My First St Louis Forever Rosary (Videos)
I kept crying. And the t-shirt I wore was utterly inappropriate.
Last night (July 2), I finally made it to the nightly Rosary by the statue of St. Louis in Forest Park. It was the most fantastic experience. Most amazing.
When I arrived, Fr. Stephen Schumacher was leading about fifty people in chanting Vespers in Latin. Right there in the middle of Forest Park. That uniquely and unmistakably Catholic rite of daily prayer. After Vespers, Fr. Schumacher blessed the people (asperges) and performed a minor exorcism of the area with the Prayer to St. Michael.
I wish I had photos. I intended to take pictures and videos. But I was overwhelmed. The vision was too powerful—the people too many. I fell to my knees on the blistering granite and remained there for 40 minutes.
Shortly after I knelt, a priest in a cassock knelt to my right. I could hear the footsteps of many approaching people and clinking of Rosaries all around. It took me a few minutes to realize the chanting was Vespers, but the sound Latin chant in Forest Park was like choirs of angels around the throne of God in Revelation.
When I opened my mouth to pray the Rosary, I could produce only gurgles. I was afraid my soft tears would into sobs. I kept my eyes closed most of the time.
To my left, I could hear the soft voices of people wondering what was going on, but I heard no criticism or protest. (The media would call our prayers a form of protest, but a protest is directed at other people. Our only audience was heaven.)
When I finally rose to leave, I saw the crowd had increased since I arrived at 6:15. The crowd had tripled or quadrupled. Immediately before the statue were mostly priests in cassocks and younger people, surrounding this group was about 100 mostly older Catholics. On the fringe were a few people in their 50s or 60s holding signs that seemed to support the destruction of the statue. But they were silent.
I walked to my car and waited a bit to see if anyone was going to try to assault people. Everything looked peaceful.
On my drive home, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for the many Catholics who pioneered this beautiful nightly practice. Gratitude for Fr. Stephen Schumacher’s zeal and courage and pastoral leadership of our ad hoc flock. Mostly, gratitude to the trinitarian God and Our Lady for teaching us how to attempt prayer worthy of Our God.
St. Louis Forever Coalition holds a nightly Rosary service at the statue of St. Louis in Forest Park at 6:30 p.m. I recommend arriving at 6:00. Attendance has increased steadily since the devotion began two weeks ago in response to a petition to tear down the statue and rename the City of St. Louis. Learn more at their website, https://www.stlouisforever.com/
To hear a priest’s view of Fr. Stephen Schumacher’s remarkable courage on Saturday, June 27, please watch Fr. Mark Goring’s YouTube video:
Now, to see what Fr. Goring is talking about, see this video from Saturday’s event:
St. Michael the Archangel, protect this brave and holy priest. Lord, send us many more priests like him.