Parish News

Epiphany Chalk • As has become our tradition, Epiphany Chalk will be blessed after all Masses and may be used to extend the traditional Epiphany blessing to your homes. A thorough explanation may be found inside the bulletin in the Insights from Second Street box.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Patroness of Louisiana • This Friday, January 8th, is the Feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Patroness of Louisiana. The feast originated after the Battle of New Orleans against the British Invasion of our state. The image, which is enshrined at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on State Street in New Orleans, famously and miraculous preserved the historic Ursuline convent from the great fire of New Orleans in 1788. Twenty years later in 1815, the same image was associated with General Andrew Jackson’s “miraculous” victory over the British on the plains of Chalmette. In 1851, Pope Pius IX, who established the Diocese of Natchitoches, approved public veneration of the image under the title Our Lady of Speedy Help (Prompt Succor). In 1928, Our Lady was named principal patron of our civil state and of the Archdiocese of New Orleans under the title Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

Father Ryan will be away from Jan. 12-24 • Father Ryan will be out of the parish in Washington, DC from the 12th through the 24th of January. Father Stephen will be present in the parish. Please pray for Father’s safe travel and the success of his work.

Wednesday Night Catechism • This Wednesday, January 6 at 6pm at the St. Mary’s Chapel, Fr. Ryan’s talk will be titled “Patron Saints & Guardian Angels.” This presentation, which had to be rescheduled from November, will explain the biblical and religious significance of having a patron saint and of devotion to our Guardian Angels. Father will also touch on Spiritual Warfare and some of the quirky ways that our physical and spiritual world works, including relics, Eucharistic Miracles and the like.

St. Mary’s Resumes School on Wednesday • St. Mary’s will resume class on Wednesday, January 6. It will be an A day. Please pray for students, parents and teachers as we start this second semester of the 2015-2016 school year.

Remember Daily Mass • As we make New Years’ resolutions, remember that we have daily Mass in Natchitoches every day of the week. Here at Immaculate, daily Mass is at 6:30am Monday through Friday and at 8am on Saturday. Confessions are available as well. We also have an 8am Mass at St. Mary’s on Monday. St. Anthony’s has daily Mass Tuesday through Friday at noon and Holy Cross has daily Mass on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5:30p Do it for God - do it for yourself. Come to Mass and stretch your faith. He’s waiting for you!


From the Font

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 local bishop to travel from home to home visiting his people and giving his blessing. As the Church grew, the bishop simply couldn't visit everyone; and so, his priests were designated to bless homes. 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 arose as a way of extending the blessing of the feast to the homes of the faithful. The chalk was blessed with holy water (which was called Epiphany Water) and distributed to the faithful. 

The people marked their intention to receive the Epiphany blessing by inscribing the year and the names of the three magi Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar along with the sign of the cross.

For 2016, then, a family wishing to receive the Epiphany Blessing would take a piece of blessed chalk and mark one or more doors of their house:

20 + C + M + B + 16

The chalk is then retained in the home and available to be used if a remarking is necessary of if a neighbor inquires. No specific prayer has ever been prescribed but a family rosary or even a simple Our Father would not be out of place.

Epiphany Chalk is one of many seemingly odd Catholic customs. Of course, all customs are to some degree odd. Think about our Christmas customs of decorating trees, exploding fireworks or even exchanging gifts. At one point, each of those customs seemed odd.

As we move into the new year, let us all ask the Lord for His providence in our lives and in our homes - may the mercy of God and His goodness permeate all that we do in 2016!

During the blessing of the chalk in Church, this prayer is used:

Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most Holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Insights from Second Street

In the ancient and medieval world, the theme ofjourney was essential to understanding literature and culture. From Gilgamesh to Hercules to Odysseus to St. Paul, the journey was an essential metaphor for growth in virtue and in wisdom. No doubt, due to this, the theme of pilgrimage to designated Holy Sites was hugely important in the spiritual life of devotees to basically all religions.

Outside the city of Rome, the basilicas were seen as way-stations or end-points of these pilgrimages which gave the pilgrim an opportunity for rest, reflection, contrast from the barrenness or vice of the roadway(which symbolized daily life) and the mysteries of faith (that we call the Sacraments). Very early on in the Christian world, the pilgrimage was seen as the height of spiritual commitment. As the theology of sacramental confession and, later, indulgences grew, the pilgrimage was seen as a logical expression of repentance for past sins and desire to do penance along the way toward the goal of eternal life. As such, indulgenced pilgrimages were very common in the medieval world. Perhaps most famously, the Canterbury Tales recounts a fictionalized pilgrimage to the titular cathedral of Canterbury in England. 

One of the obvious problems with an indulgenced pilgrimage is that there’s no definite place to end it. Do I get the indulgence if I set foot anywhere in the town? Do I have to go to Mass at this Church or can I go over there? What if I get there and there’s no Mass to attend today? Do I have to check in with someone? It was necessary to decide on a concrete action by which the pilgrimage could be completed. And so we have the “Holy Door.” By passing through the Holy Door, the pilgrim completes his or her journey and symbolically arrives at his or her destination - hopefully changed and wizened by the effort.

That seems a bit dramatic in the age of cars when most of us are on a pilgrimage of 8-10 minutes on Sunday Morning… Still, the Holy Door serves as a sign and a symbol of our desire to grow in the spiritual life and to live life as a journey rather than a disjointed series of events. In Rome and throughout Europe, many great Churches have permanent Holy Doors which are sealed and unsealed at specific moments and which are typically associated with the reception of specific indulgences.

For this year of Mercy, which began in December, each of us can obtain an indulgence (up to once per day until November 27th) by walking through the Holy Door as a sign of repentance and acceptance of God’s Mercy. As with all indulgences, the indulgenced spiritual exercise (in this case passing through the door) must be accompanied by true detachment from sin, prayer for the Pope (e.g. The Apostles’ Creed, 3x Our Father, 3x Hail Mary & 3x Glory Be), Sacramental Confession and receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace. The entire package (spiritual exercise, detachment from sin, prayer for the Pope, Confession and Communion) has to be done to receive one indulgence and to the entire package has to be repeated for each indulgence. 

May this year of grace and the gift of a Holy Door in our home parish be a blessing of which we take full advantage! Thanks be to God for this Year of Mercy!

From Rome

There exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.

Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2:42), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

— Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum, On Divine Revelation

Mass Intentions

For the week of January 3rd

  • Sat 4p Frances Dexendorf
  • Sat 5:30p Lillian Ann Giering
  • Sun 9a Martha LaCaze, Mike Moyer, Ross Gwinn, Ethel Mouch
  • Sun 11a Shirley Ragland & Janis Abraham
  • Sun 5p Pro Populo
  • Mon 6:30a Mary Moss
  • Tue 6:30a Shirley & Richard Ragland
  • Wed 6:30a Mike Bouchie
  • Thu 6:30a Shirley & Richard Ragland
  • Fri 6:30a Leola Walmsley
  • Sat 8a Jackie R. Flynt
  • Sat 4p Red & Sadie Thomas, Donna Doll, Calvert Scott
  • Sat 5:30p Justin Wyatt
  • Sun 9a Special Intentions
  • Sun 11a Johnny Defee & John Robert Tubre
  • Sun 5p Pro Populo

Please Pray for Our Sick & Suffering

Ann Lee Alford, 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, Dekeyser, Jayce Estep, Angela Eversall, Tom Foshee, Reba Friday, Paula Gagymad, Kramer Gahagan, Vicki Gahagan, Patsy Gallion, Anne Giering, Sophie Gill, Ross Gwinn, Tammy Hall, Andy Harrington, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Isabelita & 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

Assistants Within the Sanctuary

  • Jan 1/2-3
    • 4p     Lector L. Johnson; EMHC J. Gunter & K. Hicks; Servers D. Bennett
    • 9a     Lector E. Bacon; EMHC S. Taylor; Servers Lirette
    • 11a     Lector E. Giering; EMHC P. Melder; Servers J. Burrell, W. Lee
  • Jan 1/9-10
    • 4p     Lector K. Hicks; EMHC M. & J. Yankowski; Servers Thibodaux
    • 9a     Lector R. Lavespere; EMHC E. Odom; Servers J. Miley, J. & G. Ingrish
    • 11a     Lector J. Williams; EMHC J. Maggio; Servers A. & J. Parker