Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’

The time of Jesus was a far less sentimental time than our own. Before the advent of modern medicine, food production, sanitation, transportation, and especially, entertainment, life was far more connected with the daily cycles of the real world. The patterns and rituals that are present in nature were comfortable and welcomed ways to structure life. In our “first world” lives, the reality of earthy living is replaced by the illusions of entertainment. Those illusions create a kind of romanticism which insulates us from the reality that we are dust and unto dust we shall return.

This is what fulfilling all righteousness is about. We tend to think of repetition as boredom. We tend to think of ritual as “insincere” or lacking “authenticity.” We tend to value spontaneous prayers because they are “real,” and “come from the heart.” But for the Jews, religion is not meant to be shaped and molded by me… Rather, I am meant to shaped and molded by religion. And doesn’t that make so much more sense?

After all, Jesus, Himself, says that the law is not being thrown out. He says that He has come “to fulfill the law, not abolish it.” For us, that means that we are not better off “making my faith my own.” Rather, we need the rituals and the structures and the teachings and the dogmas - the “righteousness” - because those things shape and form us. A musician could claim to learn Mozart by playing whichever keys he wishes to play… It may be lovely, but it’s not Mozart. So too, we can’t claim to be Christians by choosing whatever practices or teachings please us personally. I may be a “better person,” but I’m not necessarily a Christian. A Christian seeks to be conformed to Christ… And so, it is necessary for her to “fulfill all righteousness.” Not because she is fulfilled, but because this is what it means to be a Christian. Just as those specific notes are what it means to play Mozart.
 

Insights From Second Street

A great many psychologists have spilled a lot of ink describing the process of transition. The great French thinker Arnold van Gennep coined the term “liminality” to describe that middle place between two sure footings. We know what Advent is. We know what Christmas is. We know what Ordinary Time is… But how does one transition from one to the other? Do we just show up at Mass and let the color of the vestments clue us in? Do we just let it happen, without reflection? 

Perhaps the burning question is do the seasons matter for us? I’d imagine, without any sense of judgment, that most of us would say, “no.” And that doesn’t make anyone a bad Catholic, but it does give us something to strive towards… Because the One True Faith is not just a Sunday Mass - a merely “freedom of worship” - Faith. It is truly all encompassing.

We go to Sunday Mass to receive sacramental grace and instruction. Then we go home and endeavor to live the life prescribed by Jesus in the Gospels. That means daily prayer... It means penance and works of mercy... It means obedience to the moral and doctrinal law of the Church… but not just in the negative sense. It’s not just about avoiding sin. It’s also about embracing an entire way of encountering the world. As St. Paul says, we are to “put on Christ.” In Advent we wait. On the feast of saints, we feast. On days of mourning, like the anniversary of Roe v Wade on Jan 22, we fast. In the Easter Season we rejoice and practice being joyful. In Lent, we are subdued.

It is because so many of us have had our Faith reduced to a Sunday ritual and a personal relationship that people are leaving the Church in droves. It is because we don’t realize what God wants for our lives that we see faith as oppressive. It is because we’ve lost the cultural aspect of faith - which is invigorating! - that we are so frequently tempted to become apathetic. Let us resist that temptation with all our strength as we work to rebuild an authentic Catholic Culture in Natchitoches!
 

The Jargon…

by: Tommy Myrick

There was a fascinating article circulating around the internet that described something I heard a lot about in my short life as a convert. It was on the topic of discernment. It was primarily directed at young people that hadn’t found a vocation to settle into yet, but I found it to be pretty sound advice for anyone trying to figure out how to approach life’s ups and downs. This really hit close to home with me since I just entered into the vocation of Holy Matrimony.

The problem that many people have concerning discernment is that they spend too much time “discerning” about discernment. The whole point of discernment is to find out if you are called to a certain vocation. There’s no real way to figure that out unless you actually DO something concerning that vocation. If you are a man that is feeling called to the priesthood, instead of praying about going to the seminary, GO TO THE SEMINARY. If you’re a woman or man considering religious life, GO TO THE MONASTERY/CONVENT. If you are discerning marriage, and there is a certain person in your life that you feel you could share a very happy life with, ASK THEM ON A DATE. 

Whatever vocation you feel called to, check it out... Spend some time in that environment... See if you fit there… That’s what discernment is all about. If we spend all of our time and energy thinking about something but never actually do anything about it, then nothing gets done. How are we supposed to find our vocation if we never actually go out and LOOK for it?

Lastly, it is crucial to understand that the first vocation you discern and/or begin preparing for, may not be the final vocation God has planned for you! Many men have crossed the threshold of the seminary and not left it as priests. Many people have gone to the monastery or convent (myself included) and not become monks or nuns. Many people have dated (some have even been engaged) and have never become a husband or wife. 

Is the process of discernment difficult? Yes! Is it painful at times? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! We have to be brave enough to go forward and become the best person that God created us to be! We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and venture out into the world! We have to trust and believe that God will always lead, protect, and save us! We have to be brave enough to go when He calls!


Parish News

WELCOME! TO OUR NEW VICE-RECTOR, FR. ADAM TRAVIS Father Travis was ordained in 2007 and has served at Our Lady of Prompt Succor and St. Rita Catholic Church in Alexandria and at St. Augustine in Melrose. He will be with us until June and will be doing a good bit of work with the Diocesan outreach to Hispanic families. Father Travis is a wise and holy priest and we are blessed to have him here at Immaculate!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT ADULT CATECHISM The original plan for our Parish Suppers was to encourage people to attend a regular talk on the Catholic Faith every Wednesday night that CCD is being offered. Due to the difficulty of organizing and executing parish suppers, though, the plan had to be reconsidered. So, beginning this week, every Wednesday that CCD is offered, a talk will also be offered in the Chapel at 6pm either by Fr. Ryan or by Fr. Travis. Please plan to attend! (Parish Suppers will be continue to be organized monthly - watch the bulletin.)

BISHOP HERZOG WILL LEAD A PILGRIMAGE This trip is for those wishing to attend the Canonization of Pope John Paul II. Because of the last minute nature of the announcement from Rome, immediate action is required if you’d like to attend. Total cost is approximately $4000 and you must have your deposit paid by Jan 20. The total balance is due in early February. For more information, please contact the Diocesan Chancery at (318) 445-2401.

 

Parish Events

  • Wed, 1/15, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Mon, 1/20, Martin Luther King Day, NO School & Parish Office CLOSED
  • Wed, 1/22, 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision
  • Wed, 1/22, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Sun-Fri, 1/26-1/31, Catholic School’s Week
  • Wed, 1/29, CCD & Wednesday Night Adult Catechism, 6-7p @ St. Mary’s
  • Sun, 2/2, Blessing of Throats in Honor of St. Blaise
  • Sun, 2/2, Candlemas, 5p Mass @ MBIC
     

Parish Finances

Our Sunday Collection last week was $8,412.

Thank you for your generous return to our Lord!

For more information on our finances, click here.


Within the Sanctuary

Sat 1/11 4p Elaine Bacon, (Lector) • Red & Jo Lapeyrouse, (EMHC-CH) • Nita Maggio, Michael Yankowski, (EMHC-CI) • M.Thibodaux, D.Thibodaux, J.Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)    

Sun 1/12 9a Sydney Frederick, (Lector) • Buddy Giering, Michael King, (EMHC-CH) • Cissy Picou, (EMHC-CI) • J.H.Ingrish, G.Ingrish, J.Miley, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/12 11a Kathy Bundrick, (Lector) • Jean Gill, Haley Johnson, (EMHC-CH) • Lucile Ingram, (EMHC-CI) • A.J.Parker, J.Parker, J.Burrell, (Altar Boys)    

Sat 1/18 4p Kathleen Hicks, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, David Bouchie, (EMHC-CH) • Jimmy Gunter, Mickey Hennigan, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, C.J.Bouchie, (Altar Boys)    

Sun 1/19 9a Joe Cunningham, Jr., (Lector) • James & Alice Barrios, (EMHC-CH) • Aimee Wright, (EMHC-CI) • C.&J.Cunningham, BB.Behrendsen, (Altar Boys)

Sun 1/19 11a Ed Giering, (Lector) • Chris & Jennifer Maggio, (EMHC-CH) • Joseph Sklar, (EMHC-CI) • E.Norwood, I.Lovemore, 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 Becky Masson by Melba Ackel.

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


Holy Masses

  • Sat 4p: Clay Hennigan
  • Sun 9a: Pro Populo
  • Sun 11a: Dorthy Benefield & Becky Masson
  • Sun 5p: Jimmy Scott
  • Mon 6:30a: Don Dark
  • Mon 8a: Helen Bostick
  • Tue 6:30a: Essie Mae Huckaby
  • Tue 10a: SMS Students
  • Wed 6:30a: Kerry Friedman
  • Wed 9:20a: SMS Faculty
  • Thu 6:30a: Samuel R. & Bobbie Maggio
  • Thu 8:10a: SMS Benefactors
  • Fri 6:30a: Edwin L. McClung, III
  • Sat 8a: Harry Gongre, Jr.


Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that all may promote authentic economic development that respects the dignity of all peoples. And that, Christians of diverse denominations may walk toward the unity desired by Christ.


Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen, Lauren Bienvenu, Mark Birch, Bill Boone, 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, Vicki Gahagan, Lillian Giering, 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, Patricia Vazquez, Billie Vercher, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Tyler Ward, Jessica Warner, & Janine Waters