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 30, 2018

Happy New Year,

I was looking at some top ten lists for this last year and noticed some of the music lists, where I didn’t know any of the songs or the artists. After a little looking I found some other top ten music lists that I did know a few of them, but I guess I’m getting older. I remember when my parents wouldn’t have heard of any of the popular music, or even some of my older siblings who hadn’t even heard of some of the most popular artists, and now that is me.

But I also look back at this time of year and recognize the things I remember from years past, the things I remember from 20, 30, or 40 years ago that those who might know all the top ten music for this year are not aware of and haven’t experienced. And also at times those older than me exposed me to music from 50, 60, or more years ago that I wasn’t aware of but now appreciate and enjoy.

In all parts of our life we can look at things and regret what we don’t have or know, or dismiss what others know or think and only consider from our own point of view. Or we can be open to learning from others, to be grateful for what we have and sharing that knowledge and experience with others and open to their sharing with us. Looking at this in regards to the music I have to admit I listened to some of the music that was in the top 10, a few I like, a few were OK to interesting, and some I was quite happy to have not been familiar with. But I know from 30 years ago some of what I thought was great is still there, and others really weren’t, you could say they didn’t stand up to the test of time (to be kind).

Hopefully as we enter a new year this reminiscence of the last year and of all our years helps us to see the many gifts that God has given us and appreciate them. Recognize some of the gifts others have that we do not, and be glad for them and appreciate them. Realize that some of these gifts can and should be shared, and others may have just been for a certain time and place. And also be able to admit that only with time have we been able to really recognize some of the gifts, and recognize that some that we treasured were not the gifts we thought they were.

As you start a new year may you take the time for some reflection to appreciate and learn from your past and consider that God gives us freedom and realize that what we have done matters. But also to realize that whatever our past, we have the freedom and responsibility to let that past help us, inform us, guide us, in what we do today and in the year to come. May we be open to all of God’s blessings in the New Year.

Fr. Nick


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – December 23, 2018

Merry Christmas,

As we get ever closer to Christmas Day I was considering on how busy and active things get, but some of the most memorable parts of Christmas’s have been very calm and quiet moments. That made me think of the song “Silent Night” and I know I had heard of its origin but had forgotten, so I thought I would look it up. Good thing I did because it just so happens that tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the writing of that hymn.

I found the history of it in a book I have, and then went on-line to find numerous other versions, but all of them had some parts in common that I will take as true. Fr. Joseph Mohr wrote the words for the song and the music was composed by Franz Xavier Gruber, the organist at the parish, and it was first performed in public on December 24th, 1818 at St. Nikolai (or Nicholas in English) church in Oberndorf Austria. That first time it was also not accompanied by the organ, since some say the organ was broken, but rather by a guitar. This leads into the next point in that it was the organ repairman, Karl Mauracher, who heard them play it when he came to repair their organ who then would spread it around many villages he traveled to in the Austrian Alps. By the early 1830’s it managed to spread further by some traveling folk singers and would be heard in a few royal courts and in 1839 was reportedly first performed in America.

The original arrangement cannot be verified but there are a few different manuscripts of the carol found that were written by Gruber, and one by Joseph Mohr that is believed to date to 1820. The common current arrangement is believed to be only slightly different. And the words always change slightly with translations but hopefully still carry the same meaning that will hopefully help you find the calm and peace of Christ.

May you and your families have a Merry Christmas.

Fr. Nick

Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – December 16, 2018


The second week of Advent is over and only one week and 2 days left until Christmas (but who’s counting). As children I think we were usually counting because we were so anxious of getting to Christmas day and the gifts, and the gatherings, and the cookies and other things we remembered from past years and looking forward to again. As adults I think we usually are thinking of all the things we still need to get done (the gifts, the cookies, the invitations, the parties, the cards, the decorating …) before Christmas. As a kid we are more in the anticipation and excitement attitude, as adults a bit more of a worry attitude, I think we need to be more like the kids.

As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday and light the rose colored candle we are supposed to rejoice in joyful expectation. Again, sounds more like the attitude of children then most adults. I think one of the main reasons for this problem for adults is that we think it depends on us, that we are responsible. If we don’t get all the things we need to get done that Christmas won’t be, or it will be ruined. As children we know it doesn’t depend upon us. We get to participate in the celebration and to be a part of it but we also realize that there are all of these old traditions and practices that are done that we are only starting to take part in. It is kind of obvious that this was happening even before we were around (as was always a reminder for me growing up in looking at old family photos we put out of Christmas’s past when I wasn’t even born yet).

Maybe just looking at one small but critical part of most of our Christmas celebration can help see this. Consider your family Christmas tree. Most of us probably have specific ways in which it is to be decorated, if it is a live tree or artificial, if we use colored lights or only white, what goes on top, the type of ornaments we use, where it goes in the home and even when it goes up are all things we can get pretty fixed on. And yet all of those are just very secondary and don’t even matter, if we don’t have the tree. Christ is that tree.

All the other things we do, that we are responsible for, are useless if we don’t have Christ in our Christmas. And that is a part that God has waiting for us. You could say don’t forget to come by Church and pick Him up. God gives us what is central for our Christmas celebrations, never forget in all that we do to prepare for it that the gift of Christ is what Christmas is about.

Fr. Nick