Oratory Updates

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

My normal Tuesday exhortation is coming to you on Wednesday because time was needed to discuss the best practices for the Oratory as we prepare to resume the celebration of public Masses this coming Monday, 18 May 2020 @ 12:15 pm.  I am overjoyed that this is happening, but also aware that there is still the specter of COVID-19 and the precautions that are being advised by state and local governments along with the mandates required by the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

At the outset it must be clearly stated that those who are sick, in any way, should not come to Church for any reason whatsoever.  This is non-negotiable, especially if you fall into a category that makes you more vulnerable to the possibility of contracting the virus: those over the age of 60 and/or those suffering from underlying health issues.  I am aware that on the part of many will be the desire to come to Church and to hopefully receive Holy Communion.  If, however, you are not well then you should stay home for your well-being and that of those with whom you would be praying.  The Archbishop has extended the dispensation for the Sunday celebration of Holy Mass. So those who would be rightly concerned about fulfilling their obligation do not need to have that concern.

Along with this letter there are two documents from the Archdiocese of Saint Louis that spell out guidelines for the celebration of public Masses and some frequently asked questions.  I encourage you to read these documents because it provides some important information about health, safety, and how we move forward with publicly celebrating the sacraments. You will notice as you read these documents that there are elements in the documents that do not apply to the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine because these are not practices that are a part of our celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

With all this information present I would like to address several items that will be particular to our community:

  1. The guidelines state that Churches under 10,000 sq. feet should function at only 25% capacity. For the Oratory and the physical space of Saint Luke the Evangelist that means practically that we will only be able to accommodate 150 at any celebration of Holy Mass.  This does not impact us for weekday Masses but will do so for Sunday Masses.
     
  2. ADDITIONAL HOLY MASS: In order to provide everyone an opportunity to be present at Holy Mass on Sunday I will be adding an additional Holy Mass at 6:45 amThis will begin on Sunday, 24 May 2020.  The 8:00 am and the 11:30 will continue as normal.  At the 6:45 am and 8:00 am Low Masses there will be no homily given.  At the 11:30 am High Mass a brief homily will be given. At this juncture, I am asking the faithful to consider being present for the 6:45 am Low Mass so that we will be able to keep social distancing and all be present for Holy Mass.  Also, at this time, there will be no sign-up sheet for Mass. However, if we arrive at the situation where there are more people at 8:00 am or 11:30 am it could necessitate people signing-up prior to Sunday Mass and once a Mass time is filled with the allotted number of parishioners you would have the opportunity for a second or third choice.  Again, at this time I am relying upon the faithful to spread themselves out over the three (3) Holy Masses available.
     
  3. CONFESSIONS: With the introduction of a third Mass on Sundays, confessions will not be available on Sunday Morning.  I have added Mondays from 11 am until 12 Noon for confessions in addition to Wednesday evenings beginning at 5:00 pm and Fridays from 11 am until 12 Noon.
     
  4. PEWS: In order to keep social distance, everyone is asked to keep a pew between you and the people in front and behind you. The pews in which you are able to sit will be designated accordingly. Families are able and encouraged to sit together.  If there is more than one family per pew please sit on the ends of the aisle and leave space for social distance.
     
  5. ENTERING/EXITING CHURCH: At the entrance of each door to the Church there will be hand sanitizer to be used upon entering and exiting the Church. As you enter and exit do not congregate near the doors, and please do not congregate on the parking lots.
     
  6. COLLECTIONS: a collection will be taken-up during Holy Mass in the normal manner.  There will be a need for ushers at the 6:45 am Holy Mass. If you anticipate being present for Holy Mass at 6:45 am and would be willing to assist with taking up the collection, please contact me at the rectory (msgrmorris@gmail.com) or 314/925-8989.  Everyone is encouraged to give online (there is information about how to do so in the bulletin).
     
  7. BATHROOM: Recognizing that we have one bathroom in the back, if you are waiting for the bathroom, please be mindful to not only keep a safe distance but to also leave room near that entrance/exit so that those coming into the Church will be able to safely enter.
     
  8. HOLY COMMUNION: Holy communion will be distributed at the rail in the normal manner for the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine.  As you approach the rail you are free to keep distant from those around you. This might increase the time for the distribution of Holy Communion and everyone is asked to be patient. Also, as you line up for Holy Communion please keep appropriate distance from one another.
     
  9. The Archdiocese provided the following information as a good reminder for us all: Catholics who attend Holy Mass are not required to receive Holy Communion more than once per year. No one is under any obligation to receive nor distribute Holy Communion. Catholics who choose to temporarily refrain from receiving Holy Communion may make an act of Spiritual Communion, uniting themselves worthily to our Lord’s true presence in the Most Holy Eucharist through prayer.
     
  10. RECEPTION OF HOLY COMMUNION: Everyone is reminded that if you are comfortable approaching the rail for Holy Communion or the manner in which Holy Communion will be distributed you are free to remain in the pew and make a spiritual communion.  It has been forgotten that the obligation is to attend Holy Mass, not to necessarily receive Holy Communion. There is grace through our presence and participation at Holy Mass, not only in the act of receiving Holy Communion.
     
  11. MISSALS: We are asked to refrain from using the missals in the pews.  I encourage those who do not have their own missal to download the Sunday readings and Collects and bring that with you for Holy Mass if you need it.
     
  12. So, too we are encouraged to wipe down the pews, doors, and public areas after each Mass.  The sealant/disinfectant that is being applied to all surfaces in church (by an outside company) stays active on all surfaces for two weeks; they recommend using a dry cloth to wipe down all surfaces after each Mass.  If you are able and willing to assist with this after the Holy Mass you attend, please contact me (msgrmorris@gmail.com) or Donna (osgaoffice@gmail.com) and let us know.
     
  13. GATHERINGS: We will continue to limit all social gatherings; so there will be no coffee and donuts until further notice; the Knights of Columbus will not meet as well
     
  14. OTHER SACRAMENTS: For those families who are anticipating Confirmation and First Holy Communion it is anticipated that these will happen in July. First Holy Communion will happen at a separate Mass, not on Sunday, in order to allow more family members of the 1st communicants to be present.  The reception of baptism is still taking place. Please contact the rectory in order to arrange baptism.
     

THE NEW MASS AND CONFESSION SCHEDULE IS:

Holy Mass:
  • Monday & Friday @ 12:15 pm
  • Tuesday & Thursday @ 7:00 am
  • Wednesday @ 6:30 pm
  • Sunday @ 6:45 am, 8:00 am and 11:30 am
Confessions:
  • Monday & Friday from 11 am until 12 Noon
  • Wednesday from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm

This is a great deal of information to process all at once. I am convinced that prayer and common sense will greatly assist us going forward.  Likewise, we will need to be patient with the processes as they unfold and to be patient with each other. As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

The priests received a memo from the Archdiocese of Saint Louis that public Masses will resume on Monday, 18 May 2020.  This is obviously great news and I am excited that, once again, the faithful will have the opportunity to be present for the august Sacrifice of the Mass.  At this juncture, the Archdiocese has not shared the particular guidelines for the return to the public celebration of the Holy Mass. Whatever particulars are given in the guidelines will require some changes for us in order to accommodate them.

Currently, under consideration is the addition of 3rd Sunday Mass in order to allow more people to be present on Sundays.  This Mass, if needed, would be celebrated at 6:45 am.  I know that is early, but it would still allow us to have the 8:00 and 11:30 am Holy Masses and not extend Holy Mass into the afternoon. Also, in order to celebrate the return of public Masses on Monday, 18 May 2020 Holy Mass will be celebrated at 12:15 pm with confessions heard beforehand from 11:00 am until 12 Noon.  I would ask all present at 12 Noon to pray the Angelus together in preparation for Holy Mass.  This will also be the new schedule on Fridays going forward.  Holy Mass on Tuesday and Thursday will remain at 7:00 am and Holy Mass on Wednesday will remain at 6:30 pm.  Confessions on Wednesday evening will now begin at 5:15 pm and go until 6:15 pm to provide a solid hour of confessions three days a week.

I will confirm all this information with you in the coming week and also present a calendar for upcoming days as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension on Thursday, 21 May 2020 @ 7:00 pm.

Again, let us rejoice in the blessings bestowed upon us and those that we will soon be able to receive. However, let us remain vigilant knowing that there will still be more sacrifices required of us.  Always be mindful of the power of the Lord’s cross and the truths of Holy Mother Church to assist us in remaining steadfast, overcoming temptation, and finding Christ’s peace in our hearts and in our lives.

As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

We appear to be in a holding pattern. Some state governments have loosened restrictions while allowing local governments the autonomy to decide when they will let people move more freely. This is the case for us in Missouri and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  The news has reported some business beginning the process of opening their store fronts with the social distancing requirements still in place. St. Louis City and County have continued the sheltering at home until 15 May and the Archdiocese will reevaluate the possibility of public Masses by the end of this week. So, we are seeing some signs of hope in the secular realm and we anxiously await news regarding our spiritual needs.

As we continue to standfast we pray for patience and perseverance. It may seem as if we have exhausted both of those virtues over the past six weeks. I know I have often asked myself how long this can go on which really means I am asking myself how long I can endure. The answer to the question is that I can endure through the grace of God. That will always be the answer because of Our Heavenly Father’s love for each of us.  We do not turn away from our crosses; rather, we embrace them with joy knowing that to die with Christ is to live with Christ.  We have been making sacrifices over these last several weeks and might continue to do so for the weeks to come.  It has become harder to do with each day and we might be approaching the end of our rope regarding our patience, perseverance, and love.  I encourage you to stay strong when you are beset with weakness; find your strength in the Lord alone.  He will truly give you all that you need.

Another question I would encourage for your consideration is who will I be when my freedom of movement is restored?  If we anticipate returning to business as usual, to going back to what was before the quarantine then we have squandered the opportunity that God has given us.  We want to emerge from all of this stronger in our faith and more firm in our resolve to live the life of Christ on a daily basis. Truly, we should not be the same people. We need to be purified during this time of trial to give greater witness to the truth of the Lord.  So, stay strong and resolute.  Spend time in daily prayer and meditation. Through the generous grace of our Savior, find the strength needed to remain patient and to persevere.

As always let us call upon Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

This first day of May provides us with beautifully profound spiritual opportunities. Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman, foster-father of our Savior, husband to the Blessed Mother and Universal Patron of the Church.  The Church has always honored Saint Joseph not only because the Heavenly Father entrusted him with the gift of His Son and the honor of Our Lady but also because St. Joseph carried out these responsibilities with great humility, devotion and love.  To add to the honor and veneration due to him, St. Joseph did all of this in silence. There are no recorded words of the Saint, only the attestation of his deeds and these speak volumes.  He responds to the Lord’s message and receives Our Lady in his home; he participates in the unfolding of salvation history as he journeys to Bethlehem and then defends and protects Our Lord as he journeys to Egypt; he raises Our Lord who is obedient to him and then eventually St. Joseph quietly makes his journey home to heaven.  As children of Holy Mother Church, we should have constant recourse to St. Joseph who cares for us as a loving father should.  He safeguards the Church in the same manner he cared for and guarded Our Lord and Our Lady.  So too, we should model ourselves after his humility, his devotion and his love responding to the Father’s will with confidence and trust.  Now more than ever we must turn to St. Joseph and rely upon his strength.
 
If you will permit me, I would like to include a paragraph from the Quamquam Pluries, the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII On Devotion to St. Joseph:

3. The special motives for which St. Joseph has been proclaimed Patron of the Church, and from which the Church looks for singular benefit from his patronage and protection, are that Joseph was the spouse of Mary and that he was reputed the Father of Jesus Christ. From these sources have sprung his dignity, his holiness, his glory. In truth, the dignity of the Mother of God is so lofty that naught created can rank above it. But as Joseph has been united to the Blessed Virgin by the ties of marriage, it may not be doubted that he approached nearer than any to the eminent dignity by which the Mother of God surpasses so nobly all created natures. For marriage is the most intimate of all unions which from its essence imparts a community of gifts between those that by it are joined together. Thus in giving Joseph the Blessed Virgin as spouse, God appointed him to be not only her life's companion, the witness of her maidenhood, the protector of her honour, but also, by virtue of the conjugal tie, a participator in her sublime dignity. And Joseph shines among all mankind by the most august dignity, since by divine will, he was the guardian of the Son of God and reputed as His father among men. Hence it came about that the Word of God was humbly subject to Joseph, that He obeyed him, and that He rendered to him all those offices that children are bound to render to their parents. From this two-fold dignity flowed the obligation which nature lays upon the head of families, so that Joseph became the guardian, the administrator, and the legal defender of the divine house whose chief he was. And during the whole course of his life he fulfilled those charges and those duties. He set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing; he guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch's jealousy, and found for Him a refuge; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitternesses of exile he was ever the companion, the assistance, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus. Now the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father, contained within its limits the scarce-born Church. From the same fact that the most holy Virgin is the mother of Jesus Christ is she the mother of all Christians whom she bore on Mount Calvary amid the supreme throes of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the first-born of Christians, who by the adoption and Redemption are his brothers. And for such reasons the Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust - this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.
 
The other opportunity for our spiritual growth is the month of May’s dedication to our Blessed Mother.  So much can be said about Our Lady and this missive is not long enough to do so.  It should be evident and clear how much we need Our Lady.  St. John Paul II reminded us that the Marian dimension of our discipleship is most beautifully expressed in the interchange between Our Lord, Our Lady and the beloved disciple:

The Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, "welcomes" the Mother of Christ "into his own home" and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian "I": he "took her to his own home." Thus the Christian seeks to be taken into that "maternal charity" with which the Redeemer's Mother "cares for the brethren of her Son," "in whose birth and development she cooperates" in the measure of the gift proper to each one through the power of Christ's Spirit. Thus also is exercised that motherhood in the Spirit which became Mary's role at the foot of the Cross and in the Upper Room. (Redemptoris Mater, #45).
 
I encourage everyone to commit to the daily recitation of the Rosary during this month of May.  Let your intentions be not only the end to the pandemic and its impact upon the sacramental life of the Church but also for the spiritual well-being and growth of our Oratory and the proliferation of the Traditional Mass throughout the Church. It is particularly important that we begin the process of preparing for what comes next.  It is hoped that soon we can return to some public celebration of the Holy Mass. At this juncture I am not sure what that will look like; however, once the Archdiocese has given us permission to move forward, I will communicate with you how we will proceed. I am hoping that our return will bring with it an increase in attendance at the Holy Sacrifice for our Oratory.
 
Several practical pieces of information:

  1. Archbishop Carlson will be renewing the consecration of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the celebration of Holy Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on Sunday, May 3 at 8:00 a.m. (cf. attached letter)
  2. This evening at 7:00 pm the Oratory will live stream Holy Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph.
  3. First Saturday morning (2 May) confessions are available from 7:00 am until 8:30 am and the Church is open during that time for prayer.
  4. Sunday morning (3 May) confessions are available from 7:00 am until 8:30 am; Holy Mass will be live streamed at 9:00 am.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude for all the support and encouragement I have received. Despite the absence of the public celebration of the Holy Mass this has been of time of great grace for me. Knowing of your prayers and support have greatly contributed to the manifold graces God has given me.  I miss you all and I am anxious soon to see you all again at Church.
 
As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty especially during this month dedicated to Our Lady. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.
 
In the Risen Christ,
Msgr. Morris


April 28, 2020
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Lord is risen! Alleluia!

In her Magnificat, our Blessed Mother proclaims, “the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” I pray that during these trying times, the Lord might bless you with an awareness that these words are true for each of us as well. Even as our world is surrounded by so much uncertainty, be assured that the Almighty is still doing great things for us. May we be blessed with eyes and hearts of faith with which to see this.

On Friday, May 1 at 2:00 p.m. CT, Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will renew the consecration of the United States to the care of the Blessed Mother. In 1847, our country was dedicated to the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. This Friday, Archbishop Gomez will renew the consecration of our country to her and call upon her powerful intercession and protection in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

I invite you to join me in participating in the celebration via livestream through this link: http://www.usccb.org/consecration. Additionally, I will be renewing the consecration of the Archdiocese of St. Louis to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the celebration of Holy Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on Sunday, May 3 at 8:00 a.m. CT. Please join me in this celebration as well, which you may access at cathedralstl.org/live.

The Almighty is, indeed, doing great things for us. I pray that this renewal of the consecration of our country and our archdiocese to His Blessed Mother and ours may be an opportunity for us to recognize anew the ways in which He is still generously active, even in these challenging times.

May Mary, the Immaculate Conception and the Mother of the Church pray to her risen Son for us all!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson Archbishop of St. Louis

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

A cursory perusal of the headlines in both print and online media clearly indicates that faithful Catholics have grown weary of being separated from the Sacraments, most especially being separated from the Most Holy Eucharist.  I am encouraged to see so many faithful who are hungry for Our Lord and desire to receive Him in Holy Communion. This longing for our Eucharistic Lord is reflective of the burning hearts of the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  As scripture recounts, their hearts are burning for the Lord and it is only in the Eucharist that they recognize what this burning is and how only Jesus Christ can satisfy our truest and deepest desire.  Our Savior, because of His love for us, truly desires to remain with us, to nourish our hunger for the Bread of Life.

One of the blessings of being Rector of the Oratory is that I know my faithful have a good understanding of the faith. It is my hope that everyone understands the need to be present at the Holy Sacrifice. Live streaming has quickly become ubiquitous with so many parishes attempting to respond to the needs of their parishioners during this time of crisis. Obviously, we have live streamed at the Oratory with good success.  I am grateful to those who have assisted me with the live streaming process, particularly Gabe Jones for all of his insights and assistance. I am much appreciative of the support and encouragement received because of our live streaming efforts.  Once, however, we return to public Masses, live stream will cease because that virtual reality cannot satisfy in the way that our presence in His Presence can truly satisfy us. There is a concern floating in the air that those who have a steady diet of live streamed Masses will see no need to return to being physically present for Holy Mass. However, if this is the intention of some Catholics it could be rightly argued that their understanding of the Holy Mass and Our Eucharistic Lord received in Holy Communion need greater formation.  In short, if one were to stay home to watch Holy Mass when he could be present, then he does not know what Mass is. It should be readily apparent why we need to be physically, not virtually, present at Holy Mass.

The reason for our presence at Holy Mass is the Incarnation. When God became man, He made clear the value of the human body and its necessity in worship. The ancient Israelites already had this understanding of the body and its connection to worship. Their understanding is evident today when pious Jews move back and forth during prayer.  We use our bodies for prayer: standing, kneeling, sitting, processing, chanting, seeing, smelling, and hearing. The whole person is engaged in the presence of the Living God who is present to us in the tabernacle and truly, really, and substantially present to us in the Holy Eucharist.  The more we understand Who it is we receive, the more our own hearts should be on fire for the Lord.

It is my fervent hope that when we are allowed to be together again that the Church is packed for both the 8:00 am and 11:30 am Holy Masses.  Moreover, I also hope that the fullness of the Church is not only in the weeks after our freedoms are restored, but that this fervent and zeal for the Eucharist continues. When the day arrives that public Mass is restored, I will endeavor to share this information whenever it is made available to the priests.

As always, let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,
Msgr. Morris
 
SOME PRACTICAL INFORMATION:

  • Please check the bulletin online for information about when Church is open and when confessions are heard.
  • This Friday (May 1) and Saturday (May 2) are First Friday and Saturday respectively.  Confessions on Friday are at the usual time of 11 am until 12 Noon. There are NO evening confessions on Friday.  Saturday morning confessions will be heard from 7:00 am until 8:30 am.  We will live stream both Holy Masses: Friday evening at 7:00 pm and Saturday morning at 9:00 am.
  • Until the restoration of public Masses, the only Mass that will be live streamed is at 9:00am on Sundays.

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

There is a plan being developed on the state level to begin the process of opening up businesses and other entities on 4 May 2020. I anticipate over the next week or so we will have new guidelines as to what we are able to do and recommendations for how we continue to remain safe and healthy.  At this juncture, there has been no indication from the Archdiocese of St. Louis what this means for us as we continue our exile from the public celebration of the sacraments.  Since I am unable to foretell the future, I can only encourage you to continue to vigilant and faithful. The life of virtue makes it possible for us to continue to trust in the Lord in the face of uncertainty.  While there are a great many virtues that are operative for us at this time, I would draw attention to the virtue of docility.

According to Dr. Donald DeMarco:

“Docility, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is related to the virtue of prudence. Specifically, it is that part of prudence that allows us to acquire knowledge through the teaching of another. The Angelic Doctor points out that even the most learned people need to be docile, since no man is completely self-sufficient in matters of prudence. We all stand in great need of being taught by others.”

Of course, the fair questions to be asked are: what knowledge do I still need to acquire; what more do I need to learn; who is here to teach me? The knowledge that remains to be learned and assimilated is knowledge of the spiritual life not in abstraction, but in my daily life.  As such, I always need to learn more about how God works in my life and how I stand in the way of His working in me. Moreover, the Master Teacher, Christ our Savior is always present to us to teach us how to listen to the Father and do His will. Docility allows God in Christ to be in charge and fosters humility in me to listen to the Triune God and to trust in His Divine Providence.  Like all the virtues, docility is acquired through practice.  I grow in docility by giving myself over to the Lord on a daily basis, conquering my pride and charitably interacting with those God puts before me. None of this is every easy and the current situation adds another layer of difficulty. But our faith teaches that this pliability in the hands of God is not an impossibility, but through grace can be achieved.  Let the Lord take the lead and be willing to follow Him most especially when we do not know where we are going or what is being asked of us.

As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris

The following information is also in the bulletin, but I thought it would be helpful to provide the information here as well.

FIRST FRIDAY & SATURDAY: 1 & 2 May, 2020 Friday, 1 May and Saturday, 2 May are First Friday and Saturday respectively.  Given the situation under which we have labored over the past several weeks, there will be NO Mass on Friday evening or Saturday morning.  Confessions on Friday, 1 May will be at the normal time of 11 am. There will be NO evening confessions on 1 May.  Confessions on Saturday, 2 May will be at the current time of 7:00 am until 8:30 am. Please share this information with those who may not have access to our bulletin.

CONFESSIONAL/CHURCH SCHEDULE

The Church will be open Monday through Friday from 11 am until 1pm.  On Fridays the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for Adoration during that time.

The current confession schedule:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday –11 am until 12 pm
  • Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 pm
  • Saturday mornings from 7:00 am until 8:30 am
  • Sunday mornings from 7:00 am until 8:30 am
  • the Church will be open during these times for private prayer

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

Our separation from the Most Holy Eucharist continues and, with each passing day and week, our hearts grow increasingly more restful for a return to the center of our lives as Catholic men and women. The mandate to discontinue public Masses and other ecclesial gatherings began as a social experiment in the midst of a crisis.  The advice we were given on how to spiritually respond to the pandemic was primed to assist us through several weeks of absence; however, over a month has passed and the novelty has worn off. The cure has become worse than the disease. Now we struggle with frustration and confusion that can lead to resentment and anger. The answer, of course, is the same and only answer ever given and that is to find strength in the Lord.

The simple fact is that as Catholics, especially Catholics steeped in tradition, we understand that the things of the world are always overshadowed by the things of God. Even when I don’t have clarity, understanding, or answers to the future, I still have all that I need and that is my faith in God.  Some will dismiss these words as pious platitudes that don’t address the real problems. However, if we accept this response then we capitulate to the world and we are complicit in denying the power of prayer and the work of grace in the world. Each day that passes gives us the opportunity to put faith truly into practice and to strengthen our prayer lives.

Some practical notes:

  • I want to remind everyone that Church is open Monday through Friday from 11 am until 1pm. Please come by for prayer before our Eucharistic Lord. On Fridays, until this current situation is resolved, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed during this time of prayer.
     
  • Confessions are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 am until 12 Noon; Wednesday evenings from 5:30 pm until 6:30 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 am until 8:30 am.  The Church is open during confessions for private prayer.

Finally, a word of gratitude for everyone’s financial support. Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the financial generosity shown by the Oratory community is truly overwhelming. If you are aware of someone in the community who needs financial assistance or you yourself need financial assistance, please reach out to me.

As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.

In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,
 
The goal line has been moved again.  It was communicated yesterday that the stay-at-home order was to be extended for the City and County of Saint Louis until sometime in May.  This news is rightly disappointing and discouraging not only because of its extension but also because no particular date for its ending was given.  The speculation that the current situation may continue for months on end is overwhelming and difficult to truly accept.  The truth is that we need community, not the virtual communities we have legitimately created in light of the pandemic, but honest, and authentic human interaction and contact.  For believers in the mystery of Jesus Christ the Word made Flesh, the body means something, has intrinsic goodness and is built for true communion rooted in the Blessed Trinity.  This need for human interaction involves our immediate families but also involves the other communities that are central to who we are.  Outside of our families, there is no greater community than the community of faith and the family of believers.  Our on-going absence from each other is truly a cause of sadness and heartache.  We miss each other, I hope. And I certainly miss all of you.
 
I am grateful to all those who have reached out to me personally offering words of encouragement, bringing me food and treats, and certainly praying for me on a daily basis.  As I have communicated already, all of you are in my daily prayers multiple times a day. Please do the same for each other. Pray for each other, reach out to each other.  Make contact in ways that you are able to do so. This is not the ideal but in the absence of our physical communion we need to strengthen the bonds that we share in Christ in the ways that are given to us.  If you are aware of members of the Oratory family who live alone make sure you reach out to them and if you need contact information for a particular individual, please call Donna (314/925-8989) and she will be glad to give you the necessary information.  Given the news we have received, it is even more important that we remain vigilant and steadfast. We know that God tests those He loves and in order for us to pass this current test, we need that same living God to provide us strength.
 
This coming Sunday, in addition to being Low Sunday, is also of recent tradition Divine Mercy Sunday.  I have attached a memo from the Office of Divine Worship of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis regarding the indulgence attached to Divine Mercy Sunday. Please take a moment to read this memo. Even if you do not have a devotion to Divine Mercy this information is important because it addresses the criteria for receiving an indulgence during these unique times in the life of the Church. If you have questions, please email me (msgrmorris@gmail.com) or call the Office. 
 
As always let us call upon the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to intercede for us. The power of the mediation of the Blessed Virgin should never be doubted and the daily recitation of the Most Holy Rosary is one of our greatest weapons in times of difficulty. Our Mother will assist us; all we need to do is call on to Her and She will answer our prayers.
 
In the Risen Christ,

Msgr. Morris
 
 
MEMORANDUM
 
TO:                   All priest, deacons, and liturgical coordinators
FROM:             Father Nicholas Smith
DATE:              9 April 2020
RE:                   Divine Mercy Indulgence
 
Many of the faithful have a praiseworthy devotion to Divine Mercy and wish to receive the indulgence established for the feast of Divine Mercy, April 19, 2020.
 
In light of the current pandemic, Archbishop Carlson has decreed that the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis may gain plenary indulgences while public masses are suspended without actual confession and communion, provided that they have inner contrition and the resolution to go to these sacraments as soon as possible (cf. Norms for Indulgences, n. 28) following the lifting of the current suspension of public masses.
 
This applies to the indulgence attached to the feast of Divine Mercy, and all other plenary indulgences, for as long as public masses are suspended.
 
The faithful who cannot pray before the Blessed Sacrament on Divine Mercy Sunday can remember that they, like all the faithful, can gain a plenary indulgence by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet to "implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself" (Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary March 20, 2020).
 
As a reminder, in order to obtain a plenary indulgence, the faithful must, in addition to being in a state of grace:
  • have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;
  • have sacramentally confessed their sins;
  • receive the Holy Eucharist;
  • pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

Blessed Easter to everyone.  Beyond measure is our joy in the new life that Christ has given to each of us.  Not only do we celebrate that day in history when Our Savior rose from the dead and, in so doing, set us free from sin but also the reality that the graces of that event are still available to us today.  We must always remember these profound truths: the Resurrection is a historical fact; the Resurrection is alive here and now. If we relegate the Resurrection to an event locked away in history, we also disregard the power of this salvific act in our lives today.  Of course, Holy Mother Church understands the truth of the words “He is Risen” and provides us the Octave as the time needed to contemplate this awesome gift of new life.

As a consequence, we must live as men and women of confidence and hope. Our confidence comes not from us but from the power of the Risen Christ and our hope is founded not on realities of our own making but in the fulfillment of the Father’s promises in the Cross of His Son. Christ is victorious and we are blessed, privileged to share in this victory which provides us the strength to always remain steadfast and constant. 

It is important to remember these theological truths because the end of the imposed quarantine is unknown, and people are rightly restless, depressed, and filled with anxiety. I am also aware of the on-going debates surrounding the closure of Churches and the absence of the sacraments.  I will admit to my own frustrations with the current state of affairs and the lack of clarity as we strive to move forward.  I cannot know the future, but I am concerned about several more weeks, if not more, of the current situation.  When my frustration level rises and I am tempted to despair I appeal to the living God for mercy and strength. This is not a quick fix, but the life of faith in the Triune God who involves Himself in the lives of His creation as the only source of strength.  So, I urge you all to hang in there and stay strong: but find your strength in God because our own strength has its limits.

I would ask you to continue pray for each other and to remember especially those who already suffer from pre-existing mental issues: especially depression and anxiety. The weeks of isolation and social distancing have brought about depression in us all but intensified it for those already struggling. 

Continue to check the website for updates. After the Octave of Easter, the only live streamed event will be Sunday Holy Mass at 9:00 am. This is a different time that the past several weeks because it allows me more time to hear confessions on Sunday which are scheduled from 7:00 am to 8:30 am.

As a reminder the confession schedule is:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 11 am until 12 pm;
  • Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 pm;
  • Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7:00 am until 8:30 am;

The Church will be open during these times for private prayer as well as open from 11 am until 1:00 pm Monday through Friday.  As we enter into the Easter season, I would encourage a weekly visit to Church as a part of your routine.  Let us entreat the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham to continue to intercede for us.

Peace in the Risen Christ!

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

The great celebrations of Holy Week have begun.  The celebration of the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem begins our weeklong meditation of the most sacred mysteries that involve the life of Our Savior. In truth, Holy Week is an emotional powerhouse full of contradictory emotions and experiences.  Palm Sunday we welcome our Lord with joy and then stand for Our Lord’s Passion bearing witness to His sacrifice, but also our part in that sacrifice.  For Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of both the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood inextricably connected to the Eucharist while also joining our Lord for His agony in the garden.  Good Friday bespeaks the joy of the cross, a contradiction and a folly to those who do not believe.  Holy Saturday begins with the silence of the tomb and gives way to the glories of the Risen Son who conquers sin and death.  The only way to find balance in the midst of the emotional tumult beautifully created by Holy Week is to give ourselves over to God in prayer and fasting, contemplating the fullness and depth of God’s love for us.

Practically, my encouragement is to prepare yourselves for the livestream events you experience. These should not be experienced as other events on the television or the computer.  We should turn off our cell phones, put away drinks and food, cloth ourselves appropriately and attentively enter into the experience being celebrated.  The Oratory will have the opportunity to livestream Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and the celebration of the Resurrection.  Also, we will be attempting to livestream Tenebrae, but this is still under consideration. For all these experiences we should be prepared and attentive.

Times for the Sacred Triduum (live streamed at the times below)

  • Holy Thursday at 7:00 pm. The Church will be open after Holy Thursday for private prayer until 12 Midnight.
  • Good Friday service will be celebrated at 3:00 pm. The Church will be open on Good Friday from after the service until 7:00 pm. Confessions will also be heard after the Good Friday service.
  • Easter Vigil will be celebrated at 7:00 pm.
  • Easter Sunday: Holy Mass at 8:00 am.

For those who livestreamed this past Sunday’s celebration of Palm Sunday, you would have experienced something different from our past celebrations. We are celebrating Holy Week according to the norms in place in the Church prior to the reforms of 1955.  I have chosen to do this because of the richness and historicity of these most ancient rites. You will notice immediately that these rites are longer, but their length serves to not only accentuate the uniqueness of these days but also to disturb our normal routines. Even with the disruption of the pandemic, Holy Week requires further disruption and our complete, undivided attention.  I encourage you all to livestream and participate as fully as possible. Below you will find a very helpful link that will assist your preparation and allow you to follow along as we celebrate these sacred days.

Finally, on Good Friday, I will not have a normal letter to you. I will resume my letters on the Tuesday of Easter Week. Also, please check the bulletin this Sunday for the times for confession which will change for the Easter Season as well as information regarding the livestreaming of Holy Mass for the Octave of Easter. As always know of my prayers for you as I rely upon your prayers for me.

Holy Week Resources: https://www.pre1955holyweek.com

Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us who have recourse to thee!

In Christ,

Msgr. Morris

My Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

When I was a young novice in the Society of Jesus, I was sent, as part of formation, to a number of different apostolic works to assist and to learn.  I often thought it was my duty to solve whatever problems with which I was confronted and would become frustrated when I heard responses from others that they would offer prayers in the face of the adversity.  I did believe in the power of prayer; but the hubris of youth and a novice’s relationship with God convinced me that we needed to do our part and only have recourse to prayer when all else failed. By God’s grace those ideas have long since passed and I find myself now having constant recourse to the power of prayer.  To put it simply: prayer works well all the time and in every situation.  To be clear, this does not mean all of my prayers are answered or that they are answered in the manner I envisioned.  It does mean that Our Heavenly Father hears us, Our Lord and Savior pleads for us, the Holy Spirit consoles us.  Now, more than ever, we must be people of prayer who are also people of faith. The Church teaches that faith is the personal adherence of man to God – clinging to God and Him alone.  It is important that we do all that we can to keep ourselves and our families safe, practicing good hygiene and appropriate social distancing as the situations warrant.  However, we must also entreat the Lord through daily prayer.  Everyone has the time to pray now even if you have continued to work from home.  Carve out time each day for both individual prayer and family prayer if there are others at home with you.  Prayer does not give us what we want; rather, prayer provides what we need.

PALM SUNDAY: This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday.  Holy Mass will be live streamed at 8:15 am.  Access to live streaming is available on the Oratory website. Please join us for Holy Mass.  Palms will be available after the Holy Mass this Sunday for those who desire them. The Church will remain open until 11:30 am this coming Sunday for those who want to spend some time in prayer.

The ceremonies of Palm Sunday and Holy Week are rather involved and some of the rituals will take place before the live streaming begins.  However, for Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum we will work to make sure that you are able to participate in as much as possible.  Please also consult the bulletin for the times of Confessions this week, the Triduum and also the live streaming of Tenebrae.  I am also working on gathering resources to assist you and your families throughout the Sacred Triduum. If you have located resources that you believe can be helpful, please email those to me or to Donna (osgaoffice@gmail.com) and we will make them available to the whole community.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has called, emailed, and texted me to offer their prayers and support.  I am truly blessed to serve as your rector and appreciate the solicitude and care so many have shown me. Multiple times throughout the day, you are all in my prayers. Do not hesitate to reach out if I am needed and I will endeavor to assist you the best I can in the current climate.  Pray to God for strength and perseverance.

Have recourse to Our Lady of Walsingham and the Saints to assist you and your family.  Our Savior Jesus Christ is with us always until the end of time. Let us find our strength in Him alone!

In Christ,

Msgr. Morris

To the Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

The month of March has come to end and sadly we are at the beginning of what will be several more weeks of mandated separation. The information we are receiving continues to provide, at times, contradictions and conflicts instead of providing us with surety and clarity as to what the future will be for us.  However, our faith already communicates to us what the future is: it is a future full of goodness and hope.  At times, it is a struggle to remain hope-filled in the face of struggle and anxiety, but Our Heavenly Father has already made manifest the care and concern He has for His people.  In setting the ancient Israelites free from slavery, the Father prepared us for the true freedom to come when through His son He sets us free from sin.  We must always strive to live in this freedom but most especially during times that demand even more from us.  In truth, now we must have confidence in the Lord and not give over to the temptations of the world.  The most brilliant minds working on resolving this crisis are not able to divine the future; that power belongs to God alone.  As a consequence there will be some answers, but more questions, and throughout all this the need to trust in the Lord.

A few other pieces of information:

  1. We are working to live stream the celebrations of the Sacred Triduum.  There are still several factors that need to be resolved in order for this to happen, but I am hopeful that there will be an opportunity for the faithful to be in spiritual communion as we celebrate these most holy days.  The times for the live stream are different from those time originally published for the Sacred Triduum.  Now the times are: Holy Thursday at 7:00 pm. The Church will be open after Holy Thursday for private prayer until 12 Midnight.  Good Friday service will be celebrated at 3:00 pm. The Church will be open on Good Friday from after the service until 7:00 pm. Confessions will also be heard after the Good Friday service. The Easter Vigil will be celebrated at 7:00 pm.  Please make an effort to join in spiritually as we celebrate the Sacred Triduum as a family of faith. Also, frequently check the Oratory Website to confirm all this information.

  2. The Confession schedule for this week remains the same. For Holy Week, beginning Monday, 6 April, confessions will be heard Monday thru Friday from 11 am until 12 Noon; Wednesday of Holy Week at 5:30 pm and Good Friday, from the end of the service until 7 pm.

  3. Easter Sunday’s Holy Mass will be live streamed beginning at 8 am. There will be no confessions on Easter Sunday; however the Church will be open on Easter Sunday after the Holy Mass for private prayer from 9 am until 12 Noon.

  4. Please be mindful of the necessary precautions when you come to pray or come to confession. If you are not feeling well at all, do not come into the Church building.

  5. Finally, I need to encourage you all to continue to make your contributions to the Oratory. I appreciate that the pandemic has impacted people’s employment.  While you may not be able to donate at the level you normally would, I encourage you to continue to donate something.  Please refer to the bulletin about donating online. You can also mail your donation to the rectory or drop it in the mail slot at the back door of the rectory (which is located between the school and the Church). I offer a particular exhortation to those who normally give cash as their donation to consider giving online, writing a check, or if you prefer cash to drop it in the mailbox at the rectory.

I want to thank everyone who has reached out to make sure that I am doing well.  I am surviving but very much appreciate the care and promise of prayers that so many have offered.  Please know that you are in my daily prayers, during the Holy Mass and throughout the day.

Let us pray to Our Lady of Walsingham and pray the prayer Stella Caeli.

Peace,

Msgr. Morris

My Dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine

The end of the week has come upon us. With our new normal the weekend has a whole new meaning because it does not differ too much from the rest of the week. With the suspension of all our normal activities, one day can bleed into the next.  As a word of encouragement, I would ask everyone to consider their plan of life and strive to remain faithful to it throughout these days of mandated separation.  What this mean concretely is that you will truly need to be resolute in getting up at the same time, staying to a schedule, and being disciplined in your routine.  If you have a family at home this might be somewhat easier because many of our young people are completing their assignments and work online. Nevertheless, all of us, myself included need to remain diligent in organizing and structuring our days.

This exhortation to a plan of life is particularly significant in relationship to our prayer lives.  Given the time that is now before us, there is no excuse to not being praying daily and actually praying multiple times a day.  Often times the question that arises is what should the content of my prayer be? That answer is both simple and complex. It is simple because our prayer can consist of the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary, reading Sacred Scripture and/or the daily readings or other spiritual reading material. It is complex because now we have time to do more and therefore more can be done.  You can incorporate all the activities mentioned above in your daily prayer or your family prayer.  I would also encourage reading through the prayers of Holy Mass each day. Not only the Epistle and the Gospel, but also the Collect, the Gradual and Tract, the Secret and the Postcommunion. The prayers of Holy Mass, especially during our Lenten season, are truly spiritually rich and a great wealth of spiritual reflection and comfort.

Some practical information: the celebrations of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum will not be public celebrations. We are intending to livestream these celebrations and will communicate both the times and the ways that you are able to watch these online.  The celebration of Tenebrae is going forward and will also be livestreamed if technology cooperates with us.  Remember Tenebrae is being celebrated on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Holy Week beginning at 10 pm. It is a late evening, but well worth the opportunity to pray and enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery.  Beginning the Monday of Holy Week and going forward, Confessions will be heard Monday through Friday from 11 am until 12 Noon.  This means the Church will be open beginning at 11 am and remain open until 1 pm for private prayer. We will also continue to hear confessions on Wednesday evenings at the normal time of 5:30 pm.  It is important to check the website often because some of these celebrations will be contingent upon the availability of other sacred minsters, servers and musicians. I will do my best to communicate all this information to you in a timely manner.

Today’s Gospel for Holy Mass details the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Remember that Christ Our Savior has conquered sin and death and that any cross carried with and through the Lord leads to the everlasting life He has gained for us.  Stay strong, steadfast, and most especially joy-filled. Do not let despair, doubt, fear or anxiety way you down.  Have recourse to Our Lady and the Saints to assist you and your family.  Our Savior Jesus Christ is with us always until the end of time. Let us find our strength in Him alone!

In Christ,

Msgr. Morris, Rector

Greetings in the Lord!

It has only been a week since the mandated suspension of Holy Mass and if you are like me it feels as if we have been in this posture for a month or longer. When I found myself thinking in this vein, I immediately reprimanded my thoughts realizing that I needed to pace myself. All of us are running a marathon, not a sprint, and the enforced separation and quarantine may go on for some time. This is not welcome news; however, it is the reality with which we are confronted. In order to successfully run this race – the race of the pandemic or the race of the spiritual life – requires that we trust in the Lord and allow Him to set the pace and give us strength when our energies fail us.

Many have already heard that we will still be under the mandated suspension of public Masses for the Sacred Triduum and for Easter Sunday. Both of these realities are unheard of and unprecedented and generate more sadness and confusion. In all honesty, I spend a great deal of my time in prayer of late trying to make sense of the current state of affairs, in the world and in the Church. The conclusion to which I often come is that I will never fully understand everything, and as a consequence, I must trust in the Lord. This current situation forces us to make these sentiments a reality in our daily existences. We cannot only trust in the Lord when it is clear what the outcome will be. It could be rightly argued that the nature of trust requires the unknown, the unseen, but nonetheless confidence and fidelity. We have to maintain a firm resolve over the next several months and when we are tempted to turn toward the news, the internet, the blogs to find answers, to also listen to the voice of peace and calm provided by Christ and by Him alone.

We had success this past Sunday with livestreaming Holy Mass at 8:15 am through our Facebook page and will be livestreaming Holy Mass tomorrow morning, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 8:15 am. We are working on adding other platforms for accessing the live stream for those who do not have Facebook. However, at the writing of this reflection, the livestream is available only through Facebook. Please check the Oratory website for more information about livestreaming Holy Mass and other information as it becomes available.

Today we celebrate the Archangel Gabriel who assists us in preparing to celebrate tomorrow the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What wonderful feasts to encourage and inspire us. The Archangel Gabriel brings good news to Zechariah about the birth of St. John the Baptist, unfolds the plan of salvation to Saint Joseph, and most especially proclaims the mystery of the Incarnation to Our Blessed Mother. We pray in the Postcommunion prayer that through the intercession of the Angel Gabriel, who gave us the message of the Incarnation, we may obtain the benefits of the same Incarnation he proclaimed. Let us continue to pray for each other through the intercession of All the Saints, today particularly St. Gabriel. Let us entreat Our Lady to give us the courage we need to respond immediately to the will of God without knowledge and understanding of the future, only with joy and confidence in the providence of God.

In Christ,

Msgr. Morris, Rector

My dear Faithful of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine,

We are at the very beginning of what appears to be a long and protracted time of physical separation from each other and from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  I have continued to celebrate Holy Mass not only for the particular intentions printed in the bulletin but for each and every one of you.  You are in my daily prayers as we strive to respond both materially and spiritually to the impact of COVID-19.  I cannot encourage you enough to pray for each other and to remember especially those in our community who live alone. Reach out to each other through the various forms of communication to make sure everyone is healthy, sane, and striving for holiness.  Particularly, I would ask the following: if you are aware of a member of the Oratory community who is not adept at accessing all of this information either through email, the Oratory website or through Facebook, please share all this information with them by phone.

Yesterday we celebrated the great Feast of Saint Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, Foster-father to Our Savior and Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How blessed we are to have his intercession and care for each of us. Throughout our current and future tribulations let us invoke his powerful intercession and have confidence that Our Heavenly Father will hear our prayers:

Oh glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress. Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily. (The particular request: an end to the COVID-19 and all who are sick from it and all those suffering from its effects.)

O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary. Show that thy goodness equals thy power. Amen

St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.

Also, I want to remind everyone to please check the website for times for confession.  Confessions are heard for at least an hour, and more if necessary, and the Church is open during those times for private prayer. The Church is also open Monday – Friday from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm.  Please use the handicap door to the Church located between the school and the Church proper.  We are using that one door in order to keep it clean. We are cleaning that door and the handles as well as the bathroom every day.  Also, we want to safeguard people in the church since that entrance is monitored through the ring system we have in place. 

We are currently working to live stream Holy Mass from the Oratory.  Once this is available, we will share the time and information with everyone and encourage to make every effort to participate in Holy Mass and make a spiritual communion. The bulletin for this Sunday provides a prayer for spiritual communion and also what you can do this coming Sunday in the absence of Holy Mass.

I have included two links in this letter: the first link is the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the granting of special Indulgences to the faithful in the current pandemic given today from Rome. The Apostolic Penitentiary is chiefly a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Catholic Church.

The second link is a video message from Archbishop Carlson to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Please take a moment to watch this brief video.

Finally, it is my hope to communicate with you every Tuesday and Friday and more so if there is immediate information that needs to be shared with you. The primary purpose of these communications is to continue to hold us together even when we are separated. Also, it is important that we remain spiritually rooted in the things that truly matter and this is our Catholic faith and the strength provided by it in all times and seasons.  Please feel free to contact me at any time with your concerns: msgrmorris@gmail.com; parish phone – 314/925-8989; cell phone – 314/606-2461.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Msgr. Morris

Dear Faithful,

I want to let you all know that you are in my daily prayers especially during the celebration of Holy Mass.  Please pray for each other particularly the vulnerable in our community, those who are ill now and those who care for them.

Since the mandate that suspended the public celebration of Holy Mass, I have received a number of phone calls, emails and text messages trying to understand this decision and also how they can spiritually care for themselves during the several weeks and maybe even longer of this mandate and the response to the pandemic.

First, in order to provide an opportunity to spend time with our Eucharistic Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and in consultation with Fr. Blake, the pastor of St. Luke, the Church will be open and available for private prayer Monday thru Friday from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm beginning tomorrow Wednesday, 18 March 2020. I encourage you to make an effort to spend some time with Our Lord seeking His powerful intercession and the graces that come from the Most Holy Eucharist.

Second, the sacrament of confession remains available at the times already listed and I will be in the confessional for an hour each day or longer if needed.

For both private prayer and for confession, when entering and exiting the Church, the only door that will be open is the door between the Church and the school that is available for those who are disabled. This allows for better safety as well as hygiene as we will be able to clean this door on a daily basis.

In both of these instances, the normal exhortations and precautions remain in place: if you are not feeling well, please remain at home; keep a safe distance away from others when in the Church; take the necessary steps to keep yourself, your families and those around safe through good hygiene.

Again, I want to encourage everyone to patience and forbearance as we struggle to spiritually deal with this crisis. None of us want to be in this situation and we certainly do not want to have limited access to the sacraments; however, the decision to suspend public Masses and to limit communal gatherings is prudent and hopefully will serve to spare people from the virus and to save those who are ill. 

As I concluded my letter yesterday, so I will do the same today and ask that all of the faithful pray this daily throughout this time of pestilence:

The Star of Heaven that nourished the Lord drove away the plague of death which the first parents of man brought into the world. May this bright Star now vouchsafe to extinguish that foul constellation whose battles have slain the people with the wound of death. O most pious Star of the Sea, preserve us from pestilence; hear us, O Lady, for Thy Son honors Thee by denying Thee nothing. Save us, O Jesus, for whom Thy Virgin Mother supplicates Thee. Amen!

Msgr. Morris

Today, 16 March 2020 at 4:30 pm, the Archbishop of Saint Louis suspended the public celebration of Holy Mass.  This news is rightly unsettling, but I am confident that the decision is made in the best interest of all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

The Oratory will continue to celebrate the sacrament of confessions at the following times:

  • Tuesday and Thursday mornings @ 6:00 am (during the Lenten season)
  • Wednesdays evenings @ 5:30 pm
  • Friday mornings @ 11:00 am
  • Sunday mornings @ 7:00 am

During the times for confession, the Church will be open and available for private prayer. The same precautions remain in place: if you are not feeling well, please remain at home; keep a safe distance away from others when in the Church; take the necessary steps to keep yourself, your families and those around safe through good hygiene.

This new mandated information requires the Oratory to cancel Stations of the Cross on Fridays at 7:00 pm.  We also must cancel the Days of Recollection for the women and men of the parish.  These cancellations join the already cancelled events: the CCD program on Sundays; the Co-op on Thursdays; the Coffee Hours on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.

The current situation related to this virus requires diligence and awareness on the natural level and confidence in the Lord in the supernatural realm.  The absence of public Holy Masses creates a seriously destabilizing impact on our lives. However, the spread and dangerousness of this virus is unknown and necessitates serious measures to stop it.  Let us intensify our lives of prayer and ask for a renewed faith in the crucified Lord who will assist us in carrying this cross and whatever other crosses arise during this crisis.

Please continue to check the webpage of the Oratory and emails for further information as the situation continues to evolve.

Yesterday at the conclusion of Holy Mass we prayed the Stella Caeli extirpavit asking for the intercession of our Blessed Mother in this time of crisis. I conclude with this prayer and ask that all of the faithful pray this daily throughout this time of pestilence.

The Star of Heaven that nourished the Lord drove away the plague of death which the first parents of man brought into the world. May this bright Star now vouchsafe to extinguish that foul constellation whose battles have slain the people with the wound of death. O most pious Star of the Sea, preserve us from pestilence; hear us, O Lady, for Thy Son honors Thee by denying Thee nothing. Save us, O Jesus, for whom Thy Virgin Mother supplicates Thee. Amen!

In Christ,

Msgr. Morris, Rector

Stella Caeli (Prayer to Our Lady in times of Pestilence)

The Star of Heaven that nourished the Lord drove away the plague of death which the first parents of man brought into the world. May this bright Star now vouchsafe to extinguish that foul constellation whose battles have slain the people with the wound of death. O most pious Star of the Sea, preserve us from pestilence; hear us, O Lady, for Thy Son honors Thee by denying Thee nothing. Save us, O Jesus, for whom Thy Virgin Mother supplicates Thee. Amen!