Many less-than-faithful scripture “scholars” have worked hard to convince themselves and others that the events of the Bible are either coincidences or just made up out of thin air. They believe that the people who were involved in Jesus’ many healings or teachings were there by accident... They believe that the life of John the Baptist is too symbolic to be true… Actual believing Christians know better.
It wasn’t by coincidence that Jesus found himself facing 5,000 hungry people. It wasn’t by coincidence that 12 baskets were left over after the miracle took place! In the same way, no coincidences took place in the life of John the Baptist. His life was constantly divinely driven. John leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth - no coincidence. John’s father was high priest that year and was told by God to name the boy John - no coincidences. Everything about John turns out to be amazingly symbolic. He looked and dressed like Elijah the prophet. He preached like Elisha. He had a deep wisdom and understood the value of real fasting. He spent much of his time in the desert.
John is a kind of road sign in that he points beyond himself. Everything about John points to Jesus. Everything in John’s life is a sign for us that leads us to the central moment in his life when he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Is there any greater thing that could be said about any of us? Is there any higher honor we could have than for someone to say that everything about me points to God? I think not! This is how we ought to live… not like John the Baptist in the desert eating bugs, but like him in that everything we are and everything we do points beyond ourselves to God… What a worthy life! Of course, doing that isn’t easy. It requires real love of God - the kind of love that is willing to sacrifice. It requires prayer and fasting and works of mercy. It requires study and obedience and clarity of purpose. But what a worthy thing to devote oneself to entirely!
Insights From Second Street
Until recently, there was a sense of an Ordinary Practice of the Catholic Faith... It was just ingrained into who we are... Everyone fasted for at least an hour before Mass. No one went to Communion without having made a recent confession. People confessed regularly, monthly if not weekly. Silence was the expectation before and after Mass.
Nowadays, thanks to a hundred varied things, most Catholics feel like they need to reinvent the faith on a constant basis. Rather than look to the Church for the answer to a clearly moral question about "pulling the plug" on grandma or a clearly religious question about the nature of heaven, many Catholics choose the answer that best suits their current opinions... Which means that growth in the moral or the spiritual life is almost impossible. (ie. The Church is now noisy with disrespectful conversation. People go months without confession. People regularly blaspheme the mercy of God by receiving Holy Communion unworthily.)
While it's impossible to point to one cause for all of these tragic effects, there are some culprits that can be undone with minimal effort... The phenomenon of the "penance service" has created a mentality that people only need to confess once or twice a year when a priest, with whom they have no personal relationship, can hear their truly anonymous - and hurried - confession. This leads to a tragic disconnection from the mercy of God and a gross misunderstanding of the nature of forgiveness. It creates the false notion that sin/forgiveness is a messy business that should inspire shame and should be kept far away from the people about whom we care. But in reality, the mercy of God is not some impersonal, anonymous ritual... It's a deeply intimate experience that should begin in the confessional and extend to every aspect of our lives. Certainly, the confessional is anonymous (even at a relatively small parish like Immaculate Conception), but it's also the place where we humble - even humiliate - ourselves as an act of love for God. It's a place we should visit monthly, if not weekly. -FrR
Christmas at a Glance
- Dec 9 - Basilican Feast Day for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Not a Holy Day of Obligation this year.) Special Mass at 6pm.
- Dec 10 - Lessons & Carols with the NSU Choirs.
- Dec 12 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.
- Dec 14 - Additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary's School.
- Dec 15 - Third Sunday of Advent. (Put Christmas Decorations up.)
- Dec 19 - Advent Confessions.
- Dec 20 - SMS Christmas Program for Parents & Grandparents.
SMS Christmas Break begins.
- Dec 21 - Additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary's School.
- Dec 22 - Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Guitar Concert by John de Chiaro.
- Dec 24 - Christmas Eve.
No morning Mass.
Vigil Mass at 4pm.
Caroling at 11:30pm.
Midnight Mass at Midnight.
- Dec 25 - The Feast of Christ’s Nativity.
Masses at 9am and 11am.
- Dec 28 - Additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary's School.
- Jan 1 - The Feast of Mary, Mother of God. (Holy Day of Obligation.)
- Jan 5 - Epiphany of Our Lord. Blessing of Epiphany Chalk.
(Take Christmas Trees & Decorations down.)
- Jan 10 - Basilican Feast Day for the Anniversary of the Elevation of the Minor Basilica.
PENANCE SERVICE REMINDER As we move closer to Advent, all are reminded that we will not have any penance services this year. Father is in the confessional 30 minutes before daily Masses and 45 minutes before weekend Masses. He will also be in the confessional from 5p to 6p every Thursday of Advent (12/5, 12/12, 12/19). All Catholics should typically confess monthly...now is a great time to make it a habit!
DECEMBER 9th IS A BASILICAN FEAST DAY Our next indulgenced Basilican Feast Day is Monday, December 9th ― The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day of the Liturgical Celebration of the title of our Church. The 6:30a Mass will be a “Simple” Mass. The 6p Mass will be the “Conventual” Mass with music and incense. Both Masses will end with the proper prayers for the indulgence. All are welcome!
SPECIAL SATURDAY MASSES FOR DECEMBER ONLY Fr. Ryan will offer an additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary’s School at 5:30p during December only (12/14, 12/21, 12/28). The Mass will count for your weekend obligation. All are welcome.
CHRISTMAS MASS SCHEDULE
TUE., DEC. 24th
○ No Mass @ 6:30a
○ Vigil Mass @ 4p
○ Caroling @ 11:30p
○ Midnight Mass @ Midnight
○ Champagne in honor of the Christ Child in the rectory after Midnight Mass
WED., DEC. 25th
○ Mass @ 9a & 11a
- Mon, 12/9, Basilican Feast Day - Immaculate Conception of the BVM, 6:30a & 6p
- Tue, 12/10, Lessons & Carols, 7:30p @ MBIC
- Wed, 12/11, CCD Classes, 6p @ St. Mary’s School
- Thu, 12/12, Advent Confessions, 5-6p @ MBIC
- Wed, 12/18, CCD Classes, 6p @ St. Mary’s School
- Thu, 12/19, Advent Confessions, 5-6p @ MBIC
- Fri, 12/20, SMS Christmas Program for Parents & Grandparents, 10a @ St. Mary's School
- Fri, 12/20, SMS Christmas Break begins
- Sun, 12/22, Guitar Concert by John de Chiaro, 2p @ MBIC
- Wed, 12/25, NO CCD Classes
- Tue, 12/31, Holy Day of Obligation VIGIL - Feast of Mary, Mother of God @ 6p
Within the Sanctuary
Sat 12/7 4p Elaine Bacon, (Lector) • Red & Jo Lapeyrouse, Nita Maggio, Michael Yankowski, (EMHC) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/8 9a John Ackel, (Lector) • Cindy & Ed Smith, John Vandersypen, (EMHC) • J.Cunningham, C.Cunningham, BB.Behrendsen, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/8 11a Ed Giering, (Lector) • Jean Gill, Barbara Laborde, Patsy Melder, (EMHC) • A.Parker, J.Parker, J.M.Graham, (Altar Boys)
Sat 12/14 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, David Bouchie, Jimmy Gunter, Mickey Hennigan, (EMHC) • C.J.Bouchie, J.Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/15 9a Roger Cunningham, (Lector) • Alice & James Barrios, Aimee Wright, (EMHC) • Reagan Cunningham, Ryan Cunningham, Ashton Behrendsen, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/15 11a Gilen Norwood, (Lector) • Cecilia Cook, Haley Johnson, Joseph Sklar, (EMHC) • W.Mayeux, D.Thompson, E.Norwood, (Altar Boys)
Memorials & Prayer Intentions
The Sanctuary Candle this week is offered in Memory of Stacy Williams by Marilyn Williams.
The Sanctuary Flowers may be offered in memory of a loved one by contacting the office.
- Sat 4p: Brooke Hennigan
- Sun 9a: Pro Populo
- Sun 11a: Gene Doll & Edwin McClung
- Sun 5p: Harry Gongre, Jr.
- Mon 6:30a: Marin Joseph Durand
- Mon 9a: SMS Students & Faculty
- Mon 6p: Vicki Gahagan
- Tue 6:30a: Dorthy Benefield
- Wed 6:30a: Anne Giering
- Thu 6:30a: Lillian Anne Giering
- Fri 6:30a: Robert C. Lowther, Jr.
- Sat 8a: Sadie Stroud
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need. And that Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen, Clifford Ardoin, Lauren Bienvenu, Mark Birch, Bill Boone, Tripp Bostick, Chad Bouchie, Flo Brouillette, Bailey Byrd, Carolyn Carter, Emilia Cofio, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, Marguerite Felchle, Alma Fernandez, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Vicki Gahagan, Lillian Giering, Sophie Gill, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Pam Kerry, Mary Keyser, Paul Keyser, Martha LaCaze, Daniel Laroux, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Joseph Longo, Lisa Mack, Faris Michael, Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Fr. Joe Montalbano, Mary Moss, Shane Niette, Mary Odom, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Amanda Rozman, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Brent Trichel, Billie Vercher, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Tyler Ward, Jessica Warner, & Janine Waters