Archbishop's column

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

'Before The Cross' by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Archbishop Carlson is the ninth Archbishop of Saint Louis. Listed below are the most recent columns written by Archbishop Carlson; click on the title to read the column. The Archdiocesan website has more information about Archbishop Robert J. Carlson.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Temptation and misdirected desires

Sister Emeline Phan, CMR, held the prayer book and Sister Irene Dinh, CMR, the local superior, held a candle as Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrated a votive Mass for the Queenship of Mary and blessed the new convent of the Sisters of Mary Queen on Sept. 6. The sister’s motherhouse is in Saigon, Vietnam, but there have been Sisters of Mary Queen residing in the Archdiocese of St. Louis since 1994. The Sisters of Mary Queen serve God’s people through teaching, nursing, pastoral care, social work, early childhood education, youth ministry and more.

As we probe more deeply into the roots of sin in our lives,we find that we are not only inwardly divided but also tempted. In addition to the weakness inherited as part of fallen human nature, a force of evil also is at work in the world and in our hearts: We are under attack by the enemy of human nature, who is stronger than our human capacity. Every human person is susceptible to the strategies of the tempter, who wills our destruction and fears our surrender to God.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Getting to the roots of sin

At the end of a Mass in honor of St. Louis IX, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson presented each of the Catholic schools of the archdiocese with a framed image of St. Louis. The archbishop encouraged the children to pray to St. Louis, the patron of the city and archdiocese, integrating him into their education.

To see a recording of this Mass, visit

We know the inward division that St. Paul spoke of when he said:

"What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. (Romans 7:15)"

Faced with such an ancient problem, what will we do?

BEFORE THE CROSS | Symptoms of a soul-sick world

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

Many signs tell us that something has gone wrong in the world. Public discourse has grown shrill, suspicious and divisive. Violence, both far and near, dominates the headlines. The scourge of pornography has grown, sex-trafficking is on our radar, and the exploitation of the human body for marketing has become commonplace. Bullying and its consequences have become an epidemic, requiring a systemic response.

These are but a few examples. There are others. They are symptoms, signs of a soul-sickness that afflicts the world.

What's underneath it all?

BEFORE THE CROSS | Jesus Christ: The Divine Physician

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson talked with seminarians prior to a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city and the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Louis IX. Dignitaries included Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia; Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States; Archbishop Thierry Jordan of Reims, France, where St. Louis was crowned; and Prince Louis de Bourbon, a descendent of St. Louis IX.

Jesus Christ is the great physician -- the Divine Physician -- of body and soul.

In His public ministry, Jesus reached out, by word and deed, to heal those with illnesses of the body and sicknesses of the soul. (See Mark 2 and Luke 4, where Jesus' public ministry begins with healing episodes.)

In His Passion, death and Resurrection, He conquered sin and death, becoming the source of ultimate healing for all. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave the Apostles a share in His own life, so that the healing power of his words and deeds would continue to be present to the world through them.

BEFORE THE CROSS | A revolution of tenderness

Catholic radio host, Teresa Tomeo, broadcasted her show live from the Cardinal Rigali Center. She interviewed Archbishop Robert J. Carlson from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

"God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy" (Pope Francis, "Evangelii Gaudium," 3).

Here's a little Bible trivia: In the Gospels, how many times does someone ask Jesus to forgive his or her sins?

Zero. That's right – it never happens.

The point isn't that Jesus doesn't forgive sins. Obviously, He does. The point is that no one ever asks.

Do you think we can do better?

BEFORE THE CROSS | Synod tries to better explain, not change, Church teaching

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson spoke to Brother Aidan McDermott and Brother Cuthbert Elliott at the Mass in which the two Benedictines were ordained as transitional deacons. The men will continue their studies toward the priesthood at the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis.

In this final article on the family, I want to reflect on the extraordinary Synod of Bishops that the Holy Father has called for the coming fall. The theme of the synod is "the pastoral challenges for the family in the context of evangelization."

Let's begin by recalling a conversation Jesus had with his disciples. One day He asked them, "Who do people say that I am?" They reported the things they had heard: that He was John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the prophets.

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