St. Joseph Catholic Church

106 N. Meramec Avenue – Clayton MO 63105 – Parish Office (314) 726-1221

Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – March 25, 2018


As we celebrate Palm Sunday and begin Holy Week I thought I would describe one of the Holy Week services that we don’t have at our parish, or any other parish in the diocese, except the Cathedral, the Chrism Mass. The Chrism Mass is ideally celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday at the cathedral of a diocese, as we do here in St. Louis at 10am this Thursday morning. But some dioceses, because of geography or other reasons that it would be very difficult for the clergy and others of the diocese to make that time, celebrate it on another day near to Easter. At this Mass the holy oils of the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Oil of Chrism (thus the name of the Mass) are blessed to be used throughout that diocese in the coming year.

The Oil of the Sick is used for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This oil is used for strength and healing of the sick person. Of the three oils this is used most often at a parish and is also the one that, if it ran out or it is not available, a priest can bless oil during the rite of the anointing to use for the sacrament.

The Oil of Catechumens is used for those to be baptized. This oil is to give strength to the person to renounce sin as they prepare to approach baptism. For adults to be baptized it can be used in the months prior to the person’s reception into the Church. For infants it is used in the beginning of the Rite of Baptism.

The Oil of Chrism is used in the sacraments of Confirmation, Ordination, and Baptism. When a person is confirmed they are told by the bishop or priest, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” as a sign of the cross is made with the oil on the person’s forehead. At ordination to priesthood the bishop puts the oil on a priests hands to anoint them to be used to celebrate the sacraments, at the Chrism Mass the priests present will also renew their priestly promises. And at a bishop’s ordination the oil is put on their head as the leader of the local church. For a new church the oil is also used to anoint the altar and the walls of the church during its consecration. You might notice the priest sniffing this oil before he uses it because, unlike the other two oils, the Chrism has perfume that is mixed into it before the bishop blesses it as a sign of the roles of priest, prophet, and king that we share with Christ. This oil is also used on the crown of a child’s head at baptism as a sign of this partaking in the threefold role of Christ.

Actually the oil blessed at the Mass will be taken, as soon as it is blessed, to be poured into hundreds of little bottles for the priests then to take back to their parishes. That evening, at the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at our parish, we will be bring forward these oils to be used at the Easter Vigil and throughout the year. I would encourage you to participate in our parish services throughout Holy Week, and maybe this year or another time even come to the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.

Fr. Nick


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – March 18, 2018


Well this weekend we get the blessing of the feast days of two saints, St. Patrick and St. Joseph. Since I know I have talked about St. Joseph in the past (since not even getting into a hierarchy of saints, he is the patron saint of our parish) so I thought I would mention a bit about St. Patrick today.

One difficulty in finding out anything about St. Patrick is that since he is so popular there are many legends that grew about him. Most of what we feel we really know about him come from two of his writings, his Confessions and his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. One thing we know is he was not the first evangelist to hit the shores of Ireland. St. Palladius was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine in 431, but not much is known about him and obviously he wasn’t nearly as successful of a missionary as St. Patrick. (How many have even heard of St. Palladius?) But St. Patrick is remembered because he not only converted and baptized so many, but so many of them became monks, or clergy, or nuns, living their faith in a manner that would also encourage the generations of Christians to come after.

The first thing we always have to be sure people know about St. Patrick is that he isn’t from Ireland, he’s from Great Britain and actually likely from a fairly well off family that had an estate and even slaves on that estate. (I have to admit I never read that before, but this is according to Butler’s Lives of the Saints, where I corroborated most of this information.) The part many of us know is that he was taken as a slave by a raid of their estate where they took some of their slaves and also Patrick, when he was about 16 years old, and he would live as a slave for the next six years in either the northern Ireland. This would be a blessing and a curse for him later as a missionary as he knew he had missed out of many years of education at this time that may have served him well in spreading the faith later, but he also realized that this period of service and imprisonment served him well in developing his prayer life and a missionary heart.

When he escaped from his slavery he had to travel almost 200 miles to find a ship to take him home, (and Ireland isn’t that big of an island), and then the ship got lost landing somewhere and searching almost a month to just find food. He would soon begin his studies and be ordained a priest and then a bishop with the intent to return to Ireland as a missionary. It is estimated that it was in the 430’s or 450’s (432 is the very earliest anyone guesses, so after St. Palladius) that he made it back to Ireland and as we know, he was very successful as a missionary in spreading the faith. Actually so successful that some of the British bishops began to question what this lone missionary was doing. Some consider the British bishops were upset with Patrick’s Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. It was written in response to a raid by British in Ireland where they took some of the new Christians to sell as slaves and Patrick essentially excommunicated these soldiers, who were British subjects.

So considering what we know about St. Patrick, in addition to having some corned beef or green beer, maybe sharing our faith with others would be a great way to remember and honor him.

Fr. Nick

Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – March 11, 2018


While most of us are aware that on the third Sunday of Advent we light the rose colored candle and so we may remember that the priest may wear a rose colored vestment at Mass, that also goes for the fourth Sunday of Lent. This Sunday is referred to as Laetare Sunday, laetare being the Latin word for rejoice and the first word of the opening antiphon for Mass, ‘Rejoice Jerusalem….’.

The main reason for rejoicing is because while we are still in a penitential period of Lent, we are over half way to Easter. Recognizing that we can use a little break and encouragement in this period and also a reminder of what we are preparing and looking forward to. I know some people continue their Lenten practice for all days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, and others choose not to follow it on Sundays, if you were going to just choose one Sunday to excuse yourself this might be an appropriate one.

Another connection that has been made to the wearing of the rose colored vestments on this Sunday was the tradition of the Pope carrying a rose in their hand when returning from Mass on this day. The tradition went from him carrying an actual rose, to carrying a rose made of gold, to his blessing a branch of roses made of gold that would then be given to a Catholic king or to a shrine or a church in a particular city to be kept there.

A final tradition that is sometimes connected to Laetare Sunday is that it has also been known as “Mothering Sunday”. I have to admit that I never knew this, but apparently this was connected to a practice of visiting the ‘mother church’ of the diocese, or the cathedral, on this day. Another way this was celebrated was to go to your ‘mother church’, or the church you were baptized in. For many families this could mean a trip back home to where you grew up where you would see other family members. In England the tradition translated into a practice comparable to what we celebrate as “Mother’s Day” on this Sunday. Doing a little Google search I found out this is when the British celebrate Mother’s Day.

So I guess I better wear the rose vestment this Sunday, and rejoice, we are over half way to Easter.

Fr. Nick