From The Font
"See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory."
Jesus Christ changes everything. All the rules that the Jews lived by were thrown into disarray. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the arrival of the three gentile kings from a distant land. The Jews entire identity as a people comes from being especially chosen by the Lord. In spite of the "dark clouds" of their enemies on every side, the Jews knew that they were chosen especially by God and that His glory would appear to them in a particular and - they thought - unique way.
And yet, here are three foreigners… Here are three people who have never been circumcised. They literally "knew nothing of Joseph" or Moses or Elijah or the Maccabees. They are not children of the covenant with Abraham. They are in every way outsiders from the chosen people. And yet, here are these three outsiders who come not to receive (and so deprive the Jews in some symbolic way) but only to give.
It's hard for us to begin to image the threat this story posed to the Jews who read it. The entire Jewish race is represented by three child-shepherds who are summoned to the crib of the newborn. They come not to give but to receive. They are dumb (in that they don't speak) and lack all wisdom and learning. The representatives of the foreigners, though, are wise, worldly and seem to understand.
(It's no surprise that St. Luke would include this story as his gospel was written to convert gentiles and that St. Matthew would exclude it as his gospel is written to convert the Jews.)
This story is only one example of the way in which Jesus Christ changes everything. Every detail of His presence on Earth, from his birth of the Virgin to His arrival in Bethlehem to His "random" encounters with Simeon, Zaccheus, Jairus and the woman at the well is designed and planned by God in order to cause upset in some and consolation in others.
Perhaps the most excellent spiritual meditation at the coming of the Christ is simply that God comes at times which seem to us to be random. Those times are not random, though. Neither is the manner of His coming. God came "that we might be saved." Sometimes that means a pat on the back. Sometimes it means a leg up. Sometimes it means a punch in the gut. At all times, though, it means that everything will change!
Insights From Second Street
This Saturday, January 10, is the fifth anniversary of the elevation of our little historic Church to the status of Minor Basilica. Pope Benedict, acting at the direction of Pope St. John Paul, established us as a Church especially ordered to the universal nature of the Catholic Church. Our mission went from something primarily local - namely the sacramental and catechetical care of our local community - to something primarily universal - namely excellence in Sacred Liturgy (especially Sunday Mass and Sacred Music) and the proclamation of the Church's teaching to all who have ears to hear. We became a place of pilgrimage which offers a multitude of Indulgences and which is ordered to the specific duty of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to be a sign of unity for all Christians.
That's a gigantic responsibility! Interestingly, it's not one we actually asked for. Most of us had no idea of the responsibilities that came with the honor! In fact, the first year that we actually fulfilled all the specified duties was 2014, fully four years after receiving the commission… But, thanks be to God and to so many of you who have worked hard, we are now doing the work that the Church calls for from us. We are part of something so much larger than ourselves. Of course, every parish Church is playing one small role in the much larger work of salvation.
It's easy to forget that surrounded, as we are, by so many congregation-oriented churches. Catholics are not congregationalists. Immaculate (or Holy Cross or St. Anthony) does not exist to accommodate the needs of our local parishioners; it exists to make the universal Catholic Faith particular in this place. Just as a franchise restaurant (like Olive Garden) wouldn't abandon its menu to imitate the Landing or Mama's, so the Catholic Church doesn't set aside or adopt teachings or practices at the whim of this or that community. To do so would be to abandon the Catholic Faith itself. The Church comes to change us - not the other way around. That universality is the hallmark of what a Basilica is intended to accomplish. We are charged with presenting the Catholic Faith in its integrity. We do that through the architecture of our Church, through Sacred Music at Mass, through preaching, teaching, concerts, special Masses, extra times for confessions and any other means at our disposal. I hope many of you will join us Saturday, January 10, at 10am for the fifth anniversary of our elevation and the acceptance of our new mission to the universal Church!
by: Fr. Ryan
In the early days of the Church, Epiphany and not Christmas was considered the great feast of light amidst the winter darkness. And so it was the traditional time for the bishop to travel from home to home sprinkling blessed water. As the Church grew, the bishop simply couldn't visit everyone; and so, his priests were designated to bless every home. As the Church grew even more, even priests were unable to visit the hundreds or thousands of homes of the faithful under their care; and so, the tradition of Epiphany Chalk came to us. The chalk was blessed with water blessed at the Epiphany Mass and each of the faithful took that blessing into their homes by inscribing the initials of the Magi on the threshold of their home. The pattern has been fixed for some time:
20 + C + M + B + 15
In the midst of the new year are the names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. The chalk is then retained in the home and available to be used if a remarking is necessary of if a neighbor inquires. While no prayer is technically required, many families will take the time to pray together an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be invoking the blessing of the Holy Family upon their home for the new year! May this epiphany see a revival among all of us of this beautiful and ancient Catholic tradition!
JANUARY 10th IS A BASILICAN FEAST DAY Saturday, Jan. 10th, is the 5th Anniversary of the Elevation of the Minor Basilica. A Plenary Indulgence has been extended by the Holy Father for our Church. A special Mass of indulgence has been added on Saturday, Jan. 10th, at 10a. All are welcome!
PARISH SUPPER & CCD CLASS 1/7 Our next Parish Supper, Wed. Night Adult Catechism & CCD night will be Wednesday, Jan. 7th, at St. Mary’s. We’ll have food for free in the Cafeteria 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!
SHREVEPORT MARCH FOR LIFE Saturday, Jan. 17th, in Shreveport, the North Louisiana March for Life will demonstrate to those in authority how many of us stand against the evil of abortion. Pro-lifers will march across the big bridge and into downtown to protest the ongoing legalized killing of the unborn which is now the number one cause of death for any group of people in the United States. Every year forty million children are murdered in their mothers' wombs under the cover of the law. And this is while the majority of Americans are opposed to abortion. Anyone who wants to join in at the Shreveport March for Life can meet at the Boardwalk in Shreveport a little before 10am. The event will last for about two hours. For more info, go to: ProLifeLouisiana.org/Events/LALifeMarch/NorthMarch.html
COLLECTION CHANGES In an effort to curb the overwhelming number of second collections, our ushers began a new collection program in Advent. In short, the ushers will only pass one collection basket. Parishioners who have envelopes are asked to place both envelopes (regular collection & special/second collection) in the one collection as the ushers pass. Special envelopes have been prepared for guests who wish to differentiate their offering between regular and second collections. While we may see a slight decrease in collection amounts, Sunday Mass will be less encumbered and visitors will feel less put upon. Concerns or questions about this new methodology may be addressed to the parish office. As always, Fr. Ryan is happy to welcome anyone who wishes to discuss any aspect of parish life.
MBIC GIFT SHOP The January edition of the Magnificat and other new merchandise has arrived at the Gift Shop. Come by and see us sometime!
- Sat, 1/3, First Saturday. Last weekend of Lights.
- 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, 1/3 4p Kathleen Hicks, (Lector) • Nita Maggio, Jimmy Gunter, (EMHC-CI) • D.&M.Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)
Sun, 1/4 9a Joe Cunningham Jr., (Lector) • John Vandersypen, (EMHC-CI) • Michael King, Stephen Taylor, (EMHC-CH) • G.&JH.Ingrish, B.Behrendsen, (Altar Boys)
Sun, 1/4 11a Joe Payne Williams, (Lector) • Cecilia Cook, (EMHC-CI) • Linda Lee, Jean Gill, (EMHC-CH) • W.Lee, J.Burrell, (Altar Boys)
Sat, 1/10 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Carl Henry, Kathleen Hicks, (EMHC-CI) • D.Bennett, J.Friedel, (Altar Boys)
Sun, 1/11 9a John Ackel, (Lector) • John Cunningham, (EMHC-CI) • Jeff & Carol Green, (EMHC-CH) • A.Behrendsen, R.&R.Cunningham, (Altar Boys)
Sun 1/11 11a Greg Burke, (Lector) • Lucile Ingram, (EMHC-CI) • Chris & Jennifer Maggio, (EMHC-CH) • S.&V.Maggio, S.Maggio, (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: Donna Doll & Kathy Hippler
- Sat 5:30p: Sister Malia Grace Reed, OP
- Sun 9a: Pro Populo
- Sun 11a: Shirley Ragland & Special Intentions
- Sun 5p: Sandra Kay Church
- Mon 6:30a: Agnes & Louis Sklar and Ethel O. Mouch
- Mon 8a: Edwin McClung
- Tue 6:30a: Shirley & Richard Ragland
- Wed 6:30a: Shirely & Richard Ragland
- Thu 6:30a: Donald Gongre
- Fri 6:30a: Special Intentions
- Sat 8a: Andrew Maggio
- Sat 10a: Bp. August Martin
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace. And that, in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.
Please pray for our Recently Deceased: Dr. Oscar “Joe” Bienvenu, Jr. & Mrs. Janis Abraham
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