Sunday, April 29, 2012

Photo of Saint Henry Church, in Charleston, Missouri

HERE IS A PHOTO of Saint Henry Church, in Charleston, Missouri. This church is a part of the Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau, and is located in Mississippi County, about 148 road miles to the south-southeast of downtown Saint Louis.

Saint Henry Roman Catholic Church, in Charleston, Missouri, USA - exterior

Although the church was open, I was unable to document the interior, because it was busy at the time.

At the time of the church’s founding, this was a part of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. In the early days, this area was served by Vincentians from Perry County. According to a history of the parish:
The first settlers of Texas Bend near the northern boundary of Mississippi County, were German Catholics from the vicinity of Cincinnati, Ohio. The log church at Texas Bend was the successor of the log chapel built in 1839 by Father Brands at Tywappity Bottom, though not built on the same spot. Both structures have disappeared; only the grave-yard of the second church of St. Francis deSales in Tywappity remains.

In 1873 Father Henry Willenbrink built the frame church in Charleston and named it St. Henry. This was the parish church of all Mississippi County.

Father Bettels became its pastor in 1876, but resided and taught school at the Bend. The present fine brick school building was erected by Father Francis Brand. The ten years between Fathers Bettels and Brand are filled out by the rectorships of Father J. A. Connolly, Frederick Klein, Frederick Pommer, John A. Gadell, Hugh O'Reilly and Henry Thobe. Father Henry Hussmann, who became pastor of the parish in 1895, built the beautiful new church of St. Henry, which was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon on June 4, 1907.
More of the parish history can be found here. Be sure to click the text that says “Open Me...”

Missouri is near the center of the United States, both geographically and culturally. While much of the state — particularly the portions near Saint Louis — can fairly be called ‘Midwestern,’ this church is located in the region of the state’s ‘Bootheel’ which has a Southern culture. Southern Baptists appear to make up the plurality of this region, but the early Catholic colonial presence along the great rivers of the central U.S. planted Holy Mother Church here.

304 East Court Street
Charleston, Missouri 63834

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

SAINT MARK is the writer of a Gospel, which follows the teachings of Saint Peter. We are told that Mark’s mother was a friend of Peter, and that Mark was a Levite, or Jewish priest. That he has a pagan name, Marcus, after the Roman god of War, should not be surprising, since the Jewish people were long subjugated to foreigners, and that the Temple priesthood and leadership — contrary to the Pharisees — tended to encourage enculturation. Tradition says that Saint Mark founded the Church in Egypt, also known as the Coptic Church, and he is highly honored there.

Saint Mark is patron of notaries, lawyers, lions, prisoners, glaziers and stained-glass window makers, and against insect bites, impenitence, and certain diseases of the neck. He is also patron of those named Mark!

Here are some of my old images of Saint Mark:

Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA - Icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist

A Coptic icon of Saint Mark, shown with the attributes of a lion, a codex, and a quill. Found at Saint Mary and Saint Abraam Coptic Orthodox Church, in Saint Louis County, Missouri.

Anyone not familiar with Church iconography should know that icons are not meant to be photographic or naturalistic, but rather are used in devotion — directly, in the Eastern Churches, and usually as a pious reminder in the Latin Church. If you see an icon of a man with a lion, and the man is writing a book, then the man depicted is undoubtably Saint Mark the Evangelist. As far as I know, there is no legend about Saint Mark meeting a lion, but this is instead a symbol with deep scriptural roots.

Now, one could instead claim that this symbolism is only for the benefit of the illiterate, that a modern icon should be naturalistic, and should have the name of the Saint written out in text. But in what language should this be written? A good icon should be useful for at least a couple of centuries, or perhaps even a thousand years or more with maintenance. Languages changes, nations rise and fall, and peoples and icons migrate — and migration among the Copts has increased greatly due to recent persecution from the so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ Those who argue against the icons have too many false assumptions than can be refuted here.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Alton, Illinois, USA - detail of stained glass window, lion of Saint Mark

At Saint Mary's Catholic Church, in Alton, Illinois.

A winged lion, with a halo and a scroll.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - mosaic of the winged lion of Saint Mark the Evangelist.jpg

Mosaic, found in the narthex of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The Saint's relics are entombed at the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, in Venice, Italy. The interior design of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is based on that ancient Venetian church.

Saint Mark Roman Catholic Church, in Affton, Missouri - exterior - 2

Saint Mark Parish, in Saint Louis County.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

“St. Louis Parks"

ST. LOUIS PARKS — a new book from Reedy Press — with photography by yours truly, including the photo on the cover:

St Louis Parks cover_high

This view shows the World’s Fair Pavilion atop Government Hill, in Forest Park, in the City of Saint Louis, Missouri. Teenagers are seen here enjoying the cool water of the fountain on a warm June day. I think this photo adequately captures the joy and simple pleasure that ought to be found in a pleasant park.

This book contains over a hundred of my photos of parks located within the City of Saint Louis. Click here to get your own copy of this book:

From the publisher, Reedy Press:
St. Louis Parks By NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton, Foreword by Peter H. Raven 
St. Louis has great parks. And St. Louisans are passionate about them. St. Louis Parks delivers portraits of St. Louis City and County parks, both major and minor, that prove why these common spaces are crucial to the region’s way of life.

Acclaimed local historians NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton take readers through the city and county, respectively. Starting with the establishment of Lafayette Park from thirty acres of common fields in 1836, Harris covers the creation of gems like Tower Grove Park, the nation’s finest Victorian Park, and the dazzling, 1,293-acre Forest Park, while including Citygarden, and its interactive artwork, in the heart of downtown.

In the county, Hamilton highlights one-of-a-kind attractions like the renowned Museum of Transportation and Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Butterfly House and St. Louis Carousel at Faust Park, a farm zoo at Suson Park, and the military museums at Jefferson Barracks. In both sections, the authors recognize the citizens, civic leaders, and architects whose work delivered to all St. Louisans picturesque landscapes, ball fields, tennis courts, natural savannahs, and grasslands filled with wildlife, and trails that lead runners through forests and by shimmering lakes.

Dramatic photography by Mark Scott Abeln and Steve Tiemann complement the essays. The photographs evoke the unique character and history of the individual parks. They visualize the importance of green space for both escaping and coming together as a community.  
NiNi Harris’s earliest memory is of an early autumn evening, picking up acorns as she and her father walked along Bellerive Boulevard to Bellerive Park. Her great- great-grandfather’s first job when he arrived in St. Louis in 1864 was planting trees in a St. Louis park. This is her tenth book on St. Louis history and architecture.

Esley Hamilton has been working for the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation as historian and preservationist since 1977. Among preservation-
ists in the St. Louis region, Hamilton’s is a household name. He teaches the history of landscape architecture at Washington University and serves on the board of the National Association for Olmsted Parks.

Mark Abeln is a native of St. Louis and attended college at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Mark started taking photography seriously after he took disappointing photos of an important subject. He spent the next years learning the art of photography, and his photos can now be found in numerous publications as well as on his website “Rome of the West.”

Steve Tiemann graduated from McCluer High School and went on to obtain his forestry degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Steve has enjoyed his career as a park ranger and park ranger supervisor with St. Louis County Parks for nearly thirty years. He tries to be in ready mode with a camera while patrolling on foot or bike.
Mr. Peter Raven is President Emeritus of the famed Missouri Botanical Garden.

This book’s publication date is May 1st. You can order a copy now:

You can also purchase my earlier book of photography, Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History, by clicking the “Buy Now” button seen in the sidebar on the right.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bishop John Joseph Hogan on the Liberty of the Church

THE RADICAL REPUBLICANS gained control of the Missouri legislature by the close of the American Civil War. This political faction has a mixed reputation: they pushed hard for the elimination of the foul institution of slavery and worked to ensure the civil rights of freed slaves, yet they grasped for power, were heavily involved in bribery, trod over the rights of other citizens, and were opposed to any reconciliation with the brutally devastated South.

Members of this faction drafted a new Missouri Constitution, which not only freed all slaves unconditionally, but also severely punished Southern supporters. It is unclear if many of the constitutional convention attendees were actually legal residents of Missouri; likewise, voting for the constitution was also highly irregular, with many ballots being sent out-of-state.

A particular feature of the Radical Constitution of 1865 was that it required all teachers, physicians, clergy, lawyers, government officials, officers and managers of corporations, and voters to take a ‘Test-Oath,’ declaring that they never supported the Southern cause, among other things; the oath was so severe that only Radicals could honestly give it without perjury.

Catholic clergy and religious sisters were not exempt. During the Civil War, Archbishop Kenrick of Saint Louis remained neutral, and ordered his priests to remain neutral also. The clergy were instead to work for peace and reconciliation, but this was not sufficient for the purposes of the Oath, and so Archbishop Kenrick urged his priests not to take it. Father John Joseph Hogan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and later Bishop of Kansas City and Saint Joseph, Missouri, opposed the oath because civil government has no authority to select who is fit for service in the Church. Father Hogan not only refused to take the oath, he also planned to flee, making his capture by the authorities difficult; however, he was unexpectedly arrested by a friend. Here is a letter of Father Hogan to his supporters in Brookfield:
Bishop Hogan. [Source]
Gentlemen: I thank you for your encouraging words and generous present. Your kindness imposes on me the obligation of devoting myself anew to the defence of your principles. You term Religious Liberty a God-given right. So it is. Let me add. You need not thank anyone but God for it. God is the source of Right and Power. He has said to those sent by Him to teach His religion: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” In virtue of this power, He sends us to teach and promises to be with us. His authority is ours. Were it man's authority, man would not now oppose, nor from the beginning have opposed, its exercise. The Civil Authority has been ever, from the days of Herod, the enemy of Christ. Christ therefore could not have entrusted to it, the care of His heavenly teaching. He appointed others besides civil rulers for this purpose. By His appointees He has stood unto this present day; and by them, as sure as His word faileth not, He will stand until the end of the world. It is very foolish then in the Civil Government, to assume an authority that does not belong to it, and to declare in contravention of God's ordination, who shall or shall not preach or teach the Gospel of Christ. This rash assumption of authority by the Civil Government, in a matter that does not belong to it, and over which it has no control, is as weak, silly, and tyrannical as the act of Xerxes, flogging with chains the tossing waves of the sea to make them do his will. One would think that the Civil Power would now at least in this more enlightened age of the world, cease its impotent rage against the Church, knowing as it does after its many defeats, vain struggles and humiliations, that the Church will obey only its maker, and that chains and prisons have no terror for it. And if we should prove recreant to our duty in this respect, we would accomplish nothing for the Civil Power thereby. The liberty of perdition would be of no avail to us or to it. Against us and against it, Christ would still maintain His Church. He would raise up others in our place, who would obey His voice and do His will. In obeying the Church and the state in their respective spheres, we are most obedient to law. We obey God first, our country next, and ourselves last. It is the inversion of these principles that we fear, and that would work the greatest detriment to the State and civil society as well as the Church.

The question now pending is not one merely of loyalty or disloyalty, past, present or prospective. The issue is, whether the Church shall be free or not, to exercise her natural and inherent right, of calling into or rejecting from her ministry whom she pleases; whether yielding to the dictation of the civil power, she shall admit those only who according to its judgment, are fit for the office; or, admitting these to be fit, whether she shall not be free to call in those also who, though at first not fit, afterwards become so through pardon and repentance.

The question is whether the Church is not as much at liberty, and as fully competent now-a-days, as at the beginning, to call in as well the saints as those who were sinners, as well the Baptist and Evangelist as St. Peter and St. Paul, the persecutor and denier of the Redeemer as well as his presanctified messenger and beloved disciple. With all these questions the State has nothing to do. Their decision is the high and unapproachable prerogative of the Church, under the guidance of her Redeemer, who alone is the searcher of hearts, and whose power it is to call in or reject whom He pleases.

And now before we part, let me bid you be neither despondent nor disheartened. God is with you; who then can be against you. The history of the past is the index to the future. What, though we be cast into prison? What, though pains and penalties await us? What, though cells and dungeons be multiplied to debar us from our liberty? Still, the victory of evil will not be complete. Liberty and truth, ever superior to force, will defy the torturer to subjugate them. The momentary triumph of the wicked and the cruel, will be branded with perpetual shame. And out from those dark dungeons and dreary cells, will shine forth a cheering light, to bid all good men hope, and to show by the contrast who are the truer friends of religion and country—they who uphold liberty by the sacrifice of themselves, or they who sacrifice liberty to the unauthorized control of a usurping power. Be firm, yet patient, in the defence of right. This is the christian's struggle for the christian's crown. Let no violence characterize your actions as evil. Bless and pray for those who persecute you, for they are your rulers still. Respect and obey them, consistently with the reverence and obedience you owe to God. To-day, as of old, the religion you profess is ever the same. It bids you, if needs be, to die for Christ, but not conspire against Caesar.

Thanking you, Gentlemen, from the fullness of my grateful heart for your kindness and devotion, I pray God to bless you, and strengthen you with the armor of faith; yea with that faith that giveth victory and overcometh the world, that by it you may prevail against your enemies. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
 Fr. John Cummings, a young priest of Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and pastor of Saint Joseph Church in Louisiana, Missouri, was arrested for failing to take the oath. He filed a lawsuit, which eventual went to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Test-Oath was declared unconstitutional in 1867, in the case Cummings v. The State of Missouri. The final decision was split 5 to 4, with Radical justices opposing. Despite this setback, the Radicals retained much power, further alienating their opponents, eventually leading to a severe reaction later in the 19th century, with repercussions that continue to our present day. Peace was not wanted, and so peace was not found.

This letter is taken from a book by Bishop Hogan, On the mission in Missouri, 1857-1868, a remarkable work that I quoted at length here. The Bishop’s comments regarding religious liberty are rather appropriate at this time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Render Unto Caesar

THEN THE PHARISEES going, consulted among themselves how to insnare him in his speech. And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: “Master, we know that you are a true speaker and teach the way of God in truth. Neither care for any man: for you do not regard the person of men. Tell us therefore what do you think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: “Why do you tempt me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin of the tribute.” And they offered him a penny. And Jesus says to them: “Whose image and inscription is this?” They say to him: “Caesar’s.” Then he says to them: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they wondered and, leaving him, went their ways.

Matthew 22:15-22 (Douay)
Here in the United States, federal income tax is due on Tuesday. I’m sure that many of my readers, if they have been doing their taxes, have been reminded of this scripture passage lately. Like the Pharisees of old, our leadership in the federal government likes to “heap up burdens” on the people — see Matthew 23 — without lending a hand, while all the time greatly enjoying the privileges of their offices.

However, this is a burden that we must accept — even if we ought to use reasonable means to change the situation. Tax evasion is a sin against the Commandments. Here is a little bit of what the magisterial teaching of the Church has to say about government and taxation [my comments are in bold]:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997 edition):
1879 The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature... [Libertarianism is false. We need each other for a harmonious society.]

1881 Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but “the human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions.” [Human person, and not ‘humanity’ in general. Modern ideology often despises individuals. This is the opposite vice to the ideology that exalts individuals.]

1882 Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged “on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs.” This ”socialization” also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights. [Voluntary associations, not impositions.]

1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good...” [The U.S. federal government ignores subsidiarity, even though it is explicitly found in the Constitution. It wants all the power for itself.]
1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order. [Get rid of the federal healthcare legislation, and untold number of other collectivist federal laws. See the article Health Care - an Alternative which does not require federal government interference.]
If we take the total tax burden in the United States as a percent of total income, and superimpose that on the calendar, then the first 108 days of the year are spent on taxes. By coincidence, the day this year when taxpayers start earning money for themselves also happens to be the same day that taxes are due, April 17th.

From Rerum novarum, the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on capital and labor:
Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which belongs to them; nay, they learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them. That such a spirit of willing labor would add to the produce of the earth and to the wealth of the community is self evident. And a third advantage would spring from this: men would cling to the country in which they were born, for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his own afforded him the means of living a decent and happy life. These three important benefits, however, can be reckoned on only provided that a man's means be not drained and exhausted by excessive taxation. The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has the right to control its use in the interests of the public good alone, but by no means to absorb it altogether. The State would therefore be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than is fair.
Pope Leo proposed that individual families ought to directly own the means of supporting themselves, in cooperation with local government, and with low taxes.  However, the laws of the United States, from its founding, have aimed to break up the accumulated wealth of the middle class, and the burden of taxation on the poor can be overwhelming. Please consider that a poor, homeless, alcoholic bum, who only buys liquor, will pay the highest marginal tax rate of any American. Self-employment taxes are also exceedingly high, so that a sole proprietorship will have an excess burden compared to large employers. Likewise, high social security taxes prevent the working classes from accumulating enough wealth to support themselves.

The nasty and divided political climate in the United States today could be greatly lessened if the federal government follows the Constitution and leaves most decision-making “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Presidential election races are so contentious only because too much power has been accumulated by the Presidency — if this power were limited to only foreign affairs and to moral leadership, then the electorate would more certainly elect the most-qualified person for the job, and do it in a more peaceful manner.

Photos of the Church of the Risen Savior (formerly Saint Joseph Church), in Rhineland, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of the former Saint Joseph Church in Rhineland, Missouri. In 1979, this church was merged with Saint Martin’s in nearby Starkenburg, forming a new parish, the Church of the Risen Savior, named after Christ and His resurrection. A part of the Diocese of Jefferson City, this church is located below the north bluffs of the Missouri River in Montgomery County, about 84 highway miles west of downtown Saint Louis. This church is associated with the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenburg.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - exterior

Saint Joseph’s Church, named after the foster-father of Our Lord, and patron of the Universal Church, was originally built in 1913. Before this time, Catholics hereabouts attended Saint Martin’s Church in Starkenburg, founded in 1847, and located about three miles to the northwest of here, atop the bluffs. A printed history of these parishes may be found here, but alas, very little of this parish’s history can be found online.

According to one history, the town of Rhineland is in
...south- central Loutre Township. Laid out in 1853 by Andrew Rincheval and named for the river of Germany. As early as 1837 German emigrants, who had located in Gasconade County, across the river, had begun to make a settlement here. Rincheval was killed by bushwhackers in 1863. The newer town on the M.K. and T. Railroad was laid out on November 1, 1892, by Louis Grotewiel.
Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - nave

The lower Missouri River valley was once the home of various tribes of Indians, with European settlement by the French starting in the 1700s. This region was later settled in the first half of the 19th century by German immigrants who found the region similar to the valley of the Rhine. These immigrants brought their grape growing and winemaking skills with them, eventually developing the Missouri valley into one of the major regions of wine production in the U.S. until Prohibition.  This region is again becoming a major producer of wine, with many vineyards on the south-facing bluffs above the river.

Immigration from Germany became a flood after the failed revolutions throughout Europe in 1848. This had great significance for the United States in the run-up to the American Civl War: formerly a solidly Southern state, large numbers of freethinkers and liberal Protestant Germans swung the politics of Missouri towards the Union. But along with the German Radicals, fellow countrymen who were Catholic also settled in this region, and these typically wanted peace and not war.

Circuit riding Jesuits often provided the Sacraments to early settlers in this region. Later, under the anti-Catholic kulturkampf of Germany’s Chancellor Bismarck, who eventually imprisoned or exiled all of the bishops of his realm, many more Catholics came into this region, including Franciscans who eventually staffed parishes hereabout.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - altar and tabernacle

I took these photos back in February, during Lent, and so the altar is decorated in liturgical violet.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - stained glass window with Saint Anne

The stained glass windows are of fine quality. Here is Saint Anne with the child Mary, and Saint Clare of Assisi.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - stained glass window with Saint Therese of Liseaux

Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Therese of Liseaux.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - Baptismal font

The baptismal font, with the holy oils ambry in back.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - statue of the Blessed Virgin

The Blessed Virgin Mary, depicted crushing the head of the serpent, Satan.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - VIIth Station of the Cross, Jesus falls the second time

VIIth Station of the Cross: Jesus falls the second time.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - cornerstone

This church has two cornerstones in separate places. This one is from 1932, and another is from 1913. A.M.D.G. is an abbreviation for ad majorem Dei gloriam, “for the greater glory of God.”

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - rectory

The Rectory. The church is located on a low terrace above the valley floor. Much of the town of Rhineland was relocated to higher ground after the Great Flood of ’93.

Church of the Risen Savior (Saint Joseph), in Rhineland, Missouri, USA - view of Missouri River flood plain from cemetery

Requiescant in pace. German names predominate on the tombstones of the church cemetery, located on the steep hillside above the church. We see below the flat floodplain of the Missouri River; two to three miles away are the bluffs on the south side of the river, near the town of Hermann. The Rhineland bluffs are about 400 feet tall, are made of dolomite, and extend for about six miles between this town and Bluffton.

605 Bluff Street
Rhineland, Missouri 65069

Divine Mercy Sunday

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Divine Mercy

Image of the Divine Mercy, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The feast of the Divine Mercy, the first Sunday after Easter, was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in A.D. 2000.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

“A good photograph"

SEE THE ARTICLE, A Good Photograph, over at my photography blog. A bit of Plato, Plotinus, Aristole, Augustine, Aquinas, and others are in these observations:
...A good photograph will cause the viewer to stand outside of himself for a brief moment. The viewer, in his imagination, is transported within the frame of the image.

A good photograph will reward a viewer every time he sees it. He can contemplate it many times for many years, and yet discover new things never before noticed. It does not grow stale or boring over time....
Of course, these same observations apply to many of the arts. Clearly, they comprise an extremely high standard, one which is impossible, without grace, to attain in our fallen world. I used the word “good,” but that is an understatement.

Click to see more: A Good Photograph

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


BEFORE EASTER, the secular media bombards us with anti-Christian propaganda. One thing we often hear is that “Easter” is pagan festival, that was “Christianized.” We are told that the word Easter derives from an ancient Germanic pagan deity. And so, Easter is suspect, isn’t really Christian, and we really ought not bother with going to church, and instead we should do whatever the politicians tell us to do.

But this is only an objection in English — and German, which uses the similar-sounding word “Ostern”. Now, there may be many people who may believe that Holy Writ was written in the King’s English, and so many may also believe that the word “Easter” is likewise normative. But let us consider other languages:

LanguageWord for EasterMeaning
Amharicፋሲካ, fāsīkāPassover
Arabicعيد الفصح, ʿĪd al-FiṣḥFestival of Passover
Arabicعيد القيامة, ʿĪd al-QiyāmahFestival of the Resurrection
Aramaicפֶּסחא‎, PasḥaPassover
BelarusianВялікдзень, Vyalikdzyen’ Great Day
BulgarianВеликден, VelikdenGreat Day
CroatianVelja noćGreat Night
CzechVelikonoceGreat Night
EstonianlihavõttedTaking of the meat
GreekΠάσχα, PaskhaPassover
GreekἈνάστασις, anástasisResurrection
Hebrewפֶּסַח,‎ PesaḥPassover
HungarianhúsvétTaking of the meat
Japanese復活祭, fukkatsusaiResurrection celebration
Korean부활절, buhwaljeolResurrection Day
Macedonian Велигден, VeligdenGreat Day
Mandarin復活節, fùhuó jiéResurrection celebration
PolishWielkanocGreat Night
RussianПасха, PaskhaPassover
SerbianVelikdenGreat Day
SlovakVeľká nocGreat Night
SlovenianVelika nočGreat Night
Tigrinyaትንሣኤ, tinśā'ēResurrection
UkrainianВеликдень, VelykdenGreat Day

In most of these languages on this list, the local word for Easter literally means “Passover,” a very appropriate name. “Resurrection” is highly appropriate, and “Great Night” and “Great Day” point out that this is the greatest feast day in the Christian calendar — a feast day that begins the night before, with the Easter Vigil. Lent also ends, and so we can “take to the meat” once more, if our local Church has strict penances.

Most of what we really know about the word Easter is from the book, De temporum ratione, by Saint Bede (d. A.D. 735):
Eostur-monath, qui nunc Paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a Dea illorum quæ Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit: a cujus nomine nunc Paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquæ observationis vocabulo gaudia novæ solemnitatis vocantes.

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month,” and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.
The German word Ostern likewise has ancient roots relating to a Germanic deity. But the popularity of the word Ostern likely was reinforced by Luther’s use of the word in his German translation of the Bible, as the popularity of ‘Easter’ may have been strengthened with its use in English translations. I wonder how much influence the Reformation and Nationalism had on using these old names, rather than the Catholic name of Pasch? English-speaking Catholics do still use the phrase ‘Paschal Tide’ to describe the Easter season.

However, both the words Easter and Ostern, despite their pagan roots, are related to the word “eastern,” the direction of the rising sun, and so are unexpectedly fitting names for the Rising of the Son of God from the tomb!

Monday, April 09, 2012

A STAINED GLASS window of the Resurrection of Christ, found at Most Sacred Heart Church, in Eureka, Missouri:

Most Sacred Heart Church, in Eureka, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of the Resurrected Christ

Christus surrexit, alleluia, alleluia!

The church dates from A.D. 2000, according to its cornerstone. While superficially this appears to be an old window, this was made new for the church, by the Saint Louis company, Art Glass Unlimited. The depictions of Our Lord in this church’s windows show the Sacred Heart symbol.

Easter Vigil

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Easter Vigil 2012

The Easter Vigil at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory began outside of the church. This photo shows the Paschal candle — a symbol of Christ Who is the light of the world.

Dawn Eden’s New Book

My new book, My Peace I Give You, now available for online preview

Today is a joyful day for me, as my second book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, is shipped to stores. It'll take a few days or more for the book to arrive in the Amazon warehouse and become available on Kindle, but already it is available for online preview using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. (The book is also available for pre-order from Barnes&Noble.comand will soon be for sale in the Nook format.)

What's more, my publisher's website is now showing links to the table of contents and "Sample Text" of My Peace. The sample text is the first several pages of the book's introduction, which is also available as a free PDF download.

Thanks so much to all the readers who have been praying for me as I have undertaken this work. Please keep up the prayers for me and for all those whom I hope to help find healing in Christ through the lives of the saints, particularly for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. If you are a writer and are interested in interviewing me about My Peace or having your website be part of my upcoming "blog tour," please e-mail me.

* * *

Is the My Peace tour coming to your town? Click here to find out. If I'm not yet scheduled to be in your area and you would like to engage me to speak about My Peace, please write to me: click here to see my e-mail address.

Also, if you are in St. Louis or Jefferson City and would like me to speak at your parish, please e-mail me ASAP. I will be in your area in June for a friend's ordination and would love to give talks on My Peace while there.
Dawn is not only an excellent writer, she is becoming a formidable theologian because of her studies with the Dominicans in Washington DC.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

“the true enlightenment”

...the early Church called baptism photismos – illumination.

Why was this? The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil. The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other “lights”, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk. Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.

Dear friends, as I conclude, I would like to add one more thought about light and illumination. On Easter night, the night of the new creation, the Church presents the mystery of light using a unique and very humble symbol: the Paschal candle. This is a light that lives from sacrifice. The candle shines inasmuch as it is burnt up. It gives light, inasmuch as it gives itself. Thus the Church presents most beautifully the paschal mystery of Christ, who gives himself and so bestows the great light. Secondly, we should remember that the light of the candle is a fire. Fire is the power that shapes the world, the force of transformation. And fire gives warmth. Here too the mystery of Christ is made newly visible. Christ, the light, is fire, flame, burning up evil and so reshaping both the world and ourselves. “Whoever is close to me is close to the fire,” as Jesus is reported by Origen to have said. And this fire is both heat and light: not a cold light, but one through which God’s warmth and goodness reach down to us.
Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil, 7 April 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A Poem On Easter

The seasons blush varied
with the flowery, fair weather,
and the gate of the pole
lies open with greater light.

His path in the heaven raises
the fire-breathing sun higher,
who goes forth on his course,
and enters the waters of the ocean.

Armed with rays
traversing the liquid elements,
in this brief night
he stretches out the day in a circle.

The brilliant firmament
puts forth its clear countenance,
and the bright stars show their joy.

The fruitful earth pours forth
its gifts with varied increase,
when the year has well
returned its vernal riches.

Soft beds of violets
paint the purple plain;
the meadows are green with plants,
and the plant shines with its leaves.

By degrees gleaming brightness
of the flowers comes forth;
all the herbs smile with their blossoms.

The seed being deposited,
the grain springs up
far and wide in the fields,
promising to be able to
overcome the hunger of the husbandman.

Having deserted its stem,
the vine-shoot bewails its joys;
the vine gives water only
from the source from which
it is wont to give wine.

The swelling bud,
rising with tender down
from the back of its mother,
prepares its bosom for bringing forth.

Its foliage having been
torn off in the wintry season,
the verdant grove now
renews its leafy shelter.

Mingled together, the willow, the fir,
the hazel, the osier, the elm, the maple,
the walnut, each tree applauds,
delightful with its leaves.

Hence the bee, about to construct its comb,
leaving the hive, humming over the flowers,
carries off honey with its leg.

The bird which, having closed its song, was dumb,
sluggish with the wintry cold,
returns to its strains.

Hence Philomela attunes her notes
with her own instruments,
and the air becomes sweeter
with the re-echoed melody.

Behold, the favor of the reviving world
bears witness that all gifts have returned
together with its Lord.

For in honour of Christ rising triumphant
after His descent to the gloomy Tartarus,
the grove on every side
with its leaves expresses approval,
the plants with their flowers express approval.

The light, the heaven, the fields, and the sea
duly praise the God ascending above the stars,
having crushed the laws of hell.

Behold, He who was crucified
reigns as God over all things,
and all created objects
offer prayer to their Creator.

Hail, festive day,
to be reverenced throughout the world,
on which God has conquered hell,
and gains the stars!

The changes of the year and of the months,
the bounteous light of the days,
the splendour of the hours,
all things with voice applaud.

Hence, in honour of you,
the wood with its foliage applauds;
hence the vine, with its silent shoot, gives thanks.

Hence the thickets now resound
with the whisper of birds;
amidst these the sparrow sings
with exuberant love.

O Christ, You Saviour of the world,
merciful Creator and Redeemer,
the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father,
flowing in an indescribable manner
from the heart of Your Parent,
You self-existing Word,
and powerful from the mouth of Your Father,
equal to Him, of one mind with Him,
His fellow, coeval with the Father,
from whom at first the world derived its origin!

You suspend the firmament,
You heap together the soil,
You pour forth the seas,
by whose government all things
which are fixed in their places flourish.

Who seeing that the human race
was plunged in the depth of misery,
that You might rescue man,
Yourself also became man:
nor were You willing only
to be born with a body,
but You became flesh,
which endured to be born and to die.

You undergo funeral obsequies,
Yourself the author of life
and framer of the world,
You enter the path of death,
in giving the aid of salvation.

The gloomy chains of the infernal law yielded,
and chaos feared to be pressed
by the presence of the light.

Darkness perishes, put to flight
by the brightness of Christ;
the thick pall of eternal night falls.

But restore the promised pledge,
I pray You, O power benign!
The third day has returned;
arise, my buried One;
it is not becoming that Your limbs
should lie in the lowly sepulcher,
nor that worthless stones should press
that which is the ransom of the world.

It is unworthy that a stone
should shut in with a confining rock,
and cover Him in whose fist
all things are enclosed.

Take away the linen clothes, I pray;
leave the napkins in the tomb:
You are sufficient for us,
and without You there is nothing.

Release the chained shades of the infernal prison,
and recall to the upper regions
whatever sinks to the lowest depths.

Give back Your face,
that the world may see the light;
give back the day
which flees from us at Your death.

But returning, O holy conqueror!
You altogether filled the heaven!
Tartarus lies depressed,
nor retains its rights.

The ruler of the lower regions,
insatiably opening his hollow jaws,
who has always been a spoiler,
becomes a prey to You.

You rescue an innumerable people
from the prison of death,
and they follow in freedom
to the place whither their leader approaches.

The fierce monster in alarm
vomits forth the multitude
whom he had swallowed up,
and the Lamb withdraws the sheep
from the jaw of the wolf.

Hence re-seeking the tomb
from the lower regions,
having resumed Your flesh,
as a warrior You carry back
ample trophies to the heavens.

Those whom chaos held in punishment
he has now restored;
and those whom death might seek,
a new life holds.

Oh, sacred King,
behold a great part of Your triumph shines forth,
when the sacred laver blesses pure souls!

A host, clad in white,
come forth from the bright waves,
and cleanse their old fault in a new stream.

The white garment also designates bright souls,
and the shepherd has enjoyments
from the snow-white flock.

The priest Felix is added
sharing in this reward,
who wishes to give
double talents to his Lord.

Drawing those who wander
in Gentile error to better things,
that a beast of prey
may not carry them away,
He guards the fold of God.

Those whom guilty Eve had before infected,
He now restores, fed with abundant milk
at the bosom of the Church.

By cultivating rustic hearts
with mild conversations,
a crop is produced from a briar
by the bounty of Felix.

The Saxon, a fierce nation,
living as it were
after the manner of wild beasts,
when you, O sacred One! Apply a remedy,
the beast of prey resembles the sheep.

About to remain with you
through an age with the return
of a hundred-fold you fill the barns
with the produce of an abundant harvest.

May this people, free from stain,
be strengthened in your arms,
and may you bear to the stars
a pure pledge to God.

May one crown be bestowed on you
from on high gained from yourself,
may another flourish gained from your people.
On Easter, by Saint Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (ca.530–ca.600/609-10) He was a bishop, wrote many poems and histories, and his feastday is December 14th.

Holy Saturday

Christ in the Tomb, based on a image from the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Starkenburg, Missouri, USA

Christ in the Tomb. Image based on a sculpture found at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Starkenburg, Missouri.

“Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness, and in the shadow of death.”

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

GOOD FRIDAY commemorates the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here are some of my photos of church art that depicts the Passion.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Louisiana, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of the agony in the garden

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, at Saint Joseph Church, in Louisiana, Missouri. Photo taken in February 2011.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Freeburg, Illinois, USA - stained glass window of the Agony in the Garden

Saint Joseph Church, in Freeburg, Illinois. June 2009.

Christ the King Chapel, Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, in Belleville, Illinois, USA - First Sorrowful Mystery, The Agony in the Garden

In Christ the King Chapel, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, in Belleville, Illinois. June 2008.

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Maplewood, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of the Agony in the Garden

Immaculate Conception Church, in Maplewood. May 2010.

Saint Anthony of Padua Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Man of Sorrows

The Man of Sorrows. A statue of Christ after being scourged and crowned with thorns. At Saint Anthony of Padua Church, in Saint Louis. February, 2007.

Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Starkenberg, Missouri, USA - mosaic of Mary.jpg

Mosaic of Jesus’ mother Mary, the woman of sorrows. On an outdoor altar at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Starkenburg. May 2007.

Shrine of the Sacred Heart at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - crown of thorns and nails.jpg

Crown of thorns and nails, at the Sacred Heart shrine of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. September 2007.

Passionists Nuns Chapel, in Ellisville, Missouri, USA - Passionists emblem.jpg

Sign of the Passionists depicts the three nails used to affix Christ to the Cross. The text, “Jesu ΧΡΙ Passio” is Greek and Latin for “The Passion of Jesus Christ”. At the Passionist Nuns Chapel, in Ellisville. April 2007.

Museum of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Instruments of Christ's passion and death.jpg

The Arma Christi, or instruments of Christ's passion and death, at the museum of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, in Saint Louis. August 2007.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Arma Christi

Arma Christi, at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. April 2011.

Saint Bernard Roman Catholic Church, in Albers, Illinois, USA - First Station of the Cross - Jesus is Condemned to Death

Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death. Saint Bernard Church, in Albers, Illinois. November 2008.

Saint Ann's Roman Catholic Church, in Normandy, Missouri, USA - First Station of the Cross, Jesus is condemned

Saint Ann Church, in Normandy. April 2009.

White House Retreat, in Oakville, Missouri - station of the cross.jpg

At the White House Retreat, in Oakville. February 2007.

Saint Boniface Roman Catholic Church, in Germantown, Illinois, USA - second station of the cross, in cemetery

At the cemetery of Saint Boniface Church, in Germantown, Illinois. November 2008.

Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois, USA - station of the cross.jpg

Jesus falls while bearing the Cross. Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois. September 2007.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Carlyle, Illinois, USA - 2nd and 3rd Stations of the Cross

At Saint Mary’s Church, in Carlyle, Illinois. November 2008.

All Souls Roman Catholic Church, in Overland, Missouri, USA - station of the cross.jpg

Jesus meets His mother Mary. All Souls Church, in Overland. October 2007.

Holy Family Roman Catholic Log Church, in Cahokia, Illinois, USA - station of the cross.jpg

Veronica wipes Jesus’ face. At Holy Family Log Church, in Cahokia, Illinois. July 2006.

Tapestry of the Way of the Cross with Saint Veronica, at the Saint Louis Art Museum

Tapestry at the Saint Louis Art Museum. September 2010.

Saint John Nepomuk Chapel, in Saint Louis, Missouri - VIII station of the cross 2

Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. Saint John Nepomuk Church, in Saint Louis. April 2007.

Saint George Catholic Church, in Hermann, Missouri - station of the cross.jpg

Jesus being stripped of His garments. At Saint George Church, in Hermann. November 2006.

Saint Cecilia Roman Catholic Church, in Bartelso, Illinois, USA - 11th Station of the Cross, Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Jesus being nailed to the Cross, Saint Cecilia Church, in Bartelso, Illinois. November 2008.

Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, in Trenton, Illinois, USA - 11th Station of the Cross

At Saint Mary’s Church, in Trenton, Illinois. November 2009.

Saint George Roman Catholic Church, in New Baden, Illinois, USA - XIth station of the cross, Jesus is nailed to the cross

Saint George Church, in New Baden, Illinois. November 2008.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, University City, Missouri - rood 2.jpg

The Crucifixion of Our Lord, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in University City. September 2006.

Saint Louis Art Museum, in Saint Louis, Missouri - crucifix.jpg

At the Saint Louis Art Museum. June 2007.

Saint George Catholic Church, in Hermann, Missouri - processional crucifix.jpg

Processional crucifix, at Saint George Church, in Hermann. November 2006.

Saint Martin Roman Catholic Church, in Starkenberg, Missouri - crucifix.jpg

At Saint Martin Church, in Starkenburg. May 2007.

Saint John Nepomuk Chapel, in Saint Louis, Missouri - crucifix

Saint John Nepomuk Church, in Saint Louis. April 2007.

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Union, Missouri, USA - altar crucifix.jpg

Altar crucifix, at Immaculate Conception Church, in Union. July 2007.

Mary Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri, USA - crucifix.jpg

At Mary, Queen of Peace Church, in Webster Groves. October 2007.

Saint Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - crucifix

At Saint Anthony of Padua, in Saint Louis. May 2008.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - crucifix

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. May 2008.

Museum of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - crucifix.jpg

At the museum of the Basilica of Saint Louis, King. August, 2007.

Sainte Genevieve Roman Catholic Church, in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, USA - station of the cross

Ste. Genevieve Church, in Sainte Genevieve. December 2007.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - crucifx.jpg

At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. September 2007.

Saint James Roman Catholic Church, in Catawissa, Missouri, USA - crucifix.jpg

At Saint James Church, in Catawissa. October 2007.

Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church, in Apple Creek, Missouri, USA - Station of the Cross

Jesus is taken down from the Cross. Saint Joseph Church, Apple Creek. December 2007.

Saint Louis University Art Museum, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions - station of the cross.jpg

From the collection of the Western Jesuit Missions, at the Saint Louis University Art Museum. December 2006.

Our Lady of Sorrows church, Saint Louis, Missouri - altar of Mary

Mary holding Christ after being taken down from the cross. Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Saint Louis. October 2006.

Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - statue

Our Lady of Sorrows Church. June 2008.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Pietà, decorated for Christmas

At the Cathedral Basilica. January 2008.

Old Saint Ferdinand's Shrine, in Florissant, Missouri - Pietà.jpg

At Old Saint Ferdinand's Shrine, in Florissant. December 2006. Magna velut mare contritio mea! This derives from the Lamentations of Jeremiah 2:13 — “To what shall I compare you? Or to what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? To what shall I equal you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Sion? For great as the sea is your destruction: who shall heal you?

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, in Maplewood, Missouri, USA - Pietà

Immaculate Conception Church, in Maplewood. May 2010.

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri ("Rock") Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - pieta

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri church, in Saint Louis. April 2011.

Saint Raphael Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri - station of the cross.jpg

Jesus being placed in the tomb, at Saint Raphael Church, in Saint Louis. November 2006.

Saint Mary's Catholic Church, in Alton, Illinois - XIVth Station of the Cross.jpg

Saint Mary’s Church, in Alton, Illinois. January 2007.

Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church, in Grafton, Illinois, USA - XIVth Station of the Cross, Jesus is laden in the Sepulchre

Saint Patrick Church, in Grafton, Illinois. October 2010.

Please note that many of these photographs depicting the Passion of Our Lord were taken in the year 2007. My girlfriend Lisa died unexpectedly after a long illness during Holy Week of that year. I joined my suffering to that of Christ.