St. Joseph Catholic Church

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


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – October 15, 2017

Hello,

When I was studying in Washington D.C. and living at a parish there one of the other priests at the parish was from India. One day a parishioner asked me why that priest only bowed at some times during the Mass while all of the other priests she knew genuflected? Good question I thought, so I asked him about it. He said that in his culture there were various different bows and while it was our custom to genuflect to Christ present in the Eucharist, it was their custom to have their most profound bow for that honor.

Consider the different postures we assume during Mass, genuflecting, bowing, kneeling, standing, sitting, do we know why we are doing what we are doing or is it just habit? For myself the greatest understanding of this came when I was growing up in the 1970’s when I went to some different churches and noticed some people were genuflecting before going into their pews, and others were bowing. None of them were from India, but was it just different customs? Or were some more holy or pious than others? And then one day I was instructed at a church that was being remodeled that because there wasn’t a tabernacle in the worship space we were to bow to the altar where Mass would be celebrated when we entered instead of genuflecting to Christ in the tabernacle in the Eucharist. I know I was probably told that sometime before, but habits had just taken over and when I went into church I knew I was supposed to genuflect but not always thinking about why, but now I knew better. Since then, especially in the 1970’s and 1980’s when I was going different places and many churches were being remodeled and new ones built I recognized I wasn’t the only one who let my habits guide my actions as opposed to always thinking about what I was doing. Sometimes the tabernacle was still in the main body of the church, but it was off to the side (like we have), so you had to hunt down the red candle by the tabernacle to realize where I should be genuflecting.

A simple summary for postures is listed in the document Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, “sitting for preparations, for listening, for silent reflection; standing for the gospel, solemn prayer, praise and acclamation; kneeling for adoration, penitential rites.” (EAW 57) During Mass you may note that the priest genuflects after the Consecration when he shows the Body and then the Blood of Christ to the congregation, recognizing Christ’s presence.

From this list, for certain parts of Mass there could be different options, depending on where the emphasis in the action being done is to be placed. That is why another value also needs to be considered, unity. “A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them. “ (GIRM, 42) This is in the instructions for celebrating Mass, which I also mentioned to the Indian priest. Since he was going to be staying in the United States he needed to be aware of how some people saw his actions. Explaining them to others could help share his culture, but he also needed to be aware and consider how it could be misinterpreted and the division such small actions can make when deciding if he would continue this practice or not.

Peace,
Fr. Nick

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Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – October 8, 2017

Hello,

It is the time of year again when I can give you a fiscal year end update of our parish’s finances. As you can see on the graph below, things are continuing to go well as our total income has continued to go up and is also above our total expenses, which have stayed level. As always, the majority of our income comes from our offertory, and you have continued to be generous this year with an increase of over 6% from last year. This is especially notable since last year we also conducted the Beyond Sunday Capital Campaign benefitting education throughout the archdiocese and supporting a variety of projects in our parish. The amount of this that has come to the parish so far is the majority of the value listed in Capital Camp/Bequests for 2017. The majority of our expenses related to this came immediately after the end of the fiscal year and so did not appear in the total expense values. As these numbers will have greater impact on future reports beyond that one number, we will segregate out both the income and expenses related to the campaign to hopefully clearly show their effect relative to our standard operating finances. The ‘Other regular income’ went up a bit in 2016 and then down in 2017 mostly due to PSR tuitions coming in a little earlier, and thus before the break of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, as we improved our billing notifications and allowed for online payments. That is why the budgeted ‘other income’ basically stayed the same while the actual did fluctuate.

Always a factor in the expenses are weather and related maintenance and utility expenses. The last two years have been fortunately mild but we still budget for a bit worse, as well as some other unexpected repairs. More details will be available in our Parish Annual Report which will be coming out in the next few weeks. Thank you again for your continued generosity and please contact me if you have any questions.

Peace, and thank you again,
Fr. Nick


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – October 1, 2017

Hello,

Last week we celebrated the Feast day of St. Vincent de Paul (a co-patron of our archdiocese). He is of course known through the St. Vincent de Paul Societies that are active here and throughout the world to help the poor as well as the founder of the Congregation of the Missions (the Vincentians). In a letter
that he wrote for the Vincentians he said:

“It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else
and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy
person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do
whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to
God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because
you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not
neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works
is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when
you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this
very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly more
important than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to
charity.”

This is good advice to recognize that while rules and disciplines are necessary and important to follow, such as the rules for daily prayers, we have to realize the reason for and hierarchy of different rules when they may conflict.

At the same time I have to admit this quote or at least the idea has been used many times to not necessarily do what was the more important (as charity is a specific mission for Vincentians beyond what it is for others) but rather to justify what a person wants to do. It takes a development of our conscious and humility to live this out faithfully. It also takes faith in another to not be too quick to judge them on the reasons or justification for their actions. And this is all difficult enough when we are just comparing the priority of different actions that are each good, it gets much more difficult when we realize either of our choices can result in harm.

Our community in the St. Louis area has been facing numerous situations with conflicts in priorities, values, rules and concerns. Desires to maintain peace, desires to end abuses, desires to exercise rights, responsibilities to protect. All of these are being actively lived out in our community and we need to recognize the internal conflicts we need to address in order to decide our actions, and recognize the conflicts others also face in deciding their actions.

We will not be able to end all poverty tomorrow, but we can ease it for the person in front of us today. Similarly we should not expect to solve all our problems tomorrow, but we need to recognize they exist and be willing to address the conflicts that are causing them today.

Peace,
Fr. Nick