From The Font

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God.”

“Justification” is a technical term in the scriptures. It is far from the common Southern cliche, “Bless her heart, Mrs. So-and-so was a good person.” Of course, that common Southern cliche usually followed after a few choice and salty words about Mrs. So-and-so. Still, to be justified was not merely to be good or likable or virtuous or even religious. Justification came from properly fulfilling the religious and moral requirements of faith. 

Prior to Jesus, that meant obedience to the law and freedom from serious sin. There was no confession and there was no getting back on track. Repentance and contrition meant nothing. The arrival of Jesus Christ and His death on the Holy Cross made possible the forgiveness of sins and thus sorrow for sin became a significant part of the justification equation. That didn’t remove obedience to the religious law (prayer, fasting, etc) and the obedience to the moral law, it just made them much more possible. Prior to the Christ, justification was no easy accomplishment.

The other big shift that comes with the teachings of Jesus is the fruit of Justification, namely, eternal life. For the Jews, the eternal nature of the soul was at best vague. Resurrection and the notion of an eternal life which came with bliss and consciousness and our more Christian notion of heaven was only starting to develop at the time of Jesus. Christ, Himself, ultimately filled in the gaps and explained what heaven would be like. 

Prior to Jesus and His teaching on the Resurrection, the Jews held firmly to a rarely discussed doctrine of Sheol. Sheol was a place of shadows in which the soul would be at rest but not really conscious. This eternity was more of a nap or something akin to the modern Buddhist notion of Nirvana. There is some sense that this Sheol may have come with a limited ability to perceive what was happening in the world, but no ability to participate in it or even to praise God… But the Jews believed fervently in ghosts and feared death greatly. The major consolation to the dying was that their legacy would be maintained and their name remembered in stories. (In this way, they weren’t all that different from the Greeks and the early Romans.)

When we read that the souls of the just are in the hand of God, it’s hard to imagine just how radical and disconcerting the teaching of Jesus was. It’s also hard to imagine just how consoling and joyful that same teaching was when people realized it’s full depth…

Insights From Second Street

Imagine that on some random Tuesday morning, your eyes pop open at 4am. In that moment, God makes it clear to you that you will die tonight - in the next half hour or so. What will you do in that terrible moment? Try to put yourself mentally into that bed… It’s 4am, your eyes open and you know… 

Will you rush to the emergency room in an effort to stave off God’s revelation? Will you make a bowl of ice cream or a cup of coffee or try to indulge in some last minute worldly pleasure? Will you write a note or rouse your family to say a final farewell? Will you take up the Holy Rosary?

What kind of thoughts will go through your head? Would you think of your legacy? Would you regret past decisions? Would you cringe at the sins you’ve committed since you last received absolution in the confessional - the sins you’ll have to carry with you unforgiven into Judgment? Would you think back on your successes? Would you picture loved ones? Would you think of ways to convince God to change His mind?

So few of us have the opportunity to think on these “last things.” In our age of modern medicine, most of us will face our last moments drooling under so much morphine that when we wake up from death to Judgement - the shock won’t be pretty. In an effort to stave off suffering - suffering of the dying or those who look on helpless - we have deprived ourselves of the opportunity to make a good death. We’ve drugged the prize fighter before the final round! 
A “good death” is something to be longed for! We ought to ask God for the gift of facing our last moments sober and ready. Will it be scary? Absolutely. But, isn’t it better to be scared enough to beg God’s forgiveness than to be incapacitated at the most important moment in life?

In an incredibly moving scene at the end of his masterpiece, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh depicts Lord Marchmain at his death. Marchmain is a philanderer and a narcissist who hasn’t considered God in decades. As he lays dying, the local priest makes one last attempt to give him the Last Sacraments which he has repeatedly refused. At long last, the old man consents… His small gesture is a tearjerker and even the avowed non-religionist can’t deny the gravity of the moment. Oh that we might have the same grace to face our last moments aware and ready!

The Jargon…

by: Fr. Ryan

“In the wake of tragedy, the human heart must mourn, lest it miss the gravity of separation and loss - to do any less is to dishonor the way in which we were made.” If death is not taken seriously, we cannot face it faithfully. With many good intentions and some less-than-good intentions, most of the modern world has made a conscious effort to pretend that death is not a cause for mourning… Mistaken Bible Christians claim that everyone who loved Jesus or was a “good person” goes straight to heaven or, at least, is in a “better place.” People of less specific faith rely on the “at least she’s not suffering any more.” The funeral homes have adopted a language of “passing away” or “moving on.”

Death is not something to be dismissed or minimized! It’s the fruit of the sin of Adam and Eve and it stinks! It hurts! There’s nothing wrong with screaming it out loud! In fact, we need to pass through all of the stages of human grief in order to arrive at a place where God can use the experience to our good. If we try to bypass anger or depression (both essential aspects of mourning), then we will have dishonored our beloved dead.

This is why I insist on using black vestments for funerals. It’s why I don’t say that so-and-so is in heaven. It’s why none of us ought to say it. The funeral isn’t a time for denying the pain - it’s a time for facing it. It’s a time for tears and anger and hurting. Because when we leave mama six feet under, we can either drive away with the Lord’s consolation or our own denial… We can’t leave with both. The use of white robes and white palls is good for theologians, but it’s just not human. We need to mourn. We need to cry and to cover our heads with a veil that says to the world - “Leave. Me. Alone.” There’s no need for mental exercises or even to come to a conclusion. There’s just a need to let the hurt happen and pass through us. As that happens, we can intellectually grasp what has happened. But that’s not what happens in the visceral moment of mourning… In time of mourning, we need to let the tears flow and to put aside celebrations of all kinds. And as the tears are broken apart first by quiet and then by laughter, we discover that God’s hand is upon us… Just as with the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, we can’t get to Easter Sunday without going through Good Friday.

Parish News

SOLEMN REQUIEM FOR ALL SOULS At 5p on the evening of All Souls’ Day, Nov 2, the NSU Chamber Choir will sing for a Solemn Mass in intercession for all the faithful departed. The Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary form. It will last one hour and fifteen minutes and will count for the Sunday obligation. This particular Mass hasn’t been celebrated in this area in many years - special thanks in advance to Fr. Martin Laird and Dc. Whitehead for their assistance in making it possible.

BLESSING OF HUNTERS After all Masses this weekend and Monday, Father will lead those who wish to remain in the Litany of Saints and give the blessing for hunters and sportsman in honor of St. Hubert, patron of huntsmen.

FIRST FRIDAY This First Friday is kept in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Adoration on First Friday begins after morning Mass and continues until Benediction at 5:15. Sign-up at the back of the Church if you can watch with the Lord for an hour. 

PARISH SUPPER & CCD CLASS 11/5 Our next Parish Supper, Wed. Night Adult Catechism & CCD night will be Wednesday, Nov. 5th, at St. Mary’s. We’ll have food for free in the Cafeteria provided by the Catholic Daughters beginning at 5p (donations welcome). At 6p, the kids will go to CCD and Fr. Ryan will give a talk in the Chapel for all who are interested. Invite other parishioners and/or your non-Catholic friends to attend!

WAY OF THE CROSS FOR THE HOLY SOULS On Fridays in November - which is the month devoted to prayer for the Faithful Departed - Father will pray the Way of the Cross at 5:15p in the Church. All are welcome to attend.

ST. MARY’S FOOTBALL The next SMS Football game will be Fri., 11/7, against Northwood. Kickoff is at 7p at Northwood High School. Pray for a safe, fun and victorious season. GO TIGERS!

MBIC GIFT SHOP The November edition of the Magnificat and other new merchandise has arrived at the Gift Shop. Come by and see us sometime!

Parish Events

  • Sun, 11/2, Daylight Savings Time Ends
  • Sun, 11/2, All Souls’ Day Solemn High Requiem, 4:30p
  • Wed, 11/5, Parish Supper, CCD, & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 5-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
  • Fri, 11/7, First Friday, 5:15p Way of the Cross & Benediction of the MBS
  • Fri, 11/7, SMS vs. NW Lena, 7p (Away)
  • Thu, 11/13, Feast of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini - Patron of Diocese of Alexandria
  • Fri, 11/14, Way of the Cross & Prayer, 7:45a @ St. Mary’s
  • Fri, 11/14, Way of the Cross, 5:15p @ MBIC
  • Tue, 11/18, Pastoral Council Meeting, 6p
  • Wed, 11/19, CCD & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
  • Fri, 11/21, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Fri, 11/21, Grandparents Day, 10a @ St. Mary’s
  • Fri, 11/21, St. Mary’s NOON DISMISSAL
  • Fri, 11/21, Way of the Cross, 5:15p @ MBIC
  • Sat - Sun, 11/22 - 11/23, CDA Bake Sale, after all Masses @ MBIC
  • Sat, 11/22, Additional Weekend Mass, 5:30p @ St. Mary’s
  • Mon - Fri, 11/24 - 11/28, Thanksgiving Break - NO SCHOOL
  • Mon - Wed, 11/24 - 11/26, SMS City of Lights BBall Tourney
  • Wed, 11/26, NO CCD Classes
  • Wed - Fri, 11/26 - 11/28, Parish Office CLOSED, for Thanksgiving
  • Thu, 11/27, Holy Mass, 6:30a & 9a @ MBIC
  • Fri, 11/28,  Way of the Cross, 5:15p @ MBIC
  • Sat, 11/29, Additional Weekend Mass, 5:30p @ St. Mary’s
  • Sun, 12/7, First Sunday of Advent

Parish Finances

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Within the Sanctuary

Sat, 11/1 4p Kathleen Hicks, (Lector) • David Bouchie, Micky Hennigan, (EMHC-CI) • J.Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)

Sun, 11/2 9a Rebecca Lavespere, (Lector) • John Vandersypen, (EMHC-CI) • Edward & Cindy Smith, (EMHC-CH) • J.Miley, M.&P.Vienne, (Altar Boys)

Sun, 11/2 11a John Laborde, (Lector) • Lucile Ingram, (EMHC-CI) • Barbara Laborde, Haley Johnson, (EMHC-CH) • J.Burrell, E.Norwood, (Altar Boys)

Sat, 11/8 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Nita Maggio, Jimmy Gunter, (EMHC-CI) • J.Friedel, D.Bennett, (Altar Boys)

Sun, 11/9 9a Joe Cunningham, Jr., (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, (EMHC-CI) • Jeff & Carol Green, (EMHC-CH) • A.&C.Lirette, S.&T.Lirette, (Altar Boys)

Sun, 11/9 11a Gilen Norwood, (Lector) • Cecilia Cook, (EMHC-CI) • Chris & Jennifer Maggio, (EMHC-CH) • S.Maggio, C.Fisher, 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 Donald Gongre by Melba Ackel.

Holy Masses

  • Sat 4p: Madeline Matthews, Lilia Guanzon, & Rosalina Lopez 
  • Sun 9a: Pro Populo
  • Sun 11a: Shirley Ragland, Nicanov V. Lopez, Sr., Danilo R. Lopez, Mamerto Roque, & Becky Masson
  • Sun 5p: Sue Dearman
  • Mon 6:30a: Calvert Scott
  • Mon 8a: Wallace Firman
  • Tue 6:30a: Deceased Members of Ray & Gwen Ponthieux Families
  • Wed 6:30a: Mary Jean Thomas
  • Thu 6:30a: Penny Adams
  • Fri 6:30a: Red & Sadie Thomas
  • Sat 8a: Edwin L. McClung, III

Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others. And that, young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.

Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen, William Lynn Basco, Lauren Bienvenu, Tripp Bostick, Chad Bouchie, Mar-Lou Brasher, Cayleigh Braud, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Bailey Byrd, Sonya Campbell, Carolyn Carter, Marie Charleville, Emilia Cofio, Woody Cox, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, Richard DeVargas, RJ Ducote, Angela Eversall, Marguerite Felchle, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Sophie Gill, Christi Gootee, Elizabeth Governale, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, EvaGrace Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Jheanny Ladao, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Mary Frances Lowrey, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, Danny Manuel, Jack McCain Jr., Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Mary Moss, Shane Niette, Mary Odom, Judy Risty, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Lillian Ryals, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Lil Taylor, Clay Thompson, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel, Rosalind Trussell, Patricia Vazquez, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Jessica Warner, Janine Waters, & Glen & Mary Williams