St. Joseph Catholic Church

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


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – November 12, 2017

Hello,

I don’t know if you have ever noticed the ‘Neighborhood libraries’ that there are a few of around here. I first noticed them over a decade ago by one of my sisters’ homes. They are just a little wooden cabinet mounted on a pole in someone’s front yard that has different books, mostly paperbacks, that someone has read and now put out there for someone else to take and read, and hopefully leave a book themselves for someone else later to come and take. They make a lot of sense, you can share a book you probably don’t plan on reading again and also get a different one that you now don’t have to buy, and you saved shelf space at home. When I was in downtown Indianapolis a few weeks ago I saw one of these that was a bit different, it was supplied by the public library. They had five carousels with library books in them that you could just take, no means of registering your library card to check them out, but they asked you to return them there or at another library when you are done.

That seemed so strange for a library. I can see people doing it, basically sharing a book they have read since they probably won’t do anything else with it anyways, hoping someone else might like it, and then getting other ones they can read. But a library, that’s kind of like a bookstore that simply gives books away. Not the best business model. But what is the purpose of the library? To get people to read. You realize they only have a limited budget so if they were just giving books away they would run through that pretty quick, but I imagine that they have done, or are doing, a little research to see how many of the books they do get back, and how much work this takes or not, and realize this actually works in getting books into peoples’ hands. And they also have the library card in it and the code on the side of the book that most of us might get embarrassed if friends and family saw all these library books we had on our bookshelves. This lets the library do what it is supposed to do, its’ mission.

So what is our mission that we might look at in this way? Something that we are supposed to do, even if the other person doesn’t respond as we would like, but this is our mission and we need to do it anyway because it is what we are called to do. As friends, neighbors, children, parents, spouses, even as a priest. We do many things in these relationships that we hope will have a certain response, a certain effect on others. Sometimes some recognition or a thank you, other times that we see a recognition of what we did by the other reacting in kind to us or maybe paying it forward, doing it for someone else. But if this is our mission, what we feel we are supposed to do in these positions or relationships, we are going to do it anyway, even if we don’t always get the desired response. Like the library most of us have limited resources, so while you may want to do everything for those other others, it is normally going to be limited and we may not be able to just ‘give away the books’, but we also don’t want to get overly caught up in overdue fines, secure check-out procedures, or we might just start losing our whole mission and become a bookstore.

So what are the things I should be doing, no matter the response, no matter what others do, as a friend, neighbor, parent, spouse, priest, Christian? And how can I be better at that?

Peace,
Fr. Nick

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Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – November 5, 2017

Hello,

Over the last few weeks Fr. Schaab and I have been having some trouble with our cable reception in the rectory to the point that we didn’t have any cable reception for 4 days last weekend. Don’t worry too much for us, the problem is solved (we think), but it is interesting to see how we react when something that we’ve come to take for granted all of a sudden isn’t there. First you can just be upset or mad that you don’t have it, even denying it at times and doing all of these things to try and get it to work again. Then, when you admit it just isn’t working (and you are waiting for the person who can fix it to do so) you consider your other options. You didn’t always have cable, you can use an antenna if you can find one on many TVs. Or you can watch a movie on DVD maybe, or something on the computer. Or you could just turn it off and do something else. You consider what the things that you really depend on the TV for, maybe a certain series, or the news, or certain sports. And you hopefully also realize when it was just noise, or filler, or even something that you were better off without. If it takes long enough (as I mentioned, this wasn’t our only time lately) you start considering your new normal and might be accepting that this is how things are and so how do I live this way? But then when you get it back how quickly do we fall back into the old habits, good and bad. Do we appreciate what we have or not? Realize what aspects weren’t really that necessary, or may have even been bad for you? That you were better without? Have we taken the opportunity to grow in any way? Or just back to where I was before this happened and don’t want it to happen again?

OK, all of that was just about the cable being out, not that important but it can definitely get our attention. This month, November, we remember something with some similarities but infinitely more important, people who were in our lives who have died. When it happened we realized the great loss we felt, how we may have even still done some things as if they were there, couldn’t imagine what it would be like without them, didn’t want to. Hopefully we have managed to continue with our lives, but we also still remember them, are grateful for having had them in our lives. We pray for them, and in case they are already in heaven we ask for their prayers for us, but we don’t just remember how they blessed our lives as a memory, but we are open to see how others may be blessing our lives today, that we may be able to be that for others in our lives. We consider the ways we might have wished we were more appreciative, and consider being that with others in our lives today. What is the type of parent, sibling, friend they were for us? What is the type of parent, sibling, friend we are or can be for others?

As we go through November may we be grateful for all the people God has given us and the relationships we have had with them who have since deceased, pray for them, and show our gratitude and appreciation by how we live in the present.

Peace,
Fr. Nick


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – October 29, 2017

Hello,

Well next week is Halloween, and All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. I think most of us know how they are related to some degree, how Fall is a time of year many associate with death and it was first a Celtic holiday when on this day they considered the dead returned to earth. Christianity considered that this would be a good day to celebrate All Saints Day with Pope Gregory III establishing it on November 1 and around the year 1000 A.D. All Souls Day would begin to be celebrated on November 2, using some of the common aspects to teach about Christianity and our beliefs on life after our death.

As we think of these holidays I would ask you to think about how you celebrate them. All Saints Day we go to Mass (a holy day of obligation). All Souls Day we might go to a cemetery and visit the grave of a relative or someone we know, or reflect on those we know who have died over this last year. In Mexico and some other cultures celebrate the Day of the Dead. Most of us probably have strongest memories as children of going trick-or-treating on Halloween, but even that practice changed as many of us have seen the treats go from fruit or baked goods, to pennies and popcorn balls, to candy and then candy bars. And trick-or-treating itself really only started around the 1940’s to 50’s. If you read some of the history you can see how it developed through the decades and centuries, I even saw comments about why jokes may be said (which I never heard of before moving to St. Louis).

I think it is good to recognize some of these changes in our celebration as we consider how we celebrate All Souls Day. As a priest, one of the ways that I can celebrate All Souls Day is to celebrate three Masses on that day; one for a particular intention, another for all the faithful departed, and a third for the intention of the pope. While this is still a good practice, it was much more common before Vatican II, when priests did not concelebrate Masses and they would then often be at side altars in churches celebrating some of these Masses with only a server in attendance. After Vatican II, and the focus on the active participation in the celebration of the entire congregation was given greater emphasis, this practice has dropped off. As I mentioned, many used to visit specific graves in cemeteries on this day, but people also used to take care of the grounds in the cemetery themselves, making visiting the cemetery a regular practice. The perpetual care we have at most cemeteries now changes that, the grounds are kept in consistently good condition, but it is harder to establish the practice of going to visit the grave. So what do we do instead?

As our Halloween practices have changed we realize we haven’t just abandoned the holiday but it has adjusted to fit our lives today. Consider what ways we can continue to remember, give honor to, and pray for the dead in our lives today. Having something from them in our homes that reminds us to remember them, remembering the anniversary of their death on our digital calendars so we are reminded each year, as we celebrate All Souls Day setting aside a special way to pray for them that day. As we begin November let us always remember to keep our deceased loved ones in our prayers, and may their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Peace,
Fr. Nick