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.

‘Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer…?’

For the humble of heart, the liturgies of Holy Week comprise the most moving liturgies of the entire year. The humble of heart make an instant connection between their own poverty and God’s reaching out to them with his mercy and his love. From the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper to the Easter Vigil, we are immersed in the mystery of the Lord’s redemption. At the Easter Vigil the Church sings:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer

The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled with God!”

Bishop Hermann: ‘I thought you should know’ - Catholic Men for Christ

This past Saturday over 1,000 men from the Archdiocese gathered at the America’s Center for a day of spiritual challenge and refreshment! It was the second annual Catholic Men for Christ Conference in St. Louis. Last year’s event was held at CBC.

They came from parishes throughout the archdiocese. One parish had more than 90 men in attendance at the conference, and another parish had over 70. Many were members of the Knights of Columbus, and others were members of the Knights of Peter Claver. A very large percentage of the men had made a "Christ Renews His Parish" weekend. Many of the men meet weekly for prayer, teaching and fellowship. One parish hosts 70 men every Saturday morning from 6 to 8 a.m. with breakfast, a speaker and small group sharing. All are experiencing Jesus Christ transforming their lives. One young man told me, "This past Saturday was a life-changing experience for me and my father. We have never bonded so closely before."

Why did they come?

They came for a very simple reason. These men wanted to experience a closer relationship with Jesus and with members of their family. They came to open their hearts wide to the transforming love and mercy of our God. They came to hear very strong and challenging teachings touching every aspect of their lives. They are hungry to learn more about their faith, their role as a Catholic father and their call to bond with their wives and children. They came to bring other men closer to Christ. They came to witness to other men and be edified by the example of other men.

Bishop Hermann: 'I thought you should know’

Sooner or later we will have a new archbishop. When will this happen? People keep asking me if I know anything. I give them a variety of answers. Sometimes I tell them, "Only three persons really know and they are not speaking." They immediately ask me who the three persons are and I tell them: "The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." This usually stops the speculation. I also tell them that as soon as it is announced in Rome they can consult their smart phone or their computer if they signed up for this information on the Archdiocesan Web, and find out who it is.

However, more important than when we get a new archbishop should be the question, "Are we prepared to accept the gift that the Holy Spirit is about to bestow upon us?" The Holy Spirit is always full of surprises. Consider the following examples:

In 1958 the world was shocked when the College of Cardinals elected a 77-year-old cardinal, Cardinal Roncalli, to be pope. As Pope John XXIII, he began the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Hermann: ‘I thought you should know’

St. Stanislaus Parishioners, welcome home to the Catholic Church!

This past Monday, March 9, 2009, Bishop James Johnston, Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, informed Father Marek B. Bozek that on January 31, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI had dismissed Father Marek Bozek from the priesthood. This means that Mr. Bozek no longer has any priestly powers, aside from giving absolution to a person in danger of death.

St. Stanislaus Parishioners, welcome home to the Catholic Church! The Catholic Church is your home. You have a right to the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, including the valid celebration of the Holy Mass, the valid celebration of Confession, the valid celebration of marriages. We want to work with all those couples who have been led into believing that the marriages Mr. Bozek celebrated in St. Stanislaus were valid marriages. They were not. I encourage you to go to your pastor in order to discuss how to get your marriage validated in the Catholic Church. Until your marriage has been reconciled with the Church, you should not present yourself for Holy Communion at Holy Mass. The Marriage Tribunal is ready to work with any pastor who might have questions.

This was the pastoral concern that moved Archbishop Burke to encourage all such parishioners, who had received the Sacraments invalidly at St. Stanislaus since the coming of Mr. Bozek, to seek out a Catholic priest for assistance. Archbishop Burke was concerned about the eternal salvation of those who had been misled. A number of parishioners, including several former members of the Board of St. Stanislaus Parish, have returned and have been reconciled with the Church.

Archbishop Burke was simply expressing the Church’s pastoral concern. This has never been a dispute about money or property, but only about obedience. The Church regulates the use of all Church property for the sake of unity. Obedience to Christ and His Church begets unity and peace. St. Ignatius of Antioch tells us that wherever the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church, and wherever the Catholic Church is, there is Christ.

Bishop Hermann: ‘I thought you should know’

Today I want to reflect further on the meaning of Lent. In the Gospel for last Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, St. Mark tells us that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert for 40 days, where he was tempted by Satan. In the desert, Jesus enters more deeply into all the demands and cries of his humanity, but he also enters deeply into prayer so that he can address human demands before entering his public ministry and, eventually, his passion and death. Scripture tells us that he was tempted in every way that we are, but that he did not sin. Thus, he models for us what it is like to prepare ourselves by prayer and fasting in order that we can carry out the will of the Father in our lives. It is the call to holiness.

Jesus shows us that by entering more deeply into prayer, we become more sensitive to the movements of the flesh and the movements of the Holy Spirit.

When we first think of fasting, we would rather think of feasting. We don’t like to fast. Once, a person told me, "I did not like to hear you talk about fasting, but then I decided to give fasting and prayer a try. In the last year, I have shed far more than unwanted pounds, and I have grown in virtue. I feel as though I am a person in control again." Isn’t that great! This person was not saying this with any sense of pride, but was saying this with a great sense of humility, because the individual realized it was the Lord who graciously granted that mercy and that grace. It really does work!

Bishop Hermann: 'I thought you should know’

In last week’s Gospel, on the seventh Sunday of the year and immediately preceding Lent, Jesus is confronted by a paralytic man on a mat lowered through the roof by four men. When Jesus saw the faith of the four men, he said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven."

We may well ask ourselves, "Why didn’t Jesus first heal the paralytic man of his physical paralysis and then forgive his sins?" The answer is that Jesus is Jesus, and we are not; therefore, we need to look at what He did and reflect on why He did what He did.

It is obvious that all who were present were aware of this man’s physical paralysis, but probably only Jesus knew of his spiritual paralysis. Spiritual paralysis comes from the realization that inside we have guilt because of our sinfulness, but, since sin seems to be bigger than we are, we don’t always know how to deal effectively with sin. If we commit a sin and confess that sin, and then we recommit that same sin, we often feel too discouraged and too proud to try again, so we go into denial. Denial is spiritual paralysis. We cannot move.

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’"

Jesus was aware that the paralytic man did not have the same access to the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance and the Holy Eucharist as we do today. Christ saw into the depths of the paralytic man’s soul and saw there irresolvable guilt, so he freed him from this spiritual paralysis by extending to him forgiveness for all of his sins. Christ gave him more than he realized he needed. By forgiving the paralytic man of all his sins, he removed the paralyzing guilt.

Only after Jesus extended God’s mercy to the paralytic man’s soul did he extend God’s healing to his body.

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