When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord…

For most non-Catholic Christians, the myth that ritual worship was invented by medieval Catholics might as well be part of the Gospel. But the reality is that in every section of the bible, ritual ceremonies are essential to the right worship of God. From Genesis & Exodus where bulls and goats are being sacrificed, to Revelations where the Elders laid prostrate at the foot of the altar and the choirs of the saints chanted the Canticle of the Lamb, these works of ritual prayer and offering weren’t just something to do - they were the beating heart of obedience… And obedience to the covenant was the highest form of love. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus said in the Gospel of St. John: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”

Since the rise of Romanticism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Protestants in the western world have held to the centrality of a “personal relationship” with God. And, of course, that’s nothing new. Jesus, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and many others have spoken similar words… What has been different recently is the notion that the personal relationship should be first - at the center - and obedience to the covenant be second.

When we celebrate the purification of Our Lady, we celebrate her obedience to the law. We remember that Jesus was circumcised in obedience to the law. We remember that Jesus insisted that “neither the law nor even a letter of the law shall pass away until all things are fulfilled.” Of course, we also remember that “man is not saved through righteousness to the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ.” And that is essential!

This feast protects us from becoming our own pope or - worse - our own God. Obedience to the Commands of God - including right worship - keeps us on track, and faith in Jesus Christ perfects us… Without the two, hand in hand, we would be lost.

Insights From Second Street

The traditions of the Church (lower-case ’t’) are easy to dismiss. As time has marched on, many of today’s Catholics have taken up the bullet points of yesterdays Protestants: “God doesn’t care if we wear shorts to Mass,” “God cares more about us tending to the poor than He does to memorized prayers,” “Mass should be about attracting people to Jesus…” And on the surface, each of these claims is obvious. Eternal salvation is not going to come down to fashion sense, and our service to God should not be at odds with charity or evangelization! But these claims are also baldly false, dishonest, and diabolically misleading! Our choice of clothing expresses what we believe, and prioritizing the praise of God above the service of men is very scriptural.

What’s more, all of these little traditions - a veil, proper Sunday clothes, devotions to the saints - and the big Traditions (capital ’t’) - the proper celebration of the Holy Mass, the evangelization of non-Catholics, Christian charity - don’t just express what we believe, they influence what we believe! 

The ancient saying is Lex Orandi Lex Credendi… The law (or way) of prayer is the law (or way) of belief. What we pray and what we believe are two sides of the same coin. If I pray to God like he’s a sounding board for my own ideas of right and wrong, then I will come to believe that God is a self-help guru who is here to boost my self-esteem and, at most, make suggestions about my life. If I pray to God begging His help to “make me the best me I can be, ” (thanks Joel Olsteen) then I will believe that God is some doddering old grandfather who says something nice when we talk on the phone. If I pray to God to change me and to make me into what He wants me to be… If I beg Him to forgive my sins and the sins of others… If I put aside my own ideas and pray the rosary and the prayers of the saints… Then I will come to understand that God is Truth! He is Love! He is beauty! Right prayer - including the practical traditions of the Church - are indispensable if we want to rightly know, love and serve God.

The Jargon…

by: Fr. Ryan

This Sunday is a feast day of spectacular junk food, 30 second films in the guise of commercials and - if there’s time - a little football. But, it’s also the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, also called Candlemas. 

The tradition of blessing candles on this day goes back about 14 centuries. According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax - which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee and is always considered as the emblem of virginity - signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant - who diminished not, neither by His conception nor His birth - the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.

St. John Chrysostom wrote: “The bee is more honored than other animals, not because it labors, but because it labors for others.” Catherine Croisette adds that, “The symbolism of bees also signifies the way the Church generates her spiritual fruits because bees are virginal, they don’t have any sexual contact. As the Church gives grace through the purity of her divine Sacraments, so the bees give us honey and wax by the labor of their pure bodies. This is why their wax, considered the fruit of a virgin labor, is worthy to burn in the candles on the altar at the offering of the Holy Sacrifice.” This is surely one of the reasons that altar candles must be made of at least 51% beeswax. Both because of the added financial sacrifice to us, as well as the sacrificial labor of the bees who literally work themselves to death for the creation of this purest form of wax.

Parish News

CANDLEMAS TODAY This Sunday, February 2nd, The Presentation of the Lord - was traditionally associated with the Blessing of Candles and, like Christmas, has the short name Candlemas. This weekend, the Sunday Vespers and 5p Mass will take place at the usual time but with some extra ceremonial. The Mass will be offered by candlelight. It will be beautiful! All are welcome to attend and to bring candles from home to be blessed!

PARISH SUPPER THIS WEDNESDAY Our next Parish Supper will be this Wednesday, Feb. 5th, at 5p at St. Mary’s in the Cafeteria. The meal is free, but donations are accepted. At 6p, our usual CCD Classes and Wednesday Night Adult Catechism will begin. All are welcome! Invite your friends!

GIFT SHOP REOPENING The Gift Shop will reopen on Monday, Feb 3rd. The Hours are: Mon-Fri, 10a-2p & Sat, 10a-4p. Starting on Sunday, Feb 16th, the Gift Shop will also be open from 9:30a-11:30a. Anyone interested in volunteering to work a shift during the week, please contact the office and leave your information with Susan.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS BINGO FUNDRAISERS The Knights of Columbus #1357 host weekly Bingo nights every Wednesday beginning at 7pm and on the second Sunday of every month. Proceeds from these events go to support all of our local Catholic Churches as well as other worthy causes like the N.A.R.C., the Special Olympics and St. Mary’s School to name only a few. All are welcome.

OUR CHILDREN DESERVE THE BEST If you know of anyone in this parish potentially harming children, call (318) 445-1427 or visit DioceseAlex.org/Safe-Environment. Documentation, policies and procedures are available from the office or at the back tables in the Church. Periodic training seminars are also available, call the office for more information.

DON’T NEGLECT THE SOULS OF THE SICK Don’t forget to call the priest when someone you love becomes seriously or chronically ill. The difficult time of physical decline is so much more spiritually beneficial with the assistance of the sacraments. Don’t assume father knows - call the office!

Parish Events

  • Sun, 2/2, Blessing of Throats in Honor of St. Blaise
  • Sun, 2/2, Candlemas, 5p Mass @ MBIC
  • Wed, 2/5, Parish Supper, 5-6p @ St. Mary’s
  • Wed, 2/5, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Wed, 2/12, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Sun, 2/16, Blessing of Engaged & Married Couples in Honor of St. Valentine’s Day
  • Mon, 2/17, Presidents’ Day, NO School & Parish Office CLOSED
  • Wed, 2/19, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Sat, 2/22, Basilican Feast Day - Chair of St. Peter, Holy Mass @ 8a

Parish Finances

Our Sunday Collection last week was $7,568.

Thank you for your generous return to our Lord!

For more information on our finances, click here.

Within the Sanctuary

Sat 2/1 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, David Bouchie, (EMHC-CH) • Nita Maggio, Michael Yankowski, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, C.J.Bouchie, (Altar Boys)

Sun 2/2 9a Michael King, (Lector) • Jeff & Carol Green, (EMHC-CH) • John Cunningham, (EMHC-CI) • G.Fidelak, J.Miley, T.Hare, (Altar Boys)

Sun 2/2 11a Greg Burke, (Lector) • Jean Gill, Barbara Laborde, (EMHC-CH) • Cecilia Cook, (EMHC-CI) • A.J.Parker, J.Parker, D.Thompson, (Altar Boys)

Sat 2/8 4p Karen Apponey, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, Micky Hennigan, (EMHC-CH) • Kathleen Hicks, Nita Maggio, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, (Altar Boys)

Sun 2/9 9a John Ackel, (Lector) • Cissy Picou, Stephen Taylor, (EMHC-CH) • Alyssa Odom, (EMHC-CI) • A.Behrendsen, R.Cunningham, T.Hare, (Altar Boys)

Sun 2/9 11a Kathy Bundrick, (Lector) • Jean Gill, Patsy Melder, (EMHC-CH) • Cecilia Cook, (EMHC-CI) • J.Burrell, J.Graham, M.Leone, (Altar Boys)

*Altar Boys who are not scheduled may serve if space permits. Come to the Sacristy 10 minutes before Mass.

Memorials & Prayer Intentions

The Sanctuary Candle this week is offered in memory of Ted Tobin by Ginny Tobin. 

The Sanctuary Flowers may be offered in memory of a loved one by contacting the office.

Holy Masses

  • Sat 4p: Clay Hennigan
  • Sun 9a: Essie Mae Huckaby & Shirley Ragland
  • Sun 11a: Pro Populo
  • Sun 5p: Fr. Jamie Medina
  • Mon 6:30a: Dorthy Benefield
  • Mon 8a: Leslie Lafitte
  • Tue 6:30a: Lilly Miller
  • Tue 10a: SMS Students
  • Wed 6:30a: Doris & Will Pierson & Elise James
  • Wed 9:20a: SMS Faculty
  • Thu 6:30a: Tommy & Laura Solomon
  • Thu 8:10a: SMS Benefactors
  • Fri 6:30a: Rev. Vernon Stephenson
  • Sat 8a: Melinda McClung

Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people. And that, priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization.

Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen, Lauren Bienvenu, Mark Birch, Bill Boone,  Kathy Bostick, Tripp Bostick, Chad Bouchie, Flo Brouillette, Bailey Byrd, Carolyn Carter, Emilia Cofio, Woody Cox, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, Marguerite Felchle,  Alma Fernandez, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Vicki Gahagan, Sophie Gill, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Pam Kerry, Mary Keyser, Paul Keyser, Gary Kilgore, 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, Rosalind Trussell, Patricia Vazquez, Billie Vercher, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Tyler Ward, Jessica Warner, & Janine Waters