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.

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

Church Teaching


It will come as no surprise that there has always been a devotion to the Pierced Heart of Jesus. The Holy Scriptures both reflect a devotion present in the Church from the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit and inspire the same devotion in those who reflect upon the Word of God with faith. It is especially in the application of the Word of God to the daily life of Christians that Church teaching has encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In his Encyclical Letter on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Pius XII commented on the development of the devotion in the life of the Church from her first beginnings:
"We are convinced, then, that the devotion which we are fostering to the love of God and Jesus Christ for the human race by means of the revered symbol of the Pierced Heart of the crucified Redeemer has never been altogether unknown to the piety of the faithful, although it has become more clearly known and has spread in a remarkable manner throughout the Church in quite recent times. ...

"But if men have always been deeply moved by the Pierced Heart of the Savior to a worship of that infinite love with which He embraces mankind ... it must yet be admitted that it was only by a very gradual advance that the honors of a special devotion were offered to that Heart as depicting the love, human and divine, which exists in the Incarnate Word" (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Haurietas Aquas [May 25, 1956], nn. 90 and 93).
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was bound to grow and develop down the Christian centuries, especially in times when our love of God has grown cold or we have become indifferent to the love of God. At those times, God our Father draws us to the Heart of His Son, the image of His immeasurable love for us, so that we may be inspired and strengthened to love Him in return.

Early Teaching

The great teachers of the faith, from the beginning days of the Church, always spoke of the birth of the Church from the wounded side of Christ. Their teaching was truly theological and, therefore, spiritual. It invited the faithful to draw from the Pierced Heart of Jesus the grace of salvation, especially through the Sacraments and, above all, through the Holy Eucharist. Often the birth of Eve from the side of the sleeping Adam was presented as the foreshadowing of the birth of the Church from the wounded side of Christ asleep in death.

St. Augustine of Hippo, great teacher of the Church in the West, commented on the text from the Gospel according to St. John, recounting the piercing of the Heart of the crucified Christ:

"The second Adam with bowed head slept on the cross, in order that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from His side as He slept. Death, by which the dead come to life again! What could be more cleansing than His blood? What more healing than this wound?" (Treatise on John, IX, 10).

The early Fathers of the Church taught that, in the Heart of Jesus, the Christian finds the source of his or her life in Christ. Even as the Church herself came to birth from the wounded side of Christ, so does each Christian come to life spiritually from His glorious Pierced Heart which ever pours out the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit upon us.

St. John Chrysostom, great teacher of the Church in the East, also points to the wounded side of Christ as the source of all grace, the source of our life in the Church:
"Blood and water at once flowed out of the wound. It is not by mere chance or unwittingly that these two fountains sprang up at this juncture. It is because blood and water are two constitutive elements of the Church. Those already admitted to the sacred rites know this well; those, I mean, who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and who in the Eucharist feed on Christ’s flesh and blood. It is to this one source that all the Christian mysteries trace back their origin. And so when you apply your lips to this awesome cup, do it as though you drank that precious Blood from the open side of Christ Himself" (Homily on John, 85).

In his characteristically strong language, St. John Chrysostom reminds us of the unity of our participation in the Holy Mass and the Sacrifice of Calvary. The wounded side of Christ, His Most Sacred Heart, is a constant reminder to us of His living presence in our midst, in the hearts of those who love Him, who place their hearts in His Sacred Heart.

The Middle Ages

A noticeable development of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus took place during the Middle Ages. St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1070-1153), writing about the love of Christ, reminds us that, through prayer, our hearts are made one with the Heart of Christ. St. Bernard inspired many other theologians and spiritual writers to reflect lovingly upon the Heart of Christ as the source of our love of God and of one another.

Timothy T. O’Donnell, in his Heart of the Redeemer, provides us with texts of a beautiful prayer and hymn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, composed in the 12th and 13th centuries. I quote a brief part of the hymn, Summi Regis Cor [Heart of the Supreme King]:

"Let us live so, Heart to heart,
Wounded, Jesus, as Thou art.
If through my heart Thou wilt but strike
With shame’s arrow, sharp and dire.
Put my heart within thine own,
Hold me, leave me not alone.
Here my heart shall live and die,
To Thee ever drawing nigh;
Strongly would it thirst for thee,
Jesus, say not no to me,
That it may rest in Thee content" (Quoted in the reprinted edition of Heart of the Redeemer [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992], pp. 96-97).

The hymn illustrates, in a striking way, the intimate love of God and of others, which has always been inspired by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Friars of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, and of the Order of the Friars Minor, or Franciscans, helped very much to bring the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to all the faithful to whom the Friars preached and ministered. St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Order of Friars Minor, meditated so deeply upon the deep internal suffering of the Heart of Christ that God granted to him the favor of bearing in his own body the sign of the wounds of Christ, the stigmata, especially His pierced side.

St. Bonaventure, spiritual son of St. Francis of Assisi and great theologian of the 13th century, gave rich expression to what he had learned from St. Francis about the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He has left to us inspiring theological reflections on the union of our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In one of his writings, he exclaimed: "Oh, what a blessed lot is mine to have one heart with Jesus!" (Quoted in Heart of the Redeemer, p. 101).

17th Century France

The 17th century witnessed a flowering of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in France. Three spiritual writers, in particular, helped to spread the devotion among all the faithful. They are Cardinal Pierre de Berulle, St. Francis de Sales and St. John Eudes. In his Treatise on the Love of God, St. Francis de Sales gives the foundation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

"God’s love is seated within the Savior’s Heart as on a royal throne. He beholds through the cleft of His pierced side all the hearts of the children of men. His Heart is King of Hearts, and He keeps His eyes fixed on our hearts. Just as those who peer through a lattice see clearly while they themselves are only half seen, so too the divine love within that Heart, or rather that Heart of divine love, always sees our hearts and looks on them with His eyes of love, while we do not see Him, but half see Him. If we could see Him as He is, O God, since we are mortal men we would die for love of Him, just as when He was in mortal flesh He died for us, and just as He would still die for us were He not now immortal" (Quoted in Heart of the Redeemer, p.118).

St. Francis de Sales helps us very much to know how to live always in the presence of Christ whose Pierced Heart ever lies open for love of us.

St. Francis de Sales influenced greatly St. Jane Frances de Chantal, foundress of the Sisters of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who have a monastery and school in the St. Louis Archdiocese, in which the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very much fostered.

St. John Eudes helped to develop the liturgical aspect of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, under which God the Son took a human heart. Reflecting upon the union of the Heart of Mary with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. John Eudes referred to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He also founded a religious order of men and of women, under the title of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Many communities of men and women religious have been founded under the inspiration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the archdiocese we have, for example, Sisters of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Society of the Sacred Heart and Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. The Jesuit Fathers and Brothers also have a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a member of the Sisters of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was deeply imbued with the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Francis of Assisi influenced her very much in her devotion. At the Visitation Convent in Paray-le-Monial, Christ appeared and revealed His Sacred Heart. The apparitions took place between Dec. 27, 1673, and the Octave of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in 1675. They are all connected with prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. There were four apparitions, the last of which is the greatest. The apparitions reported by St. Margaret Mary are a matter of private revelation. No one is held to believe in them. They have enjoyed the highest approbation of the Church.

The apparitions to St. Margaret Mary were not given to her for her personal consolation but for a mission which our Lord confided to her, namely the spread of the devotion to His Sacred Heart. From the first apparition, our Lord made it clear to St. Margaret Mary that His Heart is burning with love of mankind and that He desired her to be the Apostle of His Divine Love, His Sacred Heart.

It was during the first apparition that our Lord asked for St. Margaret Mary’s heart which she mystically gave to Him. In other words, she placed her heart completely in His Sacred Heart. The union of her heart with the Sacred Heart is the model of the placing of our hearts in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so that they may be purified of all wrong desire and be aflame with divine love. At the conclusion of the first apparition, our Lord declared to St. Margaret Mary: "I give you now the title of the beloved disciple of My Sacred Heart" (Louis Verheylezoon, SJ, Devotion to the Sacred Heart [Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1955], p. xxiv).

It was through the fourth or great apparition, during the Octave of Corpus Christi in 1675, that our Lord spoke the powerful words which express the deep significance of the devotion to His Sacred Heart:
"Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love. And in return I receive from the greater part of men nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges and coldness with which they treat Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what is still more painful to Me is that even souls consecrated to Me are acting in this way" (Devotion to the Sacred Heart, p. xxvii).

Our Lord then asks that reparation be made and love be inflamed through the consecration of hearts to His Sacred Heart. Specifically He asked for the observance of the First Friday Mass and Communion of Reparation, the Holy Hour on the Thursday night before First Friday (recalling the Agony in the Garden), and the solemn feast in honor of the Sacred Heart. It was during the great apparition that Christ revealed the image of His Sacred Heart that is depicted in statues, paintings and icons: His Pierced Heart on fire with love, crowned with the Cross and enfolded with the Crown of Thorns.

Christ holds His Heart to show us how much He loves us. The image which He revealed to St. Margaret Mary is understood through the words which He spoke and which I have just quoted.

Other Testimonies and Papal Teaching

The story of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus includes many saintly witnesses. St. Therese of Lisieux had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart. Her autobiography, Story of a Soul, contains as an appendix the words with which she consecrated her heart to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "Act of Oblation to Merciful Love."

In his Journal of a Soul, Blessed Pope John XXIII writes:

"Today everything which concerns the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become familiar and doubly dear to me. My life seems destined to be spent in the light irradiating from the tabernacle, and it is to the Heart of Jesus that I must look for a solution of all my troubles. I feel as if I would be ready to shed my blood for the cause of the Sacred Heart. My fondest wish is to be able to do something for that precious object of my love" (Journal of a Soul [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964], pp. 148-149).
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was the center of his spiritual life.

When visiting the death cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe at the concentration camp of Auschwitz, in September of last year, I was shown another death cell around the corner from that of St. Maximilian. The guide told the story of a doctor who died in it. After his death, the guards discovered that he had etched an image in the plaster of the wall with his finger nails. When his family was asked what the image could be, they recognized it immediately as the figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was enthroned in their family home. Placed in the cell to die, the doctor made a wonderful act of hope in the immeasurable love of God.

Papal teaching, especially from Pope Leo XIII to our present Holy Father, holds up the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a privileged form of devotional life for all of the faithful. Quoting Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XII declared devotion to the Sacred of Jesus "the most effective school of the love of God; the love of God, we say, which must be the foundation on which to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of individuals, families, and nations. ..." (Encyclical Letter Haurietas Aquas, n. 123).


In a few weeks, the archdiocese will publish the guide to the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Consecration for the home. As soon as it is ready, I will be writing about it. In the meantime, I hope that my reflections of the past weeks will help you to prepare your heart and home for the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May the Immaculate Heart of Mary intercede for us, that many hearts and homes will be consecrated, with her Heart, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, of Whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.

Consecrated monks, hermits, virgins and religious


Last week, I wrote about the vocation to holiness of life, to which we are all called at baptism and confirmation, and the stable form which that vocation takes in adult life, in response to God’s call to the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the priesthood. I concentrated my attention on the consecrated life and the rich variety of its forms.Consecrated persons may be called to the monastic life, the eremitic life, consecrated virginity, apostolic religious life, contemplative religious life or consecrated secularity.

During this month of August, I have been and am blessed to participate in a number of events to promote and celebrate God’s call to the consecrated life.It is a call which is so important for the holiness of life of us all and for our faithful response to our vocation in life.Yet, the consecrated life is often not well understood. It seems good, therefore, to spend some time in considering the vocation to the consecrated life and the richness of its forms.

On Aug. 4 and 5, I participated in the inquirers’ conference, organized by the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, for women who are hearing the call to consecrated virginity lived in the world. On Aug. 23 and 24, I will celebrate two Masses and give two conferences at the Annual Retreat of the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, to be held nearby, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.On Aug. 7 and 8, I was in Nashville, Tenn., for the final profession of vows of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, a community of apostolic women religious who have their motherhouse there.On Aug. 15, I traveled to Alton, Ill., for the entrance into the novitiate and the first profession of vows of the Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George, an international community of consecrated women religious who have their motherhouse at Thuine in Germany and their provincial house for the United States at Alton.These joyous events for those called to the consecrated life are most inspiring for me and for all who are privileged to participate in them.

Those called to the consecrated life are a model of following Christ for all of us. They are also a living reminder of our final destiny, eternal life with God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — in our heavenly home.It is most understandable that sharing in the life of consecrated virgins or religious gives us new enthusiasm and energy in our everyday Christian life, new enthusiasm and energy in meeting the challenges of our vocation in life, whether it be marriage, the dedicated single life or the priesthood.

Vocations to the consecrated life

The consecrated life is one of the most beautiful gifts which God has given to us in the Church.Those called to the consecrated life help us to recognize Christ present in our lives and, with Him, to take up the cross which is our salvation.The Code of Canon Law provides a full description of the distinctness of the vocation to the consecrated life:

"The life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honor, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory" (can. 573, No.1).

The variety of forms of consecrated life are the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit inspiring men and women to give their lives completely to Christ and His Mystical Body.

The monastic life, together with the eremetical life and consecrated virginity lived in the world, are the most ancient forms of consecrated life.St. Basil the Great and St. Benedict of Nursia, in the East and West, respectively, contributed most significantly to the development of the monastic vocation.Those called to the monastic life follow Christ into the desert, living for God alone, praying and doing works of penance for the love of God and the salvation of the world. Our Holy Father describes the great blessing of the monastic life for the Church in these words:

"In the heart of the Church and the world, monasteries have been and continue to be eloquent signs of communion, welcoming abodes for those seeking God and the things of the Spirit, schools of faith and true places of study, dialogue and culture for the building up of the life of the Church and of the earthly city itself, in expectation of the heavenly city" (Pope John Paul II, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, "On the Consecrated Life and Its Mission in the Church and in the World" [March 25, 1996], No. 6d).

We are blessed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to have several monastic communities which very much exemplify the goods which our Holy Father describes.

Hermits and consecrated virgins living in the world

Individuals who hear the call to the eremetical life are assisted by the diocesan bishop in discerning their vocation and in professing the evangelical counsels.The hermit, like the monk or nun, is called to follow Christ into the desert to fast and pray.The hermit, however, lives in solitude and not in community.He or she depends upon the diocesan bishop for direction and discipline.Hermits, because they live apart from the world, wear a simple habit which is approved by the bishop and use the title of sister or brother.It is also possible for hermits to live in proximity to one another and to have a certain community life under a religious superior. The response of the hermit to his or her vocation reminds us all, as Pope John Paul II has written, "never to lose sight of the supreme vocation, which is to be always with the Lord" (Vita Consecrata, No. 7b). For that reason, the faithful often confide to hermits their prayer intentions and seek from them spiritual counsel.

Consecrated virginity, in contrast to the eremetical life, is lived in the world.The virgin, carrying out some service in the world, hears the call from God to offer to Him solely her gift of virginity.With the help of the diocesan bishop, she comes to know her vocation and to find the spiritual help to make certain that her resolve to live as a virgin for her entire life is firm.Once the time of discernment, which usually will last from one to two years, has been completed, the virgin presents herself to the Church, declaring her resolve to remain a virgin for the rest of life, and the Church, by an ancient and most beautiful rite, consecrates her, calling down upon her the help of God’s grace and constituting her a sacred person in the Church.Consecrated virgins usually live alone, but sometimes two or three consecrated virgins will live in community.They are a living sign of the great gift which is ours in the Church.As members of the Church, we are the Bride for whom Christ the Shepherd as laid down His life.The witness of the life of the consecrated virgin reminds us that, in our vocation in life, Christ must always have the first place.

During the Rite of Consecration of a Virgin Living in the World, the virgin does not profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.She announces her firm resolve to live in perfect continence for the rest of her life as a sign of her love of God and an anticipation of the life which is to come.In another sense, therefore, she professes the vows, for in asking to be espoused for the rest of her life to Christ, she chooses with Him the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience.She will follow these Gospel virtues, in accord with her condition as a member of the faithful living in the world.

Hermits and consecrated virgins do not depend upon the Church for their sustenance.Hermits, before professing the vows, must demonstrate to the bishop that they have the means to provide for their own livelihood and insurance.Periodically, the hermit will meet with the bishop to discuss his or her progress in the eremetical life and to show the bishop the prudent administration of his or her means.

The consecrated virgin, by the very fact that she lives in the world, provides for her own salary and benefits.Likewise, she does not wear a habit and does not use the title of sister.As is the case with the hermit, the bishop meets with the consecrated virgin at least once a year to discuss the various aspects of her life, including her financial stability.

Consecrated religious: apostolic and contemplative

The form of consecrated life called religious life is perhaps best known to us.Many of us have been blessed to be taught by religious sisters and brothers, or to have received health care from them.Apostolic religious also carry out many other apostolates in the Church.

Apostolic religious, through their profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, witness to the Christlike sacrifice of self, which we all must make, in order to be faithful to our vocation in life and so to love God and our neighbor.Through their profession of vows, they consecrate their lives to Christ, and the Church asks God’s abundant blessing upon them.By their apostolates, they draw us closer to Christ who, through them, teaches, guides and heals us.In this sense, the consecrated life has a certain superiority over all other states of life, because it manifests the holiness of the Church, to which we are all called (Vita Consecrata, No. 32).

Contemplative religious profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live what is called an enclosed life.They devote themselves to prayer and penance to purify and sanctify their own souls, and to plead for God’s help for all who are in need in the world.Once a religious is professed within a contemplative community, his or her entire life takes place within the walls of the convent or monastery.Mother Mary Francis, a Poor Clare Sister at Roswell, N.M., explained to me, at one time, that the walls of convent enclosure, in fact, embrace the whole world. In visiting religious communities of contemplative religious, I note how the sisters are keenly and accurately aware of the needs of the world and dedicate themselves to prayer and sacrifice for those in need.Mother Mary Francis has written an excellent and most readable book on the contemplative religious life, titled "The Right To Be Merry."It is published by Ignatius Press ( and should be available at your local Catholic bookstore.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is abundantly blessed with the witness of apostolic and contemplative religious congregations. Each community manifests a special gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.The mosaics in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis honor in a most wonderful way a number of the religious congregations which have been so important to the birth of the Church in the Archdiocese and its growth and development over the decades.St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, a member of the congregation of Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, attained heroic holiness of life in carrying out her apostolate in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.She and St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian fathers and brothers), are the two patron saints of the Archdiocese after St. Louis IX, King of France.

The Holy Spirit has inspired the foundation of each congregation with what is called a particular charism, the raison-d’etre of the congregation.The charism is the gift of the Holy Spirit to the founder or foundress of the religious congregation; it is the heart of the life of the congregation.By fidelity to the charism, which reflects some aspect of the mystery of Christ’s life poured out for us, the religious sister or brother becomes more like Christ and leads others to become more like Christ.For example, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation have the charism of giving Christian education to youth in institutions of learning.The Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George have the charism of making God’s merciful love visible.Their charism is expressed in a wide variety of apostolates, all of which are a living sign of God’s merciful love to others.

Consecrated secularity

During the first half of the last century, a new form of consecrated life emerged, the life of consecrated secularity. Pope Pius XII was the first to recognize the foundation of what are called secular institutes.Members of secular institutes profess publicly the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.They also live in community.They do not, however, wear a habit or use the title of sister or brother, for their aim is to be like the hidden yeast in the mass of dough.They do not have an apostolate but have regular employment in the world.In their employment, they are called to give witness to poverty, chastity and obedience. Regarding the new forms of consecrated life, Pope John Paul II singles out the secular institutes:

"One thinks in the first place of members of secular institutes seeking to live out their consecration to God in the world through the profession of the evangelical counsels in the midst of temporal realities; they wish in this way to be a leaven of wisdom and a witness of grace within cultural, economic and political life.Through their own specific blending of presence in the world and consecration, they seek to make present in society the newness and power of Christ’s Kingdom, striving to transfigure the world from within by the power of the beatitudes. In this way, while they belong completely to God and are thus fully consecrated to his service, their activity in the ordinary life of the world contributes, by the power of the Spirit, to shedding the light of the Gospel on temporal realities. Secular Institutes, each in accordance with its specific nature, thus help to ensure that the Church has an effective presence in society (Vita Consecrata, No. 10b).

Vocations to the consecrated life


On Aug. 4 and 5 of last week, I traveled to Chicago to take part in an inquirers’ conference for women who are hearing the call to consecrated virginity lived in the world.The conference is sponsored each year by the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, to which many of the consecrated virgins in our nation belong. Since the mid-1990s, I have been the episcopal moderator of the association, which means that I represent the concerns of the Catholic bishops of our country to the members and, likewise, communicate their concerns to the bishops. For me, it has been an honor and inspiration to assist the consecrated virgins. I have been deeply edified by their love of Christ and of the Church.Any assistance which I have given to them has been much exceeded by the prayers which they have unfailingly offered on my behalf.

Since the vocation to consecrated virginity is very little known, I want to describe a bit the vocation and respond to some common questions about it.Also, I look forward to meeting with any consecrated virgins living in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, so that I can may carry out my spiritual responsibilities on their behalf.

Before discussing, in particular, the vocation to consecrated virginity lived in the world, it is important to reflect upon the meaning of vocation.Also, it is important to place the particular vocation to consecrated virginity within the context of the various vocations to which God calls men and women in the Church.

Vocation and vocations

From the moment of our baptism, God has a special plan for each of us.God calls us to life in Christ by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our soul, in order that, with Christ, we may offer our whole life in love of Him and our neighbor. At our confirmation, God strengthens and increases the life of the Holy Spirit within us, so that we will have the inspiration and strength to give public witness to Christ in the world.We are called to follow Christ in holiness of life.This is our vocation.We are called to follow Christ as a married person, a dedicated single person, a consecrated person or a member of the clergy: deacon, priest or bishop.These are the vocations by which we respond to our universal vocation to holiness of life.

Whether God calls us to the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the ordained ministry, He asks us to make the gift of our whole life.Others see Christ in us, most of all, through our faithful response to our vocation in life.

We say in the Church that our vocation is our way to salvation, and it is true.It is through our vocation that we most fully express our life in Christ and fulfill our part in His mission of salvation.We are called to life in Christ, so that, when we reach adulthood, we may give our lives in response to God’s call.Therefore, it is important that children and young people pray each day to know their vocation in life, and that those of us, who have already responded to God’s call by embracing our vocation, pray each day for the virtues of goodness, fidelity and generosity in living our vocation.

During our childhood and youth, our education in the faith and its practice has as its principal end help for us in hearing God’s call and our preparation to respond with an undivided heart.During our adult years, our study of the faith and its practice assists us in respond to God’s call ever more faithfully and with the most generous heart possible.

Responsibility for vocational discernment

The whole Church has the responsibility to assist children and young people to hear God’s call and to prepare them to respond, and to assist all in the Church to live fully their vocation in life.The bishop as chief shepherd of God’s flock bears an especially weighty responsibility to assist children and young people in the discernment and pursuit of their vocation.
On the 25th anniversary of his election as successor of St. Peter, Pope John Paul II signed the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World." Pastores Gregis is the fruit of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in October of 2001.In it, our Holy Father underlines very much the responsibility of the Bishop for the promotion of vocations.He reminds all bishops that they are to foster "a vocational culture" in which young people will come to understand that our entire life is a vocation and that the various vocations are the way in which we live out most fully the one vocation of Christ, in which we have all been given a share (Pastores Gregis, No. 54a).

Our Holy Father instructs bishops to exhort families, parishes and institutions of Catholic education "to assist boys and girls in discovering God’s plan in their lives and in embracing the call to holiness which God from the beginning addresses to each person" (Ibid., No. 54b).The Holy Father goes on to remind bishops that the apostolate of vocations must permeate all pastoral activity.In particular, the bishop is to entrust the vocational apostolate to the priests who are his co-workers and to other members of the faithful "capable of passing on their love for Jesus by their enthusiasm and the example of their lives" (Ibid.).Priests and others who assist the Bishop in the apostolate of vocations are to help children and young people to pray to know their vocation.They are also to accompany patiently the same young people as they strive to know God’s will for them.It is especially important to encourage young people to participate in the Holy Mass as frequently as possible and to confess their sins regularly and receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance. By participation in the Holy Eucharist and by Eucharistic devotion, the young person comes to know his or her own deepest identity in Christ.No prayer to know one’s vocation is more powerful than prayer offered in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord.

Special attention must be given to helping young people know about the vocations to the consecrated life and priesthood, because these calls are difficult to hear in a totally secularized society. Within the apostolate of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, there is always to be an emphasis on missionary vocations.In this regard, the bishop is to make certain that the associations of the faithful in the Church "support the pastoral work of promoting vocations in the dioceses and foster an acceptance of all vocations, especially those to the ordained ministry, the consecrated life and missionary work" (Ibid., No. 51c).In the archdiocese, the Serra Club, the Knights of Columbus and other Catholic associations are strongly committed to the vocational apostolate.I am deeply grateful to them.

Office for Vocations and for Consecrated Life

As Archbishop of St. Louis, I fulfill my responsibility for the apostolate of vocations most especially with the help of Office of Vocations and the Office of the Consecrated Life.The steadfast work of both offices underlines the fundamental importance of the vocational apostolate to the life of the whole Church.

The Office of Vocations principally helps me in the promotion of priestly vocations.Under the direction of Father Michael T. Butler, the Office of Vocations is in regular communication with those who have expressed an interest in the priestly vocation and assists our seminarians as they respond to God’s call in their lives.The office also sponsors various activities throughout the year, which help young men to consider God’s call to the priesthood. I refer especially to the Annual Retreat of the Archbishop for young men who are hearing the call to the priesthood; Cardinal Glennon Days, which are held at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary during the month of June for young men of middle-school and high-school age; and other special events. Father Butler is also actively engaged in promoting visits of young men of the archdiocese to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, our archdiocesan seminary for university studies and theological studies (the last five years of priestly formation). Please contact Father Butler regarding any question which you may have in the matter of the promotion of priestly vocations at (314) 792-6460.

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM, director of the Office of the Consecrated Life, works with Father Butler in promoting vocations to the consecrated life.Various activities are planned, inviting the participation of the different institutes of consecrated life.Events with the participation of the Archbishop are scheduled during the year for young women to raise in their minds the possibility of God’s call to the consecrated life.Please contact Sister Eva-Maria regarding any question you may in the matter of the promotion of vocations to the consecrated life at (314) 792-7250.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, under the direction of Msgr. Theodore L. Wojcicki, rector, and Father Timothy P. Cronin, director of Cardinal Glennon College, not only provides appropriate formation and education for seminarians doing university and theological studies.It also serves as a center which young people may visit, either individually or in groups, to seek a deeper understanding of God’s call in their lives. Father Butler will be happy to arrange for visits to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

For young women who are hearing the call to the consecrated life, Sister Eva-Maria will be happy to assist them in making visits to the convents of the many religious orders, both contemplative and active, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and in other parts of our nation.Also, the communities of women religious in the archdiocese sponsor Camp Mater Dei each summer to assist young women during their middle-school and high-school years to consider the vocation to the consecrated life.

Vocations to the consecrated life

The Church distinguishes three states of life: laypersons, consecrated persons and the clergy.Within the states of life, the vocation in life is given by God.The lay faithful are called to the married life or to the dedicated single life.Consecrated persons are called to the monastic life, the eremitic life, consecrated virginity, apostolic religious life, contemplative religious life or consecrated secularity.The clergy are called to the diaconate, priesthood or episcopacy.

The state in life defines the form of the individual Christian life.In that sense, each state in life is founded upon a consecration, the gift of the Holy Spirit who configures the Christian life to Christ.In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, "On the Consecrated Life and Its Mission in the Church and in the World," our Holy Father Pope John Paul II gives the following summary of the distinct form of each state of life in the Church:

"For the mission of the lay faithful, whose proper task is to ‘seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God,’ the consecration of Baptism and Confirmation is a sufficient foundation. In addition to this basic consecration, ordained ministers receive the consecration of ordination in order to carry out the apostolic ministry in time.Consecrated persons, who embrace the evangelical counsels, receive a new and special consecration which, without being sacramental, commits them to making their own — in chastity, poverty, and obedience — the way of life practiced personally by Jesus and proposed by him to his disciples. Although these different categories are a manifestation of the one mystery of Christ, the lay faithful have as their specific but not exclusive characteristic, activity in the world; the clergy, ministry; consecrated men and women, special conformity to Christ, chaste, poor, and obedient" (No. 31d).

The characteristic of the consecrated life is a closer adherence to Christ, especially in His poverty, chastity and obedience, those virtues which mark most distinctively the way of life to which He calls us and along which He accompanies us.Those who are called to the consecrated life help everyone else in the Church to be true to Christ in living out the demands of their vocations.

Consecrated virginity

The consecrated life is like an orchard in the Church in which grow a variety of beautiful fruit-bearing trees.The most ancient form of the consecrated life is consecrated virginity lived in the world.It existed from the very first years of the Church.Because of the esteem in which consecrated virginity has been held from the beginning, the Church, very early on, developed a proper liturgical rite for the consecration of virgins.After several centuries, it was no longer used, except for religious sisters who wished to be consecrated as virgins.At the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, the Bishops called for the revision of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Dec. 4, 1963, No. 80a).

On May 31, 1970, in response to the directive of the council, the Order of Consecration of Virgins was published.The first paragraph of the revised rite expresses the profound meaning of the vocation and the esteem which the Church has for it:

"The custom of consecrating women to a life of virginity flourished even in the early Church.It led to the formation of a solemn rite constituting the candidate a sacred person, a surpassing sign of the Church’s love for Christ, and an eschatological image of the world to come and the glory of the heavenly Bride of Christ. In the rite of consecration the Church reveals its love of virginity, begs God’s grace on those who are consecrated, and prays with fervor for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit" (Introduction, No. 1).

The virgin, once she is consecrated, is constituted a sacred person in the Church.She is a particularly striking sign of the love of the Church, the Bride, for Christ, Her Bridegroom.At the same time, the consecrated virgin is a faithful reminder of the life which is to be ours in the Kingdom of Heaven, life belonging completely to Christ.

The form of life of the consecrated virgin living in the world is a most intimate union with Christ, which is reflected in the ancient title given to the consecrated virgin, "bride of Christ." It is echoed in the beautiful refrain from the Rite of Consecration:

"I am espoused to him whom the angels serve; sun and moon stand in wonder at his glory" (No. 29).
The consecrated virgin offers the gift of her physical virginity to Christ, as a sign of the dedication of her entire being to Him.Through the Rite of Consecration, the Church receives the gift of the virgin and calls down upon her the grace of the Holy Spirit, that she may never fail in her resolve to live in perfect continence for the sake of Christ and His Church.

New flowering of the vocation

In our time, the vocation to consecrated virginity has experienced a new vitality as more and more women have come forward to their diocesan bishop for assistance in understanding and embracing their vocation in life.It is a phenomenon which brings renewed faith, hope and charity to the whole Church.Regarding the new appreciation of consecrated virginity, the Holy Father wrote the following in Vita Consecrata:

"It is a source of joy and hope to witness in our time a new flowering of the ancient Order of Virgins, known in Christian communities ever since apostolic times.Consecrated by the diocesan bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world.Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for the Christ the Bridegroom" (No. 7a).

Through the U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins, I have come to know some 100 or more consecrated virgins from throughout the United States.There are also a fair number of virgins who do not belong to the association. Each year at the inquirers conference, a number of virgins seek to understand whether God may be calling them to request the consecration.

As in the first centuries of the Church’s life, when the order of virgins had its beginning, so also today the life of consecrated virginity is lived principally in the world.While women religious may also receive the consecration to the life of virginity, their consecration is intimately connected with their religious profession and is lived within the primary call for them, which is to the religious life (Order of Consecration, No. 7).

Consecrated virginity constitutes a distinct and proper vocation which is lived as the primary vocation for the consecrated virgin living in the world.For the consecrated virgin, her closer adherence to Christ is expressed in her day-to-day activities.While some virgins work full-time for the Church, the majority are professional women who profoundly sanctify their secular activities through the grace of the consecration.

The Rite of Consecration

The Rite of Consecration of Virgins Living in the World is ancient and beautiful. The consecration takes place within the celebration of the Holy Mass.The consecration proper takes place after the reading of the Gospel.The bishop calls forward those to be consecrated with the words:

"Come, daughters, that through me, his servant, the Lord may consecrate the resolution you have formed in your hearts" (Order of Consecration, No. 14).

The diocesan bishop who is the proper minister of the Rite of Consecration then gives the homily in which he sets forth the profound meaning of the consecration.

After the homily, the candidates are questioned regarding their resolve and their desire for the consecration.Then the whole congregation sings the Litany of the Saints.The candidate renews her intention "to follow Christ in a life of perfect chastity" (Order of Consecration, No. 22).The bishop then prays the Prayer of Consecration. After the Prayer of Consecration, the bishop presents the consecrated virgin with the signs of her consecration.She may be given a veil, which is a sign of her total espousal to Christ.The veil, if given, is worn during the Rite of Consecration only, much like the veil worn by the bride during the Rite of Marriage.The consecrated virgin is always given the ring which is the sign that she is a bride of Christ.Like the spouse in marriage, she always wears the ring to show that she is espoused to Christ.She is also given the Liturgy of the Hours, the books containing the public and official prayers offered at the various hours of the day by the universal Church for the salvation of the world.The praying of the Liturgy of the Hours by the consecrated virgin is the principal service which she offers to the Church, while remaining in the world.


Next week, I will conclude my presentation of the vocation to consecrated virginity lived in the world, and I will begin a presentation of other forms of consecrated life. May our reflection upon the vocation to the consecrated life, in all its forms, inspire in us a deeper love of Christ and of those whom He calls to follow Him more nearly in the Gospel virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience.

I close with words taken from the Order of Consecration to a Life of Virginity for Women Living in the World, which describe the deep meaning of the call to consecrated virginity and its relationship to the call to the married life:

"Among your many gifts you give some the grace of virginity. Yet the honor of marriage is in no way lessened. As it was in the beginning, your first blessing still remains upon this holy union. Yet your loving wisdom chooses those who make sacrifice of marriage for the sake of the love of which it is the sign.
They renounce the joys of human marriage, but cherish all that it foreshadows" (Order of Consecration, No. 24).

Natural Family Planning: service of life and love


From July 25 to 31, the Catholic Church in the United States has been observing Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, a celebration of great significance for families, for the whole Church and for society, in general.Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is always planned around the anniversary of the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (On the Rightly Ordered Propagation of Human Offspring) on July 25, 1968.This year marks the 36th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae.

The family, formed through the marital union, is the first cell of the life of society. It is "the little Church," the Church in the first moment of her life.It is also called the "domestic Church" or the Church in the home, for it is in the family that the faith is first taught. It is in the family that prayer is first offered to God and that the members are led to the bigger family of the parish to offer worship to God. It is also in the family that the Christian virtues are first exemplified and instilled (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n. 11b).

How evident is the importance of family life to the life of the whole of society and of the Church!Practically, we witness in society today the evil effects of the breakdown of family life.In a society in which an average of 50 percent of marriages end, and sometimes very quickly, in divorce, it is no wonder that there is a parallel and most serious breakdown in the practice of the faith and in civic morality.Of all of the legitimate concerns which are ours in reforming and building up the life of society and of the Church, the concerns regarding the family must rightly receive our first attention.

Second Vatican Ecumenical Council

In its teaching on marriage and family life, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council called attention to the fundamental and irreplaceable role of the family in the life of each individual, society and the Church.It further noted the positive aspects of family life in the world of today:

"The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.Hence Christians today are overjoyed, and so too are all who esteem conjugal and family life highly, to witness the various ways in which progress is being made in fostering those partnerships of love and in encouraging reverence for human life; there is progress too in services available to married people and parents for fulfilling their lofty calling; ever greater benefits are to be expected and efforts are being made to bring them about" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Dec. 7, 1965, No. 47a).

Certainly, the Church supports the ways in which society seeks to promote sound and enduring family life.What is more, the Church, faithful teacher of the perennial moral law, makes an invaluable contribution to all of society’s efforts to promote solid family life.

The teaching of the council rightly goes on to note, with deepest concern, the negative aspects of family life in society today:

"However, this happy picture of the dignity of these partnerships is not reflected everywhere, but is overshadowed by polygamy, the plague of divorce, so-called free love and similar blemishes; furthermore, married love is too often dishonored by selfishness, hedonism and unlawful contraceptive practices.Besides, the economic, social, psychological and civil climate of today has a severely disturbing effect on family life.There are also serious and alarming problems arising in many parts of the world as a result of population expansion.On all of these counts an anguish of conscience is being generated" (Ibid, No. 47b).

The writing and publication of Humanae Vitae was, in fact, a response to the concern, expressed at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, about the dishonor brought to marriage by artificial contraception.In a prophetic way, Pope Paul VI cautioned against the destructive consequences of the use of artificial contraception (Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, No. 17).

Church teaching on the conjugal union

Critical to the stability of family life is the right ordering of the sexual union of husband and wife, the full expression of their faithful and lifelong love of each other.Through the sexual union, which has its rightful place solely in marriage and is, therefore, also called the "conjugal union," husband and wife become "one body" (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31).Unless the conjugal union is understood in its deepest meaning by a couple, that which, by nature, expresses their vocation to marriage can, in fact, betray their vocation and lead to division between them, and even separation and divorce.On the other hand, when God’s plan for the conjugal union is understood and fully respected by a couple, their bond of marriage grows in beauty and strength.

The Church has the solemn responsibility to teach God’s plan, His moral law, in accord with the mandate which our Lord gave to St. Peter and the other Apostles, when He sent them to preach the Gospel to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-19).Teaching the plan which God has revealed to us includes not only teaching the divine law articulated in the revealed Word of God but also the law which God has written in our nature itself, what we call the natural law (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 1950-1974).

The Church’s teaching regarding the transmission of human life and the education of human offspring has been constant down the Christian centuries. In fact, until 1930, all of the Christian churches and ecclesial communities shared the Catholic Church’s teaching on the immorality of artificial contraception.In 1930, the Episcopalians, or Anglicans, accepted artificial contraception as moral. Since that time, a number of ecclesial communities have also accepted the morality of artificial contraception.

On July 25, 1968, the perennial teaching of the Church regarding the full meaning of the conjugal union was strikingly presented in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Examining thoroughly all of the reasons given for accepting artificial contraception as moral, Pope Paul VI concluded that the Church cannot change her teaching in the matter without betraying the law of God, written in our very nature and confirmed by the Word of God.

God’s plan for the conjugal union

According to God’s plan, sexual intercourse or the conjugal union has two inseparable meanings.On the one hand, through sexual intercourse, the married couple give themselves fully to each other, affirming the goodness of the other and the full commitment of each partner to the good of the other.On the other hand, by the same act, the couple accept the highest mission possible to mankind, that is, the procreation of offspring, who are "the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, Dec. 7, 1965, No. 50a).

Not every act of conjugal union is, in fact, procreative.God has placed in nature the means by which the conception of new human life is spaced.By coming to a deeper understanding of the natural means of spacing births, husband and wife can cooperate with God and nature in the planning of the birth of their children.In this way, in every act of sexual union, husband and wife will express the full meaning of the act, accepting the life-giving power of the other and being generous in readiness to accept the gift of a new human life.

When, for some natural reason, a couple is unable to conceive their own child, they express the procreative dimension of their conjugal union by their dedication to the care of children and youth, especially those with specials needs, and by their adoption of children whose parents are not or cannot care for them.

The two meanings of the conjugal act are inseparable; they are essentially related to each other.There can be no complete conjugal union, when the fertility or capacity for procreation of the spouse is excluded.At the same time, the procreation of new human life is the proper fruit of the exclusive and indissoluble love of a man and a woman united in marriage.Pope Paul VI wrote:

"Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while closely uniting husband and wife, makes them apt for the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and woman.By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination to man’s most high vocation to parenthood (Humanae Vitae, No. 12b).

It is God’s will that the conjugal act both unites husband and wife in one flesh and, at the same time, makes their love fruitful in the procreation of new human life.We are called to respect God’s plan and cannot presume to rewrite the order which He has placed in our very being.

Confusion in our time

Many of the faithful in our time have become confused regarding the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception.Part of the confusion is caused by the above-mentioned abandonment of the Church’s perennial teaching in the matter by the Episcopalian, or Anglican, and other Christian bodies.Also, the concern about the growing population of the world, to which the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council referred, has led some to the false conclusion that artificial contraception is the answer to the concern.We have seen the same argument used to urge the use of artificial contraception to prevent the conception of children through illicit sexual union, that is outside of the marriage bond, and to prevent the spread of certain dread diseases communicated through the misuse of sexual intercourse.

Also, a false feminism has concluded that a woman must have absolute control over her body and, therefore, must be able to control artificially whether she conceives a child or not.According to this view, artificial contraception is seen as an essential instrument of woman’s freedom.But our nature, including our human body, is God’s gift with its own integrity which must be respected.

Here, one must note that, once we believe that we can separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal union, the way is opened to a general fear of human life, as if conception were an illness associated with sexual union, and to the taking of other immoral measures to eliminate the procreative meaning of sexual intercourse, for example, contraceptive sterilization and procured abortion.In this line, it should also be noted that some devices and chemicals which are called contraceptive are, in truth, abortifacient, that is they prevent the implantation of the newly conceived human life in the endometrium of the womb and so cause death.

As a result of the strong movement in society to promote contraception and a certain failure in the Church to present clearly and insistently her teaching on the transmission of human life, many Catholics have also been confused and have believed themselves to be morally justified in practicing artificial contraception.As in every matter, we are morally obliged to inform correctly and fully our conscience.Natural Family Planning Awareness Week provides a good occasion to engage in such conscience formation, which touches the very foundations of family life.

Clearly, it is essential that the consciences of children be formed correctly regarding the twofold meaning of sexual union, so that they grow in the virtues of purity, modesty and chastity.Children learn these virtues, most of all, from the example of life of their parents.As Pope Paul VI reminded Christian husbands and wives, the grace of baptism in them has been further defined and strengthened through the grace of matrimony (Humanae Vitae, No. 25b). Therefore, they should never give way to doubt or fear about their ability to fulfill the duties of the their vocation.

Natural Family Planning

Natural Family Planning (NFP) assists couples to be responsible parents by respecting fully God’s plan for the conjugal union.Through NFP, couples come to know more deeply the full meaning of their sexual union and of their mission of procreation.Understanding more fully how God has made them to share with Him in the creation of new human life, they cooperate with their God-given nature to conceive children and to space the conception of their children, so that they may fulfill their responsibilities for the upbringing of the children God gives them.At the foundation of NFP is a generosity of cooperation with God in the conception and birth of children made in His own image and likeness.

NFP contributes significantly to the depth of communication between husband and wife.It should come as no surprise that, in a world with a very high rate of divorce, divorces of couples who follow NFP are very rare, less than 1 percent, according to one scientific study.

Sometimes, it is said that NFP is no different than artificial contraception in that they both have the same end in view.Pope Paul VI responded to this argument in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae:
"The Church is not inconsistent when she teaches both that it is morally permissible for spouses to have recourse to infertile periods and also that all directly contraceptive practices are morally wrong, even if spouses seem to have good and serious reasons for using them.These two situations are essentially different.In the first, the spouses legitimately use a faculty that is given by nature; in the second case, the spouses impede the order of generation from completing its own natural processes" (No. 16c).

The Holy Father goes on to underline how NFP requires mutual respect and discipline on the part of both spouses, and provides for them the occasion to grow in holiness of life and to witness to God’s plan for procreation.The care required by both partners in following NFP is an unmistakable sign of their self-sacrificing love for one another.It draws them closer to God and closer to one another.


The Archdiocese of St. Louis is blessed to have an outstanding program of education and assistance in NFP, coordinated through the Office of Laity and Family Life, under the direction of Susan Edwards, and developed and presented by K. Diane Daly, RN, CFCE, archdiocesan coordinator.Through their work and the work of many generous couples, the teaching of NFP is available in every part of the archdiocese. I take the occasion to thank Edwards, Daly and all of our teaching couples for their outstanding service of life and love.

May Natural Family Planning Awareness Week be the occasion for all of us to grow in our understanding of God’s plan for the transmission and education of new human life through the love of man and woman in marriage.Let us all pray daily for those whom God has called to the married life, that they will be good, faithful and generous in carrying out the high mission of their vocation of life and love.

Heroic Native American holiness


On this past July 14, the Church in the United States had its annual celebration of the memory of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. The celebration of the memory of Blessed Kateri is the occasion to reflect with wonder and gratitude at the work of God’s grace among the Native American peoples. The example of her life is an inspiration to us all and especially to young people, for she attained heroic holiness of life by the age of 24.

Blessed Kateri was born in 1656. Her father was a Mohawk chief in the village of Ossernenon on the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York.

Tekakwitha is her Native American name; Kateri or Catherine is the name she received at her baptism. Her mother, of the Algonquin tribe, was baptized a Catholic, but her father was not. When Kateri was 4, an epidemic of smallpox struck her village. She lost both of her parents and a baby brother to the dread disease. The disease left her physically weak, with impaired eyesight and a scarred body.

After her parents’ death, Kateri was raised by an aunt and uncle, who were not Christian. Also, there was hostility to the Christian faith among many of her people. Nevertheless, she received the gift of faith and baptism, made her First Holy Communion, and a year before her death made a private vow of chastity, giving her life completely to Christ. She died on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24.

Blessed Kateri and Our Lady of Guadalupe

I begin my reflection upon the life of Blessed Kateri by relating her heroic holiness, as a Native American, to the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to the Native American St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill, now part of Mexico City. The Mother of God showed her great love for the Native American peoples by her apparitions to St. Juan Diego.

On July 31, 2003, I gave a presentation on Our Lady of Guadalupe to the annual meeting of the Tekakwitha Conference. The Tekakwitha Conference, named after Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, was founded for the evangelization of Native Americans, especially through the promotion of the cause of sainthood of Blessed Kateri. The conference requested my presentation because of the most special relationship which Our Lady of Guadalupe has with Native Americans.

Recall that our Blessed Mother appeared on our continent, from Dec. 9-12, 1531, when there was great danger of a bloody conflict between the Native Americans and the Spanish explorers and settlers in what is today Mexico City. The Mother of God appeared to a devout Native American, St. Juan Diego. As a result of the apparitions of the Mother of God, more than 8 million Native Americans were baptized in nine years; the Spanish were led to respect fully the human dignity of the Native Americans; a remarkable harmony of life between the Native Americans and the Spanish was achieved; and the practice of human sacrifice among the Native Americans of that place was ended.

Recall also that Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously left her image on the tilma or mantle of St. Juan Diego as a sign of her abiding presence with all the nations of the one continent of America. Her features are both Palestinian and mestizo, that is the features of a person of both Native American and European ancestry. Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly an image of the communion of life between Native Americans and the Spanish, which has its origin in Christ, the Son of God and her Son. The remarkable harmony between Native Americans and the Europeans in Mexico, foreshadowed in the face of the Mother of God, continues today. All Mexicans refer to Our Lady of Guadalupe as their mother, and she, as their common mother, draws them together in unity and peace. The harmony in Mexico is an example for all nations, in which peoples of different race and national background live.

The special interest of Native Americans in Our Lady of Guadalupe is most natural and understandable. She reveals in a most striking way the love of God for all the peoples of America, but especially for the Native American peoples. St. Juan Diego, her messenger, is the great sign of God’s love for Native Americans.
In my presentation, I observed that Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who lived just a century after the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and more than likely did not know about the apparitions, had a deep sense of the special love of the Mother of God for the Native American peoples. Blessed Kateri was known for her love of praying the holy rosary. Throughout the profound suffering which she experienced in her brief life, she trusted always in the intercession of the Mother of God. There can be no doubt that Our Lady of
Guadalupe, even if she was not known to Blessed Kateri by that title, led her to a deep love of Christ, which was manifested in an extraordinarily holy life.

The early life of Blessed Kateri

As I mentioned above, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in the village of Ossernenon, present-day Auriesville in New York, along the Mohawk River. Just 10 years earlier, from 1642-1646, Ossernenon, or Auriesville, was the site of the martyrdom of the Jesuit missionary Fathers Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues and their companions, popularly known as the North American Martyrs. Blessed Kateri’s father,

Kenhoronkwa, was a Mohawk chief of the Tortoise Clan. Her mother, Kahenta, was of the Algonquin tribe and had been baptized Catholic, but, after her capture by the Mohawks, was not allowed to practice her Catholic faith. Although she could not practice her Catholic faith, Kahenta sang the hymns, taught the prayers and told the stories, which she had learned from the missionaries, to her daughter Tekakwitha.

When Blessed Kateri was 4 years old, there was an outbreak of smallpox in her village, which took the lives of her parents and of her only sibling, a younger brother. Tekakwitha survived the epidemic but her face remained pockmarked and her eyesight was greatly impaired. After her parents’ death, she was given into the care of her uncle, her father’s brother, who succeeded her father as chief in the village. As she was growing up, she loved to spend time alone in prayer, seeking the solitude of the surrounding wilderness.

As Kateri reached adulthood, the women of the village sought to arrange her marriage. Even though she was disfigured by the smallpox, she was the daughter of a chief and, therefore, desired for marriage. She adamantly refused marriage and, thereafter, was scorned by the women of the village, who assigned the most demeaning chores to her.

Kateri’s baptism and holiness of life

In 1667, three Jesuit priests came to her village and, because of a peace treaty signed by the Mohawk chiefs, were received into the very lodge of the chief,
Tekakwitha’s home. Blessed Kateri had heard about the missionaries from her mother. She had a certain knowledge of the Catholic faith and was in the habit of saying prayers and singing hymns which she had learned from her mother. But she lacked a full instruction in the faith and, most of all, she lacked baptism, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into her life.

Eventually, Father Jacques de Lamberville came to her village, learned of Blessed Kateri’s background, and, at her request, gave her full instructions in the Catholic faith.

Tekakwitha was baptized on Easter Sunday of 1676 at the age of 20, and was given the Christian name, Catherine or Kateri. Her patron saint was Catherine of Siena, whom she strove to imitate with all her might.

She enjoyed a spotless reputation and was known especially for spending long hours in prayer. She would go into the woods, make a cross from the branches she found and then kneel down to pray. One of her favorite prayers was the rosary. In her devotion, she showed the strong connection between meditating upon the Passion of our Lord before the cross and praying the rosary, calling to mind the mysteries of God’s love for us in the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, which mysteries have their fullness in our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

Kateri became the Lily of the Mohawks and the Mystic of the Wilderness, as she is popularly known by us.

Because of her fidelity, she suffered greatly at the hands of her fellow villagers who mocked her and called her cruel names. Because of her observance of the Sundays and holy days of obligation, her own family even refused her food.

Through the care of Father de Lamberville, Blessed Kateri was taken to the St. Francis Xavier Mission at Sault St. Louis. One day, when an Oneida chief who had converted to Catholicism and a relative of Blessed Kateri’s mother were visiting her village, the good priest convinced them to take her back with them to the mission where she could live her Catholic faith in peace and grow in the holiness of life, which she had already so strongly manifested.

It is not difficult to imagine how happy Kateri was at the mission. She lived with a devout Catholic woman, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, who had known her mother before her capture by the Mohawks. Kateri participated in daily Mass, spent long hours in prayer, and carried out many acts of penance in reparation for her sins and the sins of her people. On Christmas Day of 1677, she made her First Holy Communion.

Blessed Kateri came to know about the life of women religious and, when her request to join or form a religious community was refused, she asked to make a vow of perpetual virginity. On the Feast of the Annunciation in 1679, Blessed Kateri consecrated her virginity to Christ and the Church.

By 1680, Blessed Kateri, always of delicate health, had become critically ill. Having received the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum, she died on April 17, 1680, with the names of our Lord Jesus and His Mother on her lips. Her last words were: "Jesus, I love You." She was only 24 years of age.

Signs of heroic holiness

After the body of Blessed Kateri was placed on a pallet in preparation for burial, her fellow Christians witnessed an extraordinary sign of her holiness of life. The pockmarks from smallpox disappeared from her face, and her skin became radiant and white, that of a beautiful young maiden.

Another sign followed soon thereafter. Her spiritual mother, Anastasia Tegonhatsiongo, was absent from the village at her death and mourned very much the loss of her beloved Kateri. Just one week after her death, Blessed Kateri appeared to Anastasia. Blessed Kateri was radiant and was holding an even more radiant cross. Kateri spoke these words: "Mother, behold this cross. How beautiful it is! It was the source of all my happiness during my life, and I counsel you to make it yours, too." Her apparition to her spiritual mother is a striking example of the importance of our devotional life to our eternal happiness. It is precisely the devotion of Blessed Kateri to the passion of our Lord, manifested in her early and simple practice of praying in the wilderness before a cross of her own making, which led her to an ever deeper love of Christ and service of Christ through prayer and many good works. There are many more stories of favors granted through the intercession of Blessed Kateri.

Kateri was declared venerable on Jan. 3, 1943, by Pope Pius XII. Pope John Paul II beatified her on June 22, 1980. Please, pray that she will soon be canonized.

Conclusion: Kateri Circle

The Tekakwitha Conference carries out its work of evangelization in our nation through the formation of Kateri Circles. The Kateri Circles meet regularly, promote knowledge of the life of Blessed Kateri and the imitation of her holiness of life. The Kateri Circles pray especially for the canonization of Blessed Kateri. The highlight of each year’s activities is the solemn celebration of the Mass of Blessed Kateri on her feast day, July 14.

I invite all Native American Catholics of the archdiocese to become members of a Kateri Circle. Catholics who are not Native American also may join the Kateri Circle as a means of growing in imitation of her virtues. If you would like to become part of a Kateri Circle, please contact me, and I will send you information.

I invite all the faithful of the archdiocese to come to know the life of Blessed Kateri and to imitate her virtues, especially her devotion to the passion of our Lord and her faithful praying of the rosary. In a special way, I present Blessed Kateri to the youth of our archdiocese. In her life, we see how God calls young people to heroic holiness of life. Sharing with young people all of their doubts and struggles, she is a powerful example and intercessor for them.

Please write to me, and I will be happy to send you the prayer for the canonization of Blessed Kateri. If you have special intentions to confide to the intercession of Blessed Kateri, the prayer card will help you in doing so.

If you would like to read more about the life of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a fine biography by Margaret R. Bunson was published in 1992. The biography is titled: "Kateri Tekakwitha: Mystic of the Wilderness." It is available through the publications office of Our Sunday Visitor.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is a sterling example for us in the work of the new evangelization. She, with Our Lady of Guadalupe, prays for us in carrying out the new evangelization of our society and culture.

O God, who, among the many marvels of Your Grace in the New World, did cause to blossom on the banks of the Mohawk and of the St. Lawrence, the pure and tender Lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, grant we beseech You, the favor we beg through her intercession: that this Young Lover of Jesus and of His Cross may soon be counted among the saints by Holy Mother Church, and that our hearts may be enkindled with a stronger desire to imitate her innocence and faith. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of the pallium, Pando and the Archdiocesan Development Appeal

The Pallium

On Tuesday, June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, His Holiness Pope John Paul II imposed the pallium upon me.The pallium is the official vestment of the metropolitan archbishop. A metropolitan archbishop has the pastoral care of an archdiocese or metropolitan see. In the universal Church, the individual dioceses in a geographical area are gathered into provinces.In each province, one of the dioceses is the archdiocese or metropolitan see.While each bishop cares for his diocese in a direct relationship to our Holy Father, the archbishop fosters the unity and mutual care among the bishops within the province and leads the appropriate coordination of pastoral activities in the dioceses of the province.

In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "On the Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World," our Holy Father observes the following about the organization of the Church into provinces:

"One concrete way of fostering communion between the bishops and solidarity between Churches is to restore vitality to the ancient institution of ecclesiastical provinces, in which the metropolitan is an instrument and sign both of fraternity between the bishops of the province and of their communion with the Roman Pontiff.Given the similarity of the problems encountered by individual bishops and the fact that their limited number can enable greater understanding, common pastoral undertakings will certainly be better planned in meetings of bishops from the same province and especially in provincial councils" (No. 62a).

Meeting as a province, bishops are able to encourage one another, and cooperate with each other in addressing common pastoral challenges.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is the metropolitan see for the Province of St. Louis, which encompasses the geographical territory of the state of Missouri.The other dioceses within the province, which are called suffragan sees, are the Diocese of Jefferson City, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The pallium, the proper vestment of the metropolitan archbishop, is a kind of collar or yoke which rests upon the shoulders.It is a circular band, about two inches wide and is made of white wool.It is worn over the chasuble. It has two pendants, one which hangs in front and one which hangs in back.It is adorned with six black crosses: a cross on the front and the back, one each of the sides and one on each of the pendants.

The pallium is made from the wool of two lambs which are given each year to the Holy Father on Jan. 21, the feast of St. Agnes. They are presented at the celebration of the Mass in the Basilica of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana in Rome.After the Mass, religious sisters care for them.Eventually, the sisters have them shorn and make the palliums from their wool.The Holy Father blesses the palliums on the eve of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and they are kept in a silver case, enclosed in a cabinet near the tomb of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica.During the Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the palliums are brought from the tomb of St. Peter to be conferred upon the new metropolitan archbishops.If an archbishop is unable to travel to Rome for the Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father may grant permission for the pallium to be conferred in the archbishop’s see.

The pallium is a symbol of the close union of all the bishops in each province throughout the world with the See of St. Peter.The pallium signifies the special responsibility of the metropolitan archbishop to foster the communion with the Roman Pontiff among all of the bishops in the province. Once the pallium has been received, it is worn over the chasuble within the territory of the archbishop’s jurisdiction or province, whenever he is celebrating a stational or, at least, a Mass with special solemnity and when he carries out ordinations, blessings of abbots and abbesses, the consecrations of virgins and the dedication of a church and altar.Connected with the pallium is the archepiscopal cross which is used when the archbishops arrives at a church for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

The pallium may not be lent to another archbishop.It is to be buried with the archbishop. If he has been archbishop of more than one metropolitan see, like our former archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, then the pallium of the see of which he is archbishop at death is placed over his shoulders in the usual manner and the other pallium or palliums are folded and placed under his head in the coffin.

The prayer which is said, when the pallium is conferred by a delegate of the Holy Father, expresses all of the beauty of the symbolism of the vestment:

"To the glory of almighty God
and to the praise of blessed Mary every Virgin
and the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul,
in the name of the Roman Pontiff, Pope John
Paul II, and of the Holy Roman Church,
for the honor of the See of St. Louis, confided
to you,
in the sign of the metropolitan power,
we hand over to you the pallium taken from
tomb of St. Peter,
in order that you may use it within the limits of
your ecclesiastical province.

May this pallium be for you the symbol of
and the sign of communion with the Apostolic
may it be a bond of charity and an incentive to
so that, on the day of the coming and revelation
of the great God,
and Prince of Shepherds, Jesus Christ,
you, with the flock entrusted to you, may attain
the stole of immortality and glory.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit.
Amen" (Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 1154).

Please pray for me that the pallium I receive may always rest on shoulders which are worthy and that I may faithfully be a servant of the unity of the Church in the Province of St. Louis with the See of St. Peter.

Be assured that all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be in my prayers throughout the days of pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi and, most especially, during the Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, celebrated by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II, the Successor of St. Peter.The whole of the archdiocese will be represented by the pilgrims who will be accompanying me to receive the pallium.

The Apostolic Vicariate of Pando

On June 24, the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, I had the pleasure of a visit from Bishop Luis Morgan Casey, Titular Bishop of Mibiarca and the Vicar Apostolic of Pando in Bolivia.Bishop Casey is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis who grew up in St. James Parish at Potosi.He was ordained a priest in 1962. After three years of parish ministry in the archdiocese, he was sent to our archdiocesan mission in Bolivia.Since that time, he has remained a missionary priest and bishop in Bolivia. He was consecrated a bishop on Jan. 28, 1984.

Bishop Casey has the jurisdiction of an apostolic vicariate, a certain territory of the Church which is on the way to becoming a diocese. His apostolic vicariate of Pando is in the jungle area of Bolivia and comprises 86,261 square kilometers. The Code of Canon Law describes an apostolic vicariate with these words:
"An apostolic vicariate or apostolic prefecture is a certain portion of the people of God which has not yet been erected as a diocese by the Supreme Pontiff due to special circumstances and which, to be shepherded, is entrusted to an apostolic vicar or apostolic prefect who governs it in the name of the Supreme Pontiff" (Canon 371, No. 1).

Bishop Casey has some 142,000 faithful in his care, and is assisted by 15 priests: nine diocesan priests and six religious order priests.Given the immense territory of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando and the very difficult traveling conditions, you can imagine some of the hardships which the Bishop faces in serving the faithful entrusted to his care.

Bishop Casey has many active members of the lay faithful, who help to build up the various communities throughout the Apostolic Vicariatae. He was also pleased to tell me about their very fruitful program for the promotion of vocations.

Notwithstanding the difficult circumstances of his episcopal ministry, Bishop Casey is filled with hope and confidence. It is most edifying to visit with him speak about his pastoral care.He is a true shepherd to the flock in Pando.

Clearly, there are many needs in the carrying out of the pastoral ministry in the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando.I am pleased that the Archdiocese of St. Louis, through its missionary works, provides for Bishop Casey’s compensation and health care.Also, the faithful of the archdiocese are able to help him in his work by making contributions to the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando through the Archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.Certainly, I encourage the faithful of the archdiocese to support Bishop Casey with your prayers and financial offerings.

Bishop Casey and I were discussing the need of more priests to help him in his extensive and challenging pastoral responsibilities.At present, the Archdiocese of St. Louis finds itself ever more constrained in the appointments of priests because of the fewer number of priests ordained in recent years. In order that our younger priests may get to know better the work of our missions in Bolivia, I want to arrange a meeting for them with Bishop Casey when he next visits St. Louis.It is important that our younger priests who do not know Bishop Casey from his time in the archdiocese have the opportunity to meet him and speak with him.I am confident that one or another young priest will be inspired to ask to serve in the missions.

My visit with Bishop Casey filled me with special pride in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which has given such a fine priest and bishop in the service of the missions and has faithfully supported.Once again, I urge you to pray for Bishop Casey and his flock of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando, and to support his work financially through the Archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Archdiocesan Development Appeal

In April, I wrote to every Catholic home in the archdiocese to ask for a sacrificial gift to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal which supports the many charitable, educational and missionary works carried out by the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.In these coming weeks, we will bring to a conclusion this year’s Appeal.

In order to meet the needs of the Church in the Archdiocese, the goal of this year’s appeal was set at $11.6 million.At the present, we have raised $10.7 million.It is key that we reach the goal of the Appeal, so that our programs of education of children, of care of the homeless and the many other programs supported by the Appeal are able to continue and to serve our brothers and sisters in the Church, who are most in need.

As we approach the closing weeks of this year’s Appeal, I need your help.I ask that, if you have not yet given a sacrificial gift to the Appeal, you do so now. I am happy to report to you that many faithful, who have not given in the past, have made a generous gift this year.

Also, be assured that many of our young families, with children in our Catholic schools, have joined the ranks of the generous stewards of the archdiocese. Because of the generosity of so many over the years, I am confident that we will reach our goal.

If you have not given to the Archdiocesan Development Appeal for this year, please make a gift now.By your gift, you will strengthen our schools, our charitable works and social service agencies, and our parishes.Your pledge will insure that our seminarians, our future priests, have an adequate education and formation to equip them to meet the challenges in the priestly ministry in our times.Your gift will also help provide for the retirement needs of our priests, and equip us to care for immigrants and refugees, so that they find a welcoming home in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.Your sacrificial gift will help to protect the unborn from the attack of procured abortion and it will provide much needed funds for programs for couples preparing for marriage and are seeking the grace needed to build a happy and healthy home life.

During the coming time, I will be sending reminders to those who have not yet made a pledge.If you have not made a pledge, I ask you please to respond generously to my letter.Please join the thousands of faithful in the archdiocese who have already made a sacrificial gift to the appeal.Please be one with the whole Catholic community in our archdiocese as we seek to serve, in the name of Christ, both our brothers and sisters within the Church and persons of other faiths, who need our assistance.

We do not want to be like the rich man in the parable of Lazarus and Dives, who ignored the hunger of the poor Lazarus.Nor do we want to be like the priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Shepherd, who saw a brother in desperate need and passed by him without giving him help.Let us, rather, follow the example of the Good Samaritan who provided care for his brother in need, even though he was from a different and even enemy nation. Let us give from our substance to love our brothers and sisters as Christ loves them.

Please be one with me and all the faithful in the archdiocese in meeting the goal of our Archdiocesan Development Appeal.I thank you for your faithful and generous practice of Christian stewardship.I thank you, in particular, for your help in meeting the needs of the Church in the archdiocese through a sacrificial gift to the Appeal.


The above reflections fill me with gratitude to God for the many, truly incalculable, ways in which He blesses us each day.They fill me with new enthusiasm and new energy to carry out the mission which He has entrusted to me and which is symbolized by the pallium. They also remind me of how much we depend upon one another in the Church, in order that the universal Church respond faithfully to the call of Christ Who dwells within us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I thank God for calling me to St. Louis to serve as your Archbishop.I thank God for all you do to assist me in carrying out my responsibilities as the shepherd of the flock here, after the Heart of Christ. Finally, I pray for you and I ask your prayers for me, that the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be always a faithful bride of our beloved Bridegroom, Christ, generous in love of Him and of the members of His mystical Body, both near to us and in every place in the world.May our generous love of Christ and our service of Him obtain for us "the stole of immortality and glory."

Finally, do not forget to pray for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who expresses his love for us all in the Archdiocese of St. Louis through the imposition of the pallium upon me, your new Archbishop.May God conserve him in wisdom and strength for his pastoral care of the Church throughout the world.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.

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