Man oh man… This second day of our drive across America did not disappoint. We woke up in our hotel room on a high-up floor overlooking the Arch and the Mississippi. Been to the top of the Arch a few times. It’s cool but that’s not why we stopped here last night. Our primary purposes in staying in STL was to visit a particular church.
St. Francis de Sales is an oratory run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) just a few minutes from the downtown hub. I believe this was at one time a diocesan parish that was handed over to the Institute because attendance had fallen and the parish was unable to maintain the upkeep. Big shock. Attendance was down in a rite where the mass is a community meal.
What did we walk in on this morning? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves; but if you’ve ever wondered why older churches have side altars, this morning would have satiated your curiosity. There were, in fact, two masses taking place on the left-hand side of the church when we walked up the aisle. The air of silence was punctured by the whispered “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” of a priest and the slight clang of a bell from his server.
I was overcome by hope and joy and contrition and faith and charity. I was overwhelmed by beauty. This was a church built by people for whom no expense should be spared for God’s house. They wanted a fitting and glorious church for the sacrifice. They wanted to recreate as best they could on earth the glory of God in His heaven. And they sure got it. And today, seeing it used as it should be? Well, the psalm rings true.
Much thanks and love to the priests of the Institute for their masses, prayers, and stewardship of this parish. If you happen to be in St. Louis, known as the “Rome of the West” for churches just like this that dot the landscape and skyline, do stop in and light a candle. Stay for mass. Offer a prayer for the Church and the restoration of the Roman mass in all places.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!