The Month of August 2023

My Friends,

Who we truly are…
            Father Michael Rennier is a parish priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis ordained in 2016.  He is a frequent and popular contributor to the St. Louis Review. He writes here about being “the best version of ourselves.”
            “In ancient Greece there was a pagan temple at a place called Delphi. On a wall was inscribed the phrase, ‘Know Thyself’.
            “When Socrates first saw those words — wise philosopher that he was — he laughed out loud. St. Augustine agrees, confessing to God, ‘Lo, you were within, but I outside.’ In other words, God knows him better than he even knows himself. Augustine is outside himself, lost and wandering into all the wrong forms of self-knowledge.
           “The Catholic novelist Walker Percy, in his book ‘Lost in the Cosmos,’ puts it this way; ‘Why is it that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos — novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes — you are beyond doubt the strangest’.
            “It’s frustrating to look back each day and realize I did a thousand random things with totally unexamined motivations. I said things I didn’t mean, reacted in odd ways to emails and conversations that I wish I could take back and made suspect choices. I don’t quite know myself, what I’m thinking and feeling, why I do what I do. The reason for this is quite simple: Sin blinds us. This is why God knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees clearly, whereas our sight is muddled.
            “We truly are strange creatures. We have all the potential in the world. We’re given heart-breakingly beautiful glimpses into the very nature of God’s infinite glory. We’re fed by the sacraments and experience moments of transcendent joy through which we peer to the deep-down freshness of the universe and see the face of God mirrored in His creation. And yet, we frequently turn to lesser pursuits. We worry about errands, shopping or what’s on television. We wear ourselves out with overwork and anxiety, obsessively scroll through social media, or get caught up in gossip. Even St. Paul admits that he does things he doesn’t want to do, doesn’t do things he wants to do and is so very frustrated by his inability to change. Sound familiar? It does to me.
            “How can we know ourselves better? We allow God to do His work. As St. Augustine says, He is within. He knows us best because He is sinless and in a perpetual state of love. He loves us with the entirety of His being and sees the goodness within us like a seed waiting to be brought to full blossom.
            “The eye of the lover sees the beloved with the greatest accuracy, meaning that God sees our sins, the hidden thoughts of our hearts and our flaws. It also means He sees our Christ-shaped soul and the sainthood lurking in the heart of each and every one of us. Sainthood — the best version of ourselves — is who we truly are. Are we courageous enough to look within and find it? Are we willing to knock on the door and search out God in the recesses of our heart and take that journey of self-knowledge?”
The Banquet of Life
            The National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year initiative, begun in 2022, by the bishops of the United States.  It aims to inspire, educate, and unite the faithful in a more intimate relationship with Jesus, really present, body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Most Holy Eucharist. To this end, the bishops propose the following prayer:
            “Lord Jesus Christ, you give us your flesh and blood for the life of the world, and you desire that all people come to the Supper of the Sacrifice of the Lamb. Renew in your Church the truth, beauty, and goodness contained in the Most Blessed Eucharist.
            “Jesus living in the Eucharist, come and live in me.   Jesus healing in the Eucharist, come and heal me.  Jesus sacrificing yourself in the Eucharist, come and suffer in me.  Jesus rising in the Eucharist, come and rise to new life in me.  Jesus loving in the Eucharist, come and love in me.
            “Lord Jesus Christ, through the paschal mystery of your death and resurrection made present in every Holy Mass, pour out your healing love on your Church and on our world. Grant that as we lift you up during this time of Eucharistic Revival, your Holy Spirit may draw all people to join us at this Banquet of Life. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.”
Forward in Faith
            Our St. John’s Faith Enrichment Group, initiated by Dina Hyde and Cece & Phil Heslin, regularly meets on the first Sunday of the month, in the church hall, following the 10:00 Mass.  But because of the Labor Day holiday, the meeting this month will take place the following Sunday, 10 September.
            The video series Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron is the springboard for conversation on faith matters.  Dan O’Brien facilitates the discussion.  Sessions so far have sparked engaging reflections by participants.  The next Faith Enrichment Group meeting is Sunday, September 10th following the 10:00 Mass.  All are welcome.  Light refreshments are served.
What will be different?
            Comes the question, following the August 1st date for implementation of the All Things New reconfiguration of the Archdiocese: “What will be different for us at St. John’s?” From a practical standpoint the answer is simple.
            On August 1st, the territorial downtown boundaries of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist Parish were transferred to the Old Cathedral.  It becomes the single territorial parish for downtown St. Louis.
           Parishioners of St. John’s become members of the Pro-Cathedral.  Going forward we will refer to the Pro-Cathedral rather than to the parish.  Our parish census is transferred to the Old Cathedral, but your membership at St. John’s is unchanged.  Think of it as a kind of dual citizenship!  Masses and all of the Sacraments continue to be celebrated here.
            We are blessed that the Pro-Cathedral staff, Nettie Moore, Mers Clifford, Jen Davies, and Michael Goar will continue their service.  Sunday stewardship offerings in the collection at our Masses, and through online giving, continue to support, solely, the mission and ministry of the Pro-Cathedral.  The daily, weekly, monthly, yearly rhythm of the life of the Pro-Cathedral remains the same.
“You did it for me”
            Each year the Archdiocesan Annual Catholic Appeal funds people programs that serve over one half million children, women and men in our metropolitan community.  People of all faiths, and of no faith, benefit.
            Our challenge goal this year, set by the Appeal leadership, was $26,288.00.  As I write this, to date, our gifts total $26,625.00.  Our new donor goal was two.  We have four new donors this year!  In my twenty-one years among you we have never not reached goal.  That is so again this year!  You are, consistently, as generous to God and the things of God, as God has been generous to you!
            I am grateful.  Archbishop Rozanski is grateful.  All those who benefit from your generosity are most grateful!
In Brief
            Once more I express my deep gratitude to Don Massey as he has resumed music ministry for us for the foreseeable future.  Following Aidan Donovan’s relocation, for work purposes, to his home in Pittsburgh, Don responded without hesitation that he would return, after only seven months of retirement following more than twenty years as our Music Director and Organist. We are blessed.
           For many years St. John’s has been the recipient of a generous and unrestricted gift, of $30,000 each year, from Therese Colonna Shurig. Though not a parishioner, Therese was a great friend of the Pro-Cathedral, and as long as her health permitted, joined us each year for the Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord.  On 26 August, at the age of 96, Therese passed away.  May she see God now face to face.
            Greg and Sarah Deschler were married at St. John’s eleven years ago.  They have returned for the Baptisms of four children, and the First Communion of daughter Lillian Therese. On Sunday, 3 September they bring their fifth-born, Felicity Joan, for Baptism. Thanks be to God for the proof positive she is, in flesh and blood, of the age old intuition of the Church that love creates life!
            On Friday, 15 September, Bill Clifford celebrates his 80th birthday.  We share the joy and gratitude.   May the years to come, for Bill, be many and blessed!
            Recently the large exterior signage on the north and south walls of the church was refurbished and restored.  An anonymous benefactor funded this project.  Pedestrians and drivers on the Chestnut Street side of the church often slow to look at the building. Visitors parking on our Pine Street lot for downtown events often pause to admire the building.  The signage identifies us clearly as the Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist.  And it offers a sincere welcome to all.
           We keep in prayer Margaret Czapla and all our sick and homebound. God keep a careful eye on them all!  We are happy to bring Holy Communion to those unable to attend Mass. Simply contact the rectory.

                                                                                    Faithfully, Monsignor Delaney