent in St. Louis last year.

St. Francis de Sales is a beautiful church full of interesting and inspirational architectural details. Many we have seen so often that they have disappeared from our consciousness. For amusement and for enlightenment, we will launch a bi-weekly series of picture puzzle contests.

Twice per month we will publish on the TraditionForTomorrow blog a photo of a detail taken from somewhere in the church or on campus.
The attached photo is an example. Where is it from? It is from the beautiful wall of the sacristy, the first renovation project of the Oratory.
The first person to correctly identify the location of the photographed object and respond on the blog comment section will receive a prize: a special "Institute" chocolate bar. The time mark on the blog comment will determine the order of responses received. Children and adults alike are invited to participate.
Please visit

The first mystery picture for the contest will be published on the blog on Friday, July 22, at noon (CST.)


Abbe Alex Barga, in Gricigliano
Our own Abbe Alex received the minor order of Porter and Lector. Abbe Alex writes of his experience in Gricigliano:
Two weeks ago I left the country to go to Bayerisch Gmain, Germany for a silent retreat before going to our Seminary in Gricigliano for Ordination Week. I arrived in the beautiful mountains of Bavaria on an early Tuesday Morning. The retreat, which lasted four days, consisted of daily Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, two conferences a day, and a lot of time for prayer, rest and meditation. Monsignor Schmitz and Canon Lenhardt gave the conferences and they provided a lot of edifying thoughts on which to meditate. At the conclusion of the retreat I felt very prepared for the next week, when I was to receive the first two minor orders: Porter and Lector. The weekend before going to the Seminary we went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Altötting, where Canon Lenhardt celebrated a High Mass in the side chapel, and on Sunday I assisted at the two Masses we celebrate in Traunstein and Bad Reichenhall. After spending a week in Germany, the community in Bayerisch Gmain and I jumped in the van and drove the eight hours through the mountains of Austria to Gricigliano for the week of Ordinations.

On Monday evening, ten seminarians and one oblate received the cassock from Monsignor Wach. Among the five Americans who received the cassock were Abbe Matthew Walter and Abbe Ben Norman, who both spent a year of candidacy here in St. Louis. The next day Bishop Giovannetti, Bishop Emeritus of Fiesole, conferred the Minor Orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist and Acolyte to over 35 seminarians and oblates in the Seminary Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Gricigliano. The Chapel was packed full and some visitors even had to watch it on a television set up it the Refectory! On Wednesday Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop in Kazakhstan, ordained two Deacons and nine Subdeacons at the church of Saints Michael and Cajetan in Florence. On Thursday, July 7th, Ordination week came to a spectacular end with His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Leo Burke, ordaining four Priests. It was the most beautiful Liturgy I have ever seen, with His Eminence processing in with Cappa Magna and celebrating Mass from the Throne. We went back to the Seminary after the four hour ceremony to prepare for the Te Deum with Most Reverend Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and the big dinner that evening for around 500 guests. The night concluded with the usual spectacular fireworks display. The next morning, after the first Masses of the new Priests, we drove back to Germany for the weekend. I left Germany to come back here to St. Louis on Monday, and although I was sad to go, I was happy to come back home. The past few weeks were filled with beautiful Solemn Liturgies, unbelievable hospitality in both Bayerisch Gmain and Gricigliano, and lots of graces. It was a perfect two weeks and, thanks be to God, I was able to profit immensely from it.


We are delighted to announce that the Oratory will host the special exhibit of relics for two days instead of one: on Friday, July 22, at 5:00 PM, and again on Saturday, July 23, at 9:00 AM.

        Father Carlos Martins
On both days, the visit will begin with a conference given by Fr. Carlos Martins in the Hall, followed by veneration of the relics in the church.

Please note that access to the church to venerate the relics will be available only after the conference.
This visit of more than 150 sacred relics gives us all an opportunity to pay homage to Our Lord through His saints, and to the many saints who influence our lives through their intercession. Among the relics will be those of the apostles, John the Baptist, Doctors of the Church, many well-known patron saints, such as Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assissi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. Not to be missed in the midst of this constellation are a piece of veil of the Blessed Mother and a piece of the True Cross. (See list of saints.)

Please mark your calendars for July 22 and 23; join us when we receive the blessed presence of over 150 saints, and as we warmly welcome Father Carlos A. Martins, a priest of theCompanions of the Cross, and his “Treasures of the Church”, a ministry of evangelization of the Catholic Church.

With my sincere gratitude and faithful prayers in Christ the King,

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

An Apostolic Blessing

Saint Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - certificate of Apostolic Blessing

A certificate of apostolic blessing, found at Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Relics at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

From Saint Francis de Sales Oratory:

 Treasures Of The Church
Sacred Relics of The Saints

St. Francis de Sales Oratory presents a conference on and exposition of Sacred Relics on Friday July 22 at 5:00 PM and on Saturday July 23 at 9:00 AM. Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross will be here with his very special ministry to teach about these holy objects. He will bring with him over 150 relics, some of which are believed to be as old as 2000 years. Among the treasures will be relics of St. Francis de Sales, St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. In addition, there will also be present a piece of what is believed to be the veil of Our Lady, as well as one of the largest remaining pieces of the True Cross in the world. Those in attendance will be able to examine and venerate each relic. In the Church’s history many miracles and healings have been worked in the presence of relics, and many have been healed through this ministry. Please do not miss this opportunity. You are encouraged to bring your articles of devotion (such as rosaries, holy cards, etc.) and pictures of ill friends/family members which you will be able to touch to the reliquaries as a means of intercession.

What: Treasures of the Church – Sacred Relics of the Saints – Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross

Where: Saint Francis de Sales Oratory on corner of Ohio and Gravois


-          Friday, July 22, at 5 PM in the hall – Presentation by Fr. Martins

-          Friday, July 22, at ~6 PM exhibition opened in the church

-          Saturday, July 23, at 9 AM in the hall - Presentation by Fr. Martins

-          Saturday, July 23, at ~10 AM exhibition in the church

Attention: The exhibition in the church won’t be opened before the end of Fr. Martin’s presentation in the hall

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Saint Louis Art Museum, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Annunciation, early 17th century enamel ad gold paint on copper with silver foil, François I Limosin, French, ca 1599-after 1636

Annunciation, early 17th century, by François I Limosin, at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mystery Bird

Mystery bird

I saw this charming little bird today, and I can't recall if I've ever seen anything like it before. Its long pointy beak (always open) and an unusually long running stride made it look rather different than what I usually see around here — more like a shore bird than an urban bird. Anyone know what it might be?

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 American Chesterton Society Conference to be Held in Saint Louis

DALE AHLQUIST, president of the American Chesterton Society, writes:
...Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) cannot be summed up in one sentence. Nor in one paragraph. In fact, in spite of the fine biographies that have been written of him, he has never been captured between the covers of one book. But rather than waiting to separate the goats from the sheep, let’s just come right out and say it: G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the 20th century. He said something about everything and he said it better than anybody else. But he was no mere wordsmith. He was very good at expressing himself, but more importantly, he had something very good to express. The reason he was the greatest writer of the 20th century was because he was also the greatest thinker of the 20th century...

Chesterton debated many of the celebrated intellectuals of his time: George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, Clarence Darrow. According to contemporary accounts, Chesterton usually emerged as the winner of these contests, however, the world has immortalized his opponents and forgotten Chesterton, and now we hear only one side of the argument, and we are enduring the legacies of socialism, relativism, materialism, and skepticism. Ironically, all of his opponents regarded Chesterton with the greatest affection. And George Bernard Shaw said: “The world is not thankful enough for Chesterton.”...

Modern thinkers and commentators and critics have found it much more convenient to ignore Chesterton rather than to engage him in an argument, because to argue with Chesterton is to lose....
I would expect that most of my regular readers are familiar with Chesterton, but if you are not, click here for some of his famous writings. Unlike many of his contemporaries, whose works are now horribly dated, Chesterton's writings remain readable today. His language is simultaneously simple and complex; funny and serious; and he constantly drives towards what is true rather than what is fashionable opinion.

However, I've heard that recent college students lack the vocabulary to really get him, for he loved word play. The dumbing-down of our compulsory public education means that most youth have little knowledge outside of popular culture, a trend that even contemporary journalists note. However, Chesterton the journalist predicted this a century ago, and many of the trends we find today; he simply took the assumptions of the reformers and intellectuals of his day and noted the consequences.

Contemporary intellectuals think that Chesterton — who became Catholic — was a reactionary conservative, but Chesterton inspired at least two successful popular revolutions, in Ireland and India. Rather, he would say that moral relativism is in fact a kind of status quo conservatism, designed to keep the masses docile to the revolution being imposed upon us from above by the elite.

Although Chesterton was called an anti-Semite, he strongly opposed the Nazis — while many of the fashionable intellectuals of his day embraced Hitler until it was too late to avoid war and the Holocaust. Chesterton did criticize the Jews, but he also severely criticized Muslims, Americans, and himself; most of all he criticized usury as a great evil in the world. The Zionists who created the modern state of Israel considered him a friend, for Chesterton thought that all peoples — including European Jews — ought to have a sense of national patriotism: but he also predicted that a Jewish homeland in Palestine would be permanently divisive, as we see today. His book on this topic, The New Jerusalem, is said to be his grimmest writing.

Were I even lazier than I am already, I could do blogging merely by clipping sections of Chesterton's writing and adding a few lines of commentary at most. I find Chesterton to be easily quotable; his words are notable, clever, funny, and get to the point quickly.

The 30th Annual American Chesterton Society Conference will be held on August 4th—6th, at the Sheraton Westport hotel, in the suburban Saint Louis County municipality of Maryland Heights. Discounted admission can be had until July 15th.

Registration and a list of events can be found here.

If you are planning on coming to Saint Louis, I would suggest you rent a car. While Westport is a nice little entertainment district, it is remote from the bulk of the fun and touristy parts of town, and it is rather far from most local Catholic churches and pilgrimage sites. There is a lot to see around Saint Louis, so I would recommend taking a day or two outside of the conference to do some sightseeing.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Morning Fog

SOME PHOTOS taken in fog, right after sunrise yesterday.

Jefferson Barracks County Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - deer in fog at sunrise

A deer in a meadow, at Jefferson Barracks Park.

Jefferson Barracks County Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - in fog at sunrise - 2

Familiar objects can become strange when shrouded with fog. I was puzzled by these two figures when I first saw them; but they turned out to be merely tall plants.

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - in fog at sunrise - 2

At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. Requiescant in pace.

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - in fog at sunrise - 1

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - wildflower meadow in fog

A restored wildflower meadow at Cliff Cave Park.

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - sunrise over the Mississippi River, in fog

Sunrise over the Mississippi River.

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - two tugboats on the Mississippi River

Tugboats on the river.

Cliff Cave County Park, in Mehlville, Missouri, USA - trees along Mississippi River in fog

Trees along the river bank.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

New Website Design

SINCE MANY OF my readers are now attempting to use mobile devices to view this website, I need to change its design a bit, to make it more readable on small screens. I'll be installing a new Blogger template — it's the thing that decides how the articles are arranged on the page, and what colors and font sizes are used. Until I complete these changes, things may not look right for a while. Please leave me with a comment if you have any problems with accessing Rome of the West.

UPDATE: I think my edits are complete. Let me know if you still have problems.

Mushrooms and Moss

SOME MUSHROOMS, at Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri. These are fascinating, alien-looking forms of life, and their unique qualities make it worthwhile to go out of my way to get a picture: for some of these shots, I was flat on my stomach with my camera pressed firmly in the dirt.

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - yellow mushrooms

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - red mushroom

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - tan mushrooms

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - small orange mushroom

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - white mushroom with hairs

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - larger orange mushroom

Also see Photos at Sac Prairie, which has photos of wildflowers taken the same day. Also see the article A Myriad of Mushrooms.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Feast of the Visitation and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Augusta, Missouri, USA - Immaculate Heart of Mary
At Immaculate Conception Church, in Augusta, Missouri. Photo taken in 2007.
Tota pulchra es, amica mea, et macula non est in te.
You are all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in you.

— Song of Songs 4:7


FIREWORKS, taken yesterday evening at Jefferson Barracks, in honor of the 235th anniversary of the Republic's declaration of independence from Great Britain.

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 1

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 5

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 3

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 4

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 8

Fireworks, near Jefferson Barracks Park, in Lemay, Missouri, USA - 2