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.

A new bishop and a new editor


On Monday, May 3, I traveled to Kansas City in our state to ordain Msgr. Robert W. Finn, up to now the editor of the St. Louis Review, to the episcopate. Now Bishop Finn is the Coadjutor Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, one of the four dioceses in Missouri. As Coadjutor Bishop, Bishop Finn will share with Bishop Raymond J. Boland, the Diocesan Bishop, in the pastoral care and governance of the Diocese, in preparation for his assumption of the office of Diocesan Bishop, when Bishop Boland resigns the office. Bishop Boland, anticipating his resignation of the office of Diocesan Bishop, had asked our Holy Father for a coadjutor bishop, so that his successor could be better prepared for his service.

It is a great honor for the Archdiocese of St. Louis to have one of its priests chosen by our Holy Father for episcopal ordination. Bishop Finn celebrates the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this year. He has been a most faithful and devoted priest who has served the faithful of the Archdiocese well, fulfilling a variety of responsibilities with a priestly mind and heart. Although we will miss him very much in the archdiocese, I am deeply happy for the faithful of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. They have received a new bishop who will shepherd them after the Heart of Christ.

With Bishop Finn’s departure from the Archdiocese of St. Louis to be ordained to the episcopate and to take up his new duties, I have appointed James J. Rygelski, up to now managing editor of the St. Louis Review, to the office of editor. At the same time, I have named Msgr. Joseph D. Pins, new rector of the Parish of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, to the office of episcopal vicar for the archdiocesan newspaper. Mr. Rygelski has already given excellent service to the apostolate of the Catholic press in the archdiocese, during his years of working with Father and then Monsignor Finn. He is a devout Catholic and a highly qualified journalist. I am most grateful for his willingness to take on greater responsibility for the life of the Church in St. Louis.

Msgr. Pins, distinguished priest of the archdiocese, will serve as my representative in the weekly editing of the St. Louis Review. Through Msgr. Pins, I will remain very close to the apostolate of the Catholic press in the archdiocese.

I now reflect a bit on the significance, for us all, of the appointment of a new bishop and of a new editor of the St. Louis Review.

Episcopal Ordination

Through the ordination to the episcopate, Christ, seated at the right hand of God the Father, continues to pour forth the special gift of the Holy Spirit, which He first poured forth upon the Apostles. It is the grace to act in His person as shepherd and head of the flock in each particular Church of the one universal Church. By way of note, "particular Church" usually means a diocese. It also refers to territorial prelatures, territorial abbeys, apostolic vicariates and apostolic prefectures. The "one and only Catholic exists" in each particular Church and from all the particular Churches (can. 368). The Holy Father, successor of St. Peter, is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity" of all the particular Churches, and the Bishops, successors to the Apostles, in communion with the Holy Father, "are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches, which are constituted after the model of the universal Church" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium [21 November 1964], n. 23a). The occasion of the ordination of a bishop is a time for us to reflect on the great gift of the unity and catholicity of the Church, coming to life from and living from the open glorious Heart of Christ.

By ordination to the episcopate, Christ makes a priest a high priest, providing true shepherds for His flock in an unbroken line of succession to the Apostles whom He ordained at the Last Supper. By the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the whole being of the priest is placed at the disposition of Christ, so that Christ may act in the Bishop for the instruction, sanctification and discipline of the Church in every place and at every time.

Three Orders

Here it should be noted that the Apostles understood that the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which they had received in its fullness, was to be handed on in three grades or orders to different persons. The three grades are the episcopate or Order of Bishops, the priesthood or Order of Priests, and the diaconate or Order of Deacons. Here, the word "order" is used in a different sense from its use to refer to a religious congregation, for example the Order of St. Benedict or Benedictines. Holy Orders is conferred in all three grades by the laying on of hands, the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the very beginning of the Church, and the ancient prayer of ordination, a specific portion of which constitutes the form of the sacrament, by which the bishop gives praise to God and calls down the special gift of the Holy Spirit upon the person to be ordained bishop, priest or deacon.

The bishop receives the Holy Spirit for the fullness of Holy Orders. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, bishops are made "true and authentic teachers of the faith, high priests, and shepherds" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church [28 October 1965], Christus Dominus, n. 2b). As a symbol of the fullness of Holy Orders, which the bishop has received, he customarily wears both the dalmatic, the vestment of the deacon, and the chasuble, the vestment of the priest, when carrying out the more solemn liturgical rites, especially when conferring the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which belongs to the bishop alone.

Priests are co-workers of the bishops, sharing with them the priestly dignity, although they do not possess the fullness of the priesthood. They are ordained "to preach the Gospel, to shepherd the faithful, and to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament" (Lumen Gentium, n. 28a). The priests depend upon the bishop for the exercise of their priestly ministry. The priests, together with their bishop, constitute the presbyterate of a particular Church or Diocese, so that the ministry of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the flock, is present in every part of the Church entrusted to the Bishop’s pastoral care.

The deacons are ordained "not for the priesthood but for the ministry" (Lumen Gentium, n. 29a). They serve the Church by assisting the Bishop and priests at the altar, by proclaiming and preaching the Gospel, and by carrying out works of charity in the name of the Bishop and priests. They always act in communion with the bishop and priests; their particular service is entrusted to them by the Bishop or their parish priest.

Metropolitan and Suffragan Sees

As I have already indicated, it is a great honor for the Archdiocese of St. Louis to have one of its priests called to the office of bishop. It was the source of deepest joy for me to ordain Bishop Finn for the service of the faithful of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It is the norm for the metropolitan archbishop to ordain the bishops to serve the Church in the other dioceses of the province, which are called suffragan sees.

The universal Church is divided into territories. A bishop is sent by the Holy Father to each territory to act as a true shepherd of the flock. The territories are usually called dioceses for the Latin Church or eparchies for the Eastern Catholic Churches. In turn, the dioceses are united into groups called provinces. One of the dioceses in the group is designated as the Metropolitan See and the bishop of the see has the title of archbishop. The Code of Canon Law describes the nature of an ecclesiastical province:

"To promote the common pastoral action of different neighboring dioceses according to the circumstances of persons and places, and to foster more suitably the relations of the diocesan bishops among themselves, neighboring particular churches are to be brought together into ecclesiastical provinces limited to a certain territory" (can. 431, 1)."

St. Louis is the metropolitan see for the Province of St. Louis, which encompasses the dioceses in the state of Missouri. There are three suffragan sees: the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. The bishops of the province meet two or three times each year, in order to discuss the means of promoting common pastoral action and to foster their fraternity. The term suffragan expresses the relationship of Bishops to the archbishop. It does not share a common root with the word "suffering." Rather, it refers to the full vote or suffrage which a diocesan bishop has in a provincial synod or council.

The pallium is the distinctive vestment of the metropolitan archbishop. It is given to him by the Holy Father as a sign of the unity of each metropolitan archbishop with the Bishop of Rome, who is the Bishop of the Universal Church. I will lead a pilgrimage from the archdiocese to the See of Rome in late June, where, God willing, I will receive the pallium from Pope John Paul II on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Catholic Press

The Archdiocesan Catholic press is my means of communicating weekly with all of the households of the archdiocese. Through the means of a weekly newspaper, I am able to carry out my responsibility of teaching the faith, especially as it applies to current questions, and to communicate regarding Church teaching and discipline, in general. The archdiocesan newspaper also provides the means of informing all of the faithful of the archdiocese about the news of the parishes and institutions which make up our particular Church. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminded us all about the importance of the Catholic press, when the Bishops at the Council wrote:

"The faithful should be reminded of the need to read and circulate the Catholic press if they are to judge all events from a Christian standpoint (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Means of Social Communication, Inter Mirifica [4 December 1963], n. 14a)."

Given the confusion of our culture about the most basic questions and the strong influence of the culture upon us through the media, it is most important for a bishop today to have a regular means of communicating the news of the Church to the whole flock under his care.

Some may question whether the weekly newspaper is the best means for such regular communication. I am a strong believer that it is. A weekly newspaper becomes a familiar part of the home. Family members and company regularly pick up the newspaper and read some part of it. For my part, I read parts of the archdiocesan newspaper and other Catholic weeklies which I receive each day. In my years as a bishop, I have frequently been told by individuals that they happened to read an article in the Catholic newspaper which gave them a new understanding of something about which they were confused or had serious questions. For some, reading an article in the archdiocesan newspaper will be the occasion to begin a return to the practice of the Catholic faith or to seek help from the parish priest in addressing a serious personal matter.

There is a familiarity about the weekly Archdiocesan newspaper, by which everyone understands that it is his or her newspaper. It is a strong symbol of our common life in the Church, seeking to live more intensely in Christ in every aspect of our lives. For that reason, it is my firm desire that every Catholic home in the Archdiocese receive the St. Louis Review, unless, for whatever reason, a household insists that it not receive it.

The fact that the newspaper is weekly is important. There is so much richness to our Catholic faith and life, and there is so much happening daily in the archdiocese, that the Church needs a weekly means of fostering communication among her members. Apart from the Sunday homily, which is a most important form of teaching the faith and its practice — especially in the context of the highest expression of our life in Christ, participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice — the archdiocesan weekly newspaper provides an irreplaceable means of a bishop, and his priests, communicating with the faithful. It will come as no surprise, therefore, that the Holy Father has a daily newspaper which is published in Italian and a weekly newspaper published in several languages.

New Editor and Episcopal Vicar

Having worked closely with our new editor, James J. Rygelski, from the time of the announcement of my appointment as archbishop of St. Louis, I have come to trust his knowledge, judgment and skills. I am confident that he will give excellent leadership to the St. Louis Review.

Because the weekly newspaper is such an important means of teaching the faith and its practice, it requires the collaboration of clergy and the laity. Clearly, Mr. Rygelski will be working with me to assist me in carrying out my fundamental responsibility of chief teacher of the faith in the archdiocese. Because of the scope of my responsibilities, I wanted him to have the assistance of a priest who represents me directly and has from me the authority to give direction to the apostolate of the Catholic press. For that reason, I have named Msgr. Pins the Episcopal Vicar for the St. Louis Review. Msgr. Pins will be meeting with Mr. Rygelski weekly, and I will meet with both Msgr. Pins and Mr. Rygelski on a regular basis.

It should be noted that Msgr. Pins will be devoted principally to the responsibilities of the office of rector of the Cathedral Basilica Parish. His duties at the St. Louis Review will not diminish in any way his ability to carry out those responsibilities.


I hope that the above reflections are helpful in understanding the importance of two recent historic events in the archdiocese and in the Province of St. Louis. In closing, I ask your prayers for Bishop Finn, who has taken on a weighty office for the sake of Christ the Good Shepherd and His flock. Pray, too, for Mr. Rygelski, our new editor, and for Msgr. Pins, that they may assist me well in carrying out the apostolate of the Catholic press, so that, through it, the faithful of the archdiocese may grow in knowledge of faith and may increase in the fervor of their practice of the faith. As always, I ask your prayers for me, that I may be a worthy shepherd of the flock in our beloved Archdiocese of St. Louis.

'Am I not here, I who am your mother?'


From Dec. 9 to 12, 1531, the Mother of God appeared five times in what is present-day Mexico City.Three of the apparitions were to St. Juan Diego, a native American of the Chichimeca tribe of the Aztecs; one was to his elderly and infirm uncle Juan Bernardino, with whom he lived; and the final apparition was to St. Juan Diego, the Bishop and his attendants.In her final apparition, our Blessed Mother left her image permanently on the tilma or mantle of St. Juan Diego, which remains miraculously preserved today, even though the cactus cloth of which the tilma is made should have disintegrated long ago.

Within a matter of a few days, the Bishop of Mexico, Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, had a chapel built to the honor of the Mother of God and enthroned the miraculous tilma there.St. Juan Diego, for his part, took up his home at the chapel and recounted the story of Our Lady’s apparitions to all of the pilgrims who came there to pray.His good friend, Antonio Valeriano, a well-educated and esteemed fellow Native American, wrote down the account which he had heard many times directly from the mouth of St. Juan Diego.The text is titled Nican Mopohua, written in Nahuatl, the native tongue of St. Juan Diego.We are blessed to have an English version of the most reliable account of the apparitions by St. Juan Diego, as recorded by Antonio Valeriano.It is available in two books: A Handbook on Guadalupe (pp. 193-204), edited by Brother Francis Mary of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and distributed by Ignatius Press; and Our Lady of Guadalupe: History and Meaning of the Apparitions (pp. 88-100) by Manuela Testoni, published by Alba House.

Mary’s Month

I recall the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe as we begin May, a month of special devotion to the Mother of God.As inhabitants of the American continent, the Mother of God has made known her great care and love for us through her extraordinary apparitions in 1531.Because her image remains on the enthroned tilma of St. Juan Diego, the Mother of God continues, in a certain sense,to appear to all who go to her on pilgrimage.Her words spoken to St. Juan Diego are words intended for all of her children of America and, thanks to Antonio Valeriano, continue to reach us today.In urging all of the faithful of the archdiocese to renew their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May, I recall the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which invite a response of loving devotion.

From her very first apparition, on Dec. 9, 1531, our Blessed Mother identified herself as the Mother of God and made clear that her apparitions and the message conveyed through them are for all the children of America and of the world.In other words, they are timeless and are directed as much to us today as they were directed to God’s children of America in the 16th century. Her message is of God’s all-merciful love toward us.Through her apparitions, many human lives were saved and millions of Native Americans sought baptism.

In her last conversation with St. Juan Diego, on Dec. 12, our Blessed Mother assured him of her maternal care for him.St. Juan Diego was deeply worried about his uncle, Juan Bernardino, who was dying at home. He was hurrying to ask the priest to come to his uncle and to pray for him and anoint him. For that reason, he had failed to carry out the request of the Mother of God, although he planned to do what she asked of him afterward.Our Lady of Guadalupe met him on his way to find the priest.Recognizing his worry, she said to him:

"Am I not here, I who am your mother?Are you not in my shadow, under my protection? Am I not the fountain of your joy?Are you not in the fold of my mantle, in my crossed arms?Is there anything else you need?" (Nican Mopohua, n. 119)

Her words reassured St. Juan Diego and renewed his trust in God’s mercy.

With that, she invited him to go to the top of the stony Tepeyac Hill to pick flowers in the middle of winter, which were to be the sign of the truth of her apparitions and of her desire that a chapel be built to her honor, so that she might show God’s merciful love to those who would come to the chapel on pilgrimage.She desired that her children of America and of the world would hear always the loving words assuring us of her maternal care.

After St. Juan Diego had picked the flowers, he brought them to our Blessed Mother who arranged them in his tilma and then spoke the most wonderful words to him:
"Juan, you are my messenger, in you is placed absolutely all my confidence" (Nican Mopohua, n. 139).

Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have the Mother of God speak these words to you personally?Through her messenger, St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe invites us to come to her, to open our hearts to her, and, with her, to bring the message of God’s merciful love to the portion of the world in which He has called us to live.She also places her confidence in us.

The Rosary

I urge you to take time during the month of May to go to Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. Go to her to express your love for her and to ask for her help.There are many ways to show devoted love of Mary during the month of May, devoted love which will continue throughout the year in many forms.

Praying the rosary is the most powerful Marian devotion.At the beginning of the 25th year of his service as our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II wrote a wonderful letter to all the faithful of the world on the importance of praying the rosary.It is his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, "On the Most Holy Rosary," which he signed on Oct. 16, 2002, the beginning of the 25th year of his service as Holy Father. The apostolic letter would be a wonderful text for spiritual reading during the month of May.

In the apostolic letter, Pope John Paul II tells us that the rosary is his favorite prayer (n. 2a). He uses the words which he spoke on Oct. 29, 1978, shortly after his election as Pope, to describe for us why the rosary is his favorite prayer and why it is so important to our prayer life:

"Against the background of the words Ave Maria, the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul.They take shape in the complete series of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through — we might say — the heart of his Mother.At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church, and all mankind — our personal concerns and those of our neighbor, especially those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us.Thus the simple prayer of the rosary marks the rhythm of human life" (n. 2a).

When we pray the rosary, our Blessed Mother helps us to draw near to her Son. Through the praying of the rosary, we make our hearts one with her Immaculate Heart, placing our hearts completely in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As our Holy Father states so strikingly, we not only come to know our Lord more fully and lovingly, but we also come to know more fully and lovingly all of those for whom we pray.

In the apostolic letter, our Holy Father, reflecting upon the situation of our day, asked that we pray the rosary especially for peace and for the family (n. 6).Uniting ourselves to Christ, in the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, we find the only source of our peace and of the peace of the world. Over the centuries since the rosary was first given to the Church, the successors of St. Peter have frequently urged the praying of the rosary to obtain God’s help and mercy.In our time, marked so tragically by violence at home, in our communities and between nations, let us pray the rosary to know peace in our own lives, to beg peace for the world, and to obtain the grace to be peacemakers.

I am certain that there is not one of us who has not experienced the deep wounds which have been inflicted upon the family in our time. To address the great harm which has come to the family, let us pray the rosary for families and encourage families to make the praying of the rosary a stable part of their home life. Countless graces have come to families, strengthening them to meet challenges and protecting them from harm, through the praying of the rosary.

May Altar

Another popular devotion to Mary during the month of May is making a May Altar in our home.I recall with so much gratitude the practice in my home of dedicating a special place of honor to our Blessed Mother during the month of May.As children, my siblings and I found great joy in gathering wild flowers to adorn the little table set aside to honor our Blessed Mother.We looked forward to spending time before her image there, expressing our deep love of her and asking her intercession for various needs.

It would be good to have the May Altar become a permanent part of our home.A good friend of mine, Eduard Dietmaier, a woodcarver who grew up in Oberammergau in Bavaria and now lives outside of La Crescent, Minn., often told me about the tradition of the Gotteswinkel in the homes of devout Bavarian Catholics.His wife, children and he always maintained the Gotteswinkel in their home.The Gotteswinkel, or God’s Corner in the home, is a place of devotion.It can be a table or shelf on which we place sacred objects which evoke our prayer and devotion.It reminds us that our homes are consecrated to Christ, that Christ desires to be the permanent guest in our home and should be part of everything that happens in the home.Family members stop by the Gotteswinkel during the day to offer special prayers and even to leave a written petition or place there the photograph of a family member or friend in need of prayers. The whole family gathers there to pray, especially the rosary.

It would be most fitting to create the Gotteswinkel around the enthroned image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, by which we consecrate our homes to Christ and proclaim Him the King of our hearts and homes.During the month of May, it can also serve as our May Altar, our place of special devotion to the Mother of God.Throughout the year, the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially of the Immaculate Heart of Mary or Our Lady of Guadalupe, should have a prominent place in the little altar which we set up in our home to remind us that our home is a little church, the first place in which Christ comes to dwell with us.


Another way to show our devotion to the Mother of God is to go on pilgrimage to a sacred place dedicated to her honor.On pilgrimage, we leave the ordinary circumstances of our lives, to discover their truly extraordinary character, because Christ dwells with us always. I suggest a visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville.Special graces come to us when we make the effort to visit Our Lady in one of her shrines.

In this regard, I ask your prayers for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Diocese of LaCrosse, the diocese which I served before coming to St. Louis.The building of the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe has been very close to my heart, for I see it as a singular way in which to express our devoted love of Mary, increase our devotion, and seek the help of her prayers which we and our nation and world so much need.Until the new bishop of La Crosse is appointed by our Holy Father, I remain the president of the board of directors of the shrine, a duty which I carry out with great joy.

On this coming May 12, I will travel to La Crosse for the groundbreaking for the shrine church, the heart of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the following day. It marks a key moment in the history of this important spiritual work, for it is in the shrine church that the pilgrims will reach their goal and find so many graces for their daily living.In the shrine church, Our Lady of Guadalupe will speak to the hearts of her children, assuring them of God’s merciful love and inviting them, with St. Juan Diego, to be the messengers of God’s merciful love in the world. In a world which has become so forgetful of God and His plan for us, the message of the Virgin of Guadalupe is ever more timely.Going on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we will hear her words, spoken first to St. Juan Diego and now to us: "Am I not here, I who am your mother?"In other words, we will come to understand how the Mother of God is also our mother who assists us to live daily in Christ, to bring Christ, God’s merciful love incarnate, to our world.

If you wish more information about the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Diocese of LaCrosse, the address of the Web site of the shrine is: The regular address of the shrine is P.O. Box 1237, La Crosse, Wis., 54601; the telephone number is (608) 782-5440.Also, I will be happy to provide more information about the shrine to anyone who is interested. I hope to lead a pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the shrine in the fall.

Please pray for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.Your financial support also will be most welcome, for significant funds must yet be raised to complete this important spiritual work of our time.


May the month of May be a time of special Marian devotion for you and in your home. May Mary draw you close to herself and, in turn, lead you to her Son.Through her intercession, may many graces come to you and those for whom you pray.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, pray for us.

Sharing our gifts


The Easter Season calls to mind the many and wonderful ways in which our risen Lord is alive for us in the Church.We think of the holy Eucharist, most of all, for it contains the entire good of our redemption (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 5).By the holy Eucharist, Christ makes present for us always His sacrifice on Calvary.We think, too, of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation which our Lord instituted on Easter night when He appeared to the Apostles (cf. Jn 20:23).We think of the transformation of all created things, now destined to become "a new heaven and a new earth," which Christ has inaugurated by His Resurrection and will bring to fullness at His Second Coming (cf. 2 Pt 3:13; and Rv 21:1).

Easter reminds us of the true destiny of all created goods.They are entrusted into our hands for the good of all, to serve God the Father’s plan for our salvation. God the Father is the source of every good and sustains every good in being for our salvation and the salvation of the world. Easter renews within us our commitment to share our gifts for the sake of others, especially those most in need.Recall the inspired words of St. Peter: "As generous distributors of God’s manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received" (1 Pt 4:10).The all-merciful love of God for us is also the source of our inspiration and strength to be the heralds and instruments of God’s mercy in the world.

Archdiocesan Development Appeal

The Archdiocesan Development Appeal is a most effective means of putting our gifts at the service of others.It is an act of stewardship, in which all of the faithful of the archdiocese have a part, "each in the measure he has received" (1 Pt 4:10).Rightly, it is conducted during the Easter season when we are reflecting upon God’s manifold gifts and our right stewardship of them.

The 2004 Archdiocesan Development Appeal begins on this coming weekend. In the coming days, your pastor and your parish leadership for the appeal will be in communication with you to seek your participation.It is essential that all the faithful be invited to practice Christian stewardship through participation in the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.The appeal is an effective means for us all to use our gifts to sustain and develop the life of the Church in the archdiocese. Many apostolates and other works of the archdiocese depend upon the Archdiocesan Development Appeal for their necessary financial support.At the same time, there is so much more that the Church in the archdiocese needs to do in carrying out the mission of Christ in the world.Without a generous response to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal, we, the faithful of the archdiocese, will not be able to help our brothers and sisters as we have been doing and desire to do more effectively.For these reasons, I urge you to respond generously, when you are asked to share your gifts through the appeal.

Last Year’s Appeal

For decades, the goal of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal has been reached or surpassed.But, over the last several years,the number of donations, that is, the number of those making pledges, had been declining.Last year, thank God,the trend was reversed.Our faithful longtime contributors continued to make sacrificial gifts through the 2003 appeal, but more of the faithful made pledges than in the prior year. It is important and especially heartening to note that more young families joined the appeal last year and made gifts for the first time.Also, more of the contributors joined the ranks of the Associates of the Archbishop at the $1,000 level and above, recognizing the increasing needs of the Church.

Our priests and religious also gave to the appeal in goodly numbers. Archdiocesan employees and businesses which provide services to the archdiocese participated generously in the appeal, as well. What is more, companies which employ Catholics throughout the archdiocese made matching gifts at record levels.The support for the 2003 Archdiocesan Development Appeal was truly extensive and came from a variety of sources.

My study of last year’s response of the faithful to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal gives me much hope for a generous sharing of our gifts through this year’s appeal. What most gives me hope for this year’s appeal is the participation of more and more of the faithful of the archdiocese.

The tradition of generous support of the Church by the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis is unmatched in the United States. The stewardship of the faithful of the archdiocese manifests a deep Catholic faith and a consistent witness to the faith in practice.It shows your solidarity with and support of the Church’s charitable, educational and missionary works.

As we begin the appeal in our parishes, we pray for God’s blessings on our efforts.The beginning of the appeal is also an annual occasion for us to reflect upon the essential part of stewardship in our Christian life.

Christian Stewardship

What does God ask of us as the stewards of His manifold gifts?He, first of all, asks us to be humble, that is to acknowledge Him as the source of all our good gifts.Humility is a virtue at the foundation of the Christian life and, therefore, at the foundation of Christian stewardship.

God’s first gift to us is life itself.With life, He gives us our distinctive personal gifts, and places at our disposal the goods of creation.All that we are and have is God’s gift to us, but we can become forgetful and begin to think that our life is completely our own and our doing.The practice of humility is an antidote to such forgetfulness and false pride on our part.St. Paul in his First Letter to Timothy cautions us to remember that "we brought nothing into this world, nor have we the power to take anything out" and, therefore, we should use God’s gifts to us, not to become rich in material goods for ourselves but to become "rich in good works and generous, sharing what [we] have" (1Tm 6:7 and 18).

Secondly, recognizing, in humility, God as the source of our very being and of our every good gift, we acknowledge that all of our talents and possessions are given to us by God to provide for our own needs and to share from our substance to help brothers and sisters who lack essential goods.St. Paul reminds us: "God can multiply his favors among you so that you may always have enough of everything and even a surplus for good works, ..." (2 Cor 9:8).

As stewards of God’s manifold gifts, we have three kinds of goods to share with others for the common good.First of all, there is our personal time, the sharing of the gift of life.Then, there is the sharing of the talents with which God has endowed us.Lastly, there is the sharing of our treasure, the material goods which God has placed into our hands.

Our personal goods, as also the goods of our family, our nation and the world, are not our possessions to be hoarded or used selfishly.Rather, they are a sacred trust which God has given to our care for the good of all, both for now and for the generations to come.

God Himself has set the example for us in the sending of His only-begotten Son as our Redeemer.God did not spare His only Son, but, for love of us, gave Him up to death (cf. Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32;1 Jn 4:9).We are called to imitate God in His universal charity, giving ourselves for the good of others, even when it hurts.We are called to unite our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and, after His Heart, to pour out our lives in love.The Easter season is a time to celebrate the universal charity of God and our call to imitate God’s love, to be "made perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

God calls us to live in His Son, to live as Christ did and to sacrifice as He did.We are called, in the words of Jesus Himself,to love one another as I love you (cf. Jn 15:12). The Archdiocesan Development Appeal is a fundamental means of imitating Christ and following His commandment of love.

Details about the Appeal

The information about the Archdiocesan Development Appeal, which was mailed to you, and the information supplied at your parish provide the details on the breadth of the apostolates and services which are supported by the appeal. The informational literature describes how your gifts will be used to support schools, parishes, works of charity and other services throughout the archdiocese.

Please review the literature sent to you and please view the video for this year’s appeal, if it is shown in your parish.Then, I ask you to consider prayerfully your gift for this year’s appeal.If it is possible, I ask you to increase the amount of your gift for this year, that the archdiocese can carry out more fully the mission of Christ in the world.

Beneficiaries of the Appeal

Your gift to the appeal helps the homeless, those suffering from injustice, those living in fear and hopelessness, those in prison and the victims of crime. It also will come to the aid of students seeking a Catholic education in our schools, and of young and old who hunger for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The pledge you make will help to ensure that our seminarians receive the education and formation necessary to be good and faithful shepherds of the flock, the future priests of the archdiocese.The appeal provides for the care of our priests in retirement.Through the generous sharing of your gifts, immigrants and refugees will find a home in the heart of the Church, and young couples preparing for marriage will receive the instruction and help which they will need to form happy and healthy homes. Your gift will protect the innocent and defenseless unborn from the attacks of a culture of violence and death.

The above describes only a part of the works which the Archdiocesan Development Appeal supports.Your participation in the 2004 appeal will make it possible for the archdiocese to continue and increase its service to the whole Church.Through your pledge, you become a part of all of these good works.


I conclude with a brief reflection upon the life of St. Louis IX (1214-1270), king of France, who is the patron saint of our city and of the archdiocese.As I noted in the homily for the Mass during which I was installed as Archbishop,St. Louis had a custom of inviting the poor and the suffering into his house to be fed.In fact, he himself often served his guests.The king also was known for his generous gifts to widows and prostitutes who were outcasts from the society of the time.He built homes and hospitals for the blind and the sick.A great benefactor of education, he founded many schools, including the Faculty of Theology at the great University of Paris, known popularly as the Sorbonne.

Let us pray to St. Louis, our great mentor in holiness of life and our intercessor before the throne of God.May he who devoted his energy and his resources to assist the poor, the outcast, the sick and those suffering injustice help us to renew our commitment to serve others as he did.

Finally, I offer heartfelt thanks to all of the many volunteers who have worked for many weeks already in preparing for the 2004 Archdiocesan Development Appeal which we are beginning in these days.It is through the guidance of our deans, parish priests and lay leaders that this wonderful work of stewardship is made possible.

The staff of the Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and the staff of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal office give themselves tirelessly to the work of the appeal. I am deeply grateful to these servants of the Church.I also gratefully recognize the generous leadership of our Archdiocesan Development Appeal Council, especially the chairman of the 2004 appeal, Mark Gietl, and of our vicars general, Bishop Robert Hermann, Msgr. Vernon Gardin and Msgr. Richard Stika.

Please share your gifts with your brothers and sisters of the archdiocese and far beyond through a generous pledge to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.St. Paul teaches us that "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7).May God love you and return a hundredfold your generous support of the Archdiocesan Development Appeal.

The Holy Land


So great is the mystery of the Redemption that we celebrate the Solemnity of the Resurrection for eight days, what we call in the Church an octave, from Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday.After the completion of the Octave of Easter, the Easter Season continues through Pentecost Sunday. On Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter, we celebrate the completion of the work of our Redeemer with the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church.

Our Risen Lord poured forth a first gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Church at His Resurrection.Through the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, His disciples, the members of the Church, received the gift of faith in the Resurrection, of Christ’s living presence in the Church.With the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit, an increase and strengthening of the first outpouring, the Apostles and disciples received the grace to go forth to every nation, in order to hand on the teaching of Christ and His Sacraments.

Our whole Christian life is paschal.It has its origin in the Paschal Mystery, Christ’s suffering, dying and rising from the dead.The Holy Eucharist, the highest expression of our Christian life, is the Paschal Mystery made present anew to us, and to faithful of every time and place.Our daily living is a participation in the dying to sin in order that we, with Christ, may live for God and for one another.From Christ’s work of the Redemption — His Passion, death and Resurrection; His Ascension; and the sending of the Holy Spirit — we receive the grace to live in Him, to share in His vocation and mission, to be co-workers of God the Father in the work of our salvation and the salvation of the world.

The mystery of the Redemption, the Paschal Mystery, is indeed great.It is beyond all our imagining.Each year, as we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we strive to deepen our understanding of all that Christ has done for us and continues to do for us in the Church.What is more, we strive to respond more generously to the Holy Spirit whom He has poured forth into our souls, as the fruit of His redemptive work.We strive to become more like Christ.

The Holy Land

An important aspect of our deepening understanding of the Paschal Mystery is our profound regard for the places in which Christ carried out the work of our Redemption.The events by which we have been saved from sin and everlasting death are historical. They took place in time and in space.Our Savior walked the land of what today is Israel and what we, as Christians, call the Holy Land. He employed the gifts of nature about Him to teach the Gospel and to work miracles.He took His nourishment from the fruits of the land.His tears of sorrow drenched the land, and His Blood was poured out upon it.

Rightly, we have an obligation, and indeed a natural desire, to honor the holy places, the places of Christ’s conception, His birth, His hidden life, His public ministry, His Passion, death and Resurrection.St. Francis of Assisi manifests, in an exemplary way, the devotion to the sacred places of our Lord.It is fitting that his spiritual sons, the Friars Minor, remain, under the authority and with the support of our Holy Father, the custodians of the holy places for us all.With the spiritual genius which was his, St. Francis of Assisi also devised ways for us to go on mystical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when we are not able to travel to the holy places.I refer to practice of the Christmas Crib and the Stations of the Cross.

Each year, on Good Friday, we take up a special collection to support the apostolate of the sacred places of the Holy Land.Also, many contribute to the custody of the Holy Land, which the Holy Fathers have placed into the care of the Friars Minor, popularly known as the Franciscan Fathers and Brothers; and to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.The Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, under the patronage of our Holy Father, of which there is a strong representation in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, is devoted, in a special way, to the places made holy by our Lord.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

It is easy to understand why, for Christians, the first goal of pilgrimage is the Holy Land.Of all the places to which we may journey to grow in faith and devotion, none can compare to the places made sacred by our Lord Himself.All other places of pilgrimage point to Jerusalem as the first and best place of pilgrimage.The goal of our life pilgrimage is the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven which the city of Jerusalem symbolizes for us.Christ passed from life to death to eternal life in Jerusalem, on Mount Calvary.Our life in Him, our life in the Church, is destined for the same passage from life to death to eternal life in the New Jerusalem, which is Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, is our model of the pilgrim to the Holy Land. St. Helen came to know Christ late in life, when she was about 63 years of age.She loved Christ so much that she gave herself wholeheartedly to deepening her knowledge of the Catholic faith and strengthening her witness to Christ. She was determined "to make up for lost time," so to speak.

We can only imagine her deep desire to make pilgrimage to the places made holy by our Lord’s presence and the joy of her first pilgrimage to the Holy Land.St. Helen became so devoted to the sacred places of our Lord that she led the work of building fitting churches and shrines at Calvary, the place of our Lord’s Burial, and other sacred places.She also worked diligently to find the cross of Christ and other sacred relics. St. Ambrose, in telling of St. Helen’s finding of the true cross, tells us that she "worshiped not the wood, but the King, Him who hung on the wood.She burned with an earnest desire of touching the guarantee of immortality" (Quoted in Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 1956 edition, Vol. 3, p. 347).

St. Helen teaches us the importance of pilgrimage in our Christian life, for it helps us to remain closely united to our Lord by leaving our familiar surroundings and traveling to holy places.She shows the goal of every pilgrimage, more fervent love of Christ and union with Christ through prayer.

Christians in the Holy Land

For some years now, especially since the Palestinian uprising (intifada) in September of 2000, it has become most difficult to make pilgrimage to the Holy Land.The constant tension between the state of Israel and the Palestinian inhabitants, of which some are Christians who trace their faith back to the first Christian centuries, has made it unsafe for pilgrims to make their way to the holy places.No doubt, you have read in the newspaper about the small number of pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the churches and shrines of our Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection, during the days of Holy Week and on Easter Sunday.

So difficult has the situation become that more and more Christian Palestinians have left the Holy Land, the land of their ancestors, the land of their Lord and Savior.Recently, I was visited by member of a Palestinian Christian family, natives of Bethlehem.The family has, for a long time, made its livelihood by the selling of sacred objects carved in olive wood from the Holy Land.With the absence of pilgrims, the family has brought their work to the United States, in order that their craft may survive and they can provide for their essential needs. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, has written a letter of introduction for the family to assist them and the craftsmen who make the sacred objects in Bethlehem.You may be meeting some of the members of the family in the coming months in your parish.

Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II has repeatedly called for an end to the daily violence which marks the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land.He has underlined the need to create civil structures which respect both peoples who have lived in the Holy Land for centuries and have the right to continue to live there. His call has always reflected both the deepest respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters, with whom we have the closest bonds through our Catholic faith, and for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, many of whom are Palestinian.

The Wall of Separation

More than a year ago, the Israeli government began to construct a wall of cement and razor wire to separate the Palestinians from the rest of the population.The city of Bethlehem has been divided by the wall. When it is completed, it will separate Israel from the West Bank.The wall, hideous in physical appearance, has a profoundly negative influence on all aspects of life for Palestinians.It is most difficult for them to pass through the wall to have access to places which are important to them.For instance, Palestinian Christians cannot travel to Jerusalem during the holy days on pilgrimage.Also, it becomes practically impossible to have access to services which are only available beyond the wall.

While the Israeli government maintains that the wall is necessary to protect the Israeli people from Palestinian terrorist activity, the Palestinians see it as an attempt to make permanent the Israeli occupation of their land and to drive out the few Palestinian families who remain in the Holy Land. What is clear is that the wall is only increasing the lack of respect between the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, and furthering the injustices which must come to an end, if there is to be peace in the land made holy by the Prince of Peace.

There is no justification for the terrorist activity on the part of Palestinians.At the same time, there is no justification for the building of a wall of separation between peoples of the same land, which leaves the people on one side of the wall in a situation of military occupation, unable to carry out their work and to have access to certain necessities of life.Hedy Epstein, a survivor of the Holocaust and member of the Jewish community in St. Louis, has written eloquently about the situation which she witnessed first hand.I refer to her article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Feb. 17 of this year. In the article, she wrote, in part:

"It is impossible to visit Israel these days without being aware of the constant threat posed by terrorists.Suicide bombs kill and maim innocent persons riding in buses or taking a meal in a restaurant.We Jews who survived the Shoah know all too well that the intentional targeting of civilians is illegal and immoral.So I grieve the loss of life in Jerusalem from the suicide bombs.

"But I also grieve the loss of life in Palestine, which occurs almost on a daily basis.So I went to Palestine as a member of the International Solidarity Movement to observe the difficult conditions of daily life under military occupation.It would have been enough to reach out and touch just one Palestinian and place my hand on her shoulder and tell her that I was with her in her pain.But I saw and did much more" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 17, 2004, p. B7).

As Christians, we cannot remain indifferent to the situation in the Holy Land.We must join our Jewish and Palestinian brothers and sisters in praying and working for peace.Our Jewish sister, Hedy Epstein, is an inspiration to us all.


Our profound regard for and devotion to the holy places of our Lord demands that we do all that we can to promote peace, the divine gift which Christ has won for us by His suffering, dying and rising from the dead. Our Holy Father asked us at the beginning of the Year of the Rosary, in his Apostolic Letter "On the Most Holy Rosary," Rosarium Virginis Mariae, to pray the rosary daily for peace and for the family (cf. n. 6).I ask you to include in your praying of the rosary, daily if possible, the intention of peace in the Holy Land.

Let us also take the care in our homes and parishes to learn more fully the situation of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, Jewish and Palestinian.Let us urge our own government to foster the path of peace in the places so sacred to us and to our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

Our most traditional Easter greeting is "The Lord indeed is risen. Alleluia. — Surrexit Dominus vere.Alleluia." Christ has indeed won the victory over sin and death.Let us trust that, through our Christian prayer and witness, Christ will bring peace to the Holy Land. We confide our prayers and work to the intercession and protection of the Mother of God, under her title "Queen of Palestine."

Days of Divine Mercy


With the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, we conclude the 40 days of our Lenten observance and enter into the sacred Triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday — for which our whole Lenten observance has been preparing us.On Good Friday, a day of fast and abstinence, we begin the paschal fast which extends until after the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.It is our way of watching at the tomb of Christ, remembering His burial and His descent into hell (not hell, the place of eternal punishment,but the dwelling place of the souls of the just who were awaiting Christ’s coming and His saving death and Resurrection). With the first Mass of Easter, the fourth and last part of the Easter Vigil, we begin the Easter season, 50 days during which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, by which He won for us the victory over sin and sin’s most evil fruit, everlasting death.

In a certain sense, our Lenten observance never ends.Lent is an annual training by which we strengthen ourselves in daily ways of thinking, speaking and acting, which are true to the mind and heart of Christ.The virtues which we have developed through Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving are to remain habits of life. In other words, the Risen Christ, to whom we have been drawing ever closer through Lenten penance, is the source of our lasting joy as we celebrate His resurrection.By our Lenten observance, we have welcomed Christ more fully into our lives, we have permitted the grace of Christ to penetrate ever more deeply every aspect of our lives.And now we celebrate His resurrection, which has made it possible for Christ to dwell with us always through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Easter, Ascension and Pentecost

The celebration of the Lord’s resurrection comprises three events: His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday; His ascension to the right hand of the Father 40 days after Easter; and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, on the 10th day after the Ascension or the 50th day after Easter.The three events are distinct, but they are all integral to the one work of our redemption because they mark the actions by which Christ brought the Church, His mystical Body, to life.They are the events by which Christ has continued and continues to give His life for us, the Church.

At the resurrection of Christ, God the Father poured forth a first gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of His only-begotten Son. We see the work of the Holy Spirit in the disciples who encounter the Risen Lord in that privileged 40 days of His appearances to them in His glorious body after the Resurrection.But the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit looked for completion, a second gift of the Holy Spirit, enabling the disciples to bring Christ to the whole world. Once Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and the disciples had completed a novena (nine days) of prayer for the new gift of the Holy Spirit, God the Father poured out the second gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples.The Pentecost gift of the Holy Spirit transformed the disciples.With the Easter gift of the Holy Spirit, they had come to faith in the Risen Christ and to life in the Church, but they were timid and fearful about proclaiming faith in Christ to others and bringing the life of the Church to others.

Once they had received the second gift of the Holy Spirit, they were bold and courageous in announcing the faith to all.By the grace of the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the first disciples went out into the whole world to preach the truth of Christ and to bring the love of Christ to all the world, especially through the sacraments.It is clear how the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit are inextricably related to one another, as three moments in Christ’s one work of redemption.

Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist

Reflection on the three events of the Resurrection helps us to understand our own life in Christ.Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, has, with God the Father, poured out the Holy Spirit upon us for the first time at our baptism.Baptism is our personal Easter.The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, through the cleansing and life-giving waters of Baptism, washed away the stain of original sin from our souls and brought our souls to life in Christ, in the Church, His Mystical Body.Through baptism, God the Father has chosen us as His true sons and daughters in Christ, His only Son.

The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our lives at baptism is completed by a second outpouring at confirmation, strengthening and increasing God’s life within us, so that we may not only have faith in Christ but also proclaim faith in Christ to the whole world.Confirmation is our personal Pentecost.From the moment of our confirmation, we are to witness to Christ before others.We draw upon the grace of the Holy Spirit each day to be faithful to Christ, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us, so that in everything we think and say and do we will be true to our identity as sons and daughters of God.

The life of the Holy Spirit within us, through Baptism and Confirmation, is healed and nourished through the holy Eucharist, Christ’s true Body and Blood given to us as heavenly medicine and food.

With our First Holy Communion, we enjoy the greatest gift which God gives to us in the Church, the gift of His Son’s very life, first given up for us on the cross at Calvary.So essential is the holy Eucharist to our life in Christ that Christ instituted this sacrament on the night before He died, so that the gift of eternal life which He was to win for us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead would be ours always in the Church.Those who have come alive in Christ through baptism and are Christ’s witnesses in the world through confirmation desire to be in Christ’s company and to have full communion with Christ. Christ comes to us in holy Communion to be received into our inmost being. Christ accompanies and leads us on our life-pilgrimage, especially through participation in the holy Eucharist.That is why participation in Sunday Mass is a solemn obligation for us, under pain of mortal sin. That is also why many in the Church participate in Mass daily or several times a week in addition to Sunday Mass. By an act of spiritual communion, we express our desire for Christ, even when we are unable to receive Him in holy

During the Easter season, let us return often in prayer to our baptism, confirmation and First Holy Communion, remembering their source in Christ risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and sending forth the Holy Spirit. Let us recognize how Christ lives within us through the sacraments. Let us thank God and ask God for the grace to live ever more fully in Christ, faithful to the grace given to us in the sacraments.

Vocation and Vocations

Called to life in Christ, we are sent to bring Christ to the world.By baptism and confirmation, we all share the same vocation and mission.Christ’s life within us, first given through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at baptism and then increased and strengthened through the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, develops even as we develop physically. When we come to adulthood, physically and spiritually, God asks us to give definitive and stable form to our Christian vocation in what we also call our vocation, in a second sense.Christ alive within us leads us to respond to God’s call to make the gift of our whole life, in love of Him and of neighbor, in the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.These are the different vocations of those who share the one Christian vocation.

As we grow spiritually, we begin already to hear God’s call, which He makes clear to us through prayer and through various everyday signs, for instance our attraction to the vocation and our natural gifts for meeting the demands of the vocation, and the counsel of our parents and parish priest regarding God’s plan for us. The grace of baptism and confirmation, by which we have received our Christian vocation, most of all, enlightens and strengthens us to know God’s special plan, our vocation, and to respond to God’s call with all our heart.

We are baptized and confirmed for our salvation, and our salvation is found ultimately in living out our vocation in life. There is nothing in the world which can substitute for the giving of our whole life, in response to God’s call, either in the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood.Christ’s life within us is destined for the full and selfless gift of love which is the fruit of accepting our vocation in life. We will never be truly happy in life until we have come to know and embrace fully our vocation.

The Easter Season, therefore, is a most fitting time to speak with our children and young people about our Christian vocation and their vocation, God’s special plan for them.It is especially important to remind them to be ready to hear God’s call to the consecrated life or priesthood.In our highly secularized society which places so much emphasis on personal comfort, convenience and satisfaction, it is difficult for young men and women to hear God’s call to give their lives completely to God and the service of us all in the Church.Yet, we know that God is calling a sufficient number of young men and women to the consecrated life and the priesthood for the sake of His holy people.

The Easter season would be a wonderful time to visit Kenrick-Glennon Seminary or a convent. Also, encourage young men and women to take part in the various programs of the archdiocese and of religious communities which assist them in knowing God’s plan for them.Through these programs, young men and women are helped to consider God’s call in their lives and to speak about their vocation with young priests and seminarians, and young religious sisters and young aspirants to the religious life.


God is indeed infinitely rich in His mercy toward us.The events of our salvation which we recall and celebrate during the sacred Triduum and the Easter season manifest God’s immeasurable love for us, pardoning our sins and pouring forth the gift of His life for us.His call to us, our vocation, is a singular manifestation of His all-merciful love in each of our lives.

Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has designated the Sunday after Easter Sunday (the conclusion of the Easter Octave) Divine Mercy Sunday.We begin a novena in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday on Good Friday, the day on which God showed the depth of His love for us by dying for us upon the cross.Divine Mercy Sunday is inspired by the life and devotion of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland.The record of the messages which she received from our Lord is her diary, published by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception at Stockbridge, Mass., the site of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.The diary recounts revelations from our Lord to St. Faustina, all directed to increasing faith in the Divine Mercy and fostering worship of God in the mystery of His Divine Mercy.From the very beginning of the revelations, Christ asks that the words "Jesus, I trust in You" be inscribed on His image as the revelation of Divine Mercy.He also asked for the praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m., the hour of His death on Calvary, each day.

May our celebration of the sacred Triduum and the Easter season lead us to know more deeply the mystery of the Divine Mercy in our lives and to pray with ever greater fervor: "Jesus, I trust in You."

Abp. Burke’s Schedule

The following are among Archbishop Burke’s commitments for the next week:

Friday, April 9

Passion Liturgy

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 10

Easter Vigil

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 9 p.m.

Sunday, April 11

Easter Morning Mass

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 10 a.m.

Tuesday, April 13

Annual Mass for Catholic Charities

followed by lunch

St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Rock) Parish 11 a.m.

Talk to pro-life groups

St. Louis University 7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 14

Board of Trustees Meeting

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary 3 p.m.

Thursday, April 15

13th Annual Police Memorial Prayer Breakfast

Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel 8 a.m.


St. John the Baptist Parish, Gildehaus 7:30 p.m.

Make room in your hearts for Jesus Christ, Archbishop tells faithful

This is the homily of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke at the Mass of Installation on Jan. 26, the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

I. Saint Paul’s words to Saint Timothy, his disciple, co-worker and indeed his most beloved spiritual son, point to the truth we celebrate today: the grace of the Holy Spirit at work within the Apostles and their successors for the teaching, sanctification and pastoral rule of God’s holy people.Timothy had accompanied and assisted Paul on his apostolic journeys; had undertaken, at Paul’s direction, apostolic missions of his own; and had been consecrated as the First Bishop of Ephesus.Saint Paul, in his letters to him, recalls to Timothy’s mind the power of God’s grace within him by his consecration, so that he might be courageous and faithful in carrying out the apostolic ministry. How wise and how encouraging Paul’s words were for Timothy:

Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (Reading II).

Saint Paul wrote similar words to Saint Titus, who was also a disciple and co-worker, and whom the Apostle of the Nations consecrated as the First Bishop of Crete. In fact, in Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus we find a kind of rule of life for a bishop.

In honoring today the memory of Saints Timothy and Titus, we celebrate the grace of the apostolic office, handed down faithfully, from that first generation in the life of the Church, to our time and place. That grace was given to me through the hands of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on Jan. 6, 1995, first for the service of the Church in La Crosse and now for the service of the Church in St. Louis. Having completed my apostolic mission in my beloved home diocese and taking up today the same apostolic mission in my second home diocese, I, with you, thank God for the outpouring of His grace in my life for your sake.Today, deeply conscious of my unworthiness, I hear the words of Saint Paul to Timothy, as if spoken to me by our Holy Father: "Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.So you, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (Reading II).

The memory of Saints Timothy and Titus leads us also to celebrate the beloved co-workers of the bishops, the priests who share in the priestly office for the shepherding of God’s flock. The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us: "Bishops, therefore, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to priests at their ordination, will regard them as their indispensable helpers and advisers in the ministry and in the task of teaching, sanctifying and shepherding the people of God" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 7a).

Let us thank God today for our priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my co-workers in carrying out the ministry of Christ the Great Shepherd.

Let us also pray for those whom God is calling to the ordained priesthood, especially the seminarians of the archdiocese.Let us pray, too, for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, that it may be always a worthy school of priestly virtue and pastoral charity.

II. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry is truly a celebration of Christ, the Good Shepherd, in whose person the Apostles and their successors have acted on behalf of God’s holy people in every age. God the Father had promised through the Prophet Isaiah that the fullness of the Holy Spirit would be upon His anointed, upon the Christ, for our salvation.By His Redemptive Incarnation, God the Son, in whom the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwells, has freed us from our slavery to sin and won for us a share in the same Holy Spirit (Reading I).

Among the many riches of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church is the consecration of bishops as true shepherds of God’s flock. By the grace of Holy Orders, bishops act in the person of Christ, the Good Shepherd, sharing in His own life and ministry.So it is that Christ, in His final discourse to His disciples, a small portion of which we have heard proclaimed in today’s Gospel, can say:

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. (Gospel)

At the Lord’s Supper, Christ, who had called the Apostles, consecrated them to carry out His mission of Head and Shepherd in every community of faith, above all by renewing in every time and place the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist.In the Holy Eucharist, most of all, we witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the ministry of those called and consecrated as bishops and priests.

III. We also celebrate today the fifth anniversary of the arrival of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II on pastoral visit to this historic diocese of our nation.On Jan. 26 and 27 of 1999, the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and all who joined them in receiving our Holy Father’s visit, among whom I was blessed to be counted, witnessed directly the Holy Spirit at work in the apostolic ministry of the Successor of Saint Peter, "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful" (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium [Nov. 21, 1964], n. 23a).Recalling the Holy Father’s visit on this memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, on the day of my installation as Archbishop of St. Louis, I express my deepest gratitude to Pope John Paul II for confiding to me this new apostolic mission, and I pledge again my steadfast loyalty in fostering, in communion with him, the unity of the Church.Let us thank God, in a special way today, for Pope John Paul II, and pray that God continue to grant him wisdom and strength for the pastoral care of the universal Church.

Our Holy Father, true to his apostolic office, came to St. Louis at the sunset of the Second Christian Millennium and the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium to teach us how to live more fully in Christ, how to cooperate more fully with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured forth into our hearts.He came to guide and help us in carrying out the New Evangelization, the teaching of the faith with the new energy and enthusiasm required in an age forgetful of God and even hostile to His plan for our salvation.His words during the pastoral visit remain so timely, a kind of examination of conscience for us today as we, together, begin a new chapter in the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

IV. In proposing to us the challenge of the New Evangelization, our Holy Father drew us to the Heart of Jesus, in his words, "the door through which the eternal love of the Father is poured out on the world" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Solemn Eucharistic Celebration, America’s Center, St. Louis, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 1c).He drew us to the glorious open Heart of Jesus in the celebration of the holy Mass and in eucharistic adoration.The holy Mass is the fullest and most perfect encounter which we have with Christ in this world. Christ made truly present for us on the altar of sacrifice remains with us in the Sacrament of His true Body and Blood reposed in the tabernacles of our churches and chapels. To help us to understand more deeply and love more fully the eucharistic mystery, on Holy Thursday of last year, our Holy Father gave us his Encyclical Letter "On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church" in which he tells us:

The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: By not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace (n. 25c).

Coming to you as your new archbishop, I urge you to draw close to the Heart of Jesus opened wide for you in the holy Eucharist, by your faithful participation in the Sunday Mass and in weekday Mass, when possible, and by your eucharistic devotion, especially visits to the Blessed Sacrament and eucharistic adoration.

Placing our hearts within the Sacred Heart of Jesus through participation in the holy Eucharist and eucharistic devotion, let us enthrone the image of His Sacred Heart in our homes and places of work and recreation, consecrating ourselves and all that we do to His service.The Sacred Heart devotion is a most fitting and efficacious way of extending eucharistic worship and devotion into every moment and every aspect of our lives.Christ must reign in us for the salvation of the world.Sharers in Christ’s own Spirit, we must more and more turn over our lives completely to Him.

In the daily conversion of life, by which our hearts are more perfectly conformed to the Heart of Jesus, we are inspired and aided by our brothers and sisters who have answered the call to the consecrated life.By their closer following of Christ in the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience, they assist us all to attain a greater holiness of life.

Let us thank God today for the many consecrated persons in the archdiocese and pray that the young men and women from the archdiocese, whom God is calling to the consecrated life, will respond with an undivided heart.

In urging the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I also commend the many associations of the faithful who so strongly contribute to the building up of the life of the Church: the Legion of Mary, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, the International Serra Club, to name a few. The associations of Christian faithful help their members to extend the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and thus to grow in holiness of life.

V. Drawing us to the Heart of Jesus for the New Evangelization, our Holy Father reminded us that special attention must be given to "the family and the renewal of Christian marriage" (Pope John Paul II, Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5). It is in the family, in the home formed by the faithful, enduring and procreative love of man and woman in marriage, that the Church first comes to life, that we first come to know, love and serve Christ. Children are indeed "the crowning glory" of marriage (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes [Dec. 7, 1965], n. 48a), for in the procreation and education of children, husband and wife find the greatest fruit of their married love and build up all of society in unity and peace.

What the Church has always known seems to be a new discovery for the thoroughly secularized society of our time, namely that the state of the family determines very much the state of society.In urging our special attention to the family, our Holy Father declared: "As the family goes, so goes the nation!" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5a). According to the wisdom of God’s plan, the exclusive and lifelong love of a man and a woman, who are united in marriage, is the chosen place in which He gives new human life and provides the solid foundation of the life of all society.

The care of a shepherd for the flock must begin with the family, with attention to the preparation of children and young people for marriage, if it be their vocation, and in the encouragement and support of the married, to strive in their daily living toward the high standard of Christlike love for each other and for their children.It is within the family, first of all, that children and young people come to know God’s special plan for them, their vocation in life, in the language of the Church, their way to salvation.Whether young people are called to the married life or dedicated single life or consecrated life or priesthood, they will first come to know the oblation of love, which their vocation demands, through the love of their parents in the family.

Next to the gift of life itself, there is no more important gift that parents can give to their children than assisting them in knowing their vocation in life, their way of giving glory to God and serving their neighbor.No matter what goods we may provide for our children, also in abundance, they will never know happiness in life until they have discovered God’s plan for them and embraced His plan with all their heart.Repeatedly, we are told that parents and parish priests provide the most critical inspiration and assistance to a young person seeking to know God’s will.Today, we thank God for the families of the archdiocese, and we pray that God will grant them the unity and peace of the Holy Family of Nazareth. May our homes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis be the first and most important place for carrying out the apostolate of vocations.

In speaking about the family, I cannot fail to mention the Catholic schools and parish religious education programs, which provide a fundamental and irreplaceable service to parents in the Catholic education of their children.Through catechesis, children and young people receive a most important help in knowing their vocation in life and preparing to do whatever God asks of them. Saint Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the teaching of the faith "to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others well" (Second Reading).We owe a profound debt of gratitude to our catechists, whether in the Catholic schools or in the programs of religious education, whose apostolate lies at the foundation of the life of the Church.

VI. Finally, in drawing us to the Heart of Jesus, our Holy Father taught us the first and most fundamental principle of the moral life: the inviolability of all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Contemplating the Heart of Jesus, opened by the soldier’s spear as Christ died on the cross for us, we cannot doubt the immense love of God for each and every one of us.

Sharers in the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are called to be heralds and instruments of the Gospel of Life.Perhaps no service of the Church to the world is more sorely needed today than the fostering of the reverence for all human life.Sadly, society is characterized by violence in a myriad of forms, but most wrongfully in the attack upon the life of those who have the first title to our care: the innocent and defenseless unborn, and those whose lives have grown burdened under advanced years, special needs or serious illness.Too many lives have already been taken through violence.Let us spare no effort in the apostolate of the respect for all human life.

In the Heart of Jesus we will find the inspiration and strength to be "followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation" (Homily, Jan. 27, 1999, n. 5b).In Christ, we will also find the way to protect ourselves from crime without violently taking the life of the criminal.May Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, who desired so strongly to bring the Gospel to her native American brothers and sisters, intercede for us, that we will always find the way to respect and promote the dignity of life of every brother and sister, without boundary of origin or race.

The archdiocese is blessed with so many charitable, educational and missionary institutions.Through their fidelity to their Catholic identity, may they serve all in justice and love.May these institutions, so important to the mission of the Church in the archdiocese, seek the intercession and follow the example of our patrons, Saint Louis IX of France, who daily fed the hungry at his table and served the needy in his own person, and Saint Vincent de Paul who "studied to procure the relief of others under all necessities, whether spiritual or corporal" (Butler’s Lives of the Saints, 1956 edition, Vol. 3, p. 143).

VII. Our celebration of the apostolic office and ministry will now reach its fullness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ, the Good Shepherd, renews the outpouring of His life for us on Calvary.Through this holy Eucharist, may Christ draw us, shepherd and flock, into one, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father and for the salvation of our world.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America and Star of the New Evangelization, we implore your help and protection, that we may do all that Christ asks of us, and that I may never fail in the mission which Christ has entrusted to me.

Saint Louis IX of France, pray for us.

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.

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