Monday, August 27, 2012

“The Glory of Catholic Architecture”

AN UPCOMING CONFERENCE, called The Glory of Catholic Architecture, is to be held by the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois, on Thursday and Friday, October 25th and 26th, 2012. According to the organizers, this will be:
A conference filled with theological possibilities and practical solutions for churchbuilding. Perfect for priests, church building committees, architects, artists, bible study groups, parish liturgy committees, pastoral councils, offices of worship, liturgy directors and all who love Catholic art, beauty and theology...

Join leading theologians, architects and artists for a gather of today's leaders in the renewal of church architecture.
For more information and registration:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Feast of Saint Louis

Apotheosis of Saint Louis - face

Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France, as depicted by the sculpture, The Apotheosis of Saint Louis, located in front of the art museum in Forest Park.  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
St. Louis led an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother's words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” His biographers have told us of the long hours he spent in prayer, fasting, and penance, without the knowledge of his subjects. The French king was a great lover of justice. French fancy still pictures him delivering judgments under the oak of Vincennes. It was during his reign that the “court of the king” (curia regis) was organized into a regular court of justice, having competent experts, and judicial commissions acting at regular periods. These commissions were called parlements and the history of the “Dit d'Amiens” proves that entire Christendom willingly looked upon him as an international judiciary...

He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor....
This photo decorates the back cover of the book, Catholic St. Louis: A Pictorial History.

Decorative Stonework at the Artists' Guild

Saint Louis Artists Guild, in Clayton, Missouri, USA - fireplace mantle detail - carved stone

This decorative stone carving is a detail of a fireplace mantel, at the Saint Louis Artists' Guild, located in Oak Knoll Park, in Clayton, Missouri. The Guild's building was once a private residence, built in the 1920s.

Objects shown here include flowers, grapes, shells, ribbons and pomegranates. Here they are undoubtedly used as symbols of plenty, festivity, and fecundity. These kinds of designs were found in antiquity, originally in the eastern Mediterranean region, and this symbolism is found in the Song of Songs in the Old Testament.  The display of the fruits of the harvest, such as we see here, were associated with the ritual sacrifice of the first-fruits to God, and similar designs can be found on ancient coins from Judea.

Pomegranates decorated the vestments of the High Priest and column capitals of the Temple, and are used as decorations on the scrolls of the Torah to this day. Due to the large number of seeds contained within, they symbolize the 613 Commandments in the Torah, as well as the multitudes of people in the Church. Pomegranates also have use in popular piety especially in the Christian East; and since the symbol of this fruit has spiritual meaning — representing the Resurrection — we also find it in Western liturgical art. The 3rd century floor mosaic, from Hinton Saint Mary in Dorset, depicts these fruits with Christ. A photograph of another mantle-piece at the Artist's Guild, showing pomegranates more clearly, can be found here.

Until fairly recently, people of all classes and conditions would frequently open their homes to visitors: friends, family, and even to strangers who are passing through. This kind of hospitality was married to the festive decor that is found in older homes and churches but which is rarely found today. As our ancient liturgical traditions and older popular customs remind us, this festivity is also a sacrificial offering.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
August 23, 2012


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

Summer at the Oratory 2012 held last Sunday was a tremendous success! After months of hard work by many members of the Oratory community, and with the generous contributions from many local businesses, this community-building and fundraising event enabled us to raise at least $9,500 for the restoration work of St. Francis de Sales! Deo gratias! King Saint Louis, patron of our beloved city, pray for us! Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us!
We are grateful to an Institute seminarian, Abbé Matthew Walter, assigned to St. Francis de Sales this summer, for this eye-witness account of the Summer at the Oratory event this year: 
We easily forget that the city of Saint Louis is named after a real Catholic Saint, the great 13th century King of France, Louis IX. To honor the feast-day of our beloved city’s patron, which falls on the 25th of August, Saint Francis de Sales Oratory celebrated its 5th Annual Summer at the Oratory this past Sunday (External Solemnity) in true Catholic style.

True Catholic joy, which comes ultimately from the divine gift of the Sacred Liturgy, brings us together as a family of grace and inspires us to share our happy moments with each other. Blessed by Divine Providence with beautiful weather, the day began with High Mass in honor of St. Louis, featuring the Messe Royale of Henri Dumont, sung by the men’s schola cantorum of the Oratory.

In his sermon Canon Matthew Talarico explained that one of the spiritual tools to practice the virtue of Christian perseverance is spiritual joy. To fight the inevitable discouragement of life, joy allows us to keep in mind that our true home is heaven, and in this spirit the festivities began immediately after Holy Mass. As the faithful filed into the court yard of the Oratory filled with booths of games and food, and dotted with pots of flowers donated by a local florist, they were surprised to hear the bells of the church peal once again after decades of silence.

After enjoying a lunch of barbeque graciously provided by the Knights of Columbus, those attending had their choice of activities; the silent auction, horseback rides, a country market, all while a live jazz band played. Of course a highlight for the children (not to mention the adults) was the dunking booth, featuring the clergy of the Oratory. As Abbé Alex Barga climbed up to get in, a long line of altars boys formed, ready to dunk their much appreciated sacristan. They certainly practiced perseverance in their attempts to get him wet!

As evening came, Summer at the Oratory closed with a prayer, as well as a little surprise for those who stayed until the end--an old fashioned fight-song written specially for the occasion. If the lyrics made everyone laugh, they nonetheless expressed a constant theme for those who attend Mass at St. Francis de Sales, whether for several years or simply some months-- the Oratory is our spiritual home, and a place that brings much joy to our hearts and lives.

We offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our many volunteers and to all who so generously helped to give us this day of fun and encouragement. Thank you for making Saint Francis de Sales Oratory a spiritual home for so many, and may you always persevere on your road to heaven!
     --Abbé Matthew Walter, seminarian
For more photos please visit the TraditionForTomorrow Blog.

Saint Philip Neri, seminary chapel
From Monday, August 27, to Friday, August 31, the priests of the Institute will gather at the Mother-house in Gricigliano, Italy, for the annual general chapter meeting. Not only is this week of conferences and meetings with our Founder and Prior General, Monsignor Gilles Wach, an opportunity to discuss various affairs concerning the Institute's growing apostolic work, but it also provides an opportunity for the priests of the Institute, who work in twelve countries throughout the world, to be able to come together in a spirit of fraternal charity which fosters a strong unity of mind and purpose. During this time of prayer and retreat for the priests of the Institute, we ask for your generous prayers, especially asking Our Lady the Immaculate Conception for her maternal guidance and protection, for the entire Institute, for the superiors, and for safe travels of all canons.

In the absence of the Canons, we are very blessed that priest friends will offer the daily Masses during this week. Father Dave Ireland, an affiliate member of our Institute, will also be assisting over Labor Day weekend. Canon Talarico will return for the Sunday Masses on September 2.

Thank you for your prayers during this very important week for the Institute!

Canon Ueda celebrates Holy Mass

The third annual Institute Children’s Choir Camp took place from August 5-10 this year, once again in the beautiful rolling hills of northern Kentucky. We are deeply grateful to all the generous benefactors who contributed more than $4,000 to offset the outstanding balance not met by tuitions, so that the camp would be affordable for the choristers. As a result, thirty-six children from five states were able to participate in this unique opportunity to develop their music skills, deepen their faith, and gain an appreciation for the role of sacred music in the service of the liturgy – all in a wonderfully Catholic atmosphere of learning and friendship. We also like to thank Mr. Nick Botkins, music director at St. Francis de Sales, this year’s faculty members, Mr. Kevin Allen, Ms. Yolanda Borghoff, Mr. Joseph Reidy, Abbé Matthew Walter, and the chaperons and camp counselors who made this year’s camp a fruitful and memorable experience for all.

Presented here is an excerpt from the article “2012 Children’s Choir Camp” on the Institute’s website. We invite you to read the entire article and view the many photographs of this year’s camp.
In a world where beauty and genuine art are increasingly uncommon, the five-day Choir Camp offered a unique occasion for the children to develop their musical gifts for the glory of God and the restoration of authentic Catholic culture.
The camp culminating with a Missa Cantata on the final day, the children passed much of their time in practicing for the Mass, singing as well as preparing a small orchestra. Learning classical vocal technique throughout the week, the children were able to sing the little known Messe Brève of Léo Delibes, in addition to the Epistle Sonata No. 15 of Mozart. A highlight was the Sanctus and Benedictus of the Missa de Sanctae Ursulae for organ, strings and treble choir, premiered at the Mass and specifically written for this year's camp by Chicago composer Kevin Allen.

Because the camp was also aimed at the overall musicianship of the students, each day included classes in music theory, ear skills, composition, Latin and Gregorian chant. An intense musical environment, combined with enthusiasm and eagerness from the children, gave not only a splendid result artistically, but inspired these young Catholics with an ever greater love for the beauty of Sacred Music.
… The quality of the children's final performance left no doubt as to the hard work spent, and to reward their efforts the faculty performed a small operetta for the children on Thursday evening. … Laughing at the amusing antics of their teachers, the children learned that classical music can be fun and enjoyable. We often forget that a true Catholic culture entails not only the "serious" parts of our life, but also its lighter aspects. A life lived for God is full of joy, and even the humorous moments can and should be beautiful in their own way.
While there may be many music camps for children in the United States during the summer, this one is outstanding in its synthesis of discipline and lightheartedness, of excellence and recreation, of art and faith. The great Dom Mocquereau said of Gregorian chant, "For chant to be prayer it must first be art." This year's music camp witnesses to the beauty of art in the service of God, and the joy that comes naturally when undertaken with this timeless principle in mind.

photo: Rome of the West
Due to various factors, the bells of St. Francis de Sales church have been silent for a very long time. To modernize and repair these bells so that they will toll regularly again is one of the projects we have planned for the continued restoration of this magnificent church.

Thus, in the spirit of joyful celebration of the city’s patron, King Saint Louis, and in the spirit of a hopeful future, these bells were manually rung to commence the Summer at the Oratory event. Just as the festivities were about to begin, and much to the attendees’ delightful surprise, the melodious voice of bells filled the air of Fox Park neighborhood on this lovely Sunday morning.

Please view here. (Video courtesy Mrs. Unseth) 

Yours faithfully, in Christ the King,
Canon Matthew Talarico
Substitute Provincial, US

St. Francis de Sales Oratory

A Night Scene in Forest Park

Forest Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Government Hill at night with fountain and Worlds Fair Pavilion At Forest Park, in Saint Louis.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Feast of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor

TODAY, IN BOTH the old and new liturgical calendars, is the feast of Saint Bernard (1090-August 20, 1153), Abbot of the monastery of Clairvaux, and Doctor of the Church. Some of his writings, in English translation, may be found here. From his letters:
To LOUIS, the glorious King of France, Stephen, Abbot of Cîteaux, and the whole assembly of the abbots and brethren of Cîteaux, wish health, prosperity, and peace in Christ Jesus.

The King of heaven and earth has given you a kingdom on earth, and will bestow upon you one in heaven if you study to govern with justice and wisdom that which you have received. This is what we wish for you, and pray for on your behalf, that you may reign here faithfully, and there in happiness. But why do you of late put so many obstacles in the way of our prayers for you, which, if you recollect, you formerly with such humility requested? With what confidence can we now presume to lift up our hands for you to the Spouse of the Church, while you so inconsiderately, and without the slightest cause (as we think), afflict the Church? Grave indeed is the complaint she lays against you before her Spouse and Lord, that she finds you an opposer whom she accepted as a protector. Have you reflected whom you are thus attacking? Not really the Bishop of Paris, but the Lord of Paradise, a terrible God who cuts off the spirit of Princes (Ps. lxx. 12), and who has said to Bishops, He who despiseth you despiseth me (S. Luke x. 16).

That is what we have to say to you. Perhaps we have to say it with boldness, but at the same time in love; and for your sake we pray you heartily, in the name of the friendship with which you have honoured us, and of the brotherhood with which you deigned to associate yourself, but which you have now so grievously wounded, quickly to desist from so great a wrong; otherwise, if you do not deign to listen to us, nor take any account of us whom you called brethren, who are your friends, and who pray daily for you and your children and realm, we are forced to say to you that, humble as we are, there is nothing which we are not prepared to do within the limits of our weakness for the Church of God, and for her minister, the venerable Bishop of Paris, our father and our friend. He implores the help of poor religious against you, and begs us by the right of brotherhood to write in his favour to the Lord Pope. But we judge that we ought first to commence by this letter to your royal Excellence, especially as the same Bishop pledges himself by the hand of all our Congregation to give every satisfaction provided that his goods, which have been unjustly taken away from him, be restored, which it seems to us justice itself requires; in the meantime, we put off the sending of his petition. And if God inspires you to lend an ear to our prayers, to follow our counsels, and to restore peace with your Bishop, or rather with God which we earnestly desire, we are prepared to come to you wherever you shall pleased to fix for the sake of arranging this affair; but if it be otherwise, we shall be obliged to listen to the voice of our friend, and to render obedience to the priest of God. Farewell.
letter to King Louis VI, “le Gros,”, King of France

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - spire

The tower of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Saint Ann Roman Catholic Church, in Clover Bottom, Missouri, USA

Saint Ann Church, in Clover Bottom, Missouri, after Holy Mass last night.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saint Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church, in Saint Louis. Photo taken at dusk from Francis Park.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feast of the Assumption

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri - Our Lady's Chapel - wall mosaic 2.jpg

Mosaic of the Assumption of Mary at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Assumpta est Maria in cælum : gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Two Million Dollar Book

WHEN I HEAR that a particular book project has a budget of $30,000, I think “that’s expensive,” but this is simply because I don’t have the means to come up with that amount myself. However, the most expensive book project ever undertaken was A Syntopicon: An Index to The Great Ideas, published as volumes two and three of the series Great Books of the Western World, which had cost over $2,000,000 to compile by the time it was published by Britannica in 1952. According to Wikipedia:
Compiled by Mortimer Adler, an American philosopher, under the guidance of Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, the volumes were billed as a collection of the 102 great ideas of the western canon. The term “syntopicon” was coined specifically for this undertaking, meaning “a collection of topics.” The volumes catalogued what Adler and his team deemed to be the fundamental ideas contained in the works of the Great Books of the Western World, which stretched chronologically from Homer to Freud. The Syntopicon lists, under each idea, where every occurrence of the concept can be located in the collection’s famous works…

…Adler undertook a project that would consume over a decade of his life: identifying and indexing the western world’s Great Ideas. In the end, the Syntopicon would require over 400,000 man-hours of reading and cost over two million dollars. Britannica publisher Senator William Benton joked at the Great Books presentation dinner that “the Syntopicon is said to be the most expensive two volumes editorially in all publishing history. How Hutchins and Adler achieved that unique distinction, the publisher is still trying to figure out…”
The first volumes were given to U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Queen Elizabeth II.  It did not sell well.

Adler himself was famed as being one of the leading Catholic apologists of his age, having honed his skills by his study of the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. This is remarkable because he was a non-observant Jew, calling himself a modern pagan, and only was brought into the Church at the age of 97. The reason for his reticence, he claimed, was due to moral and not theological problems, possibly due to his favoring of the philosophers of classical liberalism.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Video of 1964 Mass at the Benedictine Monastery in Saint Louis

This hour-long video, produced by KMOX-TV and dating from 1964, shows the Benedictine monastery, located in Saint Louis County, Missouri. The bulk of the video shows a Solemn High Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated in the monastery’s distinctive circular church. Included are brief histories of Saint Louis, of the Benedictine Order, and of the monastery along with its church building and school. The Mass itself includes a running commentary on the rites by a Benedictine.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Photos of Saint Vincent de Paul Church, in Perryville, Missouri

HERE ARE PHOTOS of Saint Vincent de Paul Church, in Perryville, Missouri. The church is located in Perry County, about 75 road miles south of downtown St. Louis, and is a part of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

Due to poor timing on my part, I failed to take photographs within the nave of the church.

Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Perryville, Missouri, USA - exterior

The parish dates from 1817, but the current church building appears be from the early 1960s, with more recent additions. Like many parishes in this region, this church is staffed by members of the Congregation of the Mission.

Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Perryville, Missouri, USA - view down hallway with statues

Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Perryville, Missouri, USA - garden

Memorial garden with fountain.

Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, in Perryville, Missouri, USA - statue of the Holy Family

Statue of the Holy Family in the garden.

1000 Rosati Court
Perryville, Missouri 63775

Sunday, August 05, 2012

"graveyard of grand and beautiful buildings"

A REPORTER VISITS the ruined Cathedral of Mogadishu, Somalia; see the article Somalia's graveyard of grand and beautiful buildings, on the BBC website. From the article:
"...we were inside the remains of what had once been one of the grandest Catholic cathedrals in the whole of Africa, built by Italian colonialists in the 1920s. Its last bishop, Salvatore Colombo, was murdered there in 1989 as he was giving mass.

"I felt very tiny inside that building. Perhaps because the roof has been completely blown off, the walls of the cathedral seemed to stretch right up to the blue sky above.

"Although we were in the carcass of a building, enough remained of the elegant stone arches and the shadows of crosses, for us to know that we were in a sacred place..."
Mogadishu was devastated by civil war, but the city is now being rebuilt.


One of my most exciting memories from my college years was paying a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home of the unmanned space exploration program for the United States. There I watched a live feed of images of the Saturn system photographed during the flyby of Voyager 1 spacecraft. Exciting times! The spontaneous cheers which arose from the crowd — students and scientists alike —  expressed a great joy.

The animation of the landing of the Mars rover "Curiosity,"seen above, is quite dramatic and exciting in itself, and I'm sure that most of us hope that it goes well.

There are some who think that the space program is expensive and wasteful, spending money that is better spent elsewhere, such as on social services — this despite the fact that many Ph.D.s would be homeless were it not for the space program. While the space program often has been wasteful, there have also been crowning moments of awe, like the Apollo 11 moon landing. But what the critics may not realize is that an even greater virtue than liberality is the virtue of magnificence, which exhibits great courage and great honor, found in the best achievements of the space program. I wrote more about magnificence and the space program here.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
August 02, 2012


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


Please note that the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, is a Holy Day of Obligation. The Mass times are: 8:00 AM (Low Mass), 12:15 PM (Mass with organ), and 6:30 PM (Solemn High Mass.)

By the Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus, promulgated on November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory"
In Paragraph 40, the Holy Father summarized: 
“Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.”


Summer at the Oratory 2011

Come one and all - it is less than three weeks away now! Held every year to coincide with the feast of the patron saint of our city and archdiocese, King Saint Louis IX, “Summer at the Oratory” is the Oratory’s primary summer community event. Just as the Oratory’s community has grown, so has “Summer at the Oratory” expanded in scope and richness year by year.

Following the External Solemnity of the Feast of King St. Louis, on Sunday, August 19, this day of festivity will be great fun for the whole family, for the Fox Park Neighborhood, and for the entire Oratory community.

This year we are introducing a great Raffle. Since the Spring, a team of volunteers has been organizing donations from many businesses and making raffle tickets available to all faithful. (They may be purchased after both Sunday Masses in the Church Hall or by calling the office.)

A wide array of excellent prizes is waiting to be claimed; the prizes include a vacation package, gift certificates, winery & brewery tours, and $$$, just to name a few. Games and rides, notably “Pig Races,” the dunking booth and horse rides will be there. The live jazz music lined up for this year are: The Carolbeth True Trio from 1-4 PM, and The Steve Schenkel Trio, featuring vocalist Deborah Sharn, for the late afternoon, from 5-7 PM. Then there are the time-tested popular standbys: Silent Auction, Country Market, attendance prizes, and tremendous food and drinks offered by our best cooking Knights – superb barbecues and Schlafly beer – all waiting to be enjoyed by you and your family and friends!

As we get closer to the date, Mrs. Maryrose Schmidt is organizing volunteers whose willing hands are crucial to the success of this community event. Please consider donating ½ hour or more of your time to make this the best “Summer at the Oratory” ever! Maryrose Schmidt will be in the basement after both Masses on the next two Sundays with sign up sheets or contact her at 314-558-4867


Old Saint Ferdinand Shrine

On Saturday, July 14, approximately 30 young adults met for a day of recollection and fellowship, starting with the 8:00 AM Holy Mass at St. Francis de Sales. A convivial breakfast in the newly renovated Convent dining room followed. Together the group embarked on a tour of St. Ferdinand Shrine in Florissant, MO, and prayed the Rosary. At 12:00 noon, a spiritual conference was given to the group by Canon Matthew Talarico. The conference featured Pope Benedict XVI’s recent letter on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, emphasizing social communications and putting them to good use for the glory of God. A picnic lunch and outdoor games completed a fantastic day of Sursum Corda – literally “hearts lifted.”


Begun in 2011, Sursum Corda is the Institute’s nation-wide initiative to foster the spiritual lives of young adults ages 18-35. The first retreat last summer was regarded by all participants as a spiritually and culturally enriching event. In addition to the interim activities at the local level, a second national retreat will take place this month, from Friday, August 10 to Monday, August 13. To see last year’s Sursum Corda Retreat, please visit here.


St. Francis de Sales Oratory has been blessed with meeting and supporting many candidates for the Seminary and many seminarians who come to the Oratory to assist the Canons in their work. Abbé Matthew Weaver, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, is assisting at the Oratory for a few weeks before returning to Gricigliano for the next academic year at the Seminary. On Sunday, July 22, Abbé Weaver, having just received his cassock and clerical tonsure earlier in the month, gave a delightful presentation to the faithful.


By getting to know the seminarians and seeing the seminary through their eyes, we have gained a new appreciation for the priestly formation at the Institute’s Seminary. Our resolve to support them with our prayers has been strengthened, and so has theirs to pray for all the faithful!


Iowa street

During last winter’s snow removal operations, part of the cap stone on top of the long stone wall that runs along Iowa Street was damaged. Closer inspection of the entire wall showed that, although structurally sound, it was in need of repairs to keep it from soon becoming a major problem. Several people looked at it and offered suggestions and costs for its repair. The final plan that was contracted for consists of: rebuilding the corner post, which did have structural issues; rebuilding and resetting the capstone along the top; grinding out old mortar and tuck-pointing the major portions of the full face of the wall that are in most need; parging (covering using concrete or a masonry-based mortar) the backside of the wall along the slope of the hill; and doing some paving to prevent water from getting behind the wall from the top. This work should ensure extending this wall’s serviceable life well into the future, thereby saving the need for an extremely expensive rebuild. These repairs have now begun with a target for completion by the time we celebrate Summer at the Oratory.

Canon Talarico with Abbe Weaver

Had they been informed, ESPN would not have missed the sport event that took place on Sunday, July 15: the first ever Oratory Home Run Derby. Similar to the derby in the Major Leagues, each player got ten “outs” per round, and the players who hit home runs in each round advance to the next. There were three rounds in all.


By no means was this an easy derby. From 12:30 noon to 3 PM, the St. Louis summer heat made it a contest of endurance as well as skill for the 25-30 players who tried their hand, and the pitchers and catchers who offered their talents. Cheered on by 75 or so spectators standing in the shade, the vigorous athletic contest took its full course. In the end, those wearing the cassock proved to be quite the hitters to beat. For this first ever Oratory derby, the first-place trophy went to Abbe Matthew Weaver, the visiting seminarian. May his studies at the seminary be as stellar as his performance on the baseball field!

Congratulations to all who participated; it was a great afternoon of good cheers and wholesome recreation for all - the young and old, girls and boys, women and men - who came. Stay tuned for the next derby!

We are pleased to bring to you a message from Canon Wiener:

“From Germany I send you all my heartfelt greetings. I am very grateful for your prayers for me and for God's infinite goodness and mercy. Right now I have completed half of the total six treatments and so far the doctors are very satisfied with the results. I will continue to pray for you and your families and for the entire Oratory in St. Louis. Thank you especially for the many written greetings I have received and which I appreciate very much. May God bless you all! – Canon Michael K. Wiener, Bayerisch Gmain, Germany”

You are welcome to write a card or a letter to Canon at the postal address below:

Canon Michael Wiener
Institut Christus Konig
Feuerwehrheimstrasse, 40
D-83457 Bayerisch Gmain

Yours faithfully, in Christ the King,
Canon Matthew Talarico
Substitute Provincial, US

Thursday, August 02, 2012

On the Character of Saint Francis

Benedictine Monastery, in Creve Coeur, Missouri, USA - statue of Saint Francis of Assisi

“My God and my All.”
FOR A LONG TIME, I’ve been reading a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi — typically only a paragraph or two before falling asleep — and I finished the book last night. As today happens to be the day of the famed Portiuncula privilege, gained by Saint Francis, I thought I would post this from the biography:
Our blessed Father was agreeable to all. Joy, serenity, kindness, and modesty, were perceptible in his countenance. He was naturally mild and affable, compassionate, liberal, prudent, discreet, gave sound advice, was faithful to his word, and full of courage; he was easy in his manners, accommodating himself to all sorts of tempers; he was all to all, he was a saint among the saintly, and among sinners, as if he was one of them; his conversation was graceful, and his manner insinuating; clear in his reasoning, energetic and compliant in matters of business; and, finally, simple in his actions and words.
Such a character, worthy of imitation! The book continues, explaining the nature of Francis’ simplicity:
We must receive in their true sense what was understood in saying that “he was simple in his actions and words.” The term simplicity has two significations in English.—Firstly it is used to describe a person of little mind, narrow-minded, dull, not well informed, weak and credulous; it is also used to express candor, ingenuousness, and uprightness; to describe a person who is natural, without artfulness. It is in this sense that it is said that the greatest geniuses are the most simple; enemies of subtlety and trick, which are only appropriate to narrow minds. The simplicity of the just, in Scriptural language, is true virtue, solid without drawback, purity of heart, uprightness of intention; in opposition to every sort of duplicity or disguise—everything that St. Paul calls “the prudence of the flesh; the wisdom of this world.” St. Gregory so explains it. This does not exclude prudence, but only malice and double dealing. Our Blessed Lord warns us “to be prudent as serpents, and simple as doves.” St. Paul says: “I would have you to be wise in good, and simple in evil.” Every Christian must be simple in faith, submitting himself purely and simply to the decisions of the Church, without any endeavor to elude them by crafty evasions, as some do in so scandalous a manner; simple in the intercourse of society, being frank and sincere, doing injury to no one; simple in devotion, going straight to God; following the way pointed out by the Gospel; not resembling those of whom the wise man says: “They go two ways, and have two hearts,” the one for God, and the other for the world.

Such was the simplicity of St. Francis. He was simple because he had no other intention in his mind, no other movement in his heart, than to be conformed to Jesus Christ. In order to imitate His poverty, His humility, His sufferings, all His virtues, he did many things far above the ordinary rules of human wisdom; and, as to his language, it was formed on that of the Gospel.

St. Francis was simple, but he had great qualities of mind and heart; and his simplicity was a perfection in him—not a defect. If it induced him to do things of which human prudence disapproves, it was because he was guided by Divine light; it was because he sought to be despised by the world, to render himself more conformable to Jesus Christ. Men of his age were not deceived by it; they discovered the principle which made him act and speak with such simplicity. His constant endeavor to humble himself, and draw on himself contempt, only gave them a greater esteem for his person, and they loaded him with honors. If our age deems itself wiser, what reason has it for not doing similar justice?