Advent Mission • Our Advent Mission will be offered this year from Tuesday, December 1 through Thursday, December 3 at 6p each night at the St. Mary’s Chapel. Our speaker will beFr. Chris Decker of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Fr. Decker is a dynamic speaker with a great sense of humor and faith. Make plans to attend!
Cancellations for the Christmas Festival • Due to the Christmas Festival, several cancellations will take place on Friday, December 4: Our usual devotions for First Friday and First Saturday are suspended in December. Everything will begin again as usual in January. The parish office will be closed on Friday as will St. Mary’s School. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Wednesday Night Adult Catechism To Resume in January • CCD classes will meet as scheduled on Dec 2, 9 and 16, but Wednesday Night Adult classes at the St. Mary’s Chapel will not resume until January 6 with the topic being Patron Saints & Guardian Angels. The classes are suspended in December because of the conjunction of school breaks and the Advent Mission. Thanks to all of you who have made these weekly events a priority and a a successful outreach for our parish.
Year of Mercy 2016 • Pope Francis has declared a Year of Mercy from Dec 8, 2015 to Dec 8, 2016. During that year, special graces and spiritual activities will abound around the Church and here in Natchitoches. The opening Mass will take place at 5:30p on Tues, Dec 8 at Immaculate. That Mass will include the dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy. The Mass will be followed by our traditional Lessons & Carols at 7:30pm. Throughout the year, celebrations and spiritual activities will take place on a parish, city, deanery and diocesan level. All are encouraged to take advantage of this year of grace!
Missa en Español por La Santa Virgen de Guadalupe • A special Holy Mass will be offered on Friday, December 11th at 11pm in anticipation of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Mass will be offered predominantly in Spanish, but the sermon will be bilingual. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas and has a particularly important place in the pro-life movement here in the United States. The Mass will be accompanied by professional musicians from Mexico and will be followed by a meal of celebration for the feast day. Bilingual handouts will be available, so the ability so speak or understand Spanish is not necessary. All are welcomed to attend!
From The Font
“The days are coming, says the LORD”
In the Old Testament, almost everything is seen in the short-term. The Jews were a nomadic, desert dwelling people with short life-spans and little luxury. What they could enjoy or celebrate, they did. They had no delusions of self-sufficiency or of much else. The only long-term hope that anyone had was his or her lineage and legacy… Because they had no knowledge of Heaven, they lived for the moment. Certainly, there was a sense that salvation would come, but there wasn’t the sense that it would come in a personal, individual way.
After the Babylonian Exile, about 600 years before Jesus, the Jews shifted to a more settled, less nomadic mode of existence. Cities and roads became more normal and life-expectancy skyrocketed. People were able to make medium- and long-term plans and to see those plans through. This was also the time for the Lord to begin to reveal the notion of a personal salvation that previous generations wouldn’t have been able to understand even if it were explained to them. They just didn’t have the capacity to understand such abstract ideas.
By the time of the arrival of Jesus, the notion of a fixed future timeline in which prophesies would be fulfilled and in which God would act in specific ways was full formed and ready to be nuanced and explained.
By the time of the nascent Church, the themes that make up these first two weeks of the Advent season were thoroughly developed and understood. This early Advent season revolves around the dual returns of Christ. On the one hand, the Second Coming is officially scheduled for the end of days. Although no one knows the day or the hour, we know that at some point Jesus will return is all His glory and that the world will know in an instant that Jesus is Lord and that He will judge the living and the dead. On the other hand, though, we know that particular or personal judgement has to precede that moment - otherwise, no one would be in heaven yet and we wouldn’t have any saints until the last day.
Now, the “days are coming” takes on a new meaning. The days are coming both in the universal sense and in the particular sense. As such, we must be making ready the way of the Lord in both the particular and the universal sense. Particularly, we endeavor to become saints by our lives of prayer and virtue. Universally, we must become evangelizers who proclaim the gospel in our words and deeds and who are constantly making ready for that day which cannot be known. The days (plural) are indeed coming and so our efforts (plural) must also be in place.
Insights from Second Street
The Creche has arrived a few weeks earlier than usual thanks to the hard work of the Ladies’ Altar Society and the Knights of Columbus! Traditionally, Christmas decor is not placed prior to the Third Sunday of Advent. But as we live in a city with a huge and wonderful Christmas Festival, that’s just not an option. And so, I’ve asked our decorating team to install the creche in stages.
This first Sunday, we have a basically empty scene. As Advent progresses, the scene will slowly be populated with animals and people and finally the Star and the Christ Child on Christmas Eve.
This tradition of a progressive Nativity scene is very common in South America. It helps people to make the Advent theme of “waiting” into something visible and tangible. As we step into the Church from the Christmasy decorations of our city, we will be met with a clear and bold reminder that Advent is a season of anticipation, of waiting, - for the celebration of Our Lord’s first coming among us as a little babyand for His second coming in glory!
There is another tradition common in South America associated with this progressive Creche. The children are encouraged to write their prayer wish lists on paper and place them under the manger. Just as a child might prepare a wish list for Santa or grandma, so he or she can prepare a list of prayers and intentions to the Baby Jesus which is placed in the scene. These papers will remain under the Creche through Epiphany. Not only is this little tradition a beautiful moment of prayer and consideration for the entire family, but it’s also a teaching moment for children to consider what makes a good prayer. Should I ask Jesus for a new iPad? Should I ask Jesus to hear aunt Betty? Should I pray for uncle Mark who has died? (What an amazing moment to teach children about purgatory and heaven!) Should I pray for that bully who picks on me at school? What about that teacher I don’t like?
There are so many excellent opportunities that this little tradition offers us! Of course, parents can make their own list to place under the manger, as well.
As with all of our efforts, this little tradition begins as an experiment. If it works, then we’ll keep it around - if it doesn’t we’ll try something different. Ultimately, the goal is to find a way to preserve the spiritual message of Advent in the midst of our Christmas-y culture.
The challenge of teaching the virtues of waiting and anticipating - which can also be called patience - is especially tough nowadays. Mobile devices and Amazon Prime and other such “my way, right away” innovations have robbed us of our ability to wait. That kind of technology has made us a people increasingly irascible and short with ourselves and others. The season of Advent serves as an invaluable salve to the hurry-up culture and restores our human need to savor and to rest and to anticipate. It’s my hope that this progressive Creche plays some part in reinforcing these good virtues. If you have any ideas or suggestions - please don’t hesitate to let me know! Happy Advent!
Intentions & Dedications
For the week of November 29th
- Sat 4p Red & Sadie Thomas, Leola Walmsley
- Sat 5:30p Joe Bienvenu
- Sun 9a Becky Masson
- Sun 11a Richard Ragland, Andrew Maggio, Justin Wyatt
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
- Mon 6:30a Deceased Members of the Ray & Gwen Ponthieux Families
- Mon 8a Leola Walmsley
- Tue 6:30a Dr. Joe Bienvenu
- Wed 6:30a Clay Hennigan
- Thu 6:30a Brooke Hennigan
- Fri 6:30a The Children of the Parish
- Sat 4p Gene Doll, Mike Bouchie
- Sat 5:30p Fr. Jose Palathara
- Sun 9a Pro Populo
- Sun 11a Shirley Ragland, Don Dark, and Mr. & Mrs. Earl W. Evans
Our Sick & Recently Deceased
Lolette Allen, Teresa Arafa, Maudie Baranowski, William Lynn Basco, Ryan Branch, Chad Bouchie, Mary-Lou Brasher, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Darlene Bynog, Bailey Byrd, Fulton Clark, Carolyn Carter, Marie Charleville, Emilia Cofio, Peggy Cooper, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, Jayce Estep, Angela Eversall, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Anne Giering, Sophie Gill, Jeff Green, Ross Gwinn, Tammy Hall, Andy Harrington, Curt Harrington, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Isabelta & Michael Kearney, EvaGrace Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Angelette LaCour, John LaCour, Samuel Lane, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Irene Lynche, Brittany MacBrown, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, Barbara Manshack, Danny Manuel, Jack McCain Jr., Meg Michael, Lacey Mitchum, Gary Murphy, Shane Niette, Cecil Odom, Mary Odom, Sue Prudhomme, Sharon Roach, Tucker Roe, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Donna Slaughter, Meredith St. Andre, Lil Taylor, Clay Thompson, Mariano Timotio, Ren Todtenbier, Brent Trichel, Patricia Vazquez, Julien Vienne, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Jessica Warner, Charlene White, Glen & Mary Williams, Marilyn Williams, Laura Young, & Melinda Zolzer
Within the Sanctuary
- Sat & Sun 11/28-29
- 4p Lector K. Bundrick; EMHC R. & J. Lapeyrouse; Servers The Thibodauxs
- 9a Lector R. Lavespere; EMHC E. Odom; Servers C. Cunningham, R. & R. Cunningham
- 11a Lector G. Norwood; EMHC J. Sklar; Servers S. Maggio, M. Leone, S. Maggio
- Sat & Sun 12/5-6
- 4p Lector L. Johnson; EMHC K. Hicks, C. Henry; Servers J. Friedel
- 9a Lector S. Frederick; EMHC A. Barrios; Servers The Lirettes
- 11a Lector J. Williams; EMHC H. Johnson; Servers A. & J. Parker