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 | Poor Clares: 800 years of beseeching the protection of Jesus

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson announced the 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal during a fundraising dinner at St. Raymond. The choir of Sts. Teresa and Bridget, who are featured in the 2015 appeal video, sang gospel songs and posed in a photograph with the Archbishop.To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal and watch the video, visit

"As lightning races down the lightning rod, (so) graces flow from heaven to earth through St. Clare's monasteries."

BEFORE THE CROSS | Charity: Way by which we love God and our neighbor

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson led Easter Vigil services at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. He blessed the water in the baptismal font before six people were baptized into the Catholic faith. Five others were received into full communion with the Church through the sacrament of confirmation.

"Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1822).

When the topic is the theological virtue of love (charity), we might think of how we give love to others. That's a good thing; but I want to draw our attention to the paradoxical truth that the most fruitful human activity is to receive the love of God.

How could that possibly be the case?

BEFORE THE CROSS | Hope: Belief that God is leading us to a glorious ending

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson led the Way of the Cross for employees of the archdiocese April 1 at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.

"The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads toward a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey" (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, #1).

The Old Testament figure of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit, but he never lost hope. He trusted in God's care for him. Hope shaped his attitudes and actions, even when times were dark.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Faith: The act by which we believe in God and all that He has revealed


Interestingly, the first disclosure of Jesus' identity in the Gospel of Mark comes from a demon (Mark 1:21-26).

St. James makes a similar point: "You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble" (James 2:19).

Mark and James are revealing that faith -- the first of the theological virtues -- isn't just a matter of knowledge.

So, what is it? The Catechism of the Catholic Church details two key facets: "Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that He has said and revealed to us" (CCC, 1814).

BEFORE THE CROSS | Theological virtues: A gift and a task

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

It's time to shift from talking about the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance) to the theological virtues (faith, hope and love -- sometimes called charity).

Before talking about the virtues individually, it's good to keep in mind that all of them are both a gift and a task.

How so?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church points the way with an instructive parallel: "You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life" (CCC, 166). How are life and faith both a gift and a task?

BEFORE THE CROSS | Temperance: Gate-keeper between our desires and our actions

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

"Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church," 1809).

This definition has two levels. On the first, we feel the pull of desire: We see the cookies, we want the cookies ... we hear the cookies calling our name!

But we don't eat the cookies because we know they aren't good for us. That's temperance. On this level, temperance acts as a gatekeeper between our desires and actions.

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