St. Joseph Catholic Church

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


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – April 29, 2018

Hello,

If you ever place yourself in a position where you will answer anyone’s question, you have probably found out that some people can present fairly challenging questions, especially if there are children involved. The pope was at a parish just over a week ago and they had things set up for a question-and-answer session with youngsters as he often does. He had some typical questions but then there was a young boy who wanted to ask a question and walked up to the microphone but couldn’t get up the nerve to ask it. Eventually the pope asked if he just wanted to tell it to him privately, and he did and they talked about it a few minutes. Then the pope asked if he could share what they said, and the boy said he could.

The boy had a very serious and important question. The young boy asked about his father who had died a little while ago who the boy described as a nonbeliever. The boy wanted to know if his father was in heaven. If you want the full article describing this it was in the Review last week and you can read about it from Catholic News Services, (http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2018/is-my-dad-in-heaven-little-boy-asks-pope.cfm) When the pope responded he didn’t cite a specific rule about what we need to do to go to heaven, but rather said “God is the one who says who goes to heaven,” and then they talked about God. I think it was a great example of if you really understand something you don’t need the other person to be an expert in the field to explain it to them, but you can explain it in a very simple manner for anyone to understand.

While I’m glad I’ve never had such an important and challenging question myself in such a public manner, I think it is good to seriously ask ourselves these type of questions at times. And don’t just try to answer them in the most complex, nuanced, and educated way that we can, but also consider at the same time the most straight forward and simple manner in which we can answer it, for a child, or for ourselves. If we can’t answer most questions about our faith and say how it shows our love for God or one another, or God’s love for us, I don’t know if we have much of an answer. That doesn’t mean that the answer is always going to be what you want to hear, but hopefully we will value our faith and be humble enough to hear answers to our even most challenging questions. Maybe not challenging in that they are difficult to answer but challenging to live out what we realize they ask of us.

So what is the last challenging question you’ve had in your life? And how did you answer it?

Peace,
Fr. Nick

Congratulations and thank you to our music director, Dr. Adam Thomé, and our choir for their performance last Sunday of John Rutter’s Requiem. We appreciate the music for worship at Mass each week and this was a fantastic special performance.

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Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – April 22, 2018

Hello,

I remember a few years ago, I was living in a parish in Washington DC and there was an optional feast we could celebrate that day for the martyr St. George. I was thinking about it and thought, I don’t know any George’s, I don’t have any particular devotion to St. George, I will just go with the standard Mass for the day instead of the prayers and the Red vestments for St. George. And just as I begin walking down the aisle of the church I look up and see two George’s I knew in the parish, and then I remember my one grandfather’s name is also George (although I never called him that), so I usually celebrate the feast of St. George now.

So what do we know about St. George. He was a fairly high member of the Roman Army and is believed to have been a victim of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his declaration that the army should arrest all Christians and that all soldiers needed to make a sacrifice to the Roman gods. While George would not denounce his faith nor make a sacrifice to the Roman gods some histories states that Diocletian gave George numerous opportunities to fulfill this requirement due to his close friendship with George’s father, but other writings talk about the many years that George was tortured to renounce his Christianity. Before he would be put to death George is also known for having donated all of his wealth to the poor. All of the histories have him ultimately being tortured and then put to death for his faith with the date given as April 23, 303 or as late as the year 307. Within the first two centuries after his death the stories of his torture, his faithfulness, and the conversions that resulted became numerous. While many are not considered to be factual, the great extent of them clearly demonstrated his popularity and the devotion to him as a martyr at that time. He was honored as a saint in both Eastern and Western churches and is even given the title of “prophet” in Islamic hagiography.

He is probably most commonly known to us today as the patron saint of England and is usually pictured slaying a dragon. This tie to England came during the crusades when he was a favored saint by many going on the crusades. The story about St. George that began around the 11th century was that a princess had been offered to appease a dragon but that St. George came and slew the dragon before the dragon could kill the princess. In response to this act the entire kingdom then converted to Christianity. Undoubtedly some of this was founded in the stories of conversions that occurred when George was being tortured, along with the efforts of the crusades and the hope that these efforts would convert entire kingdoms to Christianity, and the dragon is accepted as representing the enemies of Christianity. This story gained great popularity when it was written into a work called the Golden Legend, written around 1260, that spread this story throughout England.

So these are some of the reasons why, this Monday April 23rd, I will celebrate the optional feast of the Martyr St. George and wear red vestments. Also remembering that my mother’s father’s name wasn’t just ‘Grandpa’, but also George.

Peace,
Fr. Nick


Notes From The Pastor’s Pen – April 15, 2018

Hello,

This weekend we have our eighth graders in our PSR being confirmed at the Cathedral on Sunday afternoon. A major effect of Confirmation is always considered as the strengthening of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they received in Baptism. Since one of the questions we always ask the confirmandi (those to be confirmed) is what are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I thought this was a good opportunity to review it myself, and maybe for some of you.

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord, those are the seven gifts. They can be found listed in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah:

“But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength [fortitude], a spirit of knowledge and of fear of
the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.[piety]”. (Is 11:1-3 NAB)

There are various definitions for each of these different gifts, the following is a listing mostly from the following website: (https://www.thoughtco.com/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-542143).

Wisdom: The highest gift of the Holy Spirit, through wisdom we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.

Understanding: People sometimes have a hard time seeing how this differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us to grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith.

Counsel: This is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear tostand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.

Fortitude: Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.

Knowledge: Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Catholic Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Like counsel, it is aimed at our actions in this life. In a limited way, knowledge allows us to see the circumstances of our life the way that God sees them. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God’s purpose for our lives and live them accordingly.

Piety: Piety is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion todayas the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.

Fear of the Lord: We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love.

These gifts belong in their fullness to Christ, and through the sacraments they help us to be open to obey divine inspirations (CCC 1831). Keep the Confirmandi in your prayers.

Peace,
Fr. Nick