Friday, September 23, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
September 22, 2011


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


Photo: Battle of Lepanto, by Paolo Veronese

The first Sunday of October we celebrate the External Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary. The feast itself, celebrated on October 7, commemorates the battle of Lepanto in 1571, when a Rosary procession in Rome ordered by Pope Pius V turned the tide of war, and ended in the great sea battle victory of the Holy League against the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. Again calling on the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin to fortify us and help us in our daily battles, we will pray the Rosary daily before the Exposed Blessed Sacrament at 6:00 PM every evening in the place of Vespers at the Church. Please plan to join us as often as you can.

Seminary Society Breakfast - October 30, 2010
The month of October ends with the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday, a feast instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI to remind us of the kingship of Christ and His sovereignty over all human affairs. This is also the patronal feast of the Institute, and on this feast we customarily ask for the support from all faithful for the Institute’s International Seminary in Gricigliano.

As last year, we are planning a Seminary Society Breakfast after both Masses (8AM and 10AM) to draw attention to the activities and needs of the Seminary. Please mark your calendars, and watch for upcoming announcements regarding this Breakfast fundraiser. Be assured of edifying and entertaining surprises!


First Visit of His Grace, Archbishop Carlson - March 14, 2010

On Sunday, October 9, we will have the great honor of welcoming His Grace, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson on a visit to the Oratory. The Archbishop will preach at the 10:00 AM Mass, and be on hand to visit with the staff and the faithful at the reception following Mass. Since its inception at Pentecost, the life of the Church is always strengthened by the presence of the bishops, the successors of the apostles.

The vibrant life at the Oratory has its source in the Sacred Heart of Our Blessed Lord, but would not be complete without the Episcopal blessing God has provided for us. It will be a pleasure and an honor to receive the visit of Archbishop Carlson.


Architectural drawing of future porch by Tony Camacho
As you may remember, we began the mystery photo contest ("Can you guess - Where is this in the Oratory?") with the dismantled porch on the north side of the gymnasium building. The dilapidated structure was unsightly and broken, and long overdue for replacement. We have recently received the necessary city permit to allow us to complete this renovation.

We are deeply indebted to Mr. Tony Camacho, an architect with the Legacy Design Group, who generously drew up the plans for us pro bono; we now have the blueprint for the construction of the new porch. There is much work to be done all around the campus and inside the church, and the small but steady progress would not be possible without the generous support of all of you, our benefactors and friends. Please continue to support the work of restoring St. Francis de Sales!

Tony V. CamachoAddress: 2758 Accomac Street
Saint Louis, Missouri 63104-2220
Phone : 314-486-1846
Website: http://


With the return to the Wednesday classroom schedule on campus for the home school co-op, the students were greeted with renovated bathrooms and working hot water. Some of the co-op parents generously spent many hot summer days (and nights) improving the bathrooms on the second floor of the 1888 building. These bathrooms were in a bad condition from age and lack of maintenance. The parents provided the labor and materials to retile the floors, and clean and paint the walls. With the help of the Oratory’s contract plumber, leaky fixtures were removed and replaced, new valves were installed and hot water was piped to the sinks. These improvements make the co-op space more pleasant and useable for the students and families, and likely prevented further deterioration of the facility. We thank our co-op families for their tireless efforts and their generosity in maintaining and restoring our 1888-school building.


Mr. Dave Grieshaber

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of our maintenance personnel, Mr. Dave Grieshaber, who has been taking care of the Oratory since 2006. Mr. Grieshaber grew up in the vicinity of St. Francis de Sales, and has intimate knowledge of every square inch of the church and campus. Dave has been instrumental in keeping the Oratory running, and all its antiquated support systems – most importantly the heating and cooling, in operable condition. As the Oratory is vast and old, this is no mean feat! We are very grateful for Dave’s dedication to the Oratory, and the daily coverage he provides from Monday through Friday, every week of the year. Thank you very much, Dave!

Our previous contest was the image of St. Michael, found at the top of the gymnasium entrance. Thank you all for your participation. This week, we have once again a familiar image often in our field of vision when we come to the Oratory. Please check our blog to see this detail of our beautiful church, which is full of visual cues to draw our thoughts towards our ultimate destiny: Heaven.

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

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

Photos of Fog

LESS THAN A WEEK ago, I remembered the dense fog of northern California. “We never get that kind of fog in Saint Louis,” I thought. But providentially, the weather forecast predicted heavy fog over large parts of the Midwest. So I got up before dawn and took my camera to shoot some pictures.

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - tree in fog

At North Riverfront Park in Saint Louis.

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - trees in fog

Photography within fog does not obey the rules of the photographic Modernists: sharpness, great depth of field, and precise focus are impossible and pointless. Rather, we follow the earlier Pictorialist photographers, seeking strong composition and an emotional or even a spiritual approach to our subject.

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mississippi riverbank with two vertical sticks in fog

Fog shrouds large things, like the greatest river in North America in this photo, or huge mountain ranges; it can also cover things of practical importance, like an oncoming vehicle on the road.

Fog is a natural symbol of unknowing, of the heavy veil that separates our experience and knowledge from reality. Sharp edges are lost, colors are muted, and our view is severely limited.

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - treetops in fog

Fog is a cloud that has settled or has formed on the ground. Normally clouds have no obvious scale, they appear to be floating beneath a heavenly dome to which are affixed the stars, and so could be any distance away: our eyes give us little clue.

North Riverfront Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - several trees in fog

But when fog settles near the ground, you can sometimes reach up and touch that cloud's base, or even stand above it if it is not too thick. Within the cloud, your senses are confused: you cannot see far, your hearing is muffled, and the odor of the cloud itself, the humidity, fills your nostrils and you can even taste it and feel it.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - tree trunks in fog

At Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Missouri River in fog

Clouds are a symbol of divinity. God leads the Israelites as a pillar of cloud. The glory of God, shrouded by clouds, settles on Mount Sinai and on the Tabernacle. Mist, mystically speaking, is a symbol of the intersection of the divine and earthly.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA -  path among trees in fog

In Sacred Scripture, clouds veil God from our sight, and are also a symbol for God's gifts: as rain from the clouds relieves a parched land, so grace refreshes our souls.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA -  looking up into trees in fog

In fiction, the symbolism of fog can be used to good effect. The hard-boiled detective Sam Spade in San Francisco, and Sherlock Holmes in London, both seek out the answers to mysteries in the dark and the fog.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA -  forest border in fog

In more romantic styles of fiction, fog can have a presence, almost if it were a character in the story. What lurks nearby, unseen?

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - trailer in fog

It is said that climate shapes character, as well as philosophy. The ancient Greeks preferred bright days of sunshine, and likewise their high philosophy is seen as being overly optimistic at man's ability to shape history and approach divinity. Northern stories and philosophies, set amid the cold and fog, tend to be more pessimistic, more dependent on unalterable fate.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA -  path in fog

There is a common contemporary philosophy that does not want to approach mystery. Especially when it comes to religion, this view accepts mysteries such as the Holy Trinity, but does not attempt to go deeper into them. Rather, these philosophers concentrate on practical matters, such as politics.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA -  ramp in fog

It is true that a fog restricts our vision, and the fog of divinity likewise veils our theology. As Saint Paul writes, we see through a glass, darkly. But to a traveler who must reach his final destination, fog must be navigated whether he wants to or not, despite his own personal standards for acceptable visibility.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - turtle boardwalk in fog

And so likewise, we must navigate the fog of divinity if we want to reach our final destination. As Christians, we ought to humbly accept Revelation, as a driver must rely on his roadmaps when traveling though unknown territory.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Theological Aspects of Beauty and Art"

MEET ME this Friday, when I talk about art and beauty:

September 23
Doors Open 6:30 pm / Speaker Begins 7:00 pm

"Theological Aspects of Beauty & Art"

Please join us this Friday, when Mark Abeln, speaks to us on Catholic tradition in art (classical and medieval), the virtue of art, and the traditional definitions of art and beauty.

A native St. Louisan and Catholic convert, Mark Abeln is a professional photgrapher, and has also been writing about Catholic culture since 2004 in his online blog, Rome of the WestWhile taking photos of some old churches, Mark became aware that his poor-qualtiy photos did not do justice to these worthy subjects, and so he was inspired to learn the art of photography, and the role of religion in contemporary culture.  This ultimatey culminated in the publication of Fr. William Barnaby Faherty's book Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History, which featured hundreds of Mark's color photographs of area churches.

Coffee, Cappuccino, Espreso & More!

Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History
will be available for purhase!

 No Cost - Goodwill Offering Appreciated!

Woodstone Plaza

Photos of Immaculate Conception Church, in Saint James, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Immaculate Conception Church, in Saint James, Missouri. The church is located in Phelps County, and is about 97 miles southwest of downtown Saint Louis on Interstate 44. It is part of the Diocese of Jefferson City.

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Saint James, Missouri, USA - exterior

The parish was founded in 1870, and is made up about about 190 families.

The town of Saint James is not named after the Greater or Lesser Apostles of Our Lord, but rather after the James family, who owned an iron mine and smelter southeast of town. The remains of the ironworks can be found at the Maramec Spring Park. Saint James is located on Big Prairie; prior to European settlement, this area was frequented by the Shawnee tribe who had a cemetery here. The town of Scioto was laid out in 1859, being renamed Saint James the next year.

This region was settled by Italian immigrants in 1898, who set up a significant wine and grape industry. There a number of fine wineries nearby.

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Saint James, Missouri, USA - interior

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus: Holy, Holy, Holy.

The church was locked, but I was able to get this photo through the door.

316 East Scioto Street
Saint James, Missouri 65559

Monday, September 12, 2011


Valley View Glades Natural Area, near Morse Mill, Missouri, USA - view with long shadows, by moonlight

Most Holy Name of Mary

SINCE JULY 14th, 1683, the forces of the Ottoman Empire held the city of Vienna in siege with an army of about 150,000. The commander of the Ottoman forces attempted to force its population into submission, as nearby cities already had done.

Formally at peace for twenty years with the Holy Roman Empire, the Islamic Ottomans had long made preparations for invasion: building roads, bridges, and supply depots leading to strategic targets in Christendom. While this did not go unnoticed in the West, internal division among the Christians did not help matters.

On September 11th, John III Sobieski, the King of Poland, arrived at Vienna, and swept down on the Ottomans with the largest calvary attack in history. The Christian forces largely won the battle after three hours, with full victory coming on the next day. This defeat severely depleted the Ottomans, and so this was the last incursion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.

Sobieski gave credit to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Częstochowa. In recognition of this victory, Pope Innocent XI extended the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary to the entire Church. It is held each year on September 12th in the Roman Rite; removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969, it was restored to the liturgy in 2002.

The icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa is popularly known as the Black Madonna, due to the dark complexion of the Blessed Virgin and Christ Child.

Black Madonna Shrine, in Jefferson County, Missouri, USA - altar of outdoor chapel

A reproduction of this icon can be seen above the tabernacle at the outdoor chapel of the Black Madonna Shrine, located south of Eureka Missouri. (Photo taken in 2008.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Rosalind Moss Becomes Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God "

SEE THE ARTICLE: In the Sight of Angels and of Men. From the article:
Foundress, Rosalind Moss, in religion Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God received the traditional Benedictine habit, given that the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope have begun to follow the age-old Rule of Saint Benedict.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
September 08, 2011


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


His Grace, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's first visit to the Oratory in 2010
His Grace, Archbishop Robert J. Carson, will visit us again on Sunday, October 9th, and preach at the 10:00 AM Mass. Afterwards all faithful will be able to greet the Archbishop and welcome him at his second visit to the Oratory. Please mark your calendars and invite friends and family!


Blessed Virgin statue at St. Philip Neri Seminary

“Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, was the herald of joy to the whole world: since from thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, Who, destroying the curse, bestowed the blessing, and, confounding death, brought us the gift of life everlasting.”

Exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Church celebrates the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on September 8th. Mary’s birth is man’s first visible proof that a temple is being prepared for the Creator of all, and of God’s fulfillment of His promise of salvation for Adam’s fallen progeny. Her birth is the first glimmer of the light, Our Saviour, which will dispel darkness forever; her birth is the joyous prelude of the final act, the blessed union of the Word with flesh.


Rocamadour, France

This summer, His Eminence, Cardinal Burke, visited a good number of our apostolates in France. Accompanied by our superiors and several Canons of the French province, His Eminence enjoyed the splendors and the spiritual richness of this blessed country. On August 20, while we were preparing to celebrate King St. Louis at our Summer at the Oratory, Cardinal Burke led an Institute pilgrimage and celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass at Rocamadour in the diocese of Cahors. Rocamadour was in the past a famous site of royal pilgrimages, counting among its illustrious visitors King Louis IX, who visited in 1244, accompanied by his mother Blanche of Castile, and his brothers Alphonse of Poitiers, Robert of Artois, and Charles of Anjou.

Cardinal Burke with the Institute Superiors greeting the faithful

After the Pontifical High Mass on the hottest day of summer 2011,
the Cardinal spent more than an hour shaking hands
and talking to countless pilgrims in the courtyard of the church.


Summer at the Oratory 2011

With a solemn Mass in his honor and hours of family-friendly fun, we have celebrated another annual feast of King St. Louis IX in a convivial yet solemn manner befitting the regal patron of our city. Every year this event seems to grow in strength – both the internal bonds within the Oratory and the external bonds with our neighbors in the larger community of our city.


Canon Wiener, welcomes guests to Summer at the Oratory
Once again, I would like to thank all of you for supporting this event, and for bringing your friends and family. We are especially indebted to all the volunteers, without whose excellent, competent, and dedicated work, this would not have been possible. Thank you, and let’s look forward to next year!



Much progress has been made in renovating the men’s room in the hall. Last Friday the city’s inspectors approved the installation so far, and the work will continue to completion. Please consider helping us offset the total cost $15,000 for the renovation of the men’s room.. The renovation of the women’s restroom in the hall will begin as soon as we receive enough funding for it, which will also be $15,000.


Canon Huberfeld farewell reception

On September 4 we bid farewell to Canon Huberfeld, the Vicar of St. Francis de Sales Oratory since after his ordination to the holy priesthood last year. After the 10 AM Solemn Mass, the faithful gathered in the Oratory hall to express their heartfelt thanks and good wishes as he takes up his new assignment as the Rector of St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau, WI. This surely will not be the last time we will see Canon Huberfeld. Until we meet again, please keep him in your prayers!

A new mystery photo has been uploaded onto the blog of Where in the Oratory is this image located? Do you recognize it? Please post your response in the comment section of the blog.

May Our Mother of Perpetual Help intercede for all of us, our families and beloved friends.
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

New Lecture Series

A NEW LECTURE series, Man Elevated to Share in the Divine Life, will be given by Dr. Lawrence Feingold at Boland Hall of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, starting September 21st.

This is Dr. Feingold's 9th lecture series; his older lectures can be found here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Water Lilies

Missouri Botanical Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - water lily 1

Missouri Botanical Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - water lily 2

Missouri Botanical Garden, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - water lily 3

Found at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Water lilies and related flowers were recognized in Europe and the Mediterranean region as symbols of purity, the resurrection, and spiritual illumination, and white versions been called the “Lady of the Lake” as a symbol of the Blessed Virgin.

Monday, September 05, 2011

On Labor

“SOCIAL JUSTICE.” You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.

In the nineteenth century, appalled by the poor conditions of the working class in the cities, revolutionaries fought for structural changes in society. At that time, there was a strong division between the working classes who labored in the factories of the bourgeois capitalists. The revolutionaries intended to balance the equation more in favor of labor, typically by creating strong labor unions which would agressively pursue the interests of the working class in opposition to the capitalists.

But how did this division between labor and capital come about? It was the revolutionaries themselves that did it. They caused the problem in the first place. They must accept the blame. May God have mercy on the souls of revolutionaries past, who caused so much misery. May God convert the hearts of living would-be revolutionaries so that they do not cause more problems in the future.

The division between labor and capital was planned, encouraged, and is sustained by greed, hatred, faithlessness, and by the rejection of charity. This division came about first by Original Sin and the rejection of Grace, then by skeptical philosophy, then Absolutism, then the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and then by socialism and libertarianism. All these are heresies, and any truths that they may rightly propose are merely and conveniently one-sided. If you examine the philosophies behind each of these changes, you can easily see that they may be sins worthy of eternal damnation.

The pursuit of social justice is de fide, a matter of faith, but that phrase (which came out of Catholic social teaching) has been taken over by revolutionaries of the kind who caused our problems in the first place. Social Justice doesn't mean what they think it means. Social Justice, first and foremost, is intended for the support of families, of the traditional kind whose bonds are broken only by death (But not necessarily the more fluid and indistinct definition of family favored these days.) A socially just economy will allow a single worker to support an entire family (including children, sick, and elderly) without undue hardship, even if that worker dies or is incapacitated.

Our current economy, designed by the revolutionaries, lacks two critical components: subsistence farming and trade guilds. Both of these were wiped out by the threat or use of force.

The old open field system allowed groups of peasants, living in a traditional society, the ability to support their families, without undue outside interference. Even under feudalism (a system criticized by the Church), a peasant had to give perhaps three days' labor to his liege-lord every year. That was a burden often resented, but how does that compare to our current system of taxation in the United States, where a worker has to give perhaps 70 or 100 days of wages to the various levels of government every year? Taxation, regulation, and competition, depending on locality, hardly makes substance farming practical. But the revolutionaries did not want to have people working on farms, but rather in offices, government agencies, and factories, and so the alienation of labor from farms has been aggressively pursued. For example, the Enclosure Acts in England removed 21% of the total land area of that realm from subsistence farming, forcing workers to the cities; this is in addition to the removal of lands formerly open to subsistence hunting and gathering. In the Americas, slavery made subsistence farming unprofitable.

The trade and merchant guilds, important social and economic institutions of the Middle Ages, were weakened by new trends and eventually eliminated via revolution. The guilds were integral associations of local workmen and merchants which organized and rationalized the trades in cooperation with municipal government. The striking fact of the guilds was that tradesmen were both the workers and the owners of their own businesses. There was no division between capital and labor. Each worker set his own hours of business and work schedule (rather unlike the rigid working conditions found today), and directly owned his tools and workshop. A guild member could support his family comfortably and be certain that they would be cared for if anything happened to him. While a lack of competition may have meant that prices were somewhat higher, they also avoided the problems of concentration of power in single individuals and confiscatory levels of taxation that made prices significantly higher. The guilds provided stability and predictability, and added significantly to the harmony of society.

The last remnants of trade guilds in the US were found in the real estate, medical, and legal fields. The organization of real estate professionals was broken in the 1970s with the influx of many part-time agents, and the medical professions were broken by institutionalized managed care in the 1990s. Lawyers are next — and so they had better watch their backs.

Our current economic system claims to be free, and our current government system claims to be democratic, but both merely concentrate power significantly. In the old days, if you did not like how a local guild was handling matters, you could simply walk to the shop down the street and directly complain to the owner. That is no longer possible today, since your local elected official may have to answer to a million voters, and the corporate office of your local store may be located a thousand miles away.

Also see my articles The Old Boy's Club and Universal Health Care - An Alternative for further reading.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - sign "silentium" at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

A sign asking visitors to be silent; at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.