From The Font
“The LORD… will establish a house for you.”
The Jews had two distinct words and two distinct ideas for a place in which to live. The older word comes into English as "tabernacle" and the newer word comes into English as "house." The tabernacle was the tent where the Jews lived when they were a nomadic people who sojourned around with their herds. The fixed house of wood and stone came centuries later when they had been settled down. It's no accident that Samuel the prophet uses the word for house when he speaks to King David. God was making a promise of permanence. God was telling David that He would send not merely a short-term blessing or gift but a very long-term covenant with the Jews in the person of their king.
It's also no accident that St. John uses the word for tabernacle at the beginning of His Gospel when he says that "the Son of Man became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us." St. John was trying to reset our thinking about what is permanent and what is merely temporary. As St. Peter would later write (1 Pt 2:11-12), “we are just strangers and sojourners until we reach our true destiny in Heaven.” As Christians, we realize that our destiny is so much more than the limited world in which we live. We have no "house" in this world, only a "tabernacle" in which we must wait until we face judgement and, hopefully, are led to the "mansion" (lit. "Many rooms" - large, abundant house) prepared for the good and faithful servants.
The promises of God to the Jews are always associated with a sense of permanence. The very next sentence in our first reading this week says "…I will raise up your heir after you…" The most the Jews could hope for in terms of permanence was a permanence of memory in legend and in the minds of descendants. The permanence God offers to us is so much greater! God offers us eternal life with Him in the joy of Heaven. But we mustn't miss the implication of the entire reading… That gift is not an automatic entry into eternal life; it follows from love and right disposition. After all, David begins the reading with the realization that He is "living in a "house" of cedar, while the ark of God "dwells in a tent!" David's love for the Lord and His presence set in motion the promises of God. Of course, God is the one who gives David his initial realization!
Our response, then, must be to ask the Lord for our own David-like revelation and for the courage to respond in love as David did.
Insights From Second Street
The Old English word "wilcuma" means "a person whose arrival is pleasing." It's from this word that we derive our modern word "welcome." Indeed, there's plenty of cause for greeting guests and visitors whose arrival is pleasing. Natchitoches is a tourist-centric town this time of year and so hospitality is a part of our DNA. It's such a blessing to be in the midst of joy (and chaos) this time of year.
Of course, that human excitement risks us missing the far more profoundly "pleasing" guest whose arrival we have anticipated since November. The Guest who made His home among us for thirty-three short years and whose birth has been commemorated faithfully for a further twenty-centuries. Jesus Christ, who chose to come among us first as a child, is indeed pleasing by all standards.
The scriptures tell us that His birth was auspicious. He was recognized by John the Baptist while both were still in the womb. His birth was a cause for unexpected celebration for the lowly shepherds and the high-born kings alike. He was a good and obedient child who pleased the minds and ears of the teachers of the law in his youth. His words moved those open to hearing them throughout his life and even His death brought about the conversion of the hard-hearted centurion who prophesied "truly, this man was the son of God."
Today, still, Jesus pleases those who approach Him with humility. Despite those who are offended, insulted or dismayed by His life and teaching, those who offer themselves to Him have found the Fruit of the Holy Spirit which is "joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-possession." What could be more pleasing? What indeed could be more welcomed than the one who brings a sense of purpose and abundance to life.
Just as we "welcome" visitors with sincere hospitality, kindness and generosity - so we should welcome Jesus at this time of His birth with largeness of spirit, openness, prayer, works of mercy and, more than anything, love. He came that we "might have life and have it abundantly." We have all by now eaten our fill of sweets and Christmas goodies. We've had our eggnog and our spice cookies. So now, let us rest in the heart of our savior giving Him all that He asks of us, our love. Let our hearts follow the example of our bodies and find fullness in the Lord and His goodness.
SPECIAL COLLECTION, DEC. 24th There will be a Special Collection Wednesday, 12/24, for Church Vocations.
NEW YEAR’S DAY IS A HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION New Year’s Day is also the “Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.” It is a Holy Day of Obligation. Our usual Holy Day Mass schedule is a Vigil Mass the night before (Wed, 12/31) at 6p & two Masses on the day of obligation (Thurs, 1/1) at 6:30a & 6p. Please make every effort to attend and to consecrate the new year to Our Lord!
NO CCD CLASS We will NOT have CCD Classes on Wed, 12/24, or Wed, 12/31, due to the holidays. Instead, students should attend Christmas Mass and Mass on New Year's Day in observance of the Holy Day of Obligation. (Those Mass times are listed in the bulletin.) CCD Classes will resume Wed, 1/7, at 6p. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
SMS HOLIDAY SCHEDULE St. Mary's 2-week Christmas and New Year's Break will begin Fri, 12/19, at Noon. Classes will resume Mon, 1/5 . We'd like to wish everyone a safe and blessed Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
SPECIAL SATURDAY MASSES ADDED Fr. Ryan will offer an additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary’s School Chapel at 5:30p during the Advent and Christmas Seasons (12/20, 12/27, 1/3). The Mass will count for your weekend obligation. All are welcome.
ADVENT CONFESSION REMINDER Just a reminder that 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 Monday of Advent (12/22). All Catholics should typically confess monthly...now is a great time to make it a habit!
INTERESTED IN BECOMING A CATHOLIC? Anyone interested in the Catholic Faith is encouraged to come and speak with Fr. Ryan. There is absolutely no obligation and no cost. Both private and group-based instruction is available. Call the office for more information.
- Sun, 12/21, Fourth Sunday of Advent.
- Mon, 12/22, Advent Confessions, 5-6p @ MBIC
- Wed, 12/24, Christmas Eve. 6:30am morning Mass. Vigil Mass at 4pm. Caroling at 11:30pm. Midnight Mass at Midnight.
- Thu,12/25, The Feast of Christ’s Nativity. Masses at 8am and 10am.
- Wed, 12/31, Vigil Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation, 6p
- Thu, 1/1, The Feast of Mary, Mother of God. (Holy Day of Obligation) Mass at 6:30am & 6pm.
- Fri, 1/2, First Friday
- Sat, 1/3, First Saturday. Last weekend of Lights & Fireworks.
- Sun, 1/4, Epiphany of Our Lord. Blessing of Epiphany Chalk. (Take Christmas Trees & Decorations down.)
- Wed, 1/7, Parish Supper, CCD, & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 5-7:30p @ St. Mary's
- Thu, 1/8, SMS D.C. Trip/Parent Meeting @ SMS Library, 6p
- Sat, 1/10, Basilican Feast Day for the Anniversary of the Elevation of the Minor Basilica. Special Mass @ 10a.
- Wed, 1/14, CCD & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
- Sat, 1/17, March for Life, Shreveport
- Mon, 1/19, Parish Office CLOSED & St. Mary’s NO SCHOOL, MLK Day
- Mon, 1/19, Pastoral Council Meeting, 6p
- Tue, 1/20, SMS All-School Mass, 10a
- Tue, 1/20, CDA Meeting, 6p
- Tue - Fri, 1/20 - 1/23, SMS Warriors for Life Trip to Washington D.C.
- Wed, 1/21, CCD, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
- Wed, 1/28, SMS All-School Mass, 9a
- Wed, 1/28, CCD & Wed. Night Adult Catechism, 6-7:30p @ St. Mary’s
- Sat, 1/31, Candlemas
Within the Sanctuary
Sat, 12/20 4p Kathleen Hicks, (Lector) • Michael & Joanne Yankowski, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, (Altar Boys)
Sun, 12/21 9a Stephen Taylor, (Lector) • Emelda Odom, (EMHC-CI) • James & Alice Barrios, (EMHC-CH) • A.&C.Lirette, S.&T.Lirette, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/21 11a Gilen Norwood, (Lector) • Tara Whitehead, (EMHC-CI) • Sam & Lillie Misuraca, (EMHC-CH) • S.&V.Maggio, J.Burrell, (Altar Boys)
Sat, 12/27 4p Kathy Bundrick, (Lector) • David Bouchie, Micky Hennigan, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, (Altar Boys)
Sun, 12/28 9a Sydney Frederick, (Lector) • Elaine Bacon, (EMHC-CI) • Edward & Cindy Smith, (EMHC-CH) • M.McCart, J.Miley, G.Fidelak, (Altar Boys)
Sun 12/28 11a Ed Giering, (Lector) • Haley Johnson, (EMHC-CI) • Joseph Sklar, Patsy Melder, (EMHC-CH) • Edward Norwood, Cole Fisher, (Altar Boys)
*Altar Boys who are not scheduled may serve if space permits. Come to the Sacristy 10 minutes before Mass.
Memorials & Prayer Intentions
- Sat 4p: Mark Birch and N.L. Vercher
- Sat 5:30p: Mike Bouchie
- Sun 9a: Pro Populo
- Sun 11a: Ted & Tanner Tobin
- Sun 5p: Clay & Brooke Hennigan
- Mon 6:30a: Dorothy Benefield & Ethel O. Mouch
- Tue 6:30a: Diane Austin
- Wed 6:30a: Sr. Mary Roland
- Wed 4p: Sue & Kevin Morgan and Shirley Slimer
- Thu 12a: Pro Populo
- Thu 8a: Father's Intentions
- Thu 10a: Red & Sadie Thomas and Shirley & Richard Ragland
- Fri 6:30a: Laura Jo Johnson
- Sat 8a: Cherokee Johnson Erwin
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will. And that, parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.
Please pray for our Recently Deceased: Leo Abraham, Jr.
Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Bob Allen, Lolette Allen, William Lynn Basco, Lauren Bienvenu, Millard 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, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Sophie Gill, Christi Gootee, Elizabeth Governale, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Michael Kearney, 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, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Lil Taylor, Clay Thompson, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel, Patricia Vazquez, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Jessica Warner, Glen & Mary Williams, & Marilyn Williams