The Month of February 2024

My Friends,

Our Sphere of Influence
                Criticism comes easily for many.  Archbishop Rozanski has a perspective on that.  His words offer a timely perspective as the Forty Days of Lent are on the horizon. Embracing his challenge could be a potent Lenten practice!  The Archbishop says this:
               “It’s easy to watch the news these days and criticize others. What’s harder — and has always been harder — is to become something deeper and better ourselves.
                “In some ways, it’s a question of sphere of influence. Most of the things we see on the news are beyond our sphere of influence. They’re someone else’s problem.
                “The life of St. Paul, however, and his radical conversion, can encourage us to focus on what falls within our sphere of influence, with our own conversion coming first. St. Paul’s first responsibility was to respond to the call of Jesus Christ in his own life. Eventually, in God’s providence, that had a large impact on the world. But everything flowed from St. Paul first, taking care of what lay within his sphere of influence.
                “In many ways, that was true of Mary, as well. Think about her small sphere of influence — living in the small village of Nazareth, in the small nation of Israel — compared to the world’s problems in her day. And yet, her ‘Yes’ to God within that small sphere of influence had huge implications for the world!
                “It’s like the parable of the mustard seed, which Jesus uses in the Gospels. The seed is very small. But if it takes care of its own growth, it has a larger impact than you might expect.
                “That’s our story, all the way back to Abraham and his faith, and also all the way back to Adam and his sin. Whether or not we take care of what falls within our own sphere of influence has an impact — for better and for worse — on the state of the world. The temptation is to focus our attention on what lies outside our sphere of influence. The news is very good at focusing our attention there. But let’s name that for what it is: a temptation.
                “If we see what’s happening in the world and are content to criticize others who are outside our sphere of influence while taking no steps to become something deeper and better within our sphere of influence, it will call forth a like response in others. Nothing gets better that way. But if we see the problems in the world and try to be something deeper and better within our own sphere of influence, that will also call forth a like response in others. That’s the only way things get better.
                “What can I do in my own life, in my own family, in my own work and in my own neighborhood? Perhaps I could engage in more prayer, study or service. Perhaps I could be more involved in my parish or form deeper relationships at work. Perhaps I could be less susceptible to outbursts of anger, or to building dissension and factions, and more patient, kind and generous, as St. Paul suggests in his Letter to the Galatians 5:19-23.
                “The great saints of Catholic history saw the problems of their times and, yes, criticized the problems of their times. But first, they spent their time and energy becoming something deeper within their own sphere of influence. Their critique was more than words. It was articulated most powerfully in a deeper life. That’s one of the great challenges of our day: to become something deeper than what we see. In the face of the world’s problems, our sphere of influence may seem small. But, in God, it can have huge implications.”
Ash Wednesday & The Great Season of Grace
                The Season of Lent comes early this year.  Ash Wednesday, on 14 February 2024, begins the great season of grace.  Mass will be celebrated here on Ash Wednesday at 7:10 in the morning.  Ashes are imposed after the Gospel and Homily of the Mass.
                Additionally, Mass, with the imposition of blessed ashes, will be celebrated at noon at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on Lindell Boulevard, and at the Old Cathedral on the Riverfront.
Minds and Hearts Renewed
                Prayer, fasting, works of charity are the Lenten agenda which will prepare us – come Easter – to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with minds and hearts renewed.  If you do not yet have your Personal Lenten Program concretized, do so soon, so that this really will be a great season of grace for you.
                Be realistic about what you will undertake. Be careful about setting so rigorous a program that it becomes too demanding, and then – sooner or later – you become discouraged and abandon it.  Less can be more here.  A few well-chosen practices which you keep faithfully throughout these forty days are best.
               The Norms for Fast and Abstinence are detailed of the facing page of this bulletin.
                Prayer, fasting and works of charity have many facets. Participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in person or livestreamed daily from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.  Celebrate the Sacrament of Penance.  Pray the Stations of the Cross, using one of the many resources to be found online, if helpful.  Set aside fifteen minutes daily to reflectively read a portion of the four Gospels.  Meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.  Connect with someone daily, especially the homebound or seniors, by phone, email, text, or an in person visit. Count your blessings often and with thanks to God, and those who bless you.  Fast from criticizing and judging.  Practice thinking and saying only the good things people need to hear.  Be attentive, in thought and in deed, to the poor, hungry, homeless and vulnerable.
                The possibilities for your Lenten agenda are numerous.  Let us pray that God grant grace abounding to us, each and all, throughout the coming forty days so that come Easter Day we are still more Alive in Christ!
A Lot to Think About
               Pope Francis proposes some very practical and concrete possibilities for Lenten fasting.  They are a lot to think about!  They are a challenge to put into practice.
               “Do you want to fast this Lent?  Fast from hurting words and say kind words.  Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.  Fast from anger and be filled with patience.  Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.  Fast from worries and trust in God.  Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.  Fast from pressures and be prayerful.  Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.  Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.  Fast from grudges and be reconciled.  Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.”
Faith Enrichment Group
               Our St. John’s Faith Enrichment Group regularly meets on the first Sunday of the month, in the church hall, following the 10:00 o’clock Mass.  The Faith Enrichment Group that gathers reflects the wonderful diversity of our members.
                The video series Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron is a springboard for conversation on faith matters. Sessions so far have sparked engaging reflections by participants.  The next Faith Enrichment Group meeting is Sunday, February 4th, in the Church Hall following the 10:00 Mass and will last about one hour.  Light refreshments are served.  All are welcome. 
In Brief
               Thanks to all who contributed to our annual Fill the Hangers with Coats collection.  The coats, jackets, sweaters, gloves and scarves will keep others warm and comfortable.
                Belated congratulations to Madeline Burns, the matriarch of the Pro-Cathedral family.  On January 12th she celebrated her 95th birthday!  May the years to come be many, and blessed!
                We keep in prayer Margaret Czapala & Joyce Sullivan, all who are homebound, and those with terminal illness or incurable disease. May God keep a careful eye on them and on their caregivers and loved ones.
                We share the joy of Phil and Cece Heslin as they await the birth of their first-born.  Baby Heslin is due June 8th.  Thanks be to God for this proof positive, in flesh and blood, of the age old intuition of the Church that love creates life!

                                                                                    Faithfully, Monsignor Delaney