Special Collection for Retired Religious of the Diocese
Our Christmas Schedule will remain the same as last year.
On Thursday, December 24
- no 6:30a Mass
- Mass at 4p
- Caroling at 11:30p
On Friday, December 25
- Mass at Midnight
followed by Champagne &
Hors d'oeuvres in the Rectory
- Mass (in Latin) at 8a
- Mass at 10a
Thank you for the Gift of Beauty! • A special thank you to those who helped design and establish our Shrine for the Year of Mercy. The shrine will remain throughout the Year of Mercy (Dec 8, 2015 - Dec 8, 2016) as a reminder and an opportunity to seek out God’s gift of Mercy for ourselves and to share the good news of God’s forgiveness of sins with others. The beautiful shrine is truly a gift from this community to this community. Thank you so very much to those who spent time and energy researching and designing the shine and then searching out the right accoutrements and fabrics. Special thanks, too, to those who executed the design and hefted everything into place. God Reward You!
Assisted Listening Devices installed • Thank you to a donor who wished to remain anonymous for the donation of an assisted listening system for our Church. The system plugs into our main sound system and broadcasts to a series of small receiver packs. Those who need a little volume boost can plug in headphones and turn up the volume all you need! Beginning next week, four receivers will be available and can be signed out and signed in before and after each Mass at the staircase to the choir loft - please ask an usher for assistance. For health reasons, please plan to bring your own headphones. The device is expandable to accommodate more receivers and those who really like the system and would prefer to own their own receiver can purchase one online for a very reasonable sum. Please call the office for more information.
From the Font
“Once again, O LORD of hosts, / look down from heaven, and see; / take care of this vine, / and protect what your right hand has planted / the son of man whom you yourself made strong.”
Until very recently, the psalms were as important to the Catholic faith as they were to the Jewish faith. Today, as it was prior to Vatican II, every Mass includes at least four references to the psalms. Nowadays, permission has been given, for good reason, to skip these references in favor of hymns… More and more, though, parishes are opting to forgo the hymns in favor of the psalms which give voice to our human condition in ways that is unexpected in our modern world.
The psalms, which are all attributed to King David, are a series of poetic hymns written to express joy and sorrow and hope in the context of praise of God or pleading or even re-telling history.
Today’s verses, taken from Psalm 80, is beautifully poetic and complex. Here, the Jewish people cry out to the Lord who has come to their help before. In doing so, they acknowledge that they have separated themselves from the Lord. They also acknowledge that they are a vine - that their existence is contingent upon God’s goodness. That acknowledgement is both an act of humility and an act of truth. It is also a kind of child-like manipulation that a toddler would use to guilt mom or dad into doing what they want!
Notice, too, the reference to the Son of Man - a phrase with lots of history and connotations in Jewish prayer. In using that phrase, the psalm is repeating and reinforcing the connection that he explained early with the use of the word vine.
There are lots of subtle nuanced spiritual bits that can be dug out of most any psalm. That’s why spiritual masters ranging from St. Augustine to St. Francis to Mother Theresa to Pope Benedict have dedicated whole talks and even books to the psalms. As with other types of poetry, the psalms can be inaccessible at times. They can be too poetic or too symbolic or just plain confusing. But they can also put into words moments of incredible joy and moments of faith or hope. They can express sorrow or longing or nostalgia or repentance. The psalms are an incredible gift to us. They link us to our Jewish heritage and, yet, are profoundly Christian. Jesus quotes the psalms often - perhaps most boldly from the Cross when he intones Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me.” That psalm - which is about the coming of the messiah - echoes the psalm quoted above. As the Jews cry out to God for help - they do so knowing that God is good and humbling themselves, ready to hear whatever God says. They’re open to action, to repentance, to rejoicing or to patience. O God, help us to have that same disposition as this Christmas Season unfolds!
Insights from Second Street
I have played the piano for almost 20 years. I hadn’t really thought about it until someone asked me recently, but it’s been 20 years. I remember as a teenager thinking that a statement like meant that someone was a true expert. I thought that anyone who had done anything for that long had to be a true master!
This week, I sat down to play and realized that I was an idiot! I’m no master pianist. I’m not even that good. I can play a few chords and improvise a bit and make myself sound better than I am, but there are six-year-olds here in Natchitoches with better technique and a larger repertoire than me… Experience is a good thing, but it’s just not enough for true excellence. Without real practice, conscious effort and a sense of purpose, time is just time.
In all aspects of the Christian life - prayer, moral virtue, understanding of the scriptures, understanding of the teachings of the Church, even relationship with God - we can’t expect that more time equals anything at all. Many of the bishops at Vatican II said this exactly. They noted that a great many people had memorized their catechism at a young age, but that they had never gone any further. Sadly, nowadays, many people never even memorized their catechism and so many Catholics don’t even know what they don’t know. Still, with determination and conscious effort and living the Christian life in the Church, God will teach us and direct us toward all that we need in order to attain eternal life… But without determination and conscious effort, we are left without many assurances in the scriptures.
The beginning of a new year is a natural time for us to reflect and resolve on all aspects of our lives. But that reflection and resolution won’t come to anything with determination and a definite plan. It’s become a cliche to resolve to lose weight or to kick back habits. In the same way, resolving simply to take my faith more seriously or to become a better moral person without making a conscious plan to read scripture, pray the rosary, talk to my priest, go to Mass every week or something else concrete, measurable and definite.
I know that, for me, this Year of Mercy has become a perfect time to work specifically on the virtues associated with mercy, especially humility and forgiveness. It will also be a time for me to pick up and read some selected works from Pope St. John Paul II - especially his encyclical letters on mercy. It’s also a year that I intend to make a special effort to work more diligently on preparation for my sermons and on preparation for my written works. I’ve had several projects on the back burner for a while that I’d like to make some conscious progress on. I know that some of these resolutions won’t work out. I know that some of them will be me biting off more than I can chew - but I also know that all of them would be forgotten and gone in a month without a specific plan.
This year, I hope all of us, myself included, will find new resolve to take action. I hope that this Christmas will rid us of the illusion that time - on its own power - will make us better people. May our Lord’s arrival into our world also be an impetus for us to make Him present in every aspect of our lives!
For the week of December 20th
- Sat 4p Latief Ackel, Brooke Hennigan, Clay Hennigan, Lillie Meshell, Helen & Rusty Bostick
- Sat 5:30p Justin Wyatt
- Sun 9a Buddy Masson
- Sun 11a Donald Gongre, Antonio Esparza, Janis Abraham, James Raymond Litton
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
- Mon 6:30a Janis Abraham
- Tue 6:30a Ray & Gwen Ponthieux Families
- Wed 6:30a Fr. Timothy Hurd
- Thu 4p Sue & Kevin Morgan
- Fri 12a Pro Populo
- Fri 8a Red & Sadie Thomas
- Fri 10a Shirley & Richard Ragland, Mike Bouchie
- Sat 8a Carlie Barbier & Stacy Mestayer
- Sat 4p Mike Bouchie, Mary Jean Thomas, Gary LeBar, Jr.
- Sat 5:30p Anne Giering
- Sun 9a Latief Ackel
- Sun 11a Richard Ragland & Grant Ingram
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
Please Pray for our Sick & Suffering
Lolette Allen, Teresa Arafat, Flay Rose Balthazar, Maudie Baranowski, William Lynn Basco, Cletus Bauer, Chad Bouchie, Mary-Lou Brasher, Marion Brossette, Flo Brouillette, Darlene Bynog, Bailey Byrd, Carolyn Carter, Marie Charleville, Emilia Cofio, Peggy Cooper, Kim Cunningham, Lela Mae Dalme, Joe Davis, John DeFee, RJ Ducote, 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, Michael Kearney, EvaGrace Keyser, Gary Kilgore, Angelette LaCour, Jheanny Ladao, Samuel Lane, Raymond Litton, 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, Mary Odom, Sue Prudhomme, Sharon Roach, Wes Rollo, Makaehan Ross, Shirley Roy, Joseph Ryan, 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
Assistants Within the Sanctuary
- 4p Lector K. Hicks; EMHCs R. & J. Lapeyrouse; Servers D. Bennett, J. Friedel
- 9a Lector S. Taylor; EMHC J. Cunningham; Servers G. Fedelak, P. & M. Vienne
- 11a Lector K. Bundrick; EMHC L. Lee; Servers W. Lee, S. Maggio
- 4p Lector R. Cunningham; EMHC C. & J. Maggio; Servers R. & R. Cunningham
- Midnight Mass Lector L. Johnson; EMHC E. Odom, J. Gill; Servers D. Bennett, J. Miley, P. & M. Vienne
- 10a Lector E. Bacon; EMHC
- 4p Lector K. Bundrick; EMHCs N. Maggio & M. Hennigan; Servers D. Bennett
- 9a Lector J.Cunningham,Sr.; EMHC J. Barrios; Servers R. & R. Cunningham, M. McCart
- 11a Lector G. Norwood; EMHC C. Maggio; Servers S. Maggio, M. Leone