Monday, February 27, 2012

Saint Michael

A STATUE of Saint Michael, in front of Saint Michael Church, in Steelville, Missouri.

Statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, at Saint Michael Church, in Steelville, Missouri, USA

Lest we forget, Lent is a time of spiritual warfare, and images of Saint Michael and of Saint George, vanquishing the dragon that is Satan, can be inspirational.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Dream of the Rood

CHRIST THE WARRIOR is the theme of the early Anglo-Saxon poem “The Dream of the Rood,” told from the point of view of the Holy Rood — or Cross — itself.

In a dream, a man beholds a vision of the Cross in glory, bejeweled and gilded, yet stained with blood and sweat; this Rood tells its tale of its part in the Crucifixion:
...Ongan þā word sprecan wudu sēlesta:
‘Þæt wæs gēara_iū, (ic þæt gyta geman),
þæt ic wæs āhēawen holtes on ende,
āstyred of stefne mīnum. Genāman mē ðær strange fēondas,
geworhton him þær tō wæfersyne, hēton mē heora wergas hebban.
Bæron mē þær beornas on eaxlum, oððæt hīe mē on beorg āsetton,
gefæstnodon mē þær fēondas genōge. Geseah ic þā frean mancynnes
efstan elne micle, þæt hē mē wolde on gestīgan....

...The most excellent tree then began to speak the words:
It was years ago (that, I still remember),
that I was cut down from the edge of the forest,
removed from my foundation. Strong enemies seized me there,
they made me into a spectacle for themselves, commanded me to lift up their criminals.
Men carried me there on their shoulders, until they set me on a hill,
many enemies secured me there. Then I saw mankind’s Lord
hasten with great zeal, that he wished to climb upon me.
Christ, in some catechesis, is portrayed weak — but not so, especially here! He is heroic, embracing the suffering of the Cross in fulfillment of His Father’s will. Christ is Lord, and here is appropriately portrayed as a noble warrior lord and king, while the Rood is His loyal subject, making its last stand against Christ's enemies.
There, I did not dare break to pieces or bow down
against the Lord’s words, when I saw the surface
of the earth tremble. I was able to destroy
all the enemies, nevertheless, I stood firmly.

The young hero stripped himself then (that was God Almighty),
strong and resolute. He ascended onto the high gallows,
brave in the sight of many, there, since he wished to release mankind.

I trembled when the man embraced me. However, I dared not bow down to the earth,
fall to the surface of the earth, but I had to stand fast.

I was raised as a cross. I lifted up the mighty king,
the lord of the heavens; I dared not bend down.

They pierced me with dark nails. On me, the scars are visible,
open malicious wounds. I did not dare injure any of them.

They mocked both of us, together. I was all drenched with blood,
covered from the man’s side, after he had sent forth his spirit....
An odd thing of this poem — at least to modern ears — is the personification of the Rood:
...The time is now come
that men over the earth and all this illustrious creation
far and wide honour me,
they pray to this sign. On me, God’s son
suffered a time. Therefore, now I rise up
glorious under the heavens, and I am able to heal
each one of those who hold me in awe.

Formerly, I was the most fierce of torments,
most hateful to people, before I opened the right
path of life to them, the speech-bearers.

Lo, the prince of glory, the guardian of the kingdom of the heavens,
honoured me over all the trees of the forest!

Just as he, Almighty God, before all men,
honoured his mother also, Mary herself,
over all womankind...
However, even in sacred Scripture we find trees and other inanimate objects praising the Lord: see Psalm 148, Isaiah 44:23, Isaiah 55:12, and the Canticle of the Three Children in Daniel.

This, indeed, is a good poem for the Church Militant:
...Now I command you, my beloved warrior,
that you tell this vision to men,
reveal in words that it is the tree of glory,
on which Almighty God suffered
for mankind’s many sins
and Adam’s deeds of old,
He tasted death there. However, the Lord arose again
to help men with his great power....
The full text of the poem, along with a scholarly analysis, can be found at this website:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Saint Francis de Sales on Fasting

FROM A SERMON on Ash Wednesday, by Saint Francis de Sales (1567–1622), Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church:
Lent is approaching. Prepare yourselves to fast with charity, for if your fast is performed without it, it will be vain and useless, since fasting, like all other good works, is not pleasing to God unless it is done in charity and through charity. When you discipline yourself, when you say long prayers, if you have not charity, all that is nothing. Even though you should work miracles, if you have not charity, they will not profit you at all. Indeed, even if you should suffer martyrdom without charity, your martyrdom is worth nothing and would not be meritorious in the eyes of the Divine Majesty. For all works, small or great, however good they may be in themselves, are of no value and profit us nothing if they are not done in charity and through charity. I say the same now: if your fast is without humility, it is worth nothing and cannot be pleasing to the Lord. Pagan philosophers fasted thus, and their fast was not accepted by God. Sinners fast in the way, but because they do not have humility it is of no profit at all to them.

Lent Begins

REMEMBER, MAN, you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Little Sisters of the Poor, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Station of the Cross - Jesus falls a second time

Jesus falls a second time, at the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Saint Louis.

Whenever the Holy Mother Church apparently abandons something good, the secular world takes it and perverts it. We have seen this with sacred music — now heard in concert halls and sampled in popular music — and in metaphysics, taken over by the New Age. The imagery of authentic Catholic liturgical art, such as the Gothic style, has been given over to profane use.

In current Catholic disciplinary practice dating from 1966, there is no need for a carnival, for we do not have significant fasting and abstinence from meat products unlike former days. And so, carnival has been taken over by the secularists, where in many places it has become a non-religious festival of excess and vice. Authentic carnival practices are rare, and typically are found only in rural areas.  See the article Carnival and Lent. Many accuse Catholicism of taking pagan festivals and making them her own, but that is precisely what the accusers do to Catholic festivals: taking them as their own and making them pagan, which is what we see with Christmas and most other major Christian holidays.

We need to understand that Lent is a time of purification, of spiritual warfare, of denying the self, in imitation of Christ’s 40 days in the desert, of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, embracing the suffering of Christ’s passion in acknowledgement of our sins.

In particular, Lent is a time for prayer, penance (often by fasting), and almsgiving. Many have difficulty in prayer, but the simple solution is to just do it, and it will become habitual. According to the Oxford American Dictionary, penance is “a voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward repentance for having done wrong”. Unfortunately, many Americans feel that they are good people, and so don’t need to do penance. Likewise, fasting in and of itself as a method of disciplining the body is not seen as a good thing, and many people (if they can afford it) choose cosmetic surgery to replace self-discipline. Almsgiving is now seen as something that the government does, and we are even told to not give anything to panhandlers. Overcoming contemporary culture is very difficult, but we should at least try, and be open to grace.

Psychologically, our era is a time of unprecedented suffering, particularly in wealthy countries. But this is not generally physical suffering (although that is inevitable), bur rather spiritual suffering. Depression was once very rare but today is common, and it is far worse for a person than physical suffering, and it often manifests itself in hypochondria. From a purely human standpoint, embracing bodily suffering, and transfiguring it, is the best method of overcoming this kind of spiritual suffering, and so Lent has a good purpose that even secularists could understand, if they weren’t hell-bent on imposing spiritual suffering. And so it is good practice to replace spiritual suffering by physical suffering via self-denial.

Even long before I became Catholic, I noticed that Catholics tended to handle suffering better than others. This is a kind of ‘cool,’ similar to the now nearly-lost English “stiff upper lip,” the kind of disregard for the self that is seen in the best moments of chivalry and valor. This is not quite stoical resignation (although it is close to it), but suffering can be endured joyfully — and that is what we are commanded to do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mid-Winter at Shaw's Garden

WINTER IS MILD this season, and so flowers are blooming outdoors at the Missouri Botanical Garden in Saint Louis, Missouri, popularly known as Shaw's Garden. Several species are blooming several weeks early.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 3

Crocus is a reliable early bloomer, but no daffodils are yet seen.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 4

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 5

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - red berries

These berries were hidden under foliage.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 7

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 8

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 9

I took these photos with a macro lens, made over 40 years ago. These can be found for a bargain price. The ability to get up close with a camera is rather nice, although I would have liked to have used a tripod on a number of these photos — you may notice that very little of each flower is in focus.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 10

A squirrel's eye view. When I was lying flat on my stomach taking pictures, someone stopped me and asked if I was OK! Then they saw the camera and laughed.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - hellebore

Close up of a hybrid hellebore, a genre of flower that includes the Christmas Rose and the Lenten Rose. Natives of Eurasia, these are very early blooming plants as their common name suggests.

The garden also has a number of greenhouses, where blooms can be found year around:

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - camellia

A camellia.

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 2

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 1

Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw's Garden) in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers 6

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rhymes with Orange

I AM CERTAIN that my gentlemen readers are now busy writing love poems to their lady love in honor of the feast day of Saint Valentine. But we live in such an unpoetical age that the process of poesy may be somewhat unfamiliar.

From time immemorial, poets were celebrated everywhere in the world as the bearers of culture and learning, and famed poets were given great honors, generous pensions and were even invited on The Tonight Show. Alas, by the time that I went to school, the art of poetry had been killed off, with rhyming and versification banned, and poets instead were granted the freedom to write anything they wanted as long as it was not poetical. Now only poets read poetry, and so it is hardly read at all. Gone are the days of the noble warrior-poet who fought merrily and sang sadly.

Without examples to emulate, what is a contemporary love-struck gentleman to do? The simplest structure of poetry is the iambic pentameter, which has five pairs of weak and stressed syllables per line. Here are some examples:
  • I want to drink a can of beer in bed.
  • My cats do like to sleep by day, not night.
  • The Faith is good and full of love and truth
  • He drove his car to Texarkana, yes?
Note that we alternate a weak with a stressed syllable five times:
  • what KIND of GIRL are YOU to LOVE me SO?
Iambic pentameter is good for you to emulate, because it has a stressed or masculine ending. Your lady, who picks up on subtle clues, may judge you poorly if you select a feminine ending! Hamlet shows his weakness when he says “To be or not to be, that is the question” ending his verse unstressed.

All you need to do is string together a more-or-less coherent collection of verses to get a poem. A string of verses in iambic pentameter is a good enough poem and is a type of blank verse. But realize that the whole idea of poetry, in contrast to prose, is that the text is highly structured in many ways. A common structure is rhyming, particularly rhyming the last word of verses. Rhyming is merely one of very many kinds of poetical tools, and there are several kinds of rhymes. You ought to rhyme your poetry. However, don’t emulate the rappers who insist on rhyming every verse: this is a vice of excess, which is in contrast to the modern poet’s vice of deficiency of not rhyming at all; rather rhyme moderately.

One of the shorter poetical forms is the Limerick, which is precisely five lines long, and where lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with each other, while lines 3 and 4 rhymes together. However, the Limerick is not suitable for love poetry, for:
The limerick is furtive and mean
You must keep her in close quarantine
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk and obscene.

(C. Alan Reber)
Rather, consider using the poetical form known as the heroic couplet. This uses pairs of rhymed lines of iambic pentameter, with each succeeding pair of lines having a different rhyme. As its name implies, this is a forceful, masculine form, and your lady ought to respond to it well:
My love for you is strong and will not die;
“I do all this for you” my battle cry;
All that I have to give, indeed my life;
I give to you, my love, to be my wife.
Most poetry, unlike prose, is highly dependent upon its source language and dialect, since rhyming and word stress often varies even among speakers of the same language. Because of this, we can use ancient poetry to discern the pronunciation of words even in dead languages. As you can imagine, translating poetry well is a very difficult art.

Rhyming is an honorable practice when writing poetry, but the problem becomes finding adequate rhyming words for your poem. There are many good rhyming dictionaries online, suitable for the use of the beginning poet. But you may want to avoid some words that have no rhymes, or obscure ones.

For example, you probably do not want to end a line with the word ‘orange’. As far as I know, the only word that rhymes with orange is “The Blorenge,” which is a hill in Monmouthshire, Wales, overlooking the River Usk. Good luck using that in a poem. Likewise, month rhymes only with words of the form hundred and oneth, while purple rhymes with curple, which is the hindquarters of a horse or an ass, and so can be used only with the utmost caution.

Some words cannot be rhymed at all, or are imperfectly rhymed, such as angst, bulb, gulf, sculpts, angel, chimney, elbow, engine, husband, neutron, monster, penguin, polka, secret, animal, citizen, and logarithm. However, local dialect may allow for some rhyming, so let your ear be the best guide.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Photos of Saint Peter Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Peter Church, which is adjacent to the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City. Originally a part of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and later the cathedral of the Diocese of Jefferson City, this parish church is located about 25 miles east of the geographic center of the state of Missouri in Cole County, and is about 127 highway miles west of downtown Saint Louis.

I took these photos in June of 2011.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - exterior view from the state capitol building

The exterior of the church as seen from the state capitol building.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - front doors

According to a history of the church:
The history of St. Peter Church and Catholicism in Jefferson City can be traced back to just ten years after the founding of the capital city in 1821. Fr. Felix L. Verreydt, S.J., came from the Indian Mission of Portage des Sioux, St. Charles County, Missouri, and celebrated the first recorded Mass in Jefferson City in 1831 in the home of Bernard Upschulte, then located on the corner of High and Mulberry Streets, now located behind the Cole County Historical Museum. In 1838, Fr. Ferdinand Helias, S.J., newly appointed pastor at Westphalia, Osage County, Missouri, at the request of the visiting Rt. Rev. Joseph Rosati, C.M., first bishop of St. Louis, organized the local Catholics into a community and celebrated Mass in private homes until a site could be selected for a church. (Interestingly enough those "private homes" were less than 10 in number as records show a total of nine Catholic families registered in 1838!) Fr. Helias was also the first priest to minister to the inmates of the state prison, located in Jefferson City. The original candlesticks and crucifix that he carried in his saddlebags throughout his ministry are on display in the St. Peter Parish Life Center.
Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - historical plaque

Officially listed in THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES June 18, 1976

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - nave

Continuing the history of the church:
The present church was designed by Adolph Druiding and constructed by Fred H. Binder with 800,000 bricks donated by G.H. Dulle. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 1976. The church is pure gothic. It is 173 and one half feet in length. It is 60 feet in width. It has a seating capacity of 700. The clock tower, a city landmark, rises to a height of 170 feet. The tower contains four bells cast by the Struckstede Foundry with an aggregate weight of 8,000 pounds, purchased at a cost of $1,354 and dedicated to St. Peter (55 inches in diameter), St. Joseph (46 inches), The Sacred Heart of Jesus (34 inches), The Blessed Virgin Mary (28 inches).
It is impossible to separate our parish history from the history of Jefferson City and the city’s role as the seat of state government. The clock, installed in 1888, is of service to both church and state. It rings the hour for divine services and every four years the new governor of Missouri is sworn into office when C-sharp minor cords have struck noon. In 1911, during the fire at the State Capitol building, which sits literally across the street from our parish home, the Missouri State House of Representatives used St. Peter’s School library to conduct business for the remainder of that legislative session. Gov. Joseph P. Teasdale, 1977-81, was a member of St. Peter and attended noon Mass frequently.

The interior of the church retains the gothic motif. Two majestic tiers of fourteen pillars support the ceiling, dividing the church into three naves. The height of the center nave is 56 feet; the two side naves are 42 feet. Three gothic reredos attest to our history. They are carved of white walnut with rich gilt. The main, center reredos, which houses the tabernacle, is 49 feet high. It contains a center statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The two lower niches contain statues of St. Peter, the first pope, with keys, and St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, with sword. The side reredos are 24 feet in height. The shrine to the Blessed Mother contains statues of St. Agnes, patroness of virgins, with a lamb, and St. Rose of Lima with the Christ child, patroness of South America (a link which the Diocese of Jefferson City has enjoyed through our missionary work in Peru). On the opposite side is a statue of St. Joseph, accompanied by one of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, patron of youth, with crucifix, and another of St. Francis de Sales, patron of authors and the press, with a book.

The present church's service to Jefferson City began on Feb. 2, 1883, when Monsignor Hoog celebrated the first Mass. It was solemnly dedicated on Aug. 12, 1883, by the Rt. Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, Coadjutor Bishop of St. Louis.
The architect of this church, Adolphus Druiding, also designed the Shrine of Saint Joseph, Saint John Nepomunk, and Saint Agatha churches in Saint Louis, as well as many others throughout the eastern United States.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - sanctuary

The tabernacle sits upon the old high altar; here is the baptismal font.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - altar of Saint Joseph

Altar of Saint Joseph.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - view down side aisle

A view looking back to the choir loft with organ pipes.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - ceiling

The ceiling has a representation of the starry heavens.

This church has been renovated many times. According to the history:
In 2002, the interior was again refinished. The work seeks to implement a guiding principle for renovating older churches. There is no substitute for an ecclesiology which is both ancient and modern in the fullest sense (Built of Living Stones USCCB, 2000). The values of beauty, mystery, and awe guided the work of the Liturgical Design Consultant, Mr. Tom Sater, and the Church Interior Committee, made up entirely of parishioners, in the most recent renovation of our Church. It was important that these concepts blend the gothic architecture and the guide the décor chosen for the Church. Much time was spent studying numerous photographs of the Church from various times in its history so that the artwork from these historic times could be incorporated into the present renovation.

In Western cultures, gothic is considered the most religious architectural style because of the ascendant structure, which draws one’s eyes toward heaven and encourages us to meditate on God and the things of God. This is expressed architecturally through the windows and pillars as well as through the colors that were chosen. Darker colors were selected for the ground level and gradually become lighter as it ascends towards the heavens. The colors chosen for the Church décor were determined by the colors in the stained glass windows and the outside bricks and stone.

The side naves’ celestial sky treatment with clouds and stars, harkens to the early Gothic desire to Embrace the Heavens. The center nave contains stenciling that reminds us of the five wounds of Christ. The red drop reminds us of the blood of Christ shed for us. It is surrounded by the nails of the crucifixion.

The three reredos, which in the past were known as the main and side altars, are also gothic in style and dominate the interior. When the reredos were removed for their restoration, two happy coincidences occurred. The original stain color of the reredos was discovered on the side panel of the St. Joseph reredos. This butternut color was restored to the reredos. Also, when the reredos were removed, the original stenciling on the walls behind the reredos was discovered. The designs consist of St. Mary’s monogram, S/M with her symbol, the rose, and St. Joseph’s monogram, S/J, with the lily. This is the original stenciling from 1883, and was restored to the area behind the reredos.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - XIII Station of the Cross, Jesus is taken down from the cross

XIIIth station of the cross: Jesus is taken down from the cross. “Consider how, after Our Lord had died, He was taken down from the cross by two of His disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, and placed in the arms of His afflicted Mother. She received Him with unutterable tenderness and pressed Him close to her bosom.”

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - stained glass window

The windows in the nave of the church are largely non-representational.

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of Christ granting Saint Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven

In the narthex, Saint Peter receives the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19).

Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church, in Jefferson City, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of bishop's mitre, 1983

A stained glass window of a bishop’s mitre, 1983.

State Capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri

A view of the Missouri State Capitol building, taken near the church.

216 Broadway
Jefferson City, Missouri


“Penance! Penance! Penance! Pray to God for sinners. Kiss the ground as an act of penance for sinners!”
Such was the message of Mary to Bernadette at Lourdes. This is a command that we ought to follow today. Unfortunately, penance seems to be largely a lost practice hereabouts, especially public penance.

Catholicism will be further marginalized if trends continue. You’ve heard the excuses: “I’m spiritual but not religious,” “religion is a private matter,” “religion has no place in the public square,” and so forth. Even more sinister is the new slogan of “freedom from religion.” But every political creed, at its core, has an unavoidable metaphysical or religious claim. Our claim is better than theirs, and we can prove it with a public witness of penance.

Now what can be a good penance, a penance for the sins of ourselves, sins found in the Church, and sins of the whole world? Lent is fast approaching, and is the perfect time for this.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Photo of Holy Childhood of Jesus Church, in Mascoutah, Illinois

Holy Childhood of Jesus Roman Catholic Church, in Mascoutah, Illinois, USA

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
February 09, 2012


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

“Only if you join us in giving witness to the right to life and the right to religious freedom!” In his strong pastoral message concerning the “contraceptive mandate” His Grace, Archbishop Carlson, together with the entire United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is calling upon us to do our part in the fight for religious freedom and the rights of Catholics to live their faith. “Forcing all of us to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience.”
On January 19th Pope Benedict XVI., addressing himself to the US Bishops, expressed his deep concerns with regard to the dangers of a “radical secularism” of US society: “Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.”
From our Holy Father and from our Archbishop, the words “giving witness,” being “engaged” and “well-formed” pertain to our daily lives as Catholics in a secular society; these are words not to be easily ignored. It’s clearer than ever that our activism must be founded on a solid spiritual formation - always. Faced with the serious issues before us, it is imperative that we employ the practical venues recommended by Archbishop Carlson, all the while fixing our gaze on the Cross. Please see the website of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (I recommend also to join the “Stop The Birth Control Mandate” petition promoted by St. Gianna Physician's Guild, with the support of Cardinal Burke,

His Grace, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson
“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” --Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York & President of USCCB
Archbishop Carlson, together with the entire United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, under the leadership of Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, is calling upon ALL CATHOLICS to contact their representatives about the contraceptive mandate to be imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

This mandate violates the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. It represents unprecedented trampling upon human rights in the United States, specifically, freedom to live by one's religious convictions.

The bishops are speaking out loudly, but that is not enough: They are asking for our support.

Please read here Archbishop Carlson’s Pastoral Message:

By Archbishop Robert J. Carlson 
Today we are facing grave and unprecedented threats to our religious freedom here in the United States. The Obama administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has decided to impose a nationwide mandate for coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs — including at least one abortion drug — sterilization procedures, and education and counseling to promote these to "all women with reproductive capacity."The HHS rule includes an exemption for "religious employers" so narrowly crafted that Catholic health care providers, educational institutions and social services agencies would have to be listed in the tax code as a church or similar narrowly defined entity, make the inculcation of religious doctrine their organizational purpose, and largely refuse to hire or serve non-Catholics to be fully eligible.

This attack on our religious freedom is unacceptable to Americans who cherish the principles on which our nation was founded. Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has pointed out the following:

• The contraceptive mandate imposed on health plans by the Department of Health and Human Services violates freedom of conscience, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment and several federal laws.

• The Bill of Rights says we are free to live by our religious beliefs. Forcing all of us to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience.

• Never before in U.S. history has the federal government forced citizens to directly purchase a product that violates their beliefs.

The Church cannot, and will not, be silent in the face of this grave threat to religious liberty and the sanctity of human life. According to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, "The bishops of the United States have long supported the goal of universal access to health care. We have encouraged government leaders to advance this goal through morally responsible health care reform. At the same time, we have consistently stated that such reform must not become a vehicle for abandoning or weakening longstanding federal policies that respect unborn human life and rights of conscience." We bishops will speak out boldly — at every opportunity — in protest against all efforts to violate the right to life and the right to act according to one's conscience.

But as Pope Benedict said recently, to be heard the Church's voice must include the voices of "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity." All too often, the pope and the bishops are not taken seriously. We are "expected" to speak out on these issues, people say; it's part of our job. Only when the Catholic community as a whole joins us in refusing to accept the "radical secularism" of government officials, legislators and judges, will the voice of the Church be heard in all its strength and moral clarity.

I continue to urge everyone who reads these words to write to your representatives in Congress. Insist that respect for the rights of conscience be an integral part of all health care legislation and policy. This request has greater urgency now that the Obama administration has refused to allow Americans who work for religious organizations that serve all people the right to respect their consciences.

I call on every pastor in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to join me in urging Catholics in all 11 counties of our archdiocese to add their voices to those of the American bishops.

We will not be silent. We must speak out in defense of life and out of respect for religious liberty.

We will not be silent, but will the voice of the Church be heard? Only if you join us in giving witness to the right to life and the right to religious freedom!

A profound reverence for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and a genuine affection for a Cardinal of the Church took center stage last Tuesday evening when Raymond Cardinal Burke came to visit and celebrated a solemn Benediction at the Oratory. More than 500 people, both clergy and faithful, took time from their evening to attend the 5:00 PM ceremony. They were not disappointed in this grace-filled event.
Cardinal Burke with Canon Jayr



To the lofty notes of the organ and the choir’s rendition of Victoria’s "Ecce Sacredos Magnus," the Cardinal processed into the church, accompanied by a retinue of servers and clergy. Upon reaching the High Altar, Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament began solemnly with "Homo Quidam," composed by Cardinal Bartolucci (who was made a Cardinal recently) and "Alma Redemptoris Mater" by Palestrina. The rest of the Benediction ceremony unfolded with equal ceremonial beauty. Throughout, the choirs of the Oratory sang ancient hymns, in words composed by St. Thomas Aquinas among others, and set to sublime melodies which lifted up each heart in prayer.




The prayerful time in the church was followed by a festive reception in the Oratory Hall, attended by many faithful to welcome and greet the Cardinal. Cardinal Burke is appreciated by the faithful at the Oratory not only as a beloved Cardinal who was once the shepherd of the people in St. Louis, but also as a fatherly figure whose vision had been the crucial impetus for the canonical erection of St. Francis de Sales Oratory. His return visit to the Oratory was a joyous and inspirational occasion for many individuals and families. It was most touching to see our youngest members greet the Cardinal and kiss his ring. All of us – the faithful and the Oratory staff alike – are deeply grateful for the many graces from this solemn Benediction, and for the fatherly care that the Cardinal continues to give to the Oratory and the faithful. More than ever, we offer our fervent prayers for the Cardinal and his fruitful ministry in the Church.

For more photos of this event please click here.

Bishop Edward M. Rice

We have begun to organize classes to prepare candidates to receive the sacrament of Confirmation onOctober 20, 2012. The Most Reverend Edward Rice, Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis, will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form, and attend the celebration of the Solemn High Mass following Confirmations, as well as the reception afterwards. To all who wish to receive this important sacrament in October: please register with the Oratory office for classes as soon as possible. Class schedule will be published soon.


St. Francis de Sales Oratory is committed not only to its restoration but also assisting in the revitalization of the Fox Park Neighborhood. The Scrip program offers the Oratory and local businesses a perfect opportunity to join forces.

We are pleased to showcase in this newsletter Blues City Deli, located at 2438 McNair in St. Louis, just a couple blocks from the Oratory. The scrip is available in $10.00 increments, with $1 from every $10 donated to the Oratory. So, the next time you are at St. Francis de Sales, purchase some scrip, go get a fabulous sandwich and tell Vinnie Valenza, the owner, thank you for supporting St. Francis de Sales! You will be glad you did!

Starting next week, scrip orders will be placed on Mondays. Please drop off your order at the Scrip table or rectory, or place your order online at before noon on Mondays. The Oratory’s code is 7B6B613B29666.

To purchase or for questions about the program, please contact Mrs. Gretchen Clinton and (573) 241-5259 or the Oratory at (314) 771-3100. Scrip order forms are available at rectory, church basement after Sunday Mass and in the bulletins.


Father John Peter Lotz
It was the intense dream of Father Lotz, during those years, to build a new and spacious church which would be the largest and most beautiful in the city of St. Louis. He began to make plans for this church in 1894. He prepared the way for our present church property by acquiring the adjoining land at the corner of Iowa and Lynch. The old rectory nearby was razed to make more space available and the priests at that time took up their residence in the school building.

The same year in 1894 Father Lotz made a trip to Berlin, Germany where he obtained the architectural plans of the famous St. Paul's Church in that city. Additional plans that included a number of features of the cathedral at Frankfort, were also obtained from architects in Germany and brought back home by Father Lotz. However, it was soon realized that a church of the immense size and glorious architectural lines would cost more than a half million dollars, far above the $135,000.00 which the building committee considered to be within the financial power of the parishioners. Nevertheless it was decided to build a spacious church of cut stone adorned with a center or main spire 300 feet high and two supporting towers. Two smaller additional towers to be erected over the church transepts and numerous highly ornamental finials were also included in the original plans.

The first church and rectory, before 1896

In the winter of 1894, the excavation of the basement for the new church was begun, and the corner stone was laid on August 11, 1895, by the Right Reverend Vicar General, Henry Muehlsiepen. The erection of the church, however, did not go forward as originally expected. Instead it was wisely decided to erect a roof over the church basement and postpone the actual church construction, until more funds were raised in the parish.

At this point an act of divine providence definitely intervened.

Sunday, February 19
10:00am: Solemn High Mass with
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Adoration all afternoon

Monday, February 208:00am: Low Mass followed by
12:10pm: Low Mass with organ
6:30pm: Solemn High Mass - Reposition

Tuesday, February 21
8:00am: Low Mass followed by
12:10pm: Low Mass at St. Joseph’s Altar
6:30pm: Solemn High Mass with
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
and Benediction
Confessions heard 1/2 hour before each Mass.


Photo Credit: Mr. Phil Roussin

Once inside the Oratory, one is surrounded by many beautiful images of saints depicted in the historic stained glass windows. Pictured in our mystery photo this week are St. Agatha, St. Augustine, St. Margaret, and St. Anthony, though not in the order they appear in the Oratory. Can you tell where these images can be found, and in what order they appear in the Oratory? Please go to our blog and enter your answer in the combox.

With the sincere assurance of my prayers in Christ the King,

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