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.

‘Be not afraid!’


Our Lord Jesus Christ frequently used the image of the shepherd to describe His vocation and mission in the world.The shepherd is an ancient image for the king who governs his people by caring for all of his subjects, especially the frail.Christ, Who is indeed King of Heaven and Earth, fulfills His royal mission by becoming man, to offer His life on the Cross for theeternal salvation of all men, without exception or boundary.He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11).Pope Benedict XVI writes, in a most striking way, about the mission of Christ the Good Shepherd in his recently published book, "Jesus of Nazareth":

"The Shepherd who sets off to seek the lost sheep is the eternal Word himself, and the sheep that he lovingly carries home on his shoulders is humanity, the human existence that he took upon himself.In his Incarnation and Cross he brings home the stray sheep, humanity; he brings me home, too.The incarnate Logos is the true "sheep-bearer" — the Shepherd who follows after us through the thorns and deserts of our life.Carried on his shoulders, we come home.He gave his life for us.He himself is life" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, translated by Adrian J. Walker, New York: Doubleday, 2007, p. 286).

In Christ, through our daily life in Christ, we come home to God the Father; we share in God’s own life.

Christ, the Good Shepherd, consecrates shepherds

God the Father promised, through the Prophet Jeremiah, to send "shepherds after (His) own heart" to instruct His people and gather them into the one fold, so that they might conform their hearts to His Divine Heart.The shepherds promised by God are, in fact, to be the images of God Who comes to His people, through the Incarnation, to set them free from their sins and to win for them the lasting freedom to love as He loves.The shepherds, after the Heart of God, lead the people to Him, in Whom alone is their salvation.

At the Last Supper, God the Son Incarnate fulfilled the promise of God the Father, made through the Prophet Jeremiah. Christ the Good Shepherd, truly the Shepherd after the Heart of God, consecrated the Apostles as shepherds after the Heart of God, to teach the flock and gather them into the one fold, above all, through the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.He consecrated the Apostles to act in His own person as Head and Shepherd of the flock.Notwithstanding their faults and weaknesses, He poured out the grace of the Holy Spirit upon them for the apostolic ministry of shepherd and head of the flock, in every time and place.In an unbroken line, from the consecration of the first priests at the Last Supper, Christ has never failed to call and consecrate shepherds, after His own Heart, to care for the flock of God the Father.

Those responding to God’s call today

In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we witness, with deepest gratitude, God calling men, in Christ, to be shepherds "after His own heart."Presently, 61 men are responding daily to God’s call, preparing to present themselves, one day, God willing, for consecration as true shepherds of the flock.Twenty-eight are in the college seminary; 25 at Cardinal Glennon College Seminary and three as Basselin Scholars at The Catholic University of America.Thirty-three are in the theological seminary, that is, the last four years of preparation for priestly ordination: 32 are at Kenrick School of Theology, and one is at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

We know the needs of priestly ministry in the archdiocese are great.We must also be conscious of the needs of the foreign missions and of the armed forces of our nation.We, therefore, thank God that a good number of men are responding to His call to the priesthood. We pray for them, that they will persevere in responding to God’s call and not give way to discouragement before the sometimes arduous challenges, along the way of priestly formation.

Those whom God is calling

In August, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary admitted 18 new seminarians for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.I am happy to say that there are a number of men who are hearing the call of God and are preparing to enter our seminary in August 2008.It is not easy to make the decision to enter the seminary, but, when a man is hearing God’s call in a discernible way, the best place for him to respond is in the seminary. I ask you to continue to pray, each day, that more young men will hear the call of God to the priesthood and will respond with a totally generous heart.

In writing to you about both our seminarians and those who are preparing to enter the seminary, I hasten to say that my gratitude to God is not for the number of our seminarians, although it is certainly important that we have a sufficient number of future priests, but for their goodness and dedication in responding to God’s call.

It is my hope that you will have the occasion to visit Kenrick-Glennon Seminary or to meet our seminarians who go out to the parishes each week for pastoral formation. God is sending us outstanding young men, and some a little older, who truly have only one desire, that is, to be shepherds of the flock after the Heart of Christ the Good Shepherd.


Next week, I will continue my reflection on the fulfillment of God’s promise through the Prophet Jeremiah in our archdiocese and, specifically, through the work of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.I will tell you more about the seminarians from other dioceses and communities of consecrated life who make one community with our seminarians.Also, I want to reflect upon the importance of preparing seminarians for ordination in their home diocese.

Please continue to pray for our seminarians, that they will persevere in responding to God’s call, and to pray for those whom God is calling, that they will soon enter the seminary.

‘Be not afraid!’


On this coming weekend, Sept. 15-16, throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we will celebrate Stewardship Awareness Sunday.The theme of our celebration is taken from the Parable of the Prodigal Son.It is taken from the words of the father to his elder son who was bitter about the generous and joyful forgiveness which the father is showing to the prodigal son.When the elder son complained to the father that he had never shown him such favor as he showed to the prodigal son, the father replied: "My son, you are with me always; everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31).In other words, the elder son who had remained at home with the father was sharing constantly in the blessings of the home and, therefore, had no cause to complain about the joy and festivity of the father at having his lost son back, safe and sound.

The father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is an image of God the Father in his relationship with us.The Parable of the Prodigal Son is the third of three parables in Chapter 15 of the Gospel according to St. Luke, all of which illustrate the all-merciful and all-forgiving love of God the Father toward us.In fact, the first two parables both conclude with a declaration of our Lord Jesus. After telling the Parable of the Lost Sheep, our Lord concludes: "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). At the conclusion of the Parable of the Lost Coin, our Lord declares: "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).It is the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son who provides the Lord’s commentary in his final words to the older son: "It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:32).

The Parable of the Prodigal Son reminds us of how much God loves us.We are the only earthly creature that He created in His own image and likeness, in order that we might enjoy His friendship.He has provided us with blessings beyond our ability to describe in the world that He created and placed in our hands as His stewards.When, through pride, we failed God and sinned, He pursued us unceasingly and with immeasurable love, in order to win back our hearts.When we had sinned, He sent His only-begotten Son to win the victory over sin in our human nature and to win for us life eternal in the Kingdom of Heaven.Like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, God waits and waits for us, when we wander from Him, so that He may forgive us and restore our communion with Him.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the most eloquent symbol of God’s unceasing and immeasurable love of us. A love which, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, led God the Father to turn on Himself in order to save us (encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est, n. 10).The pierced Heart of Jesus manifests the love of Christ for us "to the end" (John 13:1).Christ took a human heart under the Immaculate Heart of Mary, He became man, to give up His life for our eternal salvation.When He had died on the Cross, the Roman soldier pierced His Heart with a spear, and blood and water poured forth, symbolizing the unceasing flow of sacramental grace, especially in Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, from the glorious Heart of Jesus into our hearts.

The glorious pierced Heart of Jesus remains always open to receive our hearts.Christ draws our hearts to His Sacred Heart, so that He may give us, in His Heart, rest and strength to love as He loves.Even as the Heart of Jesus represents the total and selfless gift of God’s love to us, at the same time it represents our vocation and mission to be one in heart with Christ and, so, to be the stewards of His ceaseless and immeasurable love in the world.

Our Morning Offering, each day, expresses the stewardship which is inherent in the union of our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I offer to Jesus "my prayers, works, joys and suffering" of the day, uniting them all to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, "for the intentions of (His) Sacred Heart, most of all the salvation of souls and the reparation for sins."

On June 17, I consecrated our archdiocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pledging our fervent response of love to God’s never-failing and all-merciful love toward us.The Act of Consecration was that used by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, which concludes: "I beseech Thee, through Thine infinite Goodness, grant that my name be engraved upon Thy Heart, for in this I place all my happiness and my glory, to live and to die as one of Thy devoted servants." Our eternal joy and peace are anticipated already on earth, to the degree that we place all that we have and are at the service of Christ, to the degree that we give our hearts completely to Him.


Stewardship of God’s manifold blessings is the way of life for us.It flows from the poverty of spirit by which we recognize that all we are and have is God’s gift to us. As good stewards, we employ His gifts to give glory to Him and to serve our neighbor in love. Gazing upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus and having the Sacred Heart of Jesus gaze upon us, we come to understand the great vocation and mission which is ours, to receive love from His Sacred Heart and to bring love from His Sacred Heart to all of our brothers and sisters. Indeed, God has given us a share in His very life for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of the world.God says to us, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son: "Everything I have is yours."

As good stewards, we live in gratitude to God for all His blessings.The Servant of God, Father Solanus Casey, OFM Cap., had a most profound appreciation of our stewardship and of the gratitude which should mark our lives as stewards.Deeply conscious of God’s countless blessings, Father Casey taught us to "thank God ahead of time."In other words, as we understand the countless blessings with which God blesses us, we anticipate the blessings to come and we thank him, with all our heart.

When our hearts are grateful, we never give way to discouragement.Rather, we have the humility and confidence of which St. Paul wrote, when he declared: "And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).When we are challenged and situations are difficult for us, we do not concentrate our attention on the difficulty of meeting the challenge but on the abundant grace of God with which we know that we can meet the challenge with love.

Educating our children in stewardship

It is especially important that we educate our children to see themselves as stewards and the world as the field of their stewardship. Sadly, in a consumerist society, children receive countless messages, especially through advertising and the media, in general, which teach them to gather all that they can for themselves. In the view of consumerism, all that we have is ours for our use and we never have enough of anything.Our eyes are, therefore, blinded to the truth that what we have is God’s gift to be used for His works of love, and that, therefore, we always can give more.

I remember my father insisting with me that I should give something every Sunday at the Offertory collection of the Mass.How often he repeated to us children that our little sacrifices would be repaid by God a hundredfold. He believed in God’s never-failing love and mercy, and he taught us to believe.

I urge families and parishes to have our children and young people make their sacrifice part of the Offertory collection, each Sunday.The drawing from their savings to help others will form them in the way of life of a true steward of God’s manifold blessings.By not teaching our children to make sacrifices for the sake of others, we deny them a great and lasting joy in life, and we fail to teach them one of the most fundamental truths about ourselves and our world.


Let us all take time on Stewardship Sunday to pause before the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our parish church and in our homes.Gazing upon the Heart of Jesus, let us let His gaze penetrate our hearts.Our contemplation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will fill us with joy at the superabundance of God’s love of us and will fill us with enthusiasm and energy to share God’s love with one another and, especially, with our brothers and sisters in most need.

Let us thank God for all His many blessings. Let us return an ever more generous love to Him for all of the love with which He has first loved us.

‘Be not afraid!’


I write to thank you for your generous response to the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal. Thanks to you, the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Annual Catholic Appeal has well surpassed the goal set for financial gifts. I am particularly grateful to our parish priests, our parish volunteers and the members of more than 60,000 households who made pledges to the Appeal.The Annual Catholic Appeal is the single most important work of the Church in the archdiocese in providing essential support for the carrying out of her mission, especially through our parishes, Catholic schools and other apostolic services.I invite you to read about the happy results of the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal in this week’s edition of the Review.

In his encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est (On Christian Love)," Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that "there will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable" (n. 28).Recognizing so many of our brothers and sisters in material need, we provide them with essential help through the Appeal.We do more than provide material help.The help we offer is inspired by the Holy Spirit dwelling within each of us and, therefore, brings with it the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.The Appeal is, in short, an archdiocesanwide act of love, which "does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which is even more necessary than material support" (n. 28).

Stewardship of God’s manifold gifts

When we consider how much God has blessed us in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, we are humbled by the many signs of His love.Recognizing that our many gifts are all from the hand of God Who loves us, we understand their destiny.They are the means which He provides to us, as His partners in carrying out His mission of pure and selfless love, especially on behalf of those who are most in need.We recognize our great dignity as His stewards, the beneficiaries of His gifts, who, by our stewardship, see those gifts multiply for the good of all.God’s gifts given in love are for the works of His love in the world.

Our stewardship is not a sectarian activity; it is not directed solely to the members of the household of the Catholic faith, although we certainly are united by special bonds of love to those who, with us, are members of the Body of Christ.I recall the words of St. Paul to the first Christians in Galatia: "So, then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

The mission of the Church, which depends upon the Annual Catholic Appeal, brings "good news to the poor" and sets free "those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18).Through her charitable, educational and missionary works, the Church serves the common good, the good of all without boundary or discrimination.The logo of the Annual Catholic Appeal, depicting a dove framed by the Gateway Arch, reminds us that our stewardship of God’s many gifts brings "good news" and freedom from poverty, both material and spiritual, to the entire community of which we are members.

Additional help to parishes

As you will read in the report of the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal, you have given gifts which significantly surpass our goal.How will your additional gifts be used?

After prayer and consultation, I have decided that the bulk of the funds which have been raised over the goal should be employed to give additional help to our parishes through which the mission of the Church is carried out in all of the communities of the archdiocese.It is in the parish that families gather to carry out the Church’s mission.The archdiocese exists to serve parishes and maintain them in the unity of the Church’s mission.By giving additional support to parishes, I believe that the mission of the Church throughout the archdiocese and far beyond will be best served.

Concretely, the bulk of the funds raised over the goal will be dispersed in three ways which serve our parishes.Some of the additional money will go to the Parish Assistance Fund, which is used to help parishes struggling with financial difficulties.Some will go to the Parish Emergency Fund, which comes to the aid of a parish facing an unexpected and expensive need which must be addressed immediately.And some will go to the Ensuring Parish Viability Fund, which helps both parishes experiencing rapid growth and parishes experiencing demographic change.Through all three distributions, the presence of the Church will be more effectively guaranteed in every part of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Grateful thanks to our leaders

My heart is filled with gratitude for the excellent leadership of the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal. Niall Gannon, the general chairman, devoted himself tirelessly to increasing the participation in the Appeal and has helped us significantly to address the chronic issue of decreasing participation. In thanking him, I thank also his wife, Gretchen, and their daughters.

The members of the Council of the Annual Catholic Appeal are most talented and, more importantly, most generous in serving the work of the Church.As you can well imagine, the attention to detail is critical to such a major work of charity.The members of the council devote themselves to the many details of the Appeal with great competence and with joy in serving our Lord and His Church.I thank them most sincerely.

It is our parish priests and lay leaders who ultimately make the Appeal work for the Church. It is they who bring the message of the Appeal to all of the faithful of the archdiocese.I thank them for all of their work and especially for the extra effort made to invite more of the faithful to participate in the work of the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Finally, I offer heartfelt thanks to Frank Cognata, director of the Archdiocesan Office of Stewardship, and Brian Niebrugge, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, and their staffs. Their excellence in administration is key to the Annual Catholic Appeal.They are excellent in their professional skills, but, even more importantly, they are excellent in their love of Christ and His flock in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.


We thank God Who has blessed us, His stewards, in carrying out the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal.In thanking God, let us also rededicate ourselves to the work of the Appeal to His honor and glory, and for the sake of His children in the archdiocese and far beyond, especially those who suffer from material and spiritual poverty.

The new evangelization calls us to teach and live our Catholic faith with new enthusiasm and new energy, with the enthusiasm and energy of the first disciples of our Lord, and of the first missionaries to our territory.God the Father sent His only-begotten Son "to preach good news to the poor ... and to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18).The Sacrament of Baptism has made us one with Christ in carrying out God the Father’s mission of universal love.Through the Annual Catholic Appeal 2008, let us rededicate ourselves to our mission in Christ and with Christ in the Church.

Through the intercession of St. Louis of France, St. Vincent de Paul and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, our patrons, I ask God to bless all who have generously participated in the Annual Catholic Appeal 2007, and I ask God to grant us an ever fuller participation as we go forward with the Annual Catholic Appeal 2008.

Once again, thank you. God bless and reward you.

‘Be not afraid!’


On this past Saturday, Aug. 25, we celebrated the feast day of St. Louis of France, principal patron saint of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.The feast day of St. Louis is celebrated as a solemnity in the City of St. Louis and as a feast in the rest of the archdiocese. This year, I transferred the celebration of the solemnity in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis to Aug. 26, to permit a greater participation of the faithful.

In my homily for the Pontifical Mass for the Solemnity of St. Louis in the cathedral basilica, I reflected on the source of the heroic sanctity of our principal patron, who was a husband and father of 11 children, ruler of a great nation and crusader for the safeguarding of the Christian life in the holy places of our Lord’s redemptive Incarnation. Wanting to share my reflection with all of the faithful of the archdiocese, I have edited the homily for this week’s column.

Becoming whom we receive in Holy Communion

In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis (On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission)," Pope Benedict XVI recalls a passage from the "Confessions" of St. Augustine, regarding the Holy Eucharist.St. Augustine writes about the different effect of consuming the heavenly Bread of the Holy Eucharist in comparison with the effect of eating earthly food.

Earthly food is assimilated into our very being; it becomes a part of us.The Body of Christ, the heavenly Food of our earthly pilgrimage, on the contrary, transforms us into the Food we consume, that is, Christ Whom we receive in Holy Communion.

Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ unites us to Himself, draws our hearts into His glorious Sacred Heart. By so doing, He heals and purifies our poor, fearful and doubting hearts. He gives rest and strength to our hearts. In short, He gives us the grace to live in Him always, to reflect His likeness in every moment of our lives, in everything that we think and say and do. In the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, we receive the strength to "remove from (our) midst oppression," to "bestow bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted," trusting that "the Lord will guide (us) always and give (us) plenty even on the parched land" (Isaiah 58:10-11).In the Heart of Jesus, we find the refreshment and fortitude to become for our neighbor "a spring whose water never fails" (Isaiah 58:11).In the words of St. Paul, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the grace to offer our bodies "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is (our) spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1) (Pope Benedict XVI, post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Feb. 22, 2007, n. 70).

The intrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life
Pope Benedict XVI comments on the reflection of St. Augustine with these words:

"Christianity’s new worship includes and transfigures every aspect of life: ‘Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31).Christians, in all their actions, are called to offer true worship to God.Here the intrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape. The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transfiguration of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God (cf. Romans 8:29ff). There is nothing authentically human — our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds — that does not find in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 71).

The Holy Eucharist is truly the fount and highest expression of the life of the Church. It is, therefore, the fount and highest expression of our personal life in Christ. Having communion with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we are called and given the grace to live in pure and selfless love of God and neighbor, observing always and everywhere the great commandment of love (Matthew 22:37-40).

St. Louis: Holding on to God with faith and good works

St. Louis (King Louis IX) of France, the principal patron of our archdiocese, is a remarkable example of a eucharistic life, of a life in which the reality of the Eucharist formed every element. At the conclusion of his Credo, St. Louis urges to hold on to God with two arms. He explains:

"The two arms with which we must hold God clasped, are firm faith and good works. We need both of these together if we wish to keep hold of God, for either one of them is useless without the other" (John of Joinville, The Life of St. Louis, tr. Ren Hague, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1955, p. 236, n. 846).

The image of clasping or holding on to God underlines for us the intention and the devotion which are needed in our relationship with God, in our response of love to Him Who has first loved us and has loved us "to the end" (John 12:1; 1 John 4:10).

Our holy and noble patron also cautions us about the daily work of Satan and the forces of evil to lead us to give up our hold on one or the other, firm faith or good works, and thus to lose both:

"We see, then, that we must combine firm faith with good works.Daily the devils fight with us to deprive us of one or the other, and on the last day, by which I mean the day of our death, they will strive even harder than they do now. On that day may God and His Mother and all His saints grant us their help!" (The Life of St. Louis, p. 236, n. 848).

St. Louis understood that taking up the Cross with Christ means also entering, with Christ, into the Garden of Gethsemane and resisting, with the help of God’s grace, the temptations to discouragement and despair.

St. Louis heeded the admonition of St. Paul:

"Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil ... With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.

"To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones" (Ephesians 6:11,18).

St. Paul teaches us what we see embodied in the life of St. Louis, namely, constant vigilance and prayer, so that we, with the help of God’s grace, do whatever God asks of us, at any moment of our life.

St. Louis, man of the Holy Eucharist

As son, husband, father, ruler and crusader, St. Louis strove, in everything, to embody his holding on to God by faith.If we read the account of his daily life, written by Jean de Joinville, who knew the king most personally and fought alongside him in the Crusades, beginning in 1248, we discover the source of the faith and good works by which St. Louis held on to God, steadfastly remaining in the company of our Lord. John of Joinville writes:

"He so arranged the business of governing his country that every day he heard the Hours of the Office sung, and a Requiem Mass without chant, and then a sung Mass of the day or the feast, if there was one. Every day after dinner he rested on his bed, and when he had slept and rested he said the Office of the Dead privately in his room with one of his chaplains, before hearing Vespers.In the evening he heard Compline" (The Life of St. Louis, p. 36, n.54).

Clearly, every day of the life of St. Louis was centered in the Sacred Liturgy, above all, the Holy Eucharist.

When we consider the richness of virtue in the life of St. Louis, for example, his daily and generous provision for the poor, his establishment of institutions to educate the young and to care for the sick and those in need, and his devotion to the sacred places of our Lord unto the giving of his last energies, we ask how it is possible that so many Christlike qualities could be embodied in one man, in one lifetime.

The answer to our wonderment is the Eucharistic Sacrifice in which St. Louis participated daily and which transformed him more and more into Christ’s own likeness. When we consider the complexity of his life as father of a large family and as ruler of a nation, we marvel at his wisdom, truly wisdom from God, by which he formed his every activity in daily Mass and praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.


Recalling the memory of St. Louis, let us ask him to intercede for us so that we may become men and women of the Eucharist. May we imitate St. Louis, finding in the Holy Eucharist the grace to live every moment of our lives in and with Christ for the glory of God the Father and for the good of our neighbor, especially our neighbor who is in most need.

Imitating our beloved patron, St. Louis, let us, each day, lift up our poor, sinful and doubting hearts to the Lord, placing them into His glorious pierced Heart.May we live every moment of our lives in the communion with the Lord, which is ours in the Holy Eucharist.

‘Be not afraid!’


Pope Benedict XVI concludes his post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis (On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission)," by reminding us that "the Eucharist is at the root of every form of holiness, and each of us is called to the fullness of life in the Holy Eucharist" (No. 94).To illustrate the eucharistic foundation of our life in Christ, he recalls the names of many saints who attained heroic sanctity of life by way of strong eucharistic devotion.The heart of their heroic sanctity was the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Our Holy Father, accordingly, declares that the eucharistic mystery "needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church" (No. 94).In the Holy Eucharist, we discover that the fulfillment of our life is found in the participation in the life of God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — which our Lord Jesus, God the Son made man, offers to us.Our religious life is deeply personal. It is a relationship with God the Father in God the Son through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our very being. It is through participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and through eucharistic devotion that we draw ever closer to our Lord Jesus and receive from Him the gift of divine Trinitarian life.

In the Holy Eucharist, we offer our own lives with Christ, we draw near to Christ with "the whole community of believers" and we express "our solidarity with all men and women" for whom Christ offers up His life in the Eucharistic Sacrifice (No. 94).Pope Benedict XVI asks "all pastors to spare no effort in promoting an authentically Eucharistic Christian spirituality."He expresses confidence that those who are ministers of the Holy Eucharist — priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers — will carry out their service with due preparation and attentive care, and, therefore, find in their eucharistic ministry the inspiration and strength which they need to grow in holiness of life.

Addressing all of the lay faithful and especially families, Pope Benedict XVI urges them to find in the Eucharistic Sacrifice "the energy needed to make their lives an authentic sign of the presence of the risen Lord" (No. 94).Addressing consecrated men and women, he urges them to make the Eucharist the center of their lives and, thereby, to manifest to all the great beauty of a life dedicated totally to Christ.

Intercession of the martyrs and all the saints

Pope Benedict XVI recalls the story of the martyrs of Abitinae in North Africa at the beginning of the fourth century.The Roman emperor had forbidden the celebration of the Holy Mass.Certain Christians in North Africa defied the emperor’s prohibition because they "felt bound to celebrate the Lord’s Day" (No. 95).They stated plainly that they could not live without the Holy Eucharist. As a result, they were martyred at Abitinae.

Our Holy Father asks the intercession of the martyrs of Abitinae and of all the saints. He asks that they teach us to be faithful to our Sunday encounter with the Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist.He prays that we may imitate the martyrs of Abitinae, so that what we celebrate on the Lord’s Day becomes the pattern of our daily living.

The Blessed Virgin Mary

In a special way, our Holy Father asks that the Blessed Virgin Mary be one with us as we go to meet our Lord each Sunday in the Holy Eucharist.Our Blessed Mother is, in the words of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, the "Woman of the Eucharist." The Virgin Mary leads us to the Holy Eucharist.She is with us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, training our eyes to behold, with her, the great mystery of God the Father’s love of us in Jesus Christ.At the Holy Mass, we pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and strive to imitate her in the offering of her whole life in obedience to God the Father and for the good of the Church.

Our Blessed Mother is totally beautiful (tota pulchra); in her, we see the glory of God as it shines forth in a totally virtuous life.Pope Benedict XVI declares: "From Mary we must learn to become men and women of the Eucharist and of the Church, and thus to present ourselves, in the words of St. Paul, ‘holy and blameless’ before the Lord, even as He wished us to be from the beginning (cf. Colossians 1:22; Eph 1:4)" (n. 96).


The Holy Father brings "Sacramentum Caritatis" to a conclusion, asking the intercession of the Mother of God, so that the Holy Spirit will stir up in us anew the fire which the disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday experienced when they encountered the Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist. He notes how the "the splendor and beauty radiating from the liturgical rite" should be for us a sign of the incomprehensible beauty of Christ’s offering of His life for us sacramentally, of God’s immense and ceaseless love of us in our Lord Jesus Christ (No. 97).

The Holy Eucharist makes us realize that our Lord is with us always and, therefore, brings us true and lasting joy. "True joy is found in recognizing that the Lord is still with us, our faithful companion along the way. The Eucharist makes us discover that Christ, risen from the dead, is our contemporary in the mystery of the Church, His Body" (No. 97).

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI expresses the desire that we encourage one another to encounter our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and, therefore, to proclaim the truth which we have discovered in the Holy Eucharist, the truth declared by our Lord before His Ascension to the right hand of the Father: "Lo, I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).

It is my fervent prayer that the reflection on "Sacramentum Caritatis," which we have been making in the archdiocese over the past several months, has led us all to a deeper knowledge of our eucharistic Lord and, therefore, to a more ardent love of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.May our love of the Holy Eucharist flower in a pure and selfless love of one another, especially our brothers and sisters who are in most need.

Solemnity of St. Louis of France

On Saturday, Aug. 25, the Church universal celebrates the memory of our principal patron in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, St. Louis IX, King of France.The patronal feast, which is a solemnity in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, will be transferred to Sunday, Aug. 26, so that a greater number of the faithful of the archdiocese may participate in the Solemn Pontifical Mass at 5 p.m.If possible, please participate in the Holy Mass on this coming Sunday to ask the intercession of St. Louis, King of France, for the many needs of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

I also encourage you to familiarize yourselves again with the life of St. Louis. St. Louis is a model for husbands, fathers, heads of state, for those who carry out the work of charity and for all of us.He was truly a man who gave himself completely to Christ in his vocation and life.He became more and more conformed to Christ, giving his last energies of life to leading a crusade to safeguard the holy places of our Lord’s redemptive Incarnation.

New Metropolitan Cross

At the Solemn Pontifical Mass for the Solemnity of St. Louis on Aug. 26, I will bless and use for the first time a new Metropolitan Cross commissioned by the archdiocese and created by Fratelli Savi ecclesiastical goldsmiths in Rome.Claudio and Piero Savi completed the Metropolitan Cross in these days.It arrived in St. Louis last week.The Metropolitan Cross is truly a work of art, worthy of the great beauty of the Sacred Liturgy and of our cathedral basilica.

The Metropolitan Cross is a symbol of the unity of all of the dioceses in the Province of St. Louis, namely, the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the dioceses of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Jefferson City and Springfield-Cape Girardeau.That unity binds the dioceses of the province to Rome, the see of the bishop of the universal Church.The other symbol of the office of the metropolitan archbishop is the pallium, which is imposed by the Roman pontiff as a sign of the bond of unity between the Church in the province and the universal Church.The Province of St. Louis encompasses the entire territory of the State of Missouri.

The Metropolitan Cross is carried in procession before the archbishop, especially on the occasion of special celebration for the entire Province of St. Louis, for example, the ordination of a new bishop for the province.It is carried in such a way that the image of Christ crucified is facing the archbishop to remind him of his solemn responsibilities as a true shepherd of the flock who, like our Lord, the Master, should lay down his life for the sheep entrusted into this care.

The front of the Metropolitan Cross has the image of Christ crucified at its center.At the extremes of the upright and crossbeams are the symbols of the Apocalyptic Lamb, of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of the four evangelists.On the reverse side of the cross are the coats of arms of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (the metropolitan see) and the dioceses of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Jefferson City and Springfield-Cape Girardeau (the suffragan sees).The inside of the Metropolitan Cross is a reliquary containing relics of St. Louis IX, King of France; St. Vincent de Paul, St. Catherine Labour, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Pius X, St. Maria Goretti and Blessed Pius IX.

Following the Solemn Pontifical Mass on Aug. 26, it will be possible to view the Metropolitan Cross.More information on the Metropolitan Cross is contained on Page 1 of today’s Review.

May St. Louis of France intercede for us and for the many needs of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.May we follow his example in giving our lives totally to Christ in our vocation in life.

‘Be not afraid!’

Introduction: The Holy Eucharist and the Church’s mission

Pope Benedict XVI, in "Sacramentum Caritatis," reminds us that the love of God, given to us in the Holy Eucharist, is not a gift for us alone but, rather, by its very nature, is to be shared with others, indeed, with all.Even as we recognize how much we need God’s love in our lives and how wonderfully He gives us the gift of His love in the Holy Eucharist, so also we recognize that our whole world needs most the gift of God’s love and that we are the messengers and instruments of Divine Love."What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in Him" (n. 84).

The Holy Eucharist is an incomprehensible gift of God’s love which fills us with gratitude and with the desire to make this most wonderful gift, our Lord Jesus Himself, known to all our brothers and sisters. If, as it is true, the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life, the Holy Eucharist is also the source and summit of the Church’s mission in the world.

The missionary nature of the Holy Eucharist is manifest in the celebration of the Last Supper.Our Lord Jesus, on the night before He died, instituted the Holy Eucharist, so that His Sacrifice on Calvary, which would be consummated on the following day, might be celebrated in every time and place, and for all men.Reflecting upon the Lord’s Supper, Pope Benedict XVI declares: "We cannot approach the eucharistic table without being drawn into the mission which, beginning in the very heart of God, is meant to reach all people" (n. 84).

The first and fundamental mission: To bear witness

The first and fundamental mission which we accept by our participation in the Holy Eucharist is to bear witness to the mystery of God’s love by the manner of our living.What does it mean to bear witness? Pope Benedict XVI provides the answer: "We become witnesses when, through our actions, words and way of being, Another makes Himself present" (n. 85).God depends upon our witness to bring His love to all men, but the gift is His, not ours.We are His messengers and instruments.While God trusts us to be His witnesses, we pray for the grace to honor God’s trust by becoming more and more like His Divine Son Who is "the faithful and true witness (cf. Revelation 1:5; 3:14), the One who came to testify to the truth (cf. John 18:37)" (n. 85).We pray that we may be true witnesses, that is, that Christ may make Himself present to others through all our thoughts and words and deeds.

Pope Benedict XVI reflects upon the great desire of the early Christians to bear the ultimate witness, namely, to offer their lives in martyrdom.In martyrdom, the early Christians rightly saw the most complete obedience to the command of St. Paul that we should offer our bodies in pure spiritual worship (cf. Romans 12:1).By martyrdom, in the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch, we become "Christ’s pure bread." In other words, the martyr unites himself perfectly with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and, thus, becomes, in Christ, spiritual food for the whole Church.Even as we are called to become the Eucharist we receive, to become more and more like Christ, so the martyr, in a pre-eminent way, becomes the Eucharist which he or she has received.

Our Holy Father reminds us that, also in our time, the Church is blessed with martyrs who offer their lives in faithful witness to God. He also reminds us that, although we do not anticipate being put to death because of our witness to God, "we know that worship pleasing to God demands that we should be inwardly prepared for it."If we are attentive to the call to be faithful in witness, even to the shedding of our blood, then we will offer each day "the joyful and convincing testimony of a consistent Christian life, wherever the Lord calls us to be his witnesses" (n. 85).

Witness to Christ, our only Savior

The more we come to know and love our eucharistic Lord, the more we understand our mission of bringing our Lord to the world. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, we do not offer to the world "just a theory or a way of life inspired by Christ, but the gift of His very person" (n. 86).

Today, there is a strong tendency to make our witness acceptable to a world that is marked by a great diversity of peoples and beliefs. The Holy Eucharist reminds us that our testimony must be a clear witness to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation which He alone brings to the world.In other words, our witness must be a sound and uncompromising proclamation of the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ.It must be given with the conviction that it is what the world most needs and what will serve most the common good.

In this connection, the Holy Father addresses the situation of those who carry out the Church’s mission "in areas where Christians are a minority or where they are denied religious freedom" (n.87).Pope Benedict XVI calls to mind places in the world, in which fidelity to Sunday Mass is heroic, for it subjects the faithful to the danger of exclusion and violence.He points out that "wherever religious freedom is lacking, people lack the most meaningful freedom of all, since it is through faith that men and women express their deepest decision about the ultimate meaning of their lives" (n. 87). He invites us to pray for religious freedom throughout the world.

The Holy Eucharist offered to the world

Our Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that He has come to save all men, without boundary or exclusion.During His public ministry, he showed "His deepest compassion for every man and woman" (n. 88). He revealed fully and perfectly the desire of God the Father that all may have life in Him.In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, our Lord makes always new the outpouring of His life for all, including those who had falsely condemned Him and put Him to death.

One with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we accept our mission to love all our brothers and sisters, without boundary or exclusion.Participation in the Holy Eucharist means loving others as God loves them.Pope Benedict XVI quotes a text from his encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est" to describe the nature of eucharistic charity.He tells us that it "consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know" (n. 88).How can we practice such charity?Because we have met our Lord Jesus in Holy Communion, we have received Him into our very being, and, therefore, look upon our brothers and sisters with His eyes, with the eyes of the One Who gave His life for us, loving us all "to the end" (John 13:1).

The body of disciples, gathered at the altar of Christ’s Sacrifice, is also deeply conscious of its responsibility to bring Christ to every local community and to our world.Union with Christ in the Eucharistic Sacrifice commits us "to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world" (n.88).

The Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation

The Holy Eucharist, because it is communion with Christ, has a profound meaning for our social relations.Communion with our eucharistic Lord commits us to work for reconciliation in all our relations.Pope Benedict XVI makes reference to the Sermon on the Mount and the specific command of our Lord regarding the necessity of reconciliation for fitting worship: "So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-24).

Through our communion with Him in the Holy Eucharist, our Lord urges us to be reconciled, to be committed to both good communication with others and to just relations.Holy Communion is the heavenly food which transforms injustices and serves good order in all our relations and in society, in general.

Pope Benedict XVI raises the question of the involvement of the Church in politics.He acknowledges that "it is not the proper task of the Church to engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible," but he also observes that "nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice" (n. 89).The Church has two specific tasks in promoting the struggle for justice.She must employ reason to argue for a just resolution of every question. She must be a voice of reason.

Secondly, she must be the instrument by which man becomes spiritually strong to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve and foster justice.Pope Benedict XVI calls all the faithful to be agents in the promotion of the respect for the inviolable dignity of human life: "Precisely because of the mystery we celebrate, we must denounce situations contrary to human dignity, since Christ shed His blood for all, and at the same time affirm the inestimable importance of each individual person" (n. 89).

Globalization and stewardship

Our Holy Father notes specific questions of justice, which our participation in the Holy Eucharist inspires and strengthens us to address, for example a globalization which increases "the gap between the rich and the poor worldwide."There is also the failure to practice good stewardship of the earth’s resources, so that they serve the needs of all. He writes also of the "huge camps ... of displaced persons and refugees, who are living in makeshift conditions in order to escape a worse fate, yet are still in dire need."He reflects on the very large sums of money expended worldwide for armaments, while so many are living in poverty.

Our participation in the Holy Eucharist makes us conscious of our "clear and disquieting responsibility" for the situations of injustice in which our brothers and sisters suffer: "The food of truth demands that we denounce inhumane situations in which people starve to death because of injustice and exploitation, and it gives us renewed strength and courage to work tirelessly in the service of the civilization of love" (n. 90).

Calling to mind the concern of the first Christians to place their goods at the service of all, especially those in most need, Pope Benedict XVI underlines the importance of our weekly collections at Sunday Mass.He also highlights the works of the Church’s charitable institutions, like Catholic Charities, which concretely address the needs of the poorest among us.Regarding these institutions, he declares: "Inspired by the Eucharist, the sacrament of charity, they become a concrete expression of that charity; they are to be praised and encouraged for their commitment to solidarity in our world" (n. 90).

The Church’s social teaching

All of us, and, in particular, the lay faithful bear a most heavy responsibility for the economic, political and social conditions in our society.The questions of justice which we confront are complex and do not admit of easy responses. It is, therefore, essential that we receive instruction in the Church’s social doctrine.Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the Church’s history, from her beginnings, is rich with lessons in social justice.He cautions against "misguided compromises or false utopias," and underlines the "realism and moderation" of the Church’s social teaching.

Treating the relationship of the Holy Eucharist to the Church’s social teaching, Pope Benedict XVI notes, in particular, the implications of the Eucharistic Sacrifice for our approach to creation.The very offering of bread and wine remind us of God’s plan for the world.Pope Benedict XVI corrects false notions of the world in strong terms: "The world is not something indifferent, raw material to be utilized simply as we see fit.Rather, it is part of God’s good plan, in which all of us are called to be sons and daughters in the one Son of God, Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:4-12)" (n. 92).

Through the Holy Eucharist, we participate already in the new creation which Christ will bring to full realization at His Second Coming.The new creation is not yet; we are called to prepare for it, each day of our lives.We prepare for it by our knowledge of God’s plan for our world and by our respect and obedience before God’s plan.

We await the Final Coming of our Lord.Pope Benedict XVI concludes: "Our Christian life, nourished by the Eucharist, gives us a glimpse of that new world — new heavens and a new earth — where the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, from God, ‘prepared as a bride adorned for her husband’ (Revelation 21:2)" (n. 92).

Conclusion: Eucharistic compendium

Our Holy Father concludes Part Three of "Sacramentum Caritatis" by announcing his acceptance of a proposal made by the bishops in synod, namely the preparation of a compendium on the Holy Eucharist. According to the mind of the bishops, the compendium is to be "a means of helping the Christian people to believe, celebrate and live ever more fully the mystery of the Eucharist" (n. 93).

The compendium will be prepared by the "competent offices of the Roman Curia" and will contain "texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, explanations of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal and other useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar."Pope Benedict XVI expresses the hope that the compendium will have two effects in the Church and in our individual Christian lives.First, he hopes that it "will help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission."Secondly, he hopes that it "will encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship" (n. 93).

Syndicate content