Food for the Poor • Deacon Dennis Bennin from Food for the Poor is visiting us next week to speak about poverty around the world. He will not collect any money, but will encourage us to consider various ways in which we can fulfill the command of Jesus to give alms. Food for the Poor’s visits in the past have been wonderful times of spiritual reflection. Dc. Bennin is happy to speak with parishioners after Mass to answer questions and to provide information about Food for the Poor and their missionary outreaches. All are encouraged to join us for Mass and to think on the words of Jesus.
Wednesday Night Catechism • This Wed, Feb 17 at 6pm at the St. Mary’s Chapel, Fr. Ryan’s talk will be titled “What the Church Really Believes about Human Sexuality.” Pope Paul VI concluded his controversial letter Humanae Vitae with the prophecy that if the sexual revolution was not addressed by the Church, society would collapse into moral chaos and prescribed that what was needed was - is - an authentic, Christian understanding of the human person. Vatican II teaches that Jesus - and He alone - reveals man to himself. This will be the central topic of Fr. Ryan’s talk.
TLMN Meeting Sunday • The Traditional Latin Mass Society of Natchitoches will meet after the 5p Mass this Sunday for their monthly social. All are welcome to attend. If you’re able, bring a dish - the hall will be open before Mass for drop off.
Lenten Activities • Every Friday of Lent from 5:15p to 5:45p, Father will pray the Stations of the Cross in the Church. The Stations recall our Lord’s Passion from His condemnation by Pilate on Holy Thursday to His death on Mount Calvary and His burial in the Potter’s Field. This traditional devotion is a good way to set the stage for our other Lenten activities. Each Tuesday from February 16 through March 15, Father will hear confessions in the Church from 5p until 6p. Tuesday February 23 through Thursday February 25, Fr. Bryce Sibley of the Diocese of Lafayette will preach a Lenten Mission on topics including Mother Teresa of Calcutta and St. Terese the Little Flower. Fr. Sibley is the Pastor of Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Student Center on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly USL) and holds multiple advanced degrees in religious matters from Rome. He is a sought-after preacher and a beloved pastor. Each talk will begin at 6p in the Church. All are welcome and there is no cost.
Remember Daily Mass • 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. We also have an 8am Mass at St. Mary’s on Monday. St. Anthony’s has a daily Mass at noon Tuesday through Friday. Holy Cross and St. Augustine also have regularly scheduled daily Masses. Do it for God - do it for yourself. Come to Mass and stretch your faith. He’s waiting for you!
A complete calendar of events can be found at minorbasilica.org/calendar
From The Font
“He was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days…”
The so-called “gospel of prosperity” is a false theology that is very commonly found in the modern world, especially in the US. It begins soundly enough with Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”) But from there, it loses touch with the whole teaching of Jesus and ends us saying something like “Jesus loves us and only wants good for us and if we follow Him we will receive abundant blessing and be free from any suffering. Suffering is the result of a lack of faith!” The problem is simply that Jesus didn’t teach that.
The scriptures tell us that beginning with the Jews, continuing through the teaching and life and Jesus and well into the early Church of the New Testament, God has prescribed suffering like a doctor prescribes a foul-tasting medicine. It’s essential… The Jews are made to suffer for their lack of faith. King David is made to suffer in reparation for his sins. In fact, the entire nation has to suffer with Him. We know that Jesus will embrace suffering not only as a part of His work, but as the beating heart of His mission.
By it’s nature, suffering is not what we were made for. Adam and Eve were made to receive blessings from the Lord and nothing else. But their Original Sin brought death into the world and the Lord seems to say in Genesis 3 that their respective penances (Adam’s toil in work and Eve’s pain in childbirth) are not so much punishment as part of their redemption.
The scriptural notion of penance as suffering-with-a-purpose is essential to understanding the way in which God the Father acts with respect to His chosen people. Without the notion of redemptive suffering, God the Father is a sadistic overlord who merely punishes to fulfill some cosmic debt. But, if we understand penance and suffering rightly - in the same way that a coach assigns extra workouts, a doctor prescribes unpleasant medicines or a teacher assigns remedial coursework - then we find a God who is righting a wrong that sin causes within us that we can’t begin to explain.
It’s in this mindset that Job, Jonah and Jeremiah endure their respective trials and that St. Paul can take solace in his weakness on behalf of the Lord. St. Paul says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). Penance is nothing less than a supreme act of Hope that God will use the imperfections of this world along with my own weaknesses and sufferings (the ones I inherit and the ones I cause!) to His greater glory… “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.” (Rom 8:28)
Insights from Second Street
Last week, I preached a sermon encouraging each of us to share confidently and unabashedly our story as Catholics. For every bad pope, inquisitor general, misguided crusader or abusive cleric, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of saints who transformed their communities and, some of them, the entire world. I encouraged us not to let our story be told only by those who have an ax to grind. Several people asked after Mass for recommendations. “What books should I read?” “Where can I find these stories?” “Which saints should I look up?” In response, here are a few books, a few websites and a selection of my favorite saints to get us started and equip us to recover our story and take pride in our Faith.
First and foremost, H.W. Crocker’s book Triumph (ISBN 0761516042) is a must-read. He is unapologetic in his love for the Church and our history. Dr. James Hitchcock has written several books on Church history. Arguably his finest is History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium (ISBN 1586176641). Also, Dr. Diane Moczar has written dozens of excellent shorter books with provocative titles like Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know (ASIN B004L62J6W) and Converts and Kingdoms: How the Church Converted the Pagan West and How We Can Do It Again (ASIN B008P0B06A).
Catholic.org/Saints and EWTN.com/saintsHoly are both worth some attention. Those sites have not only well organized and easy-to-discover stories about the saints and the Church, they also have clear and easy to understand explanations of the teachings of the Church on everything from lying to voting to the circumlocutions of the tetragrammaton. The amazing Catholic Answers website (catholic.com) is also a can’t-miss. They have great articles as well as lots of audio and video content. Strangely enough, Wikipedia.com is my go-to site for basic info about any saint. From St. Francis to St. Seraphim of Sarov, Wikipedia has a great baseline of info and plenty of links to more in-depth sources.
So which saints to look for first… There are certainly the obvious: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, St. Dominic, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Terese of Lisieux, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul II. Then there are some who are less well known: St. Philomena, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasius, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Jean Vianney, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis de Montfort and St. (Padre) Pio.
Ultimately, there are more sources than ever before and they’re easier to get to than we might think. Learning our story as a Church isn’t about getting a doctoral degree or being able to explain complex nuances of theology. Jesus reveals a faith that is simple to live and yet infinitely deep to study. Bl. Pope Paul VI reminded us in his letter on evangelization in the 1960s that what the Church really needs is not so much teachers - although we need them now more than ever - but witnesses. The Church needs Catholics to fall in love with our faith again. We need to reconnect with the billions of people who have chosen Catholicism even when it meant shedding their blood. We need to reclaim our story and to celebrate it as our parents and grandparents did!
— Pope St. John Paul II
The Son of God loved us first, while “we were yet sinners” (Rom 5:6), with an unconditional love which asks nothing in return. If this is so, how can we fail to see the season of Lent as a providential opportunity to make courageous decisions inspired by altruism and generosity? Lent offers us the practical and effective weapons of fasting and almsgiving as a means of combating an excessive attachment to money. Giving not only from our abundance, but sacrificing something more in order to give to the needy, fosters that self-denial which is essential to authentic Christian living. Strengthened by constant prayer, the baptized reveal the priority which they have given to God in their lives.
The love of God poured into our hearts ought to inspire and transform who we are and what we do. Christians must not think that they can seek the true good of their brothers and sisters without embodying the charity of Christ. Even in those cases where they might succeed in improving important aspects of social or political life, without charity every change would remain short-lived. The possibility of giving oneself to others is itself a gift which comes from the grace of God. As Saint Paul teaches: “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).
To modern men and women, often dissatisfied with a shallow and ephemeral existence and in search of authentic happiness and love, Christ offers his own example and issues the invitation to follow him. He asks those who hear his voice to give their lives for others. This sacrifice is a source of self-fulfillment and joy, as is seen in the eloquent example of those men and women who, leaving all security behind, have not hesitated to risk their lives as missionaries in different parts of the world. It can also be seen in the response of those young people who, prompted by faith, have embraced a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life in order to serve God’s plan of salvation. It is likewise the experience of the growing number of volunteers who readily devote themselves to helping the poor, the elderly, the sick and all those in need.
Intentions & Dedications
For the week of February 14th
- Sat 4p Eugene Doll, Anne Giering, Elise James, Doris & Will Pierson
- Sat 5:30p Justin Wyatt
- Sun 9a Julien Vienne, Nathan Ezernack, Buddy & Becky Masson
- Sun 11a Janis Abraham
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
- Mon 6:30a Julien Vienne
- Mon 8a Calvert Scott
- Tue 6:30a Ralph Christmon
- Wed 6:30a Buddy Masson
- Thu 6:30a Cecil Odom
- Fri 6:30a Brenda Seiler
- Sat 8a Julien Vienne
- Sat 4p Harry Gongre, Jr., Elise James, Doris & Will Pierson, Armesto Corpuz, Sr.
- Sat 5:30p Lillian Anne Giering
- Sun 9a Martha LaCaze, Mr & Mrs. W. Peyton Cunningham, Sr.
- Sun 11a Jack Brittain, Sr.
- Sun 5p Pro Populo
Our Sick & Recently Deceased
Mr. Ross Gwinn, RIP
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, Tammy Hall, Andy Harrington, Joyce Hayne, Deborah G. Hernandez, Sue Van Hook, Kalita Jones, Jean Jordan, Isabelita & Michael Kearney,Gary Kilgore, Angelette LaCour, John LaCour, Samuel Lane, Jaden Eli Lodridge, Patricia Loftin, Joseph Longo, Irene Lynche, Brittany MacBrown, Lisa Mack, Dominic Majorie, 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, Ruthie J. Wallboughly, Charlene White, Glen & Mary Williams, Marilyn Williams, Laura Young & Melinda Zolzer
Within the Sanctuary
- Sat & Sun 2/14-15
- 4p Lector K. Hicks; EMHC M. & J. Yankowski; Servers D. Bennett, J. Friedel
- 9a Lector J. Cunningham, Sr.; EMHC C. Green; Servers R. & R. Cunningham, M. McCart
- 11a Lector E. Giering; EMHC T. Whitehead; Servers J. Burrell, S. Maggio
- Sat & Sun 2/20-21
- 4p Lector K. Bundrick; EMHC R. & J. Lapeyrouse; Servers Thibodaux
- 9a Lector E. Bacon; EMHC J. Cunningham; Servers G. Fedelak, P. & M. Vienne
- 11a Lector J. Williams; EMHC L. Lee; Servers W, Lee, M. Leone