Our Special Collection this week is for our Bereavement Ministry
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!
Tuesday is a Holy Day of Obligation • The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated on December 8, is a day of feasting and a Holy Day of Obligation in the US. We will not celebrate our usual 6p anticipated Mass on Mon, Dec 7. We will celebrate three Masses on Dec 8: 6:30a, 9a (at St. Mary’s) and 5:30p (not 6p). All of the Masses are Indulgenced. The 9a Mass at St. Mary’s will be celebrated in the Gym. The 5:30p Mass will be celebrated as the Opening of the Year of Mercy. The Shrine will be blessed at that time.
A Year of Mercy • 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!
Christmas Eve • Our Christmas Schedule will remain the same as it was last year.
On Thursday, December 24
- Mass at 4p
- Caroling at 11:30p
On Friday, December 25
- Mass at Midnight
- Mass (in Latin) at 8a
- Mass at 10a
From The Font
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,”
This time of year, we are inundated with people happy to assert that everything we believe about Christmas is factually untrue. TV shows will revel to say that Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, He was born in a cave and not in December either! They’ll throw around pagan festivals like Saturnalia and they’ll remind us that the Christmas Tree began as a magical symbol.
For a long time, Christians didn’t really have any way to respond to these assertions. Of course, it doesn’t matter to our faith one little bit whether the Church got the dating of Jesus’ birth exactly right or not. It doesn’t matter when we celebrate the great mysteries of our faith - not really. Neither is it a problem for us if we have adopted and “Christianized” some pagan symbol from the past…
Modern scholars, though, are finding that not only were our Christian ancestors right on the money about the dates of Jesus’ birth - those dates were planned from the beginning of the universe when the stars, themselves, were set in motion by the Big Bang.
Modern astronomers have the technology to recreate the star fields that would have been visible in the night sky on any date at any place on Earth (or on a moon of Jupiter for that matter). They can calculate - with astounding precision - the visible motion of stars and heavenly lights (including comets and asteroids) forward or backward in time. This kind of technology allows theologians to read those passages of the Bible that deal with stars and planets and to compare the scientific data with the religious data. The results are astounding.
Credible computer software and Scripture study is able to pinpoint the location of the mysterious Wise Men from the East. It’s able to pinpoint the date of Jesus’ birth - Dec 25. It’s able to pin-point the time when the Wise Men actually arrived “to do Him homage.” It turns out that basically all of what the Bible says about the Birth of Jesus (and His death) is not only accurate - but it’s accurate to a degree that we didn’t know Jews of the time were capable. The arrival of the star is no accident. Neither is the arrival of “the Women clothed with Stars” who has the “Moon at Her Feet.” It turns out there was an eclipse when Jesus died on the cross and that it darkened the sky at exactly 3p - which is the hour Jesus is said to have died.
This season, when we hear that Christmas-as -we-know-it is a sham, remember that we have the truth on our side!
Insights from Second Street
Mercy is that act of love by which one who is justly condemned receives undeserved and unearned forgiveness for his or her sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’” (#1847)
There are two ways in which we usually miss out on mercy. First, we can fail to admit our sin. Usually, this happens without us thinking about it. We make an excuse for a sin or we justify it as necessary or we dismiss it as we would dismiss a lie as a fib. The other way that we miss out on mercy is to buy into the lie of the enemy that we are undeserving or unworthy of mercy and so we are afraid to ask forgiveness or to make a good confession. In either case, we end up shielding ourselves from God’s healing love for us.
This past Summer, Pope Francis declared that a Jubilee Year of Mercy of would be celebrated by the Church from Dec 8, 2015 until Dec 8, 2016. That year would allow us to focus on these two aspects of mercy: recognizing and repenting of sin and seeking - really seeking - forgiveness.
Many authors, not the least of which are at least the last five popes, have called out our modern world’s tendency to pretend that sin is just an outdated idea. They pointed out that this unwillingness to face sin or admit fault does great damage to the soul, prohibits real self-reflection and personal growth and offends God who offers forgiveness only to those who ask for it. By justifying sin and ignoring talk of repentance, we do a great disservice to the Gospel in which “Christ came to call sinners.” Pope Francis has insisted over and over again that the Church go out “to the periphery” - to those who are at odds with the Lord. The Church cannot bring to life those who are dead in sin unless we acknowledge that sin. No doctor can heal what he refuses to see. No warrior can defeat an enemy that he calls a friend.
Surely, we don’t make converts or bring people to the Lord by wagging a finger and acting “Holier than thou.” Neither have the pews been filled in these past years by simply accepting everyone where they are without the courage to call them to more. This year of mercy is an opportunity for each of us to grow in our own capacity to recognize sin in ourselves and to allow our all-loving God to heal us of our errors. Then and only then will we be equipped to share that freedom that comes only from God.
Just as in AA, every call to sobriety is a personal call that arises from love and not from condemnation - so our Christian witness must come not from personal judgement but from the assurance that comes from the teaching of the Church and from our love, first, for God and, then, for neighbor.
Throughout this year, may our deepest desire become the freedom that comes from repentance of our sins and the reception of Divine Mercy. Only then can the New Evangelization arise in our hearts and in our community. Happy Year of Mercy!
From Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message 2009
Wherever there is an “us” which welcomes God’s love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, whom she herself has received as a gift, the One who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin. Like Mary, the Church does not fear, for that Child is her strength. But she does not keep him for herself: she offers him to all those who seek him with a sincere heart, to the earth’s lowly and afflicted, to the victims of violence, and to all who yearn for peace. Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: “Let us go to Bethlehem” (Lk 2:15), for there we shall find our hope.
The “us” of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigor and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The “us” of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the “little flock” of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one’s neighbor. The “us” of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace. On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them. In Europe and North America, the “us” of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenseless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the “us” of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity.
Intentions & Dedications
For the week of December 6th
- Sat 4p Gene Doll and Mike Bouchie
- Sat 5:30p Fr. Jose Palathara
- Sun 9a Pro Populo
- Sun 11a Shirley Ragland, Don Dark, and Mr. & Mrs. Earl W. Evans
- Sun 5p The Humphries, Mestayer & Barbier Families
- Mon 6:30a Harry Gongre, Jr.
- Mon 8a Kenneth Prudhomme
- Tue 6:30a Mary Jean Thomas
- Tue 5:30p Pro Populo
- Wed 6:30a Grant Ingram
- Thu 6:30a Janis Abraham
- Fri 6:30a Kenneth Prudhomme
- Sat 8a Billy Benefield, Sr.
- Sat 4p Tony Ruggiero, Red & Sadie Thomas
- Sat 5:30p A.B. Chenault
- Sun 9a Buddy Masson
- Sun 11a Antonio Esparza, Ken Prudhomme
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
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 12/5-6
- 4p Lector K. Bundrick; EMHC M. & J. Yankowski; Servers D. & M. Thibodaux
- 9a Lector E. Bacon; EMHC E. Odom; Servers C. Cunningham, J.H. & G.B. Ingrish
- 11a Lector G. Norwood; EMHC J. Gill; Servers J. Burrell, W. Lee, S. Maggio
- Sat & Sun 12/12-13
- 4p Lector L. Thompson; EMHC M. & J. Yankowski; Servers Thibodaux
- 9a Lector J. Ackel; EMHC C. Green; Servers J. Miley, J. & G. Ingrish
- 11a Lector G. Burke; EMHC T. Whitehead; Servers C. Fisher, M. Leone