Sunday, August 30, 2009

St. Bernadette-Lemay MO

I attended the 10:30 am Mass on Sunday, August 30, 2009 at St. Bernadette in Lemay, which is a suburb located south of St. Louis. The Church is located right outside the gates of Jefferson Barracks, which is a Missouri National Guard Post and National Cemetery. Looking at the Church and the rectory, one gets the sense they were part of the Jefferson Barracks once upon a time. Father did mention in his homily that the Church used to be a theater. You got the sense the building itself was not originally a Church and this confirmed it. I actually thought it might have been a gym or hanger of some sort, given the shape of the ceiling.

The Church is small. It seems about the size of Cure of Ars or maybe slightly larger. Again I got the feeling it was only supposed to be a temporary church building.

The music was a mix of older and newer songs, accompanied by a piano. Apparently there is a choir that sings, but they are currently on summer vacation. The songs were:
Opening: From All That Dwell Below the Skies
Offertory: Christ, Be Our Light
Communion: Blest Are They
Recessional: Let All Things Now Living

I was a little nervous when Father appeared wearing a stole I swear I saw in The_Crescat's Ugliest Vestment Contest. It was over the chasuble and was of tapestry material with big tassels a the end. The print was the Children of the World print. However, there were no ad-libs as far as a I could tell and there wasn't a liturgy of announcements either. The EMHCs had special necklaces....

The homily, well, started off well about Jesus' unwritten Law of Love. It then became a lovefest about our new archbishop, Archbishop Carlson. At one point, I wondered if he had died and I had missed the news. Father then encouraged the congregation to write notes to Archbishop Carlson welcoming him and telling him how glad we were he was here. I then started wondering if church closing rumors were going around again. The word "pastoral" kept being used as well. Don't get me wrong. I love our new archbishop (he's got 3! dogs, how could I not love him?) but I wonder if a homily is the best place to express our love for him.

Picture from Rome of the West
Website courtesy of the St. Louis Archdiocese


Outside the Church - Our Lady visiting St. Bernadette

Windows Throughout the Church - I think they are grapes &
grape leaves, with crowns in corners.

The View from the Back Pew!

Until Next Sunday!

Oh! If anyone knows when and where the Blessing of the Animals is being held, drop me a line! Thanks! Or if you are a priest and would like to bless a very sick basset hound, let me know!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cure of Ars - Shrewsbury MO

August 25, 2009
11 am Mass

I did find out after Mass that the priest who celebrated Mass was actually a visiting priest, but was the pastor at one time.

After driving right past the entrance, as the Church is set back from the street behind the trees, I arrived. The Church building is essentially a box attached to another box. I initially couldn't find the entrance but after following the crowd...I managed.

The Church of Cure of Ars is small church. I'm convinced it is about the size of my high school Chapel (St. Elizabeth Academy), meaning it probably doesn't hold more than 250-300 people. It also looks like the church was only supposed to be a temporary church until the parish had funds to build a proper Church. Every time I looked at the ceiling, I thought I was in a banquet hall.

However, appearances can be deceiving. Father said Mass incredibly reverently and followed the book word for word. There was a Chalice veil, and the Precious Blood was kept covered during the Eucharistic Prayer. Father even sang/chanted the opening and closing prayers.

The music selections were very traditionally minded and played on the organ.
Opening: The Church's One Foundation
Offertory: When Love is Found
Communion: Taste and See
Closing: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

The Kyrie was in Greek (YAY!) and the Gloria was in Latin (WOW!). I was kind of disappointed the rest of the Mass parts were not in Latin, but as Fr. Z says "Brick by Brick."

The homily was probably one of the most intellectually stimulating homilies I've heard in a long time. Father linked the nature of marriage to the centrality of Christ and how marriage mirrors the relationship of the Trinity and also how this ties into the relationship between the Church, priests, bishops and the Pope. Father also mentioned St. Athnasius (?) and threw in some uncommon words such as exegesis and some Latin phrases, specifically the one about how bishops are "With Peter and Under Peter" (if you know the actual Latin, drop me a comment with it!).

The pastor, who was a monsignor (purply-cassock), came out to help with Communion and stayed to greet people after Mass.

I will have to say, there weren't great hordes of people who were late, unlike other parishes I have visited. Also, the parishioners were appropriately dressed; no teenagers with unbrushed hair and daisy dukes or females with dresses and skirts so tight or short, you wonder how they are genuflecting or kneeling in them.

A lovely experience this morning indeed.

Parish website (courtesy of Archdiocese)


View from the Back Pew!

Statue of St. John Vianney, Cure of Ars
(why, yes, I did photoshop the reflection was in it!)

Our Lady's Grotto
(This is how I imagine Lourdes looked. Sorry it's blurry...)

Until next Sunday!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

St. Mary of Victories Church;Chapel of St. Stephen of Hungary

I visited St. Mary of Victories Church, also known as the Chapel of St. Stephen of Hungary on August 16, 2009. I went here this weekend because it was homecoming. St. Mary of Victories has a 9:30 Latin Novus Ordo Mass and an 11:30 English/Hungarian Mass. I went to the 11:30 English/Hungarian Mass.

It was a little hard to get to because the interstate is right in front of the Church. You drop off the interstate and you are at the front door.

When I went inside, I immediately realized I was in a Roman Catholic Church. There were candles for me to light (YAY!!!) and the scent of incense lingered, as if the walls had soaked it right up. I then realized the Church had no air conditioning and because of the proximity to the interstate, the 6 windows couldn't be opened.

Unfortunately...the audio and the acousitcs in the Church were horrible so I didn't hear very much. I can tell you the songs were sung with an organ and I think they were in Hungarian. The second reading was in Hungarian and the Eucharistic Prayer was in Hungarian. Based on the length, I'd speculate it was the Roman Canon. There was no Precious Blood distributed at Communion. The altar servers wore cassocks and surplices (one was tatted!!). The altar linens all had Hungarian embroidery on them. Because it was the Feast of St. Stephen, Hungarian prayers to St. Stephen were offered at the end of Mass. All in all, it was a very reverant Mass.

After Mass, I met a friend and watched him eat goulash. I also talked with a Sister of the Most Precious Blood (in a habit!).

I remembered my camera this week, but forgot my memory card, so cell phone pictures are all I have.

St. Mary of Victories..Out Front.

St. Stephen of the Courtyard.

View from the Back Pew!

View better pictures of St. Mary of Victories at Rome of the West
Pictures from Built St. Louis
Details from the Archdiocese about St. Mary of Victories.

St. Peter - Kirkwood MO

St. Peter is in the heart of Kirkwood MO, which is a suburb of St. Louis.

I went to Mass at 6 p.m. on August 9, 2009.

I will have to say, I have never seen a Mass standing room only that wasn't a special Mass or Ash Wednesday, Easter or Christmas.

There was an electric guitar, an electic bass, drums and a piano along with 3 singers. The music was modern.

We sang:
Gathering - I Could Sing of Your Love Forever
Presentation - You are Mine
Communion - We are One Body and We Fall Down
Close - Just Like You

All I can say is that if you are in your 50s, really reconsider if you should be headbanging. Then reconsider whether or not the song you are singing in Mass is really, really, really appropriate to headbang while playing. Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Metallica are headbanging bands, We Are One Body, not so much.

It was all I could do, when the Director of Adult Faith Formation came to announce a Bible study, not to answer her question aloud in Church. She asked "Have you ever picked up the Bible and not known where to start?" Uhm Genesis perhaps?

One thing that bothered me was I couldn't figure out the theme for the stained glass windows and why there were deer or antelope tracks on them. Or footprints.

Some pics I took with my cell phone camera:

Pieces of Original Stained Glass Windows

My Favorite Window...I love Rainbows

Easter Island Jesus
(First and Second Stations of the Cross)

Last Supper with the Pinheads...

St. Peter's website is here.
For truly awesome pictures and some history, visit Mark's pictures of St. Peter at Rome of the West
Update:  More pictures from Built St. Louis

Go Forth and Serve Each Other.

A Caution

At first, I thought finding a new parish would be as simple as just going to a Mass and seeing if I was comfortable or not. After 3 Masses in different places and on reflecting, I realize that it is not incredibly fair to judge a parish based on a 1 hour time frame. Especially given that Masses may differ drastically through the day. For example, the Masses at Holy Redeemer, one of which was a Charismatic Mass and one was a Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time. Same place, two different experiences. Father maybe having a bad day and the same could go for the choir.

I realize that what happens during the Sunday Mass may not be a true reflection of the parish life, but it does give some indications.

So don't condemn any parish because of this blog. Just because they didn't work for me, doesn't mean they won't be a great fit for you. (My dream parish---tie dye and a dog Mass :) )

Which Churches Have I Already Visited?

In the last two years, I've visited these parishes, so I won't visit them again until the end, or in an emergency.

  • The New Cathedral, aka Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (Went to Midnight Mass, was Confirmed there too, long long time ago)
  • Holy Redeemer in Webster Groves (went to Charismatic Mass and a regular Sunday Mass)
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary in South St. Louis (my territorial parish)
  • St. Alphonsus, the "Rock" Church on South Grand
  • St. Andrew in Lemay (Hi Fr. Vic!)
  • St. Ann in Normandy (Hi Fr. Bill!!!!) right next to UMSL
  • St. Francis Xavier, the College Church on SLU's campus
  • St. Stephen Protomartyr in South St. Louis (parish where my goddaughters were baptized.)
  • Sts. Mary and Joseph, in Carondelet, now a Chapel of St. Stephen
  • St. Raymond's Cathedral, which is Marionite Rite (totally awesome!)

How Long Is This Going To Take??

Well, let's do the math (my favorite)!

There are 200 churches listed for the Archdiocese (yes I know it says 201, but one is listed 2x). There are 52 weeks in the year. 200/52 is 3.85 years. 0.85 year is roughly 45 weeks. So it will take me 3 years and 45 weeks just going to Sunday Mass.

If I add in Holy Days of Obligation (which includes Christmas BTW) that don't fall on a Sunday, there are three left in 2009, and 4 in 2010, so it will then be 3 years and 38 weeks. Based on this pattern, I'll guess there are 4 days of Obligation each in 2010 and 2011, taking it down to 3 years and 30 weeks.

If I add in Ash Wednesday for the next 3 years (2010, 2011, 2012) that takes me to 3 years and 27 weeks.

If I go to a different place for Holy Week Services (3 - Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) for the next 3 years, that will knock off 9 weeks, so it would be 3 years and 18 weeks.

If I save the Churches I've already been to to the end, there are 10 Churches I've already visited in the last 2 years. That makes it 3 years and 8 weeks.

In other words -- forever.

The question is, will I finish my dissertation before I visit all the Churches? :p

Church Hopping Rules

All grand adventures need rules (subject to change, modification, and general ignoring). I've come up with some rules for church hopping.

  1. Churches I've already attended Sunday Mass will be visited again after I've visited everyone else.
  2. Only Sunday Masses, Holy Days of Obligation, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week Masses count. I'm pretty sure that daily Mass is the same at every parish, and the cooler stuff happens on weekends. Also, I want to avoid school Masses.
  3. If I have a choice at a parish of an Ethnic Mass or a regular Mass in English, Ethnic Mass it is.
  4. I will attend one Life Teen and one traditional Latin Mass. I've already attended a Charismatic Mass and a signed Mass, so I'll do those at the end again. If there are other types of liturgies, I'll go to those too.
  5. Parishes that have something special such as Homecoming or festivals or breakfast get moved up on the list...
  6. No pictures during Mass. (Unless glory hoops or puppets appear--then all bets are off.)
  7. After much deliberating, no names will be named. To protect the innocent, the guilty and the clueless.
  8. After even more deliberating and reflection, I will not be nit picky about liturgical abuses (real or imagined). I will try to find one positive and one negative thing, and will strive to keep it to one negative thing.
  9. Hopefully, no more Churches will be closed before I finish...but if that happens, I'll visit those first.
More to be added as needed.


At some point, I will actually graduate from graduate school. I'll need to find a Roman Catholic parish to join at some point. But what parish? Do I want to go traditional, modern, liberal, conservative, middle of the road or what? After some discussion with friends, I decided I should try out a few parishes and see which is a good fit for me. Then I had an idea. If I was going to visit different parishes, why don't I visit all of the Churches in the Archdiocese of St. Louis? I've gone hoppin around to different parish fish fries, why not parish liturgies?

The archdiocese lists 200 parishes or missions, surely I could visit all of them....

Why visit all of them? To get a sense of the richness of my Catholic heritage. To see what other Catholics are experiencing. To see how even though we are all different, we all fit under the tent. :P Besides, why not? As Fr. B says, "Because I can"

So this blog is a diary of my church-hopping through the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Come and join me!