Saturday, February 11, 2012

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

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