St. Joseph Catholic Church, Clayton MO

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


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – December 9, 2018

Hello,

This week our 2nd graders will be celebrating their First Reconciliation. As we see them taking this important step in their lives, hopefully it makes us consider being open to the grace of this sacrament ourselves. At one time the sacrament was a weekly practice for many before they would receive the Eucharist each week, but today many Catholics would be hard-pressed to tell you how many years it has been since they celebrated the sacrament of Confession.

There are various reasons why it may have been a long time since someone has gone to Confession and I will try to answer some of them: I don’t have any mortal sins: Great. But we don’t need to have a mortal sin to need forgiving and to benefit from the grace God offers in this sacrament. If we are not open to that grace now it can only make it easier to fall into mortal sin and be harder to be open to the sacrament then.

I know I’m just going to do the same sins again: We might, and for some of the sins we probably will. But if we do not take the time to recognize and admit that they are sins, to realize we need forgiveness for them, and to ask for God’s help those vices that led us to these sins will only grow, instead of being open to God’s help to develop our virtues and eventually overcome those temptations.

It’s been so long I forgot what I’m supposed to say: It is easiest just to start out saying “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been ______months/years since my last confession.” You confess your sins and the priest will talk to you and give you a penance. Then you pray an act of contrition. You can use your own words or use a standard prayer such as “My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.” (this or a similar act of contrition is also available on cards in most confessionals) The priest will then give you the blessing of absolution.

God doesn’t need me to confess to a priest for my sins to be forgiven: Correct, God can do anything. But God gave us the Church and the sacraments as means to be open and cooperate with his grace. If we believe in God and the Church, then we should try to cooperate with Him.

As a priest, it is an incredible blessing to be able to minister the sacrament of Confession. Hearing people’s struggles in their lives who are truly sorry for their sins and striving to grow in their faith and their closeness to God is encouraging for me to see in those around me and to know that with God’s help, I can also overcome temptations in my life. Our Confession schedules here at St. Joseph’s are Monday-Friday at 11:15-11:50 am and on Saturday 4:00-4:45 pm and most other parishes are also available for Confessions on Saturday evenings. As we prepare for Christ’s coming, what better way than to celebrate this sacrament.

Peace,
Fr. Nick

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Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – December 2, 2018

Hello,

As we begin Advent we hopefully take the time to look at the past and consider things we need to change in our lives to be more open to receive Christ fully. This past year our Church has been challenged with the revelation of abuses over the past decades of children by priests in a Grand Jury report on 6 dioceses in Pennsylvania, and also of abuses by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The abuses themselves are horrendous enough, but the fact that more wasn’t done to prevent future abuses and to hold those associated with these sins accountable only raised more concerns regarding trust in the Church. Changes are clearly needed.

Every November the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meets and this year this topic was the primary concern that they needed to address and had been preparing for leading up to the meeting in emergency committee meetings that could be held more immediately. The bishops of Missouri wrote a joint letter to the Conference in October stating the concerns in this clergy abuse scandal that they felt needed to be addressed at their meeting. But also in the time leading up to the meeting Pope Francis called for a meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences from around the world for next February to address the abuse crisis and the protection of children. While this action was encouraging, the timing of it led the Vatican to request that the USCCB postpone any votes on related actions addressing clergy sexual abuse.

The President of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, wrote at the end of the conference, “I opened the meeting expressing some disappointment [referring to the request to postpone any votes]. I end it with hope.” While they were not able to do all they might have in achieving their goals of discovering all of the history and timeline regarding Archbishop McCarrick’s situation; to establish means to report abuse regarding bishops; and to develop means to hold bishops accountable by independent means that substantially involve the laity, they were able to progress. Action steps were established addressing these goals: supporting all investigations regarding Archbishop McCarrick in line with the investigations Pope Francis committed to in a statement on Oct. 6th; completing a proposal for reporting and investigating complaints against bishops involving a national lay commission and including current diocesan review boards; and forming standards for the holding accountable and possible removal of bishops.

I did not want to start the Advent season focused on this topic, but I considered it necessary to share an update regarding this topic and to share in the words of Cardinal DiNardo some of our related disappointments, but also our hopes. At the end of Caridnal DiNardo’s closing statement of the USCCB meeting he made a comment that is appropriate for the Conference, but also for each of us as we begin Advent, “We must recommit to holiness and to the mission of the Church.” May you have a fruitful Advent and look forward to more fully receiving Christ at Christmas.

Peace,
Fr. Nick


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

Hello,

I am writing this a week and a half ago as we get our first real snowfall for the year, and it is only November 15th. Thanksgiving is as early as it can be and with this early snow it feels like we skipped through Fall in just a few weeks and are already in winter. In some ways it seems to have many biblical parallels: we can seek for one thing and get another; or that we see dramatic events take place and consider they are telling us of impending doom; or they complained that John the Baptist was too severe, and then they complained that Jesus drank and celebrated, nothing went as people wanted and expected them to. Hopefully we have a biblical reaction to it, that no matter what the circumstances, we are called to stay faithful, and to trust that God is with us.

I know already last night I was with some people and heard remembrances of the snowstorm in St. Louis in 1982. It was a difficult and challenging event, but it was also very memorable in good ways. People helping one another, knowing how they do deal with hardships, how others helped out, that eventually the snow did stop and the streets were cleared. We didn’t have control of it, couldn’t have changed it from happening. But we can learn from it, realizing things that are really important and those that aren’t, and realize how we can be prepared for it a little better if it happens again.

So many things in our lives are beyond our control. We can seem to spend so much time worrying about them and trying to control them, or we can realize that drastic events will happen, that winter will come, longer some years than others, but we can’t do anything about that (and I’m not trying to talk about causes for global warming here or make references to Game of Thrones). What we can do is consider how we are preparing ourselves, and how we face the challenges that do come in our lives. Next week we begin a new liturgical year with the beginning of Advent. We know we will have Christmas again and Easter. They may not be exactly as we plan, or how we celebrated them other years, but Christ did come, and he suffered and died for us, that we may follow him to heaven. We know the commandments he gave us and that it will be challenging at times, but this is how we are called to live.

I like to have a longer Fall myself, but I can also enjoy the snow. As winter comes a bit earlier than usual hopefully we are prepared for the challenges that may bring, but most importantly know that God is with us through this and whatever may come.

Peace,
Fr. Nick