About 100 years ago, in the United States, a new Protestant teaching arose from the "Circuit riders." They travelled with the proverbial Snake-oil salesman and they preached a "gospel of prosperity." Christians were told that God's love is known through blessings here and now. They said, "If you love God, He'll give you every good gift!" They ignored the challenges of the Gospel and told only the positive part of the story. Unsurprisingly, people flocked to them! Those who bought into this sales pitch were quickly disappointed - the world they lived in didn't offer an endless supply of luxuries and enticements like ours does. Nowadays, plenty of people are "blessed beyond measure."
It's understandably hard to reconcile God's “promise” to make everyone super-duper happy with His command to "take up your cross and follow after Me." It's also tough to read today's excerpt from the Letter to the Romans. Saint Paul's message is that the world is crumbling beneath us and that only by embracing the Crucified One can we hope to endure the ending of this life and entrance into the promised life to come… And when we look at natural disasters, economic collapse, totalitarian government and the slow loss of health, St. Paul's message connects with reality far more keenly than a naive optimism that I am blessed just because I'm me…
The one question that everyone has to ask himself in this life - whether he is pagan, Christian, muslim or even a Yankee :) - is how do I understand and deal with suffering? For some of us, that suffering is small… Back pain, age lines and less money than we'd like. For some, it's unimaginable… The loss of a child, terminal illness or a life lived in fear. Either way, suffering - not ease - is the fundamental experience of all humanity. If "creation was made subject to futility" and that same creation "awaits" its fulfillment, then wouldn't God be interested in leading us through the inevitable suffering which sin created to the joy of a new life? Would He ask us to ignore the obvious realities of life and His own commands to embrace those realities in favor of whatever is more pleasing? It would seem not.
Ignorance may well be bliss in the short term… It may be fine to ignore the unpleasant for a while… But reality will catch up with us. The wise man faces his fears and his challenges. St. Paul said "Woe to me if I do not preach Christ and Him Crucified." All kinds of things please us - we're fickle. We simply can't use our taste as a measure of truth. Instead, we place our trust in Christ and in His command and in His Church. The Baltimore Catechism called this trust "Faith."
Insights From Second Street
The Greek word for "royal" is "Basilice." The Romans - being imitators of the Greeks - modeled their major "town halls" after a specific Greek layout which Historians call the "Basilica design." When St. Constantine legalized Christianity, he gave several of the older, lesser-used "Basilicas" to the Christians who adapted the layout to the Holy Mass. And so, from the fourth century or so, the Basilica design was common when major Churches were built. As Christianity spread beyond the old borders of the Roman Empire, the design waned but was still used in places that wanted to maintain a particular connection with Rome. By the early Middle Ages, the title "Basilica" became an honorific, reserved to special places that the pope favored. By the end of the Middle Ages, the title was divided between the Major Basilicas (which were frequented by the Papal Court) and the Minor Basilicas which were honored with titles, but not with the Pope's regular presence. In 1989, Pope St. John Paul II - in a whirlwind of reforms - restructured the honor and gave it a real purpose in the Church.
That purpose was to be a shining light of obedience… What some may not realize is that since the 1960s, a great many priests and bishops have chosen a path of disobedience to the Holy Father… Nowhere was this more evident than the gross disrespect shown to His Holiness Pope Paul VI in 1968 after his prophetic document Humanæ Vitæ wherein he warned that contraception would devastate our culture and lead to rampant divorce, abortion and the collapse of the family. Bishops and priests scoffed; Catholics were misinformed or left to the vultures in the media and the Churches have emptied as people practice contraception and, in committing that sin, are almost always out of the state of grace! The disobedience of priests and bishops in the area of morality was piled upon by a vast experiment in the Sacred Liturgy. Many parishes have merely made themselves arbiters of good and right in the Sacred Liturgy so carefully guarded by the saints for centuries - St. Theresa of Avila famously said she would "give [her] life to protect a single rubric" (a required gesture at Mass). This arrogance has led to massive fall-off in Mass attendance (down by an average of 60%), conversions to the faith (down by an average of 75%), vocations to the priesthood (down for decades but recovering) and obedience to the law of the Church.
In 1989, Pope St. John Paul re-established the order of the Minor Basilica as an effort to restore authentic obedience to the moral law of the Church, but even more specifically, he called for and ordered a new liturgical revival. He called for instruction. He called for solemnity, beauty and formality. Above all, he called for obedience to the official texts of the Mass: The Lectionary, the Roman Missal, the Roman Gradual, the Pontificale and the Roman Ritual. It is to this end that our work as a Minor Basilica - especially in the areas of Sacred Liturgy, Sacred Music and education - is ordered. It will take years, but it will succeed because our obedience is rooted in love of God and in trust of His providence. We will steadfastly refuse to believe the Satanic lie that we know better than God and His Church. We will steadfastly stand by the Sacraments and the Pope as the world trusts in itself. We will overcome because we will not be in charge. Our love for God is best shown in our willingness to entrust ourselves to Him entirely. This is the what the Sacred Liturgy is: it is our offering ourselves to Him according to His instruction, His direction, His pleasure and His ordaining. Only when Christ becomes the center of our community can we be made holy. Unlike "congregational" communities, which decide for themselves how God ought to be worshiped, Catholics put aside our personal preferences, tastes and desires. The music, the gestures, the decor, the prayers and even the sermon are neither for us nor about us - they are ordered to the right worship of God who must always be the origin, reference and end of our prayers. This - and nothing less - is what Pope St. John Paul II asks of us here on Second Street in Natchitoches.
It won't happen right away. It won't be universally popular. It won't come without cost and difficulty and frustration. But we won't please God unless we're working to bring it about. Whether we knew what we were getting into as a Minor Basilica or not - "to whom much is given, much is required" - we are, as the Brits say "in it." But we needn't worry, God is on our side and He is the One Whom we're working to serve. We know that "all things work for the good of those who love Him." In Him and His Word and His Church and His Providence we trust.
COME AND SEE THE BEAUTY OF CARMEL All single women ages of 16-35 that are interested in learning more about religious life are invited to visit the Monastery of the Carmelites in Covington, LA, Saturday, July 19th, from 10:30a-2:30p. The visit will include 10:30a Mass, lunch, vocation talks from the Sisters, prayer, and a visit to gift shop. There is no cost for the day, but those interested need to let Tara Whitehead or Ashley Hebert know by Wednesday, July 16th. Tara and Ashley will be driving the girls to and from Covington on the 19th. For more information and/or to reserve your spot, contact Tara Whitehead at (318)471-0148 / Ashley Hebert at (337)831-9008 / or the Parish Office at (318)352-3422.
VOCATIONS CLUB OF NATCHITOCHES WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS Each First Saturday, members of the Natchitoches Vocations Club meet for Holy Mass at 8am with a breakfast meeting and speaker afterward in the Church Hall. The August speaker is scheduled to be Father Craig Scott, the September speaker is Father Stephen Soares, and the October speaker is Father Kenneth Michiels. All members of the parish are invited to join the Vocations Club, which provides prayer and financial support for seminarians and those in formation for the consecrated religious life.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL The MBIC will be hosting its annual Vacation Bible School at St. Mary’s School July 14-18, from 8a-Noon. Children between the ages of 4-12 are invited to attend. There is a suggested donation of $5 per child. Virtus trained teenager and adult volunteers are needed. For more information and/or to register as a volunteer or attendee, contact Jennifer Maggio at email@example.com or pick up registration forms at the back of the Church or at the Parish Office.
SPECIAL SATURDAY MASSES FOR JUNE & JULY ONLY Continuing until Sat, 7/26, Fr. Ryan will offer an additional Saturday evening Mass at St. Mary’s School at 5:30p. The Mass will count for your weekend obligation. All are welcome.
TAA GUN RAFFLE The St. Mary’s Tiger Athletic Association is sponsoring a year long gun raffle. There are 104 prizes and every ticket has 104 chances to win. Guns range from 9mm handguns to hunting rifles to Shotguns. A complete list of prizes and draw dates can be obtained from St. Mary’s School or from any member of the TAA. Tickets are limited and cost $100 each. The 1st drawing will be Wednesday, October 1st.
- Saturdays of June & July, 5:30p Additional Saturday Evening Masses at St. Mary’s Chapel
- Tues - Wed, 7/8-7/16, After Morning Weekday Masses and All Sunday Masses, Novena to Our Lady of Mt Carmel with Investiture into the Brown Scapular after all Weekend Masses
- Mon - Fri, 7/14 - 7/18, Vacation Bible School, 8a-Noon at St. Mary’s
- Sat, 7/19, Come and See Day with the Carmelites of Covington, 10:30a-2:30p
- Sat, 7/26, 9am, Grandparents-Grandkids Brunch in the Parish Hall in Honor of Ss. Joachim & Anne, Grandparents of Jesus
- Sat-Sun, 7/26-7/27, Blessing of Grandparents at all Masses
- Tue, 7/29, Indulgenced Feast Day in Honor of the Founding of the Diocese of Natchitoches, Holy Mass @ 6:30a & 6p
Our Sunday Collection last week was $8,358.
Thank you for your generous return to our Lord!
For more information on our finances, click here.
Within the Sanctuary
Sat 7/12 4p Levi Thompson, (Lector) • Mickey Hennigan, David Bouchie, (EMHC-CI) • David & Matthew Thibodaux, (Altar Boys)
Sun 7/13 9a Joe Cunningham, Jr., (Lector) • Cindy Smith, (EMHC-CI) • Patrick & Michael Vienne, Jace Miley, (Altar Boys)
Sun 7/13 11a Ed Giering, (Lector) • Jean Gill, (EMHC-CI) • John Burell, Ian Lovemore, William Mayeux, (Altar Boys)
Sat 7/19 4p Elaine Bacon, (Lector) • Nita Maggio, Kathleen Hicks, (EMHC-CI) • Dylan Bennett, Jeremy Friedel, (Altar Boys)
Sun 7/20 9a Rebecca Lavespere, (Lector) • James Durham, (EMHC-CI) • Anthony & Christopher & Stephen & Thomas Lirette, (Altar Boys)
Sun 7/20 11a Joe Payne Williams, (Lector) • Joseph Sklar, (EMHC-CI) • Edward Norwood, Michael Leone, Dillon Thompson, (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: Red & Sadie Thomas & Calvert Scott
- Sat 5:30p: Adolph Sklar, Jr.
- Sun 9a: Essie Mae Huckaby
- Sun 11a: Mary Ann Burke
- Sun 5p: Pro Populo
- Mon 6:30a: Dr. Ralph Lupin
- Tue 6:30a: Shirley & Richard Ragland
- Wed 6:30a: Deceased members of Erwin & Giering Families
- Thu 6:30a: Mark Birch
- Fri 6:30a: Joseph Yankowski
- Sat 8a: Harry Gongre, Jr.
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for this Month are that sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth. And that, the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.
Please pray for our Recently Deceased: Mrs. Selma Diaz Shivers
Please pray for our Sick & Suffering: Lolette Allen, William Lynn Basco, Lauren Bienvenu, Bill Boone, Kathy Bostick, Tripp Bostick, Chad Bouchie, Mar-Lou Brasher, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Bailey Byrd, Carolyn Carter, Lauren Clancey, Emilia Cofio, Woody Cox, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, Richard DeVargas, Angela Eversall, Marguerite Felchle, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Sophie Gill, Christi Gootee, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, EvaGrace Keyser, Mary Keyser, Paul Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Martha LaCaze, Jheanny Ladao, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, Danny Manuel, Dave McGee, Faris Michael, Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Mary Moss, Shane Niette, Mary Odom, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Joseph Ryan, Donna Slaughter, Tristan Snyder, Clay Thompson, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel, Rosalind Trussell, Patricia Vazquez, Billie Vercher, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Tyler Ward, Jessica Warner, Janine Waters, & Glen & Mary Williams