Our Lady of Sorrows provided the firepits. Men from St. Stephen set up the projector. The Holy Name Society from St. Gabriel barbecued. And a couple guys from St. Raphael brought the kegs.
Men from parishes in the south St. Louis city and county region gathered in the parking lot of Our Lady of Sorrows Church Dec. 11 to share faith and fellowship during “Advent by Tailgate.” Likened to the popular “Advent by Candlelight” events for women held at several parishes around the archdiocese, Advent by Tailgate gave men time to pause in the midst of the busy weeks leading up to Christmas to focus on faith.
Father Charlie Archer, associate pastor at St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood, offered a short reflection on how the Incarnation reminds us of our own responsibility to make God’s love manifest.
“At this time in our culture, there is a desperate need for God the Father’s love to once more be revealed, in the same way that Jesus Christ revealed His love,” Father Archer said.
Revealing God’s love can take many forms, Father Archer said, like making it a priority to get your family to Mass every Sunday, taking the time to attend your child’s CYC basketball game, taking your wife on a date or steering conversations with friends away from negative and bitter talk.
“He is calling you to stand up and to be that presence of His love in the lives of your family and your friends,” Father Archer said.
The evening also included time for the gathered men to ask questions in a “Bother the Father” Q&A with Father Aaron Nord, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish; Father John Mayo, pastor of St. Raphael Parish; and Father Charlie Samson, assistant professor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in residence at the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (Old Cathedral). After plenty of time for fellowship around the fires, the men ended the evening by praying Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours in the church.
The event brought men from several different parishes together on purpose. As the All Things New pastoral planning process continues, it’s important to take opportunities to get to know people outside your typical crowd, said Our Lady of Sorrows pastor Father Sebastian Mundackal.
“It’s very important that we come out of our small worlds into our larger worlds and know each other,” he said. “We are one family; we are together. It’s not this parish, that parish — we are called to be one.”
Bruce Brunner, a parishioner at Our Lady of Sorrows, chatted with Jerry Jacobsmeyer of St. Gabriel Parish at the event. Knowing that current All Things New models show Our Lady of Sorrows merging with other neighboring parishes, “I really wanted the opportunity to meet more people from different parishes,” Brunner said. “…I’m trying to be more active and make sure that I’m helping to build up community.”
Michael Pera and Roberto Garcia saw the event advertised at their parish, St. Margaret of Scotland. “It’s nice to get out and meet some new people. It can be easy to get stuck in a silo,” Pera said.
Garcia had previously enjoyed men’s White House retreats and was excited to have an opportunity for men’s faith formation at this time of year, noting, “it’s difficult sometimes to find time to pause during Advent.”
“This is a social event, but it’s religious as well, so having that during Advent has been great for me this year,” he said.
Around the same fire were several men from Seven Holy Founders Parish in Affton. Deacon Tom Schiller, a permanent deacon at Seven Holy Founders who grew up in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, joked that they even crossed River des Peres to be there that night.
“We have a strong group of men at Founders, and we love doing this kind of stuff — getting out and being with each other, and meeting more guys with like minds and hearts,” he said.
Jokes about crossing the river aside, Schiller said he believes forming friendships with people around the region is vital to the Church in St. Louis moving forward.
“It’s time for us to stop drawing lines — everyone wants to protect their parish, but when it really comes down to it, after the real estate is decided, we’ve all got to come together,” he said.
Jim Gangloff, also from Seven Holy Founders, saw the event as an easy opportunity for evangelization. “Evangelizing is the whole idea now, trying to reach out to others,” he said. He invited his son, a young adult, to join him for the evening, knowing it would be a casual environment to get to know more Catholic men from the area. “Coming together with guys from different parishes, just to see what’s going on, I think is important. This was a great idea,” he said.
Mike Twellman agreed. “Anytime you can spend time with guys sharing your faith, I’m all in,” he said.
>> Take time to pray in the last days of Advent with the ‘O Antiphons’
The “O Antiphons” are the seven antiphons prayed before and after the Magnificat at Evening Prayer in the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23. (Evening Prayer on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, is part of the Christmas Vigil.)
Each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah and each of these titles refers to a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel.
These antiphons are arranged with a definite purpose. If you start with the last title and take the first letter of each one — Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia — the Latin words “ero cras” are formed. The translation of “ero cras” is: “Tomorrow, I will come,” the Lord Jesus answering our Advent preparations.
During the last days before Christmas, consider adding the “O Antiphons” to evening prayer, prayer before meals or bedtime prayer.
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
“Evangelizing is the whole idea now, trying to reach out to others… Coming together with guys from different parishes, just to see what’s going on, I think is important. This was a great idea.”
>> Advent acts of evangelization
We put together a list of 28 acts of evangelization, one for each day of Advent. Whether you’ve focused on evangelization all season or haven’t thought about it at all, check out our ideas for the final days: stlreview.com/3V9Sd2p