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Eat, drink, be merry!

Some Christians through the ages have mistakenly decided that the blessings of this world are somehow bad or even evil just because they aren’t eternal. Not So! Food and drink and dancing and music and laughter are all gifts from God! But… because they engage our emotions so powerfully, they are especially susceptible to misuse and to temptations from the Enemy. Satan can and will use food and drink and dance and all kinds of pleasures to take our eyes off of the good of God’s blessings to the worship of those blessings… And even though those things are good, they are not the source of all good.

It’s because the goods of the world are good that we, as followers of Jesus, have to give them up from time to time. There’s no virtue in fasting from something evil… Is there any merit in taking a break from gossip or murder? It’s like Jesus says elsewhere, If I love my brother, is there any value in that? The pagans do the same. Fasting only means something when we fast from something we know to be good.

When we fast from something good we do two things. First, we acknowledge the temporary nature of this world and realign our hearts with the eternal goodness of God. Second, we free ourselves from even the slightest attachment to the things of this world. It’s no wonder that Jesus says - more than once - that both prayer and fasting are necessary to drive out demons. Attachment is a dangerous thing and the devil deals in dangerous things.

Jesus teaches that prayer, fasting (penance) and almsgiving (works of mercy) are all essential to the supernatural life of the Christian. It is not possible to live the Christian life without them. Our Lord’s words in the Gospel today are proof enough of the consequence of  attachment to the natural goods of life without a supernatural life in God. We do well to take note!

Insights from Second Street

This weekend marks my first month back here in Natchitoches. I’ve never worked so hard in my life! There’s no doubt that I miss my old rocking chair in Campti. Ha! I’ve been in the office so much that my rooms are still a mess and a half. But every night when I climb the stairs and walk into the mess - which is not an easy thing for someone with a little OCD to endure - I think to myself: I’ve really never been happier in my life. I’m exhausted and I’m happy. It’s not a bad way to be.

I’ve thought a lot in the last month about how God uses each of us with all of our faults and our failings to do His work. I’ve heard some of your warm compliments about a sermon or a shared moment of conversation and I look in the mirror and I just can’t help but chuckle a little bit that God brought me back to this place. I loved it here. I always loved my time here. And I just can’t express how thankful I am to be back here - even if my hair is already a little grayer than it was…

At the same time, I want to acknowledge that my first month has been as tough on you as it has been on me. Change is hard. And for everyone who has felt blessed in one moment or another, one of you may have felt a pang of the cross. Some of that may simply be the pain of change. But if I’ve had anything to do with that suffering, I want to express my sincere apology and ask for forgiveness. I know - better than most - how much I need mercy and forgiveness. And I want all of you to know that I am committed to bringing healing here. So if I’ve caused you some suffering, I am sorry and I ask your forgiveness. I hope we can share a cup of coffee sometime and you can help me to understand your hurt. Until then, know that I am humbled by God’s goodness and I pray for you all daily. Please pray for me and help me to be your pastor and your father!


The Jargon...

This weekend, we welcome two new faces to our family at Immaculate Conception.

Tommy Myrick is new only to some of us. He has been the Campus Minister and head honcho of music at Holy Cross for the last three years. Tommy is a convert and a truly excellent musician. He studied here at NSU under some of our own master musicians - Bill Brent and Bert Allen. Tommy is going to be the Director of Sacred Liturgy here at the Minor Basilica… That’s a herculean task if we obey the documents. Tommy is up to the challenge. Please make him welcome here down by the bridge.

Ashley Hebert is new to all of us. She hails from the Cajun heartland of Ville Platte. She studied fine arts and journalism at McNeese in Lake Charles and spent a year working as a full-time Catholic missionary in the Philippines. Her heart still lies with mission - both foreign and here at home. She will be working as the Director of Evangelization here at the Minor Basilica. That job entails everything from graphic design (which includes our superb new bulletin) to catechesis to planning mission trips and pilgrimages for our parish.

Both Ashley and Tommy keep regular office hours and are happy to meet with anyone who may have ideas or suggestions. As time passes and we’re able to really live up to the requirements of a Minor Basilica, we’ll be better equipped to branch out to more and more interesting and diverse spiritual and social activities. Until then, please keep Tommy and Ashley in your prayers and make them feel at home!

Parish Announcements

A Taste of Faith Supper aids Seminarians All are invited to the Bishop’s annual Taste of Faith supper. Reservations are necessary. The supper is free but donations to help pay for our seminarians is greatly appreciated. A seminary education (including room and board) costs more than $30,000 per year. Seminarians require at least six years of training! Even if you can’t attend, all are asked to pray for our seminarians and their benefactors.

Daily Mass Schedule in Full Swing Thanks to all who have been such troopers in adapting to the new daily Mass schedule. I know it’s been difficult for some of you, but the grace is already being seen in the parish. If you’re not a daily mass goer, why not try to slip in early one morning or maybe Saturday at 8a?

The First Day of School is Aug 19 Everyone is asked to get praying for St. Mary’s as the teachers begin their preparation and the kids begin grieving the loss of 10am wake up calls. St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of students, pray for us all!

SMS Steak Supper is Aug 23 The annual Steak Supper is coming up on the campus of St. Mary’s. The fundraiser is a gigantic assistance to us and, heck, there’s steak involved. Watch the bulletin for more info or call the office. Thanks in advance to everyone who helps out with the cooking, the serving and the eating!

Parish Finances

Our Sunday Collection last week was $8,501.52.

Thank you for your generous return to our Lord!

Memorials & Prayer Intentions

Holy Masses
  • Sat 4p, Gene Doll
  • Sun 9a, Shirley Ragland
  • Sun 11a, Pro Populo
  • Mon 6:30a, A.B. Chenault
  • Mon 6p, (Conventual Mass), Pro Pontifex
  • Tue 6:30a, Lane C. Warner & Joseph W. Barnard
  • Wed 6:30a, Delora Ponthieux & Audrey T. Grant
  • Thu 6:30a, N.L. Vercher
  • Fri 6:30a, Patsy Ebarb
  • Sat 8a, John & Stacy Mestayer Family
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that parents and teachers may help the new generation to grow in upright conscience and life. And that, the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice.

Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen,
Lauren Bienvenu,
Mark Birch, Bill
Boone, Tripp Bostick, Dewitt Booty,
Chad Bouchie, Flo
Brouillette, Carolyn Carter, Emilia
Cofio, Alton Cooper, Johnny Cox,
Kim Cunningham,
Lela Mae Dalme,
Joe Davis, John
DeFee, Alma Fernandez, Lucy
Flores, Reba Friday, Tom Foshee,
Anne Giering, Lillian Giering, Joyce
Haybe, Deborah
G. Hernandaz,
Deanna Jickman,
Pam Kerry, Mary
Keyser, Martha
LaCaze, Daniel
Laroux, Jaden Eli
Lodridge, Joseph
Longo, Johnnie Mallory, Ed
McClung, Lisa
Mack, Faris Michael, Meg Michael, Mary Moss,
Shane Niette, Jo
Norwood, Mary
Odom, Sharon
Roach, Makaehan
Ross, Shirley Roy,
Amanda Rozman,
Joseph Ryan,
Donna Slaughter,
Brent Trichel, Sue
Van Hook, Billie
Vercher, Jessica
Warner, Ruthie J. Wallboughly