The Month of November 2023

My Friends,

 “…an encounter with Our Lord”
            Monsignor John Shamleffer is a St. Louis priest and serves as pastor of our Annunziata and Ste. Genevieve du Bois Parishes. In a recent pastor’s column in the bulletins of those parishes he wrote about the Sacrament of Penance. His reflection offers a lot to think about!
            “The Sacrament of Penance, like all Sacraments, is an encounter with our Lord and we are blessed to receive the graces we need to unite our lives with his. When the Church celebrates the sacraments she makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and in this way, she keeps her memory of Him alive.  The Lord instituted a special sacrament of penance for the pardon of sins committed after baptism, and the Church has faithfully celebrated the sacrament throughout the centuries.
            “What happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
In the Sacrament of Penance, ‘the sinner’ who by grace of a loving and merciful God embraces the way of penance comes back to the Father who ‘first loved us' (1 Jn 4:19), to Christ who gave himself up for us, and to the Holy Spirit who has been poured out on us abundantly.
            “What is the role of the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
According to the Rite of Penance, ‘the Church exercises the ministry of the sacrament of penance through bishops and priests. By preaching God's word, they call the faithful to conversion; in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, they declare and grant the forgiveness of sins. In the exercise of this ministry, priests act in communion with the bishop and share in his power and office . . .’
            “What is the role of the community in the sacrament?
According to the Rite of Penance, ‘the whole Church, as a priestly people, acts in different ways in the work of reconciliation which has been entrusted to it by the Lord. Not only does the Church call sinners to repentance by preaching the word of God, but it also intercedes for them and helps penitents with maternal care and solicitude to acknowledge and admit their sins and so obtain the mercy of God who alone can forgive sins.’       
            “Jesus’ words, ‘woe to the one through whom [sins] occur,’ hold a key of insight for all of us because they have a positive dimension in addition to the explicit negative one. While it is our duty to avoid leading each other astray, we are also called to help one another remain true to the gospel message. Luckily, one does not need to be perfectly holy to help another. Even the lowliest sinner can help the most righteous person when we rely on the Lord.
           “We often fail to recognize the degree to which our actions affect and influence others. This is especially true in our family life and relationships with the people we spend the most time with. By our actions, we often lead one another astray or closer to heaven.
            “In my experience, focusing on each other’s welfare more than our own, helps to avoid the notion that we are unworthy as examples on this journey. By spending less time worrying about whether or not we can do it, we can properly focus on the next step in this moment in order to best care for those around us. This focus fosters an unselfish mindset that reminds us that we are all here to help each other to be better Christians, and ultimately, to get each other to heaven!”
“We remember…”
            Throughout the month of November our Pro-Cathedral Book of Remembrance will be in place on the south side of the sanctuary before the image of the Risen Christ and near the Baptismal Font and Easter Candle adjoining it.  This setting is a reminder that from Baptism onwards we are Alive in Christ and heirs to the promise of Life that always only begins.  Moreover we participate even now in a holy communion, in Christ, and with one another, and with those who already see Christ face to face, as well as those yet awaiting that blessed vision.
            You are welcome to enter the names of deceased family members and friends in the Book of Remembrance.  We will remember them in the Intercessions at Mass on the Sundays of November.
163 years and counting…
            On Saturday, 4 November 2023, we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the dedication of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist Church by then-Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick.  This Pro-Cathedral Church has been in continuous and uninterrupted use since that day. And it continues to be so!
            The present church replaced a smaller brick structure, built shortly after the territorial parish was established in 1847.  It was immediately to the north of the new church, and stood until the Mill Creek Redevelopment of the Downtown West neighborhood in 1960.  With the completion of the new church, in 1860, the original building was used as a parish hall and library.
            A detailed description of the present church is included on the cover of our church bulletin. The anniversary of the dedication is an occasion for thanksgiving for the graces that have been abounding here these 163 years and for all – living and deceased – who have been part of this family of faith.
“Expectant delight”
           We will celebrate on 3 December 2023, the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the New Year of Grace 2024.  After proclaiming the Gospel of Matthew at Masses in the Year of Grace 2023, we will next proclaim the Gospel of St. Mark.  Because his is the shortest of the Gospels, near the end of Ordinary Time, we will begin to proclaim chapter six of the Gospel of St. John.
            About the Season of Advent, one writer proposes: “Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.  For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.”
Looking forward
            Speaking of Advent and Christmas, it is not too early to note the schedule of Masses for the coming holiday season.
     The Fourth Sunday of Advent: 24 December 2023:  10:00 AM
             Christmas Eve:                            24 December 2023:    5:00 PM
                                                                       Christmas Carols:     4:30 PM
Christmas Day:                            25 December 2023:  10:00 AM
                                                                       Christmas Carols:      9:45 AM
New Years Eve                            29 December 2023   No Mass
New Years Day                            1 January 2024        10:00 AM
    (The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – New Years Day is not a holyday of obligation in 2024)
Forward in Faith
            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 group that gathers reflects the diversity of our members
            The video series Catholicism by Bishop Robert Barron is the springboard for conversation on faith matters.  Dr. Dan O’Brien will be facilitating this next discussion.  Sessions so far have sparked engaging reflections by participants.  The next Faith Enrichment Group meeting is Sunday, November 5th following the 10:00 Mass and will last about one hour.  Light refreshments are served.  All are welcome. 
In Brief
            The Solemnity of All Saints will be celebrated on Wednesday, 1 November 2023.  It is a holyday of obligation.  Mass will be celebrated in the Pro-Cathedral at 7:10 in the morning.
            On Thanksgiving Day, 23 November 2023, Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis at 9:00 in the morning.
            We are grateful to friends of the Pro-Cathedral for recently refreshing and enhancing the landscaping around the church campus.  This was a contributed service and a labor of love for those who made it possible.
            In recent weeks a number of exterior elements of the Pro-Cathedral Church and Rectory have received a fresh coat of paint.  The cost was covered with funds withdrawn from our reserves on deposit with the Archdiocese.
            We pray that Linda Sampson, mother of Susie Sampson, now sees God face to face. We pray for Margaret Czapala and all who are hospitalized and homebound that God give them grace and peace.

                                                                                    Faithfully, Monsignor Delaney