Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feast of Saint John the Apostle

Pere Marquette Gallery of the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist

Stained glass window of Saint John the Apostle, at Saint Louis University.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Christmas manger

Taken last night before the start of midnight Mass at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis.

A video taken at that time by Nicole Marchant Merlo, featuring Christmas carols sung by the choir of the Oratory.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Newsletter from the Oratory



2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
December 21, 2012


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


The Canons of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory would like all of you to join them at an Advent Retreat this Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 at 8:00am. The morning will begin with Holy Mass at 8:00am, followed by breakfast in the church hall around 8:45am. There will be two conferences offered by the priests of the Oratory, and Solemn Benediction with Rosary. The conference is FREE, and open to you. We are asking for donations to cover the cost of the breakfast.
Please see the schedule, and topics of each of the two conferences.
8:00am – Low Mass
8:45am – Breakfast
9:20am – Our King is Coming, Prophets Preparing His Path, by Canon Ueda
10:05am – Break
10:15am – Preparing for Our Lord’s Coming, Past, Present, and Future, Canon Avis
11:10am – Benediction, and Rosary

As we quickly approach the holy days of Christmas we kindly welcome you and your dear families to come and take part in the Masses and devotions offered here at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory.
Please see the schedule below.

Monday, December 24th – Vigil of ChristmasConfessions: 11:00pm-11:45pm
Christmas Carols: 11:30pm
Solemn Midnight Mass: 12:00am w/orchestra, and veneration of the holy relic of the Crib of Christ after Mass.
Mass Setting: Missa Solemnis of Our Lady by Max Filke
Motets: Lux Arumque *Offertory - Pueri Concinite Herbeck *Comunion

Tuesday, December 25th – Nativity of Our Lord Jesus ChristHoly Day of Obligation
Confessions: 7:30 & 9:30am-11:30am
8:00am Mass at Dawn
10:00am High Mass with Gregorian propers

Wednesday, December 26th – St. Stephen, Deacon & ProtomartyrConfessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 11:45am
12:15pm Low Mass

Thursday, December 27th – St. John, Apostle & EvangelistConfessions: 7:30am
8:00 Low Mass
Confessions: 6:00pm
6:30pm Adoration

Friday, December 28th – Holy InnocentsConfessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass

Saturday, December 29th – Fifth Day in the Octave of ChristmasConfessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass

Sunday, December 30th – Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
Confessions: 7:30am-11:00am
8:00am Low Mass
10:00am High Mass

Monday, December 31th – Christmas OctaveConfessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 4:30pm
Solemn Te Deum 5:00pm
All the faithful who assist at the signing of the Te Deum on this day in thanksgiving for the past year may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditons.

Tuesday, January 1st – Octave Day of Christmas & Circumcision of Our Lord
Holy Day of ObligationConfessions: 7:30am
8:00am Low Mass
Confessions: 9:30am
10:00 "Veni Creator" followed by High Mass
All the faithful who assist at the singing of the Veni Creator on this day may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual condtions. Confessions: 6:00pm
6:30pm Low Mass

The Canons, Oblate, and Candidates of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the faithful of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory cordially invite you to celebrate the sacred season of Christmas with us. 
On behave of the rector, I thank you for your faithful prayers and devoted support of the Oratory. With much graditude we remember you and your loved ones at the altar of Our Lord.
Merry Christmas in Christ the Infant King,

Canon William E. Avis
Pro-Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

“The true meaning of Christmas”

...if you do not like what is sentimental and ceremonial, do not celebrate Christmas at all. — G.K. Chesterton
The commercial and tangential aspects of Christmas — those aspects which have nothing to do with the Incarnation of God in Bethlehem — are as criticized in our culture as they are celebrated, as we see in the well known television program A Charlie Brown Christmas, based on the characters from Charles Schultz's Peanuts comic strip, from 1965:

The animation and audio quality are rather poor, and the creative decision to use children for the voices (several of whom were too young to read the script) gives this a rather choppy quality. CBS executives thought that the Jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi was unsuitable for a children's program. The executives believed that the show would be a flop; rather, it turned out to be one of the most successful television programs of all time.

The show starts with the protagonist, Charlie Brown, being depressed over the commercialism of Christmas, and even his dog Snoopy falls into this, decorating his doghouse in order to win a contest.  Brown asks “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” and he is answered by his friend Linus:
‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’

...That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
The studio executives thought that quoting sacred scripture was unsuited for television, but Schultz fought to keep it in. As far as I can remember, this is one of the few popular mainstream Christmas programs that actually mentions Christ.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Father Christmas with Union Jack on Main Street Saint Charles, Missouri, USA

Father Christmas carrying the Union Jack, on Main Street, Saint Charles, Missouri.
Mark S Abeln on wing dam in Missouri River at Saint Charles, Missouri, USA

Yours truly, on the Missouri River at Saint Charles. Thanks to low water, I was able to walk out to the end of one of the wing dams on the river, which are used to narrow and deepen the channel for barge traffic. Photo taken by Tina aka Snup.

I managed to injure my knee only slightly while scrambling down the steep riverbank to pose for this photo. You can encourage me to suffer more dangers, thereby cultivating the cardinal virtue of courage, by purchasing prints at!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Lamentation

Statue in cemetery - heavily processed

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent...
Disaster follows hard on disaster,
the whole land is laid waste...
I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
and to the heavens, and they had no light....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Joseph Pearce at the Priory

Joseph Pearce at Priory

Joseph Pearce, writer-in-residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, speaking at the Priory in Creve Coeur, Missouri. He spoke about the life of the Modernist novelist Evelyn Waugh, his conversion to Catholicism, and Waugh’s arguments for the retention of the old Latin liturgy in the church. Pearce has written numerous literary biographies of writers, including Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton.

The Saint Louis Priory School is a college-prep school run by the Benedictines of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Feast of Saint Nicholas

Russian Icon, at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Saint Nicholas 5

Russian icon of Saint Nicholas, at Saint Louis University.

The stories about Santa Claus are insignificant compared to the legends of his namesake, Saint Nicholas the Bishop of Myra, whose veneration as a saint throughout history is second only to the Blessed Virgin.

Santa Claus gives toys to good little girls and boys, but Saint Nicholas saved little children from lives of prostitution — and we are not told if they were good or bad, if that mattered. Saint Nicholas is a patron saint of children, but he is also the patron of thieves, murderers, pirates, and prostitutes, for even the very wicked are in need heavenly help.

The Christian life is serious business indeed, but this means that festivity is also important. The commercialization and secularization of the seasons of Advent and Christmas are well-known, but the answer is not to turn these popular observances into something personal and private. The Puritans forbade the celebration of Christmas, because they thought its celebration turned people away from Christ: but it was the Puritans who eventually turned away from Christ, not the celebrants.

Mulled wine is a traditional beverage for celebrating Saint Nicholas' Day: red wine, cloves, cinnamon, and perhaps lemon, orange. mace, apple cider, nutmeg, raisins, and sugar (or any combination of the above) are simmered together for several minutes, and the beverage is consumed while warm. The Saint Nicholas Center website has many other popular customs for celebrating the feast.

Monday, December 03, 2012

An Elephant Fountain

Saint Louis Zoo, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - fountain with sculpture of elephant, decorated for Christmas

A charming elephant sculpture, in a fountain, decorated for Advent, at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Feast of Saint Francis Xavier

TODAY IS the feastday of Saint Francis Xavier, of the Society of Jesus, who is called the greatest missionary since the Apostles, doing work in India, Indonesia, and Japan.

Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois, USA - Saint Francis Xavier.jpg

Statue, at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, in Joliet, Illinois. Photo taken in 2007. He is a patron saint of the city of Joliet.

Autochromed stained glass window of Saint Francis Xavier, at the White House Retreat, in Oakville, Missouri, USA

Stained glass window, at the White House Retreat, in Oakville, Missouri. Photo taken in 2011.

Saint Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - exterior front

Saint Francis Xavier Church, on the campus of Saint Louis University, photo from 2009.