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.

Providing for the priesthood for future generations

The following is a letter to the faithful from Archbishop Carlson regarding the Faith for the Future capital campaign for the Kenrick-Glennon seminary.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am overjoyed by your welcome at my installation on June 10. Although I have only been here a short time, I have come to know the vibrancy of our community, which was so evident that day. As I mentioned in my homily, we are blessed here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the “Rome of the West,” with many gifts. We have a strong Catholic school system, sharing our faith with the next generation of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. We have a dynamic outreach to the poor. And the presence of so many religious communities enriches us all. I could go on, but our gifts are too numerous to list here. Please know that I am humbled to be welcomed so generously into your community.

I thought you should know: The Feast of Corpus Christi

This past week we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of our Lord. At the Last Supper, after giving the Apostles His body to eat and His blood to drink, He told them, “Do this in memory of me.” We might well ask ourselves, “What are we to do in memory of Him?”

At the Last Supper, He realized that within the hour He would be on his way to the Garden of Olives, singing a hymn of praise, glorifying the Father. The hour was fast approaching when He would consider it a privilege to glorify the Father by dying on the Cross to reveal to the whole world the Father’s incredible mercy. He was well aware that by embracing the Cross, He would be embracing the Father and us.

When He said, “Do this in memory of me,” He invited us to unite ourselves, together with the sacrifices we make, with Jesus as He offers Himself to the Father.

Pentecost – The Aftermath

If we examine carefully the effect of Pentecost on the Apostles, we will see that it destroyed their egotistical stance toward life and simultaneously began to produce fresh fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

St. Cyril of Alexandria asks the question, “Does this not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives?” We might ask ourselves the question, “How did the Holy Spirit enter and take over the lives of the Apostles?” After all, they were a group of very strong individualists!

In the selection from the Acts of the Apostles read on Pentecost Sunday, we are told that “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

How could they all be filled with the Holy Spirit unless they were first emptied of their own egotistical selves? The unredeemed hearts of the Apostles were crucified by Christ’s crucifixion. For three years, each of them was planning his own role in the kingdom that Christ was to establish, and suddenly Christ was gone, and their dreams were shattered! At the very moment they abandoned their Master and condemned themselves for it, Christ was dying to redeem them from their own betrayal and to forgive them and to renew them with His Holy Spirit.

Pentecost - What is It?

Faith Smith, before she was fully instructed in Christianity, was told that she needed Pentecost in her life. Not wanting to show her ignorance to her instructor, she asked the Lord in Prayer, “Lord, what is Pentecost?” The sense she got in prayer as an answer from the Lord was, “Don’t worry about it. It will cost you plenty!”

Has the Holy Spirit cost me plenty? Questions I might ask myself are such as these: Do I feel I am a good Catholic even though I don’t go to Mass every Sunday? Do I dread going to Confession as much as I dread going to the dentist? How many times have I gone to the dentist since my last confession? Do I feel that I am a good Catholic because I fulfill my Sunday obligation? Do I separate my faith from my politics and from my everyday business? Am I working hard to keep from getting stressed out? Am I keeping the lid on a lot of deep feelings so that I do not hurt my spouse or my children?

Providing for Priestly Ordinations

Priesthood Ordinations

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 23, 2009, I will have the privilege of ordaining four young men to the priesthood to serve in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. They are Rev. Mr. Mark Chrismer, Rev. Mr.  John Mayo, Rev. Mr. Eric Olsen and Rev. Mr.  David Skillman. These are outstanding young men. For the 550,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese, this is a great time of rejoicing. Let us keep these young men in our prayers, and let us encourage them in the coming years as they minister to us and to our children.

Seminary Campaign

In order to provide for the present and future needs for the education and formation of our priests, Archbishop Burke launched a capital campaign entitled “Faith for the Future” to raise $50 million to upgrade the aging seminary building, to enhance its facilities to meet today’s needs for formation and to provide an endowment that will help sustain the ongoing expense of educating our priests.

This is an investment for the next 100 years of seminary formation. Archbishop-elect Carlson told the seminarians on April 21, 2009, “I am well aware of the upcoming campaign for the seminary. Please be assured of my commitment to this effort.”

Thank you, Educators!

As we come to the end of this school year, I want to say a word of thanks to the educators in our Catholic Schools. In a sense, this includes all associated with the faith formation of our children, beginning with parents, teachers, school administrators, pastors, parish administrators and even parish councils and parish finance committees who have struggled to make available the resources needed to carry on the ministry of Catholic education. It also includes in a special way our Archdiocesan Catholic Education Office under the direction of George Henry, our Superintendent of Catholic Education. This has not been an easy year for our Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education or for our parishes and high schools. This may have been the hardest year ever to help schools struggling to balance their budgets!

I want to say a special word of thanks to our classroom teachers where the gospel meets real life. I am most grateful to Monsignor John Unger, the Deputy Superintendent for Catechesis and Evangelization, for all the work he has done to support our teachers in their efforts at faith formation. I am especially grateful for his developing The Evangelizing Catholic School. This is the new evangelization in the classroom. It is my understanding that follow-up retreats are quickly filled by teachers eager to learn more about how to implement the new evangelization in the classroom. This is very encouraging!

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