Priests’ Retreat Coming Up • Many of the priests of our diocese attend the annual retreat at Maryhill sponsored by the Diocesan office of Clergy Formation. Fr. Ryan & Fr. Stephen will be attending this retreat from Mon, Sept 28 until Thu, Oct 1. During that time, no daily Masses will be offered in the Parish. Masses will resume as usual at 6:30a on Fri, Oct 2. First Friday devotions on Oct 2 will take place as usual.
W.R.C. Gala • The Women’s Resource Center - the only crisis pregnancy center in Nactchitoches - will host is it’s annual fundraising gala on Thursday, Sept 24. Tickets are still available. For more information, please call our office.
March for Life Trip • Anyone who has interest in attending our March for Life trip to Washington DC and who has not yet submitted their registration information should plan to do so immediately. We are almost entirely full and don’t want to leave anyone behind! Contact the office for more information.
SMS Tiger Football • The St. Mary’s Tiger Football team will travel this week to Loyola College Prep in Shreveport to take on the Flyers. Please remember all our local athletes and fans in your prayers during this football season. St. Sebastian, pray for us.
Wednesday Night Catechism • This Wed, Sep 23 at 6pm at the St. Mary’s Chapel, Fr. Louis Sklar will answer any and all Questions that anyone wishes to propose. Fr. Sklar is a native of Natchitoches, an alumnus of St. Mary’s and is presently serving as the director of Vocations for the Diocese. All are welcome to attend and to bring their friends.
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. Please begin to pray now for those planning activities. If you have ideas or are interested in helping out, please let us know at the office. Thanks!
Latin Mass Society Mtg • Our Traditional Latin Mass Society will host their monthly meeting and supper following the Latin Mass this Sunday at 5pm. The supper is pot-luck. All are welcome!
Are You Interested in Becoming Catholic? • Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a new Catholic or a parishioner at the Minor Basilica? Instruction is available year-round! Contact our parish office for more information - there are no obligations - anyone interested is welcome. Even if you’re unsure - come by for a visit. We want you to find your spiritual home here at Immaculate Conception! Come Holy Spirit, inspire courage!
From the Font
“The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law.”
All people of good will struggle to understand the frame of mind that this passage describes. Good people can understand that no one likes to be called out for their offenses. Most of us have experienced that “Holier than thou” person who seems to give off a sense of pomposity. But does that person deserve to be assaulted? Can’t I just avoid them? Does anyone really need to “teach them a lesson?”
Well, therein lies the rub, as they say. The need to change someone else is unhealthy. The desire to correct or admonish or teach is good and holy. So is an insistence on protecting those for whom we are responsible from their influence. The need to correct them for their own sake, though, is a different thing all together.
Those who feel a strong emotional need to change another merely in order to form conformity are almost always blind to some serious interior struggle. In our modern world, we could think of the internet “troll” who visits and posts hateful comments on websites with which he disagrees in principle. In biblical times, they had hecklers who would interrupt sermons or gatherings merely to introduce chaos. The phenomenon is universal.
Jesus, Himself, will advise His apostles to be ready. The truth - religious or natural - will always offend the one who lives or believes contrary to it. The light will always offend the one who lives in darkness.
In our culture today, so many are offended by the Christian message because it speaks to the dignity of the human person, to the authenticity and singularity of the sexual faculty and the purpose and mission for which God has created us. Just a child doesn’t want to put aside his game for hard word, so the sinner doesn’t want to put aside his sin to take up his cross and follow Jesus.
That mentality is extended into the dystopian language of political correctness within which no language may be used which risk offending increasingly delicate sensibilities. The very mention of judgement and salvation is too much to handle.
Of course, none of these things are new - they all begin in the same human heart described by the book of wisdom and referenced by Jesus in His sermon on the mount. Our response is hearty courage and honesty. Whatever the wicked may say - the response of Jesus is seen in today’s gospel: “Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and put his arms around it.” We are safe in the arms of our Lord - and it doesn’t matter who likes it or doesn’t!
Insights from Second Street
Continuing this series of articles on individuals in our parish that have accomplished much and ought to be recognized, I want to highlight - much to his chagrin, I’m sure - Mr. Bill Brent.
Bill Brent is something of a legend at Northwestern State University. He is one of a precious few who have spent the last twenty or so years turning the music program at NSU into one of the finest small-school programs in the nation. Bill’s tenacity, his expectation of excellence, his real-world experience and his remarkable people skills have made him an amazing asset to NSU and to Natchitoches.
For much of that time, Bill has also overseen our 11a Sunday Mass choir and has gone far above and beyond the call of duty in helping out at Immaculate whenever the pastors have needed him.
When I began at Immaculate in 2007, Fr. Foster assigned me to “take care” of Holy Week. (At that time, he and I were also responsible for another parish due to another pastor’s serious illness.) “Taking care” of Holy Week is a bit like “taking care” of a European Vacation - tons of details and most of them easy to forget. Bill assured me that he would take care of all of the music for Good Friday. Let me assure you, that’s a serious commitment and a tough thing to do. Typically, Good Friday is supposed to be sung a cappella. The music was astounding! Bill sang some beautiful pieces in English and in Latin. His voice made everything work! Haunting… mellow… subtle… It was a moving service for many reasons and I’ll remember it until my last days.
Since his “retirement” from NSU, Bill has been out and about recruiting as well as enjoying some well deserved rest. Despite that, he has found time to sit on our parish Finance Council and has been a source of encouragement and accountability in that role.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to Mr. Bill Brent for his years of service to our Catholic community here and the larger Natchitoches community.
All articles like this risk alienating someone else who has worked hard but has not been recognized. It’s impossible to recognize the many. many volunteers and students who have honored our Lord in song over the years. It’s impossible to recognize the multitude of professionals and academics and ordinary folks who have sat with one of our priests to provide direction and guidance. To all of those who have worked behind the scenes to make our music program what it is - thank you!
Thank you, too, to Mrs. Wanda St. Andre (who will have her own article in the future), Dr. Greg Handel, Dr. Roxanne Lane and to Mr. Tommy Myrick for their efforts.
Finally, allow me to say thank you to those of you in the pews who sing your heart out. The musicians in the loft generally can’t tell who sings and who doesn’t. The pastor knows! I hear you and I thank you for your passion and your enthusiasm! Keep on making that joyful noise! God Reward You.
The Catholic Church has always avoided setting up rules or requirements for the laity at Mass. The modern rules of order about standing, sitting and kneeling are not the result of erudite theology - they’re devotional customs that became universal over time. Even the use of pews in Church - something which we now understand to be essential - only came about as a result of the faithful calling the clergy to giver longer, more complex sermons. (Imagine that!) In Eastern Catholic Churches, pews are frowned upon because of the devotional diversity of the faithful. At Eastern Liturgies, it’s perfectly normal to see one person kneeling while another stands and another lies prostrate on the floor. One lady may make the sign of the cross twice at a given moment while another crosses herself three times or nine. That lack of uniformity seems odd or even uncomfortable for our modern, highly structured liturgical experience, but it is, in fact, perfectly in union with a Catholic understanding of unity in diversity.
While doctrine admits no possibility of dissent, devotion admits infinite diversity. Prior to the contemporary era, Catholics were accustomed to approaching Mass with a rich sense of devotional breadth. One may be paying close attention to the text and gestures of the prayers while another may be considering the sermon. One may be meditating carefully upon the readings or antiphons while another prayed the rosary. One may be weighed down by many concerns and anxieties while another joyfully raises his voice to God in song. This diversity admits the reality that all of us come to Mass from different places - physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, devotionally and religiously. It only makes logical sense that one would be more intellectually engaged while another is more devotionally engaged while another is more aesthetically or emotionally engaged.
For all of these reasons, I want to encourage each of us to come to Holy Mass with a healthy and rich sense of personal honesty about our own needs, passions and interests. Ideally, the Mass - with it’s readings, texts, music, etc - would speak to all of us where we are. But if it doesn’t this week for one reason or another, there’s nothing wrong with taking in the beauty of the Church, praying in your own way, engaging in whatever devotional practice may meet you where you are. Of course, we should always give our Lord a chance to speak to us through the words of the Mass and the sermon, but we needn’t fret if daily life leads us to participate in Holy Mass in a way that is not the same as everyone else. In fact, we should expect it!
Memorials & Intentions
MASS INTENTIONS FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 20TH
- Sat 4p Mike Bouchie, Shirley Phalan, Jimmy Scott, and Raymond Arthur
- Sat 5:30p Fr. Daniel Pekanske
- Sun 9a Kenneth & Sally Prudhomme
- Sun 11a Grant Ingram, Irene Niette, Leola Walmsley, Fredrick Hickman
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
- Mon 6:30a Jackie R. Flynt
- Mon 8a Miriam Aycock Gaspard
- Tue 6:30a Martha Lacaze
- Wed 6:30a Mary Moss
- Thu 6:30a Richard Price
- Fri 6:30a Gerald J. Mayeux
- Sat 8a Janis Abraham
- Sat 4p N.L. Vercher, Calvert Scott, and Russ & Lori Harvey
- Sat 5:30p Cynthia Cox
- Sun 9a Leo Abraham, Red & Sadie Thomas, Ross Gwinn, and Joe Bienvenu
- Sun 11a Richard Ragland
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
PRAYERS FOR OUR ILL AND RECENTLY DECEASED
Mrs. Judy Risty, RIP
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