Thursday, February 13, 2014

Monastery in the Snow

Discalced Carmelite Monastery, in Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA

The Discalced Carmelite Monastery, in Saint Louis County, Missouri.
Valentine teddy bear

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
February 13, 2014


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


Canon Philippe Mora
Rector, St. Philip Neri Seminary

This coming Sunday we will celebrate Septuagesima. Below we quote Dom Prosper GuĂ©ranger who left us in his “The Liturgical Year” elucidating words explaining the mystery of the three weeks before Lent:
“The Season of Septuagesima comprises the three weeks immediately preceding Lent. It forms one of the principal divisions of the Liturgical Year, and is itself divided into three parts, each part corresponding to a week: the first is called Septuagesima; the second, Sexagesima; the third, Quinquagesima.

All three are named from their numerical reference to Lent, which, in the language of the Church, is called Quadragesima, - that is, Forty, - because the great Feast of Easter is prepared for by tile holy exercises of Forty Days. The words Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, tell us of the same great Solemnity as looming in the distance, and as being the great object towards which the Church would have us now begin to turn all our thoughts, and desires, and devotion.

Now, the Feast of Easter must be prepared for by a forty-days’ recollectedness and penance. Those forty-days are one of the principal Seasons of the Liturgical Year, and one of the most powerful means employed by the Church for exciting in the hearts of her children the spirit of their Christian vocation. It is of the utmost importance, that such a Season of penance should produce its work in our souls, - the renovation of the whole spiritual life. The Church, therefore, has instituted a preparation for the holy time of Lent. She gives us the three weeks of Septuagesima, during which she withdraws us, as much as may be, from the noisy distractions of the world, in order that our hearts may be the more readily impressed by the solemn warning she is to give us, at the commencement of Lent, by marking our foreheads with ashes.

Lenten chasuble with the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This prelude to the holy season of Lent was not known in the early ages of Christianity: its institution would seem to have originated in the Greek Church. The practice of this Church being never to fast on Saturdays, the number of fasting-days in Lent, besides the six Sundays of Lent, (on which, by universal custom, the Faithful never fasted,) there were also the six Saturdays, which the Greeks would never allow to be observed as days of fasting: so that their Lent was short, by twelve days, of the Forty spent by our Saviour in the Desert. To make up the deficiency, they were obliged to begin their Lent so many days earlier, as we will show in our next Volume.

The Church of Rome had no such motive for anticipating the season of those privations, which belong to Lent; for, from the earliest antiquity, she kept the Saturdays of Lent, (and as often, during the rest of the year, as circumstances might require,) as fasting days. At the close of the 6th century, St. Gregory tile Great, alludes, in one of his Homilies, to the fast of Lent being less than Forty Days, owing to the Sundays which come during that holy season. ‘There are,’ he says, ‘from this Day [the first Sunday of Lent] to the joyous Feast of Easter, six Weeks, that is, forty-two days. As we do not fast on the six Sundays, there are but thirty-six fasting days …’

It was, therefore, after the pontificate of St. Gregory, that the last four days of Quinquagesima Week, were added to Lent, in order that the number of Fasting Days might be exactly Forty. As early, however, as the 9th century, the custom of beginning Lent on Ash Wednesday was of obligation in the whole Latin Church. All the manuscript copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, which bear that date, call this Wednesday the In capite jejunii, that is to say, the beginning of the fast …
The leading feature, then, of Septuagesima is the total suspension of the Alleluia, which is not to be again heard upon the earth, until the arrival of that happy day, when, having suffered death with our Jesus, and having been buried together with him, we shall rise again with him to a new life [Coloss. ii. 12].

The sweet Hymn of the Angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo, which we have sung every Sunday since the Birth of our Savior in Bethlehem, is also taken from us; it is only on the Feasts of the Saints, which may be kept during the week, that we shall be allowed to repeat it. The night Office of the Sunday is to lose, also, from now till Easter, its magnificent Ambrosian Hymn, the Te Deum; and at the end of the Holy Sacrifice, the Deacon will no longer dismiss the Faithful with his solemn Ite, Missa est, but will simply invite them to continue their prayers [‘Benedicamus Domino’] in silence, and bless the Lord, the God of mercy, who bears with us, notwithstanding all our sins.”


His Grace, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson
of St. Louis

The year 2014 marks the 800th birth anniversary of King Saint Louis (Louis IX of France), the patron and namesake of this city, and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of Saint Louis. Throughout this milestone year, many festive events will take place in both the civic as well as the Catholic settings, to celebrate the history, development, and accomplishments of our great city.

St. Louis IX, King of France

St. Francis de Sales will be part of both ce
lebrations on October 19, 2014 with a solemn procession with the relic of King Saint Louis, solemn Vespers, Benediction and a sermon pronounced by the guest of honor on that day, His Grace, Archbishop Robert Carlson. 

Here is the program of Sunday, October 19, 2014:
Solemn Vespers
Homily pronounced by His Grace, Archbishop Carlson    
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
Reception in the Oratory Hall

More information will be forthcoming in the next few months. Mark your calendars!


Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

"The personal relationship which the individual believer establishes with Jesus present in the Eucharist constantly points beyond itself to the whole communion of the Church and nourishes a fuller sense of membership in the Body of Christ. For this reason, besides encouraging individual believers to make time for personal prayer before the Sacrament of the Altar, I feel obliged to urge parishes and other church groups to set aside times for collective adoration. Naturally, already existing forms of Eucharistic piety retain their full value. I am thinking, for example, of processions with the Blessed Sacrament, especially the traditional procession on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Forty Hours devotion, local, national and international Eucharistic Congresses, and other similar initiatives. If suitably updated and adapted to local circumstances, these forms of devotion are still worthy of being practiced today."
(Pope Benedict XVI. in his Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis", n. 68, of February 22, 2007)

Schedule of this year's 40 Hours Devotion:
Sunday, March 2 - 10:00am: Solemn High Mass with,
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, Adoration all afternoon

Monday, March 3 - 8:00am: Low Mass followed by Exposition;
12:15pm: Low Mass with organ 6:30pm: Solemn High Mass - Reposition

Tuesday, March 4 - 8:00am: Low Mass followed by Exposition;
12:15pm: Low Mass at St. Joseph’s Altar 6:30pm: Solemn High Mass
with Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction
Confessions heard 1/2 hour before each Mass.


Candlemas, the feast we celebrated on February 2, marked the end of the Christmas season, forty days after the birth of Christ. Fittingly, the Church’s liturgy for this feast included the blessing of candles. Canon Raphael Ueda, Vicar at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, was the celebrant and homilist of the Solemn High Mass that day. Here are parts of his sermon:
Light is an image of Christ: the light of the world, a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, according to Simeon’s canticle. In St. John’s Gospel, Christ says of Himself: “I have come as light into this world, that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness." Saint Paul uses the same image: “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)


The lighted candle is a symbol of the Catholic life, of the faith and grace of which should shine on our soul. It reminds us that we must bear Christ in us, the source of our life, the author of faith and grace. Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for our salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it by surrendering to His will and accepting God’s truth.


Candlemas 2014 at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

We need to see once again with the genuine simplicity of Simeon that faith is light. For once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begins to dim. The light of faith is unique, for it is capable of illuminating every aspect of our life. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God as old Simeon held the Child Jesus and recognized this Child Jesus as God. God is calling us and reveals His love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives.


With each passing year and the work of many hands, St. Francis de Sales Oratory, a house of God, is looking less forlorn and better maintained. This could not have been achieved without the help of many volunteers from our community. We are extremely grateful for the generous work, the great care for the church, and the friendship to the Institute that many of you have given. Thank you!

We are always open to anyone who would like to join in and help the Oratory in any way, now or in the future. The list of many indoor and outdoor tasks for which we constantly need help is long, as compiled by our General Manager, Mr. Wally Feld:

Plumbing, Carpentry, Furniture repair,
Woodworking, Paint removal,

Tuck pointing, Concrete repair,
Window and screen repair,
Door maintenance
(weatherstripping, hinges, locks),
Painting (ladder and/or lift work),
Metal repair, Drain opening,
Gutter and downspout cleaning and repair,
Paving, Grounds keeping
(litter pick up, weeding, sweeping, etc.),
Wallpapering, Floor refinishing,
Gardening, Power washing, Sewing,
House cleaning, Metal polishing,
Record and drawing archiving ...

If you have any interest, skill, or service you would like to offer, or help with any of the tasks listed above, please contact the Oratory office. Any and all help would be welcome and appreciated.


The Seminary Society has received a thank you letter, signed by all seminarians, for the generous gifts of warm socks from the Faithful in St. Louis. Your kind thoughtfulness and generosity at Christmas time and throughout the year are always remembered in their daily prayers!

Letter signed by seminarians in Gricigliano

With my sincere best wishes to all of you with the assurance of my prayers in Christ the King,

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