31 August 2011

St. Raymond the Unborn

Today is the feast day of St. Raymond Nonnatus, whose name means "Raymond the Unborn".  St. Raymond's mother died before giving birth, and he was taken by c-section.  Pretty cool name, if you ask me.  St. Raymond was a member of the Mercedarian Order, the goal of which was the ransoming of captives from the Mohammedans.  St. Raymond ended up offering himself up in exchange for a Catholic prisoner, and converted enough of his captors that he was punished by having his lips pierced with hot iron and padlocked together.

So, if you think being a Catholic is tough today, or even if you're just having a rough day, think about your lips being padlocked shut.

After returning to Rome, he died at a young age, after having been made Cardinal.  He is invoked by women in labor and by those falsely accused.  The Catholic Encyclopedia entry is here.

As an aside, the other St. Raymond, (of Penyafort), was also a Mercedarian, and co-founded the order with St. Peter Nolasco.  That St. Raymond was a brilliant canon lawyer as it turns out, and also happens to be Cardinal Burke's patron saint.

The feast of Our Lady of Ransom, or the feast of La Merced as they call her in Barcelona, occurs September 24.  I have had the great privilege of visiting that city during the feast, which they celebrate with great gusto.

St. Raymond Nonnatus, pray for us!

30 August 2011

Same Story, New Chapter

The annual general chapter of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is taking place this week in Gricigliano.  Several priests who are dear to readers of this blog are gathered there.  Please keep them in your prayers.  God bless the Institute!


Quam dilecta tabernacula tua Domine virtutum:

concupiscit, et deficit anima mea in atria Domini: Cor meum, et caro mea exultaverunt in Deum vivum.

Etenim passer invenit sibi domum: et turtur nidum sibi, ubi ponat pullos suos. Altaria tua Domine virtutum: rex meus, et Deus meus.

Beati, qui habitant in domo tua Domine: in sæcula sæculorum laudabunt te.

Beatus vir, cuius est auxilium abs te: ascensiones in corde suo disposuit,

in valle lacrymarum in loco, quem posuit.

Etenim benedictionem dabit legislator, ibunt de virtute in virtutem: videbitur Deus deorum in Sion.

Domine Deus virtutum exaudi orationem meam: auribus percipe Deus Iacob.

Protector noster aspice Deus: et respice in faciem Christi tui.

Quia melior est dies una in atriis tuis super millia. Elegi abiectus esse in domo Dei mei: magis quam habitare in tabernaculis peccatorum.

Quia misericordiam, et veritatem diligit Deus: gratiam, et gloriam dabit Dominus.

Non privabit bonis eos, qui ambulant in innocentia: Domine virtutum, beatus homo, qui sperat in te.

29 August 2011

Baptism without Desire

Today is the feast day of that great man of whom Christ said that there had been no greater born of woman-- St. John the Baptist.  More particularly we commemorate his beheading, thus showing the price the follower of Christ pays for speaking his mind. 

Not comparing myself to St. John the Baptist in any other way, I am about to speak my mind.  I don't expect it to go over well, but then the modern Church's punch bowl is already fairly filled with Clark Bars.

I recently attended an infant baptism celebrated according to the modern rite at a representative local parish in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  I belonged to novus ordo parishes for 37 years, so it isn't like I didn't know what to expect, being already familiar with the rite and the decades-long debasement of the way it has been celebrated.

Even so, this one was soul-numbingly bad.  The only positive thing I can say is that the baptismal formula (what some who don't really care about the way sacraments are celebrated or whether they are valid call the "magic words") was correctly pronounced, with the requisite pouring of water over skin that the sacrament requires.  Everything else, from ceremony to theology, was the kind of dumbed-down pablum that passes for pastoral care these days.

Baptism was supposed to begin immediately following the last Sunday Mass.  This meant in reality that it began about 25 minutes after Mass, as the cacophony inside the Church after the conclusion of Mass made conducting the rite impossible.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, at a Church with lots of outside space and a parish hall of good size, yet a third of the congregation remained inside the Church itself and, as far as I could understand, screamed in each others' faces at the top of their lungs for twenty minutes.  Perhaps this is the local tradition of fellowship, I don't know.  People sure seemed to enjoy it.  I checked the sanctuary, and yes, the red lamp was lit, so presumably the Blessed Sacrament was present.

After the din died mostly down, the deacon called everyone around the Olympic-sized pool that was to serve as the site of the baptism.  He looked like the Platonic Form of permanent deacon-- you can picture him in your mind already-- late fifties, polyester alb and stole, with clip-on microphone.  The attendees were dressed a shade better than the attendees of the Mass, as there were far fewer with shorts and flip flops in the crowd that succeeded to the space.

The deacon began by saying "First of all, I want to welcome everyone...", which he did for about fifteen minutes.  He then explained to the parents how he was going to call them by name and ask them what the name of their child was, and what exactly they wanted from the Church, and finally that they were to say, "Baptism".  So, that is what he did.  Then he explained how we were all going to make the Sign of the Cross together, because that's what we do, we Catholics, we make the Sign of the Cross.  So that is what we did.  Then he explained how he was going to read the Gospel, and that this Gospel was one of his favorites, and that he loved talking about this Gospel, and how he thought this Gospel was just nails when it came to Baptism, and how he was just about ready to go ahead and do it, and then he in fact, with much fanfare, did it.  Just like he said.

Now, the reason I wrote all that is to give you just an idea-- just a taste-- of how this all went down.  I won't belabor it anymore, but let me assure you that everything that happened, everything that he said, he explained at length, with anecdotes and his own humorous take, in order to make sure that we all really got it.  Imagine at least three minutes of explanation for every one minute of "action", whether the action consisted of the prayers from the book or actions in the rite.

I don't understand this need to explain everything.  I mean, the language of the modern rite of Baptism in this country is English.  English:  the language we all understand.  We use English so we all understand everything that is going on, right?  Because no one understands the language of the Church.  Because Heaven forfend that there be any mystery in a religious ceremony, rite or sacrament.  And whatever small amount of mystery is left in the vernacularized modern rite of Baptism, he took great pains to kill.  And I have no doubt that it was all done in good faith, with the best of intentions.

Following the Gospel and his threat to give a homily, the deacon gave a homily.  He began by again saying, "First of all, I want to welcome everyone..."  He gave a talk about his grandchildren, faith journeys, joining the club, being a people of the word, etc., and other niceties about Baptism.  The only thing he didn't mention was Original Sin, the necessity of Baptism as the ordinary means of salvation, the Fall of Man, salvation history, Christ's sacrifice to save us or other such things that folks might find uncomfortable these days.

After the homily, he invited everyone to gather more closely around the Olympic-sized swimming pool and listen to him bless the water, paying particular attention to how many times water was referred to in the blessing itself.  Then he did it.

After the renewal of baptismal promises was explained and done, he then did actual baptism, which was the only thing he did without any explanation at all.  Like I said, that went off without a hitch.

Before he anointed with chrism, the deacon explained that he was going to anoint with oil, and then launched into a mini-homily about oil, what it was, its uses in everyday life, and its use in the rite of Baptism.  Not what chrism was, not what the oil of catechumens was-- but what oil was.  A lubricant-- it makes things "go smoother"!  We use it, he reminded us, to make flapjacks!  (Baptismal flapjacks?)

(An aside:  At this point, I performed a physical feat that scientists have hitherto thought impossible.  Despite my efforts throughout the show to maintain a calm and respectful disposition, when he said the thing about the flapjacks my eyeballs rolled up so violently that they actually rolled up all the way around inside my head and came back up the bottom way to resume their normal place in my sockets.  True story.  OK, a tiny exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

The remaining parts of the ceremony happened in line with the above.  Intro, explanation, act or prayer.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

This Rite of Baptism for infants, not counting the time waiting for it to begin, took nearly ninety minutes.

Forget the stark and denuded nature of the rite itself, when compared to the traditional expression.  I'm not even focusing on a comparison of old and new forms.  Just focusing on the new rite itself, I can only ask, "Why not just do what it says and have done?"  And yet this kind of showmanship is rampant in the typical parish.  The priest "performs" at Mass.  Just saying the Mass isn't good enough.  The Deacon "performs" there, too, and more so at his own show, Baptism.  The lectors and cantors "perform".  The music ministry "performs".  The "actors" in the pews "perform" (raise those hands at the Our Father higher!).

For whom are we performing?  For God?  Or for ourselves?

How much worse can it get?

26 August 2011

Wisdom of St. Francis de Sales

There's no better way of growing toward perfection in the spiritual life than to be always starting over again and never thinking that we have done enough.

25 August 2011

"I Like the Way Snrub Thinks!" or, the End of the Anonymous Comment

I am grateful for all of you who read this blog, and I am very glad to receive and read comments in the comboxes.  In the past, I have posted requests from time to time asking that readers attached some identifier when commenting.  This makes the combox easier to follow, and encourages sensible discussion.  In other words, it is tough to address a comment to "second-to-last-anonymous"  or to "anonymous who said that thing about the one thing that the first anonymous wrote" all the time.

I understand if you don't wish to use your real name-- you don't have to.  You can comment in one of several ways:

1. A google account;

2. Another such account, via "open ID", that automatically shows your profile name;

3. Clicking on "name/url" and writing a name;

4. Clicking on "anonymous" and typing a comment, yet subscribing it with a name.

It doesn't have to be your real name, just so long as it is not offensive.  Here's an example:

Now, I have issued these requests before, but this one is different-- FROM NOW ON, COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED.  Again, this does not prevent you from clicking "anonymous", as long as you subscribe your comment with some name.

Thanks for your understanding and for visiting this site.


USCCB Consultant Has Ties to Homosexual Lobby

This sort of news hardly surprises.  But someday, perhaps, the USCCB will note and maybe even care that its unstated policy of tolerating dissent from the teachings of the Church in exchange for political activism or political success is a failure in advancing either the temporal or the spiritual goals of the Catholic Church.

You lie down with dogs, you get fleas.  The milquetoast approach to the faith is decimating the Church.

U.S. bishops consultant has ties to homosexual lobby

by Christine Dhanagom

A consultant for the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which oversees the controversial Catholic Campaign for Human Development, has been a public supporter of pro-homosexual legislation that was actively opposed by the country’s bishops, LifeSiteNews has recently learned.

John Sweeney, President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, and a former five-term President of the trade federation, revealed his pro-homosexual position in a 2001 essay titled, “The Growing Alliance Between Gay and Union Activists.”

Sweeney wrote of his support for a 1983 AFL-CIO resolution condemning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“At the time, I was president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had sponsored the resolution. I rose to speak in favor of it,” he wrote. “And I am proud to say that the labor movement has since made many advances in the fight for gay and lesbian rights.”

Under Sweeney’s leadership, the AFL-CIO Executive Council issued a resolution opposing the 2005 Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage in the United States as a union between one man and one woman.

A press release issued in March of 2005 by the pro-homosexual group Pride at Work praised the labor organization for their stance, and specifically mentioned Sweeney’s role in getting the resolution passed.

“It happened because of the strong leadership of President John Sweeney in bringing this resolution to the entire Executive Council,” said Pride at Work co-presidents Nancy Wohlforth and Josh Cazares.

USCCB President Bishop Wilton Gregory had supported the Marriage Amendment in a letter to the Senate, calling it an “important measure” that would “protect this vital institution that undergirds the well-being of spouses, children, families, communities, and society itself.”

In June of 2009, while Sweeney was still President, the AFL-CIO released a statement in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which banned workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

Again, the USCCB opposed the legislation, calling it a legal affirmation of “sexual conduct outside marriage,” and a “threat to religious liberty.”

Despite his outspoken support for positions on homosexual legislation that have been consistently condemned by the USCCB, Sweeney has maintained close ties with the bishop’s conference.

In addition to being listed on the USCCB’s website as a consultant for the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Sweeney co-authored a 2000 statement on U.S. Immigration Policy along with Roger Cardinal Mahoney and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, and worked with the USCCB in creating a 2009 document on health care.

He also co-hosted a reception at a 2001 USCCB meeting, participated in a Round Table discussion at a USCCB sponsored event in 2001 as a Member of the U.S. Catholic Conference Domestic Policy Committee, and received the Harry A. Fagan Roundtable Award at that same event in 2003.

Calls to the USCCB seeking comment were not returned as of press time.

23 August 2011

Stopping by St. Cronan on a Sunday Morning

You may or may not be familiar with the blog of a local Catholic who drops in at local Archdiocesan parishes for Mass and writes about what she sees.  The name of the blog is Snup's View from the Back Pew.  A friend was kind enough to send along a link to her most recent entry, on the local dissident parish of St. Cronan

St. Cronan is well-known to readers of this blog as the incubator parish for the excommunicated womyn"priests" Rose Hudson and Elsie McGrath and of Sister Louise Lears, placed under interdict by the Archbishop for various canonical crimes.

You can read her entire post at the first link above, but I wanted to point out some of the lowlights, with her post in italics and my comments following:

Father didn't wear a chasuble, but just an alb and a stole.  A clay chalice was used as well. 

I'm guessing Father knows this already, but just in case here is the relevant paragraphs from the General Instruction on the Roman Missal:

289. Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred vessels hold a place of honor, especially the chalice and paten, which are used in presenting, consecrating, and receiving the bread and wine.

290. Vessels should be made from materials that are solid and that in the particular region are regarded as noble. The conference of bishops will be the judge in this matter. But preference is to be given to materials that do not break easily or become unusable.

299. Unless otherwise indicated, the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole, is the vestment proper to the priest celebrant at Mass and other rites immediately connected with Mass.

Our correspondent continues:

The ad libbing started from the beginning.  The Sign of the Cross had stuff add, such as the Spirit that sustains us. The Second Reading was from Paul to the People of Rome (so I guess the Romans not living in Rome don't count?)   And in a first, the Gospel was ad libbed.  Yes indeed.  Jesus is not the Son of Man, but the Anointed One.  I believe that changes the meaning of the passage somewhat...  Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and didn't ad lib the Consecration.
 The most shocking thing is that nothing really shocks-- although I admit to relief when I read that Father didn't mess with the words of consecration.  Thus one can hope in the validity of the Sacrament.


At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Father invited us to gather around the altar.  At least I think that is what his hand motions indicated.  5 or so people came up.

Hands were held at the Our Father and the Sign of Peace was a free for all.  And nobody (but yours truly) knelt for the Eucharistic Prayer.  Everyone stood.

OK, so there are tons of liturgical abuses.  But man, that's all external.  What about the message, man?


Let's talk about the homily shall we?

Father did not give the homily.  A guy in a purple polo gave the homily.  He asked us if we have keys.  Keys are power.  The readings are about leaders and power, especially bindings and loosing.  The Government  has been too binding in the past with slavery, women, illegal aliens.  The Hierarchy of the Church has been too binding as well.  The Institutional Church has been binding towards gay and lesbians, divorced and re-married Catholics, and women. (My eyes...they roll)  The guy's sister got a divorce and the family had a funeral for the marriage. (Wha?)  St. Cronan's parishioners have loosed themselves from the Institutional Church (mmmhmmm I see)  Former parishioners have loosed themselves from organized religion and have found some spirituality (mmmhmmm).  What are we bound by? What are we willing to loose?

And, if you are wondering if Our Lord's Eucharistic Body and Blood were properly respected:

Oh.  And when I went up to Communion, there were chunks/crumbs of bread in the flat ciboria thing along with the hosts. 

Just another Sunday liturgy at St. Cronan.

Sermon on the Feast of St. Louis

Canon Aaron B. Huberfeld, of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, delivered the following sermon on Sunday at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in honor of the external solemnity of Saint Louis IX, whose feast day is this Thursday:

Feast of St. Louis 2011

A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And calling his ten servants, he gave them ten pounds; and said to them: Trade till I come. But his citizens hated him; and they sent an embassy after him, saying: We will not have this man to reign over us.

My ancient history professor at university used to say that, in generations to come, historians will do away with term Middle Ages, or, at the very least, they will employ it differently. He said, they will define the Middle Ages as that long period after the fall of Rome during which men all over the continent of Europe, in Italy, Germany, France, Greece, and Russia, would claim to be the legitimate successor of the Roman emperor. They will say the Middle Ages did not end until after the First World War, when the last pretenders to Caesar’s title lost their crowns, and no fresh heads rose up to bear them. For the first time in nearly 2000 years, there was no Caesar on earth. The age of monarchy, the monarchy that defined the world as we know it, was over.

Monarchy itself, however, is never over. As our dear rector proclaimed on the feast of Christ the King, “We are all monarchists!” Whatever system of government we may live under, we are all subjects of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Nor is this an honorary or metaphorical kingship. When a 21st century descendent of some degenerate and possibly usurped royal line has a crown awkwardly placed on his head, that is, at best, a metaphorical king. Ours is no metaphor; He is the one, true King. All other kings are merely participants in the gentle rule of Him who proclaimed, all power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Jesus Christ, already as man, is entitled to be revered as a king, for three reasons:

1.      The man Christ Jesus is substantially united to a Divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, such that Jesus Christ is one Person with two natures, human and Divine. That man is a Person who must be acknowledged by the entire universe as King.

2.      The man Christ Jesus is full of grace. As God His grace is infinite; He is grace itself. And as man He source of all graces bestowed on the poor children of Eve, such that no man may ever see the face of God, except through Him.

3.      Finally, the man Christ Jesus has a kingship which He earned by His victory over death on the Cross. For which cause God hath exalted Him, and hath given Him the Name which is above every other name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Our earthly rulers have received their authority from above, and they are called reflect in their own rule this threefold kingship of Christ. They have been given power not so that they may be served by their fellow men, but in order to serve them and prepare them for their supernatural end, particularly defending the Church and fostering her mission. As Pope Pius XI wrote when he instituted the feast of Christ the King:

“When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. 'You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men.' If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man."

Historians of the past two hundred years have used the term Middle Ages somewhat pejoratively. The time after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, or, more precisely, the time after the collapse of Charlemagne’s attempt at rebuilding that empire, is often referred to as the dark ages. I do not object to this term. The years before 1000 AD were indeed dark: men of the West slaughtered each other in wars on every day of the week; Church discipline was lax, corruption prevailed everywhere, and the light of the Gospel was so thoroughly snuffed out in some regions that it seemed a large part of Europe might descend into its former paganism. What I do object to is referring to the centuries following the dark ages as the Middle Ages, that is, as a mere interim period before Western man came to his own in the Renaissance and the Age of Reason. The true Renaissance, the rebirth of Christian Europe, occurred during those three glorious centuries from 1000 to 1300 AD. This was no Middle Age; it was an age of vigorous youth, an age of faith. During this time, wars among Christians diminished and were tempered, and Christians united to take back the Holy Land from the enemies of our faith. All the greatest works of theology were composed in this age, along with the most sublime melodies of Gregorian chant. And the model of just and prudent government was found in the reign of St. Louis IX of France. He did not horde the power which Christ the King had entrusted to him, nor did he hide it away without exercising it as he should. He was, rather, that good and faithful servant of the Gospel who invested his power in the welfare of his people. He held to that principle long forgotten today that a ruler’s most solemn obligation is to assure that his subjects possess the means of salvation so that they may pass from this fleeting life into the eternal reign of Our Savior Jesus Christ.

The Man Christ Jesus, substantially united in one Person to the Divine Nature, ascended into that far away heavenly country 2000 years ago to assume the Kingship which was due to Him, and there He shall sit at the right hand of the Father until He returns at the end of time. Until then, He has called certain men to share in His universal authority over mankind, in a world in which the vast majority of people, including many who call themselves Christian, do not want Christ to reign, at least not here and now. By the intercession of St. Louis, patron of this city which was once a beacon of the Catholic missions in the new world, may our own rulers come, in this new dark age, to recognize the homage which they owe to the King of the Universe, and be drawn with all their subjects into His gentle kingdom in which alone they may find salvation. Amen.

22 August 2011

The Difference between Being Rector or Vicar?

I guess pictures do tell the story.

Kidding aside, the Summer at the Oratory event, held yesterday after Mass celebrating the External Solemnity of St. Louis IX, King of France and patron of our city, was a great success.  A great day of food, music, games and good conversation.

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary-- and the Other Timothy

Happy Feast Day of Our Lady!  From the Epistle (Ecclesiasticus 24: 23-31):

As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.  I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.  Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.  For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.  My memory is unto everlasting generations.  They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.  He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.  They that explain me shall have life everlasting.

I have a portion of that epistle, in Latin, at the top right of the blog under the picture of the Blessed Virgin.  It was one of the first epistles to really "hit" me when I began attending the traditional Mass.

Also, as you may have deduced from my ridiculous screen name, my patron Saint is St. Timothy, the disciple of St. Paul, and Bishop.  But I have always had a strong curiosity to know more about the "other" Timothy, listed as Timotheus in the missal, whose feast is honored to be commemorated on this great day of Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, along with Saints Hippolytus and Symphorian.  All that is said about him in the missal entry is that he was martyred in the reign of Maximian.  Butler's Lives of the Saints doesn't have an entry for him, though it does for St. Symphorian.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say of him:

During the pontificate of Melchiades (311-13), St. Timotheus came from Antioch to Rome, where he preached for fifteen months and lived with Sylvester, who later became pope. The prefect of the city, Tarquinus Perpenna, threw him into prison, tortured, and finally beheaded him in 311. A Christian woman named Theon buried him in her garden. This is related in the legend of Sylvester. The name of Timotheus occurs in the earliest martyrologies.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
St. Timotheus, pray for us!
St. Symphorian, pray for us!
St. Hippolytus, pray for us!

19 August 2011

Kudos to the St. Louis Review on Conscience Rights Coverage

The St. Louis Review has a nice collection of articles on the new contraception coverage and funding mandate in the so-called healthcare law, including articles on how it impacts existing Missouri law and how you can voice your opposition to the proposed regulations.  

I hope that many of the Catholics who voiced support for this deceptive law when it was being read and analyzed passed by Congress will do what they can to voice opposition to this mandate.

The Cassock Again

There is an insightful little post at Rorate Caeli, in furtherance of my previous posts on the cassock or other suitable clerical attire here and here.  This comes from an Italian outlet writing from the perspective of the Church's enemies-- even they acknowledge the importance of the cassock:

The Cassock
The Church has been for quite some time strenuously defending herself from a media-driven movement that has turned on the lights on the phenomenon of the erotic activities and aberrations of the clergy. And it is not only about the horrors of pedophilia, but also red-light feasts, orgies, and clandestine sorties of every kind. Abandoning the cassock and wearing civilian clothes, many priests have gone from the sacred onto the secular in no time. I ask a friend who writes for this paper, Father Filippo Di Giacomo, if it would not be more appropriate, for him and for his jolly colleagues, to renounce walking around in civilian clothes and go back to wearing the long habit of the priest. It would not be embarrassing to wear it, on the contrary, it would be a sign of respect for the Catholic community and would even have the power of eliminating any ambiguity. It is hard to recognize a priest from a fellow in a shirt: we are in the presence of a deception, at least at the semiotic level. My friend Di Giacomo should throw his "lay" habits out of the window and launch an appeal to all priests in the world that it be forbidden to wear anything except for two cassocks: one of wool for winter, and one of cotton for summer. This will certainly not deter the truly possessed from eros, but will keep at bay the profusion of numerous, small daily corruptions. It is said, in general, that "l'abito non fa il monaco" ["the habit does not a monk make"], but it is not thus for the Church: the habit must make the monk. Catholicism, as other religions, lives off of symbols, of rites, of chastity, of foundational and unrenounceable values, of faithfulness to doctrine, of rigorous obedience to priestly rules. The cassock, at the simple sight, conveys to us all this: much spirit and little flesh. A priest who replaces his cassock with plain clothes gives up the spirit, as it were.  

August 15, 2011
 [Vincenzo Cerami]

18 August 2011

Annual Summer at the Oratory This Sunday, August 21-- and Other News of Interest

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


Sacred Choir Camp 2011

The children of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, filled with fond memories of last year’s choir camp, returned to Kentucky last week with great enthusiasm and met up with old friends from around the country. The results of their dedication were evident within the first days of their arrival. Guided by our music director Nick Botkins and the other faculty members and counselors, the young musicians quickly settled into a rigorous schedule of three hours of class and two hours of rehearsal per day. Classes included vocal technique with Mr. Botkins, music composition with composer Kevin Allen, Latin with Mr. Joseph Reidy, and Gregorian chant with Canon Aaron Huberfeld. Canon Huberfeld’s presence at the camp this year made possible the celebration of daily Mass. The camp closed with a High Mass at which the children sang the pieces which they had been learning throughout the week.

Classes with Canon Huberfeld, Mr. Allen, and Mr. Botkins


The Ursuline sisters who hosted the camp at their retreat center followed the progress of the camp very closely and were deeply touched by the performance which the children offered them halfway through the week. “What beautiful Latin!” exclaimed one. They all expressed their earnest hope that our children would remain committed to the study of sacred music, and that they would see them all again next summer. You can be sure that they will!

The Institute of Christ the King wishes to express its thanks to the camp’s faculty members and counselors, as well as to the generous donors who helped to defray the cost of the camp. You have made a valuable investment in our children’s future and in the future of Church. May God bless your generosity!


It’s this Sunday! Following the 10:00 AM High Mass in honor of King St. Louis IX, Patron of our city and Archdiocese, the annual festivities of Summer at the Oratory will begin just outside the church in the courtyard between rectory, church and 1888 Grammar School buildings. The best barbecued meats, cool beer, and live Jazz will greet the hungry and the thirsty, while all sorts of fun activities will entertain the young and old alike: games, prizes, quilt raffle, country market, and new this year, a dunking booth for famous Oratory personages and horse rides on the lower parking of the Oratory!

More and better will also be found in the expanded Silent Auction which will be conducted to highlight and support the restoration needs of the Oratory “TraditionForTomorrow” – (please follow our work and support it by your prayers and donation!) There are many wonderful and interesting auction items for everything from tickets to events, restaurant dinners, tax service, and the ever popular dinner with the Canons!
Please come, and bring your friends, neighbors, and family!


One of the most obvious needs for improvement on the Oratory campus has been the condition of the bathrooms in the church hall. We have begun to address this issue by remodeling the men’s bathroom. This past week we have had a remediation contractor remove the existing tile floor. Next week we will have the plumber and construction contractor begin the installation of new fixtures, partitions, drop ceiling, lighting and ceramic floor tiles, along with wall repair and painting. We hope this will help to make the hall a better place for our families to gather and it will also be more pleasant to use these facilities.
The cost for the men’s room refurbishment will be approximately $15,000.00. We also plan in the future to remodel the ladies’ room at a similar cost, after having received necessary funding through donations. Thanks to two very generous companies, the price of the bathroom renovation has been reduced to mostly material cost only ($30,000.00 for both bathrooms). Due to our limited resources, we will have to renovate in two stages, repairing the worse case first. When we have collected enough funds, we will tackle the second stage, which will be the repair and remodeling of the women’s bathroom.

Current state of bathroom, in the hall
We are very grateful for the already generous donations of labor for this project by Brooks Plumbing and O.A.S. Construction Co. and we need the funds to buy the fixtures, plumbing supplies and other construction materials to complete the renovation.

Please excuse any inconvenience this remodeling work will cause during this construction phase.


The beautiful altars at St. Francis de Sales Oratory were designed and built by the E. Hackner Altar Company of La Crosse, WI, a premier provider of church furnishings from 1881 to 1967. Founded by Mr. Egid Hackner, a German immigrant from Bavaria, the company employed artisans, sculptors, and craftsmen to make church altars – mostly by hand, as power machinery was not introduced until 1910. Mr. Hackner referred to the “artistic products” of those days, and evidently placed a high value on the originality and artistic quality of his altars from that period. Indeed, more than one hundred years after its installation in 1908, the magnificent main altar at St. Francis de Sales is a grand testament of Mr. Hackner’s high standards of artistry and craftsmanship.

The reredos of the high altar stands more than 52 feet tall, and is an intricate system of carved niches, statues, and spires pointing towards heaven. Typical of that period, the custom designed reredos was handmade by the 30 or so artisans, then shipped in parts, and assembled on site. Today, even when one stands near the foot of the high altar, it would not be possible to see all the details of this towering reredos. Most images of this often-photographed high altar convey the breath-taking size of the reredos, but cannot bring all its intricate details into focus all at once.

High Altar St Francis de Sales Oraotry
Photo by, Mark Abeln

But what the human eye cannot see and a conventional camera cannot show, Mr. Mark Abeln, a modern artisan in his own right, has captured on print. Using 288 separate photos shot over a period of two hours, Mr. Abeln has composed an image of the high altar which shows the work of the artisans a century ago in glorious detail. Employing cutting-edge digital photographic techniques, including a special algorithm he wrote for this purpose, the 288 images were painstakingly aligned and “stitched” together to form a seamless single image. Distortions due to camera angle, exposure differences, the effect of heat, and the unique dynamic range in the lighting of the subject, were carefully eliminated in the composition process which took over 40 hours.

The resultant image is most remarkable in that it resembles a painting more than a photograph. In this one single, large image we are now able to see in sharp detail the beautiful, majestic altar built over a century ago, in a way even the builders themselves could not have seen. It is as if the high altar has been captured on canvas, as a painting in which the brush strokes are individual elemental photos, meticulously applied so that we might see old art in a brand new way.

This project was Mr. Abeln’s contribution to the restoration effort of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, and he has generously provided a large poster-sized print, which is now framed and available for viewing at the Rectory. Additional giclee prints will be made available for purchase to raise funds to support the restoration of this church. The Oratory is very grateful to be the recipient of this beautiful modern photographic artwork.


Lord Jean de Joinville (1225-1317) was a Crusade companion of King Louis IX of France and wrote a biography of St. Louis based on his 22-year friendship with the king. After the death of the King, Lord Joinville was a witness in the canonization process of King Louis IX, whose canonization by Pope Boniface III took place in 1297. From Joinville’s Life of King St. Louis, we learn about the saint, a liberal almsgiver:
From his childhood up, he was compassionate towards the poor and the suffering; and it was the custom that, wherever he went, six score poor should always be replenished in his house with bread and wine, and meat or fish every day. In Lent and Advent, the number was increased, and many a time the King would wait on them, and place their meat before them, and would carve their meat before them, and with his own hand would give them money when they went away. Likewise on the high vigils of solemn feasts, he would serve the poor with all these things, before he either ate or drank.

And of the tender love the king had for his children:

Before he went to bed, he used to send for his children, and would tell them stories of the deeds of good kings and emperors; and he used to tell them that they must take example by people such as these. He would tell them too, about the deeds of wicked rich men, who by their lechery and their rapine and their avarice, had lost their kingdoms. "And these things," he used to say, "I tell you as a warning to avoid them, lest you incur the anger of God." He had them taught the Hours of Our Lady, and caused the Hours for the Day to be repeated to them, in order to give them the habit of hearing their Hours when they should come into their estates.


Our third visual challenge shows the patina of age from somewhere on the Oratory campus. Please check the blog of www.TraditionForTomorrow.com to see it. If you recognize and can identify the location of this image, please leave a message on the comment section of the blog. The first person to give the correct answer will win a special “Institute” chocolate bar!

I thank you wholeheartedly for all you do for the Institute and its Oratory here in St. Louis. Without your generous help none of these beautiful events and projects we are presenting here to you would be possible.
May God bless you and your generosity,
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory