Sunday, November 19, 2017

Nov. 19, 2017: 33rd Sunday A

Nov. 19, 2017: 33rd Sunday A

What would you do if someone entrusted to you $1 million? Would you go out on a spending spree, take it to an investment bank, donate it all to a charity, or bury it in the ground where no one can find it? It would be odd to squander an opportunity to invest the money by burying. Could we be doing just that in our spiritual life?

Last week, through the parable of five wise and five foolish virgins, Our Lord instructed us about how to be ready and vigilant as disciples by everyday acts of love, kindness, patience, and selflessness. This week, Our Lord teaches us about the right attitude of a disciple--how to be courageous and productive disciples--through the parable of the talents.

What we need to understand about this parable is that it’s not about making money but what we do with whatever we are entrusted by God. The “talents” represent not so much our natural aptitude and abilities, but God-given opportunities and spiritual gifts which have been allocated differently to each disciple. While on earth, we the disciples are not to be idle but use our specific divine privileges and gifts to serve others to build up the Kingdom of God. But what hampers us from being productive is our attitude.

In today’s parable, the servant who was entrusted with one talent was fear driven and lacked courage. He placed the blame for his unproductiveness on his master, accusing his master of being a hard man. In doing so, he was denying his own responsibilities. His negative attitude revealed that he was not focused on the interest of his master but rather self absorbed.

A director of a center for mentally handicapped shared this story. One day, a man with many problems and great sadness came to visit the director. The director was perplexed why this normal man was so sad and weighed down with problems. He seemed to have everything going for him—money, family, and career. While this visitor was pouring his heart out to the director, a young man with Down’s syndrome entered the office with a great smile. With a great laugh he shook the hands of the director, the “normal” man, and left the office laughing. The “normal” man turn to the director and said, “Isn’t it sad that there are children like that.” The director was struck by the utter blindness of this seemingly “normal” man who could not see how his negative attitude kept him from experiencing gratitude, hope, and happiness. He possessed that for which every man could desire, yet like the servant who buried his one talent in the ground, the “normal” man’s fear and lack of trust bore no fruit for himself and others.

At times are we sad or paralyzed by that kind of self-defeating fear and lack of hope? Has the circumstance of the day made us forgetful of the promise that Jesus made to each of us, “Do not be afraid. I will be with you until the end”? The right attitude of a disciple begins with trust in Jesus that there is no circumstance or adversity that will separate us from the love of Christ. St. Teresa of Avila encourages us, "May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

As we approach the end of our liturgical year, the scripture readings move us to consider the difficult topic of our end times. We know not the day nor the hour when our own end will be, but as disciples we need to ponder if we are investing enough effort and time in the growth of our spiritual life. As we stop as nation to give thanks with our families, let us remember that all the gifts have been given to us from the God who created us, sustains us and redeems us. Trust Jesus and have the courage to smile for yourself and others that through the love of God, you will accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Advent Penance and Healing Service with Sr. Briege McKenna and Fr. Kevin Scallon

Monday, December 11, 2017, 6:30PM
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Zachary
4826 Main Street, Zachary, LA 70791

Please join us for an evening Mass and Eucharistic Healing Service. Several priests will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This will be an evening full of grace as we open ourselves to receive His mercy and healing in preparation for the celebration of Christmas.

Sr. Briege McKenna, O.S.C.was born in Ireland and entered the Sisters of St. Clare at the age of fifteen.Following her final vows and after suffering for more than three years with rheumatoid arthritis, she was transferred to her community in Tampa, Florida with the hope that the Florida sunshine would relieve her suffering. At the age of twenty-four, she was miraculously and instantaneously healed during the celebration of the Eucharist and some time later received, in prayer, the gift of healing for which she has become so widely known. In 1974, again during prayer, she was given a deep spiritual insight into the call to priesthood. Since then, bishops and priests in many parts of the world have invited her to speak and minister at their retreats and conferences. Her book, "Miracles Do Happen" has been translated into many languages through out the world.

Fr. Kevin Scallon, C.M., is a priest of the Vincentian Community who was born in Ireland. In his early years he ministered in both England and Nigeria. In 1976, Fr. Kevin, While on the faculty of All Hallows College, started the "Intercession for Priests" in Ireland. Since then he, along with Sr. Briege McKenna, has been ministering to priests and lay people across the globe.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Nov. 17, 2017 Friday: 32nd Week

Nov. 17, 2017 Friday: 32nd Week

God's Day of Judgment is a cause for great joy and reward for those who have waited with patient hope and longing for the Lord Jesus to return again in glory and power. The people in Noah's time ignored the Lord's warning of judgment because their hearts were hardened and they were rebellious towards God. When the great flood swept over the earth, they missed the boat, literally! Whose boat or safety net are you staking your life on - the world's life-raft to short-lived success and happiness or to the indestructible Ark of God whose foundation is Jesus Christ and his victorious cross? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when the day of final judgment comes. They rejoice even now that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20) and they look with eager longing for the day when they will see the Lord face to face (Revelation 22:4). Is your hope firmly placed in the Lord Jesus and his return in glory?

The good news is that the Lord Jesus freely offers each one of us the grace, strength, and help we need to turn to him to receive pardon for our sins and healing for our minds and hearts so we can embrace his good will for our lives and find the way to our heavenly Father's home. The Lord Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in his wisdom, truth, and love. The Holy Spirit helps us to turn away from sin and rebellion and to embrace God's way of love, righteousness (moral goodness), and holiness. 

- reflection courtesy of Don Schwager © 2017.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nov. 14, 2017 Tuesday: 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

Nov. 14, 2017 Tuesday: 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

Are you ready to give the Lord your best, regardless of what it might cost you? Perhaps we are like the laborer in Jesus' parable who expected special favor and reward for going the extra mile? How unfair for the master to compel his servant to give more than what was expected! Don't we love to assert our rights: "I will give only what is required and no more!" But who can satisfy the claims of love? 

We are called to serve God and neighbor selflessly and generously

Jesus used this parable of the dutiful servant to explain that we can never put God in our debt or make the claim that God owes us something. We must regard ourselves as God's servants, just as Jesus came "not to be served, but to serve" (Matthew 20:28). Service of God and of neighbor is both a voluntary or free act and a sacred duty. One can volunteer for service or be compelled to do service for one's country or one's family when special needs arise. Likewise, God expects us to give him the worship and praise which is his due. And he gladly accepts the  free-will offering of our lives to him and to his service. What makes our offering pleasing to God is the love we express in the act of self-giving. True love is sacrificial, generous, and selfless.

God honors the faithful servant who loves and serves others generously. He is ever ready to work in and through us for his glory. We must remember, however, that God can never be indebted to us. We have no claim on him. His love compels us to give him our best! And when we have done our best, we have simply done our duty. We can never outmatch God in doing good and showing love. God loves us without measure. Does the love of God compel you to give your best?

By Don Schwager © 2017.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Nov. 13, 2017 Monday: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Nov. 13, 2017 Monday: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Prayer of Mother Cabrini after Confession

My dearest Jesus, I have told all my sins as well as I could. I tried hard to make a good confession. I feel sure that you have forgiven me.  I thank You. It is only because of all Your sufferings that I can go to confession and free myself from my sins. Your Heart is full of love and mercy for poor sinners. I love You because You are so good to me. My loving Saviour, I shall try to keep from sin and to love You more each day. My dear Mother Mary, pray for me and help me to keep my promises. Protect me and do not let me fall back into sin. Almighty God, kneeling before Your Divine Majesty, I adore You and because You command me, I dare approach Your divine Heart. But what shall I say if You do not enlighten me with a ray of Your divine light?

Speak to my soul, O Lord, and command me to listen to Your voice. Enlighten my will to put Your words into practice. Pour Your grace into my heart; lift up my soul weighed down by my sins; raise my mind to heavenly things, so that earthly desires may no longer appeal to me. Speak to my soul with Your divine omnipotence, for You are my salvation, my life, and my peace, in time and in eternity. Strengthen me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit and give Your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless worry and care. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You so that Your Will may be my will, Grant that I may rid myself of all unholy desires, and that for Your love I may remain unknown in this world, and be known only to You.

Do not permit me to attribute to myself the good that You perform in me and through me, but rather, referring all honor to Your majesty, may I glory only in my weakness, so that  renouncing sincerely all vain glory which comes from the world, I may aspire to the true and lasting glory which comes from you. Amen.  -St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Nov. 12,2017: 32nd Sunday A

Nov. 12,2017: 32nd Sunday A
The end is near! Have you seen the signs of the “end”? What I mean of course is the end of our current liturgical year, ushering in the beginning of Advent. You’ve seen the Christmas merchandise and heard the Christmas music in the department stores.  As we near the end of this liturgical year, our scripture readings urge us to focus on preparing and staying awake for the arrival of the Bridegroom, for we do not know the hour or the day he comes. 

What can we learn from the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom? The virgins represent all of us who are believers. The lamp represents our faith. Our Lord urged us in the Sermon on the Mount to let our light shine and not hide the lamp under a basket so that people will see our good works and give praise to our Father in heaven. The oil in the lamp represents our good works and deeds that we do because of our love for the Father. The wise people are vigilant, like the wise virgins in the Gospel who brought their lamps and enough oil to last the night. So wise people, in contrast to  the foolish, are one who are concerned for the daily needs of one’s family, neighbors, and even strangers. Both wise and foolish virgins had a burning lamp, but only the wise brought along extra oil to keep their lamps burning while waiting to meet the bridegroom.

How can each of us be like wise virgins who bring extra lamp oil? It will help us to understand what the oil represents in our own lives. Mother Teresa offers us this explanation: 
What are the oil lamps in our lives?
They are the little everyday things:
faithfulness, punctuality, kind words,
thoughtfulness of another person,
the way we are silent at times,
the way we look at things,
the way we speak, the way we act.
Those are the little drops of love
which make it possible for our life of faith to shine brightly.

There is a little detail from the parable that we need to pay attention. The Gospel says that when the Bridegroom arrived, all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. One trims the wick of the lamp to keep the lamp burning clean and bright without the smoke. When the wick is too high, the lamp burns with much smoke and stink. If all we do is make a show of our faith and religion, and there in our hearts is no loving relationship with God and our neighbor,  it’s like a long wick and shallow oil.  To get rid of the smoke and stink, we have to trim the wick--that is to cast off our excesses of love of self. We need to constantly refill our oil and check our wick, keeping neither too long or short. The everyday little acts of love, kindness, patience, joy, and selflessness are ordinary deeds that we all can consciously choose in order to let our faith burn brightly before others. In applying Jesus’ message in our lives in this way, we are wise disciples. God offers us this time of mercy and patience so that we may learn to recognize him in others. Let us strive for goodness and be watchful in prayer. May Our Lord recognize us as good and faithful servants at the end of our lives.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nov. 9,2017 Thursday: Dedication of St. John Lateran

Nov. 9,2017 Thursday: Dedication of St. John Lateran

«Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up»

By Fr. Joaquim MESEGUER García
(Sant Quirze del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, in this universal festivity of the Church we remember that, even though no building in this world is big enough to contain God's immensity, since very long, long time ago, human beings have felt the need to reserve certain locations for their personal and collective meetings with God. At the beginning, the gathering places for Christians were their private homes, where communities congregated for prayer and the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread. The gathered community was —and still is today— God's Holy Temple. As time went by, these communities have been building edifices devoted to their liturgical celebrations, Word predication and prayer. And this is how, Christianism, from its initial persecutions and abuse to its final religious freedom in the Roman Empire, started to build its great basilicas. Of which, the most important one, is St. John Lateran, Rome's cathedral.

St. John Lateran is the symbol of the unity of all the Churches in the world with the Roman Church, and this is why this basilica proudly displays in its main portico the title of Mother and head of all the churches in the city and in the world (Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput). It is even more important than St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, the latter not being actually a cathedral, but a shrine built over St. Peter's sepulcher and the Pope's present residence, who, as Bishop of Rome, has in the Lateran Basilica, his Cathedral.

Yet, we should never lose sight of the fact that the true meeting point between man and God, his actual temple, is Jesus Christ. This is why, He was empowered to tidy up his Father's home and to say these words: «Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up» (Jn 2:19). Thanks to the sacrifice of his life for us, Jesus Christ has made out of believers God's living temple. This is why, the Christian message reminds us that all human beings are a sacred reality, where God dwells, and that it cannot be profaned by using it as material means.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nov. 8, 2017 Wednesday: 31st Week in Ordinary Time

Nov. 8, 2017 Wednesday: 31st Week in Ordinary Time

Hate for the sake of love

When Jesus says in our Gospel reading today that we are not his disciples unless we "hate" others and hate even our own lives, he's not talking about being unloving to anyone nor being unkind to ourselves.

Following Christ means being so loving that we hate it when someone or something interferes with that love. It means hating sin and worldliness so much that we're willing to carry the painful crosses of love, making sacrifices to repay evil with goodness and to convert our difficulties into triumphs of holiness.

Jesus warns that if we start on a journey of holiness without agreeing to go all the way, if we're not willing to carry the cross farther than we'd like to endure, if we're not interested in going the extra mile, if we're not willing to die to our own agendas and self-centered desires, and if we let family members or other people influence us into dumping the hardships and seeking only what is fun and easy, we're like the builder who didn't have the resources to finish the project. We haven't learned enough from the life and death of Jesus.

The first reading today affirms this "hate for the sake of love" spirituality. Saint Paul wrote, "The one who loves others has fulfilled the law." And yet it takes great effort and emotional healthiness and spiritual maturity to hate our selfishness and our own desires enough to handle every situation with love.

It's especially challenging when our needs are not getting met. If we love others more than they love us, or if we give to others more than we receive from them, we easily revert to self-protective selfishness. The less self-esteem we have and the less spiritual maturity we have the more this is so.

It's necessary to remember that God does not ask us to love others unconditionally and unselfishly without giving us the ability to do it. Even (or especially!) in the most difficult of times, he gives us whatever we need that will enable us to obey his laws.

When it seems impossible to be Christ-like in our dealings with others, it's only because we have not let the Spirit of Christ completely fill us. God's grace is always available. Consider how Mary, our Blessed Mother, was able to resist all temptations; it was only possible because she was full of grace, which was a gift from God to enable her to accomplish his will.

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when we recognize and repent of our selfishness, this same grace is bestowed upon us abundantly. The grace to love, the grace to be kind when we feel like being mean or cranky, the grace to hate our own unChristian behaviors and to do what Jesus would do, is a gift of empowerment. It makes us able to be the holy persons that we were baptized to be.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Nov. 7, 2017, Tuesday: 31st Week in Ordinary Time

Nov. 7, 2017, Tuesday: 31st Week in Ordinary Time

Pray your way to peace

As Christians, we claim that in Jesus Christ we have found peace. And yet, despite our faith, we live in turmoil, anxiety, and the inner struggle for self esteem and acceptance. When we don't like the way others treat us, we go to battle. We don't know how to live in peace.

This happens because we get so busy taking care of the business and busyness of our lives that we miss the party that Jesus is hosting. Today's Gospel reading teaches us that we only find true happiness when we accept the Lord's invitation to dine with him -- i.e., when we take time to enjoy his company and let him nourish us. Mass is an example of this type of banquet, but the invitation is for every day, all day.

We cannot taste a morsel of God's goodness while we're too busy or too distracted to stop, sit down, chat and dine with him. We need time alone with God, and our private parties with him should include all four stages if we're to experience a life of peace.

1. Stop. Make the time to accept Christ's invitation to dine with him (the time for it won't exist unless you make the time).

2. Sit down. Put aside all distractions, all the excuses and reasons for doing something else with this time. Focus on God and your relationship with him. Otherwise, even if you're sitting in a pew during Mass, you won't be sitting with Jesus.

3. Chat. Tell Jesus that you love him. Thank him for being so good to you. Unload upon him the burdens of your concerns, worries, inner struggles, etc., but don't forget to talk about the good stuff, too. After all, how do you feel when a friend only talks about troubles and complaints? Be a friend to Jesus by chatting with him about your joys and blessings and the thoughts that are uplifting to hear.

4. Dine. Allow Jesus to nourish you. Meditate on a scripture or discuss what you recently read in a book that is helping you to grow spiritually. Let him feed your dreams and hopes and desires as well as your hunger for love and acceptance.

If you do this daily, the burdens will become lighter and the worries less fearsome. Your self esteem will grow as you experience God's acceptance of you and his appreciation for you. You'll become more aware of the gifts that he's given you and you'll become inspired by the Holy Spirit to use those gifts. You'll identify the purpose -- the importance -- of your everyday life.

In other words, you'll find peace!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nov. 5, 2017: 31st Sunday A

Nov. 5, 2017: 31st Sunday A

Click to hear Audio Homily
A few years ago, Time Magazine wrote an article titled, “5 Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From Pope Francis.” One lesson that stood out from the list was, “Set an example.” The article pointed out that Pope Francis’ life of simplicity and poverty and his commitment to the vulnerable helped him preach against corruption in the church, exaggerated clerical privilege, and indifference to the poor. His words and deeds made us clergy uncomfortable because he challenged our tendency to be complacent and hypocritical. Pope Francis is following the footsteps of Jesus who wanted his disciples to be shepherds willing to lay down their lives for their flock.

Jesus’ leadership was in sharp contrast to the religious leaders of his day--the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. Jesus singled them out in today’s Gospel, “For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen.” Jesus showed his disciples in both words and action how to serve. He served whomever he came to encounter whether it be a leper, those possessed by demons, and outcasts like the Samaritan woman at the well or despised tax collectors. Jesus did not coerce or domineer those he served. He showed that service is a mixture of humility and a desire to be near to those he served.

St. Francis de Sales pointed out that, “Humility consists in not esteeming ourselves above others, and in not seeking to be esteemed above them.” Our life is about following Our Lord’s example in serving with humility. What does this look like in our home or workplace? It means putting other’s need ahead of our own. In marriage it means husband and wife choose to unselfishly serve others together; from this they will experience peace, contentment and a deeper bond that strengthens their marriage. It means at work, we encourage a co-worker who is going through a hard time through a hug, an email, or flowers to show that we’re happy to help. No matter how we serve, we must avoid occasions to place ourselves above others through our status, wealth, position, or influence. St. Paul put it this way: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). True discipleship is to have a servant's heart, to have an unselfish determination to serve others. Like Pope Francis let us set an example of humility, simplicity, and poverty in the way we serve others.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Nov. 2, 2017: All Souls Day

Nov. 2, 2017: All Souls Day
There is a beautiful passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom 14:7-8) How many of us are aware that our lives are interdependent on others, even with the ones who departed from us? On this commemoration of the departed souls, we feel sad that they are no longer with us physically. Yet this separation is temporary as one of the prayers in the Rite of Committal reminds us, “Trusting in God, we have prayed together for our loved one and now we come to the last farewell. There is sadness in parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see our loved one again and enjoy their friendship. Although we disperse in sorrow, the mercy of God will gather us together again in the joy of his kingdom. Therefore let us console one another in the faith of Jesus Christ.” 

We come together today to pray especially for our deceased loved ones and those who have no one to pray for them. We entrust those who have died to the unfathomable Divine Mercy of Our Lord. Whether they have lived an exemplary Christian life or they lived a life far from God, we commend them all to the merciful God whose infinite goodness cannot be measured. Pope Benedict beautifully said, “The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death — this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today.” God hears our prayer because there is power in our love expressed through prayer. May God bring our loved ones to peace and prepare them to receive the fullness of His Love in heaven. 

At this time, let us pause to bring to mind those that we hold dear in our hearts and for whom we now pray...

May choirs of angels lead you into Paradise
and may the martyrs come to welcome you
to bring you home into the Holy City,
so you may dwell in new Jerusalem

May holy angels be there at your welcoming,
with all the saints who go before you there,
that you may know the peace and joy of paradise;
that you may enter into everlasting rest.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nov. 1, 2017: Solemnity of All Saints

Nov. 1, 2017: Solemnity of All Saints

Click to hear Audio Homily
When we think of a saint, we picture someone who is so perfect, impeccable, and sinless. Pope John XXIII, a man who was declared a saint in 2014 along with Pope John Paul II, told this story. Visiting a pediatric hospital, he asked a boy who was a patient what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy replied that he wanted to be either a policeman or a pope. Then John XXIII replied,  "I would go in for the police if I were you. Anyone can become a pope, look at me!" Being able to laugh at themselves is one of the hallmarks of a saint. St. John XXIII didn’t take himself too seriously, and this reflected his humble regard for himself before God.

Our Lord said in the Gospel today, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven...blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” When we look at whom Jesus chose to be his apostles and disciples, we realize that he chose disciples who had flaws. Jesus preferred the lowly, those who recognized their poverty and powerlessness. Just as a doctor comes to treat the sick, Jesus ministered to sinners such as the adulterous woman, a cheating tax collector, the good thief, and even us. He used parables of the lost coin, the search for stray sheep, and the prodigal son to reveal his mercy. We can be at our worst, yet Jesus regards such sinners like us with tender care. He lavishes his love and forgiveness on those who feel that they’ve failed God and others. His forgiveness wipes away our guilt and sets us on a new path of holiness.

St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest saints of our Church said, “There is no saint without a past; and there is no sinner without a future.” St. Augustine experienced Jesus’ tender love and mercy, and he was transformed. St. Augustine is a great example of how Jesus does not look at our past, but rather opens us to a new future. St. Therese of Lisieux once said, “How happy I am to find myself imperfect and so much in need of the good Gods mercy at my time of death.”

What is our obstacle to becoming a saint? Our lack of trust in God. St. Monica prayed and sacrificed for her son St. Augustine for over 30 year hoping that God’s grace would touch her son and transform him. Our transformation is not overnight; rather it takes a lifetime. Therefore, hope and patience are virtues that we need to have on this journey of becoming a saint. Another virtue we need is our desire to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. For a long time, St. Augustine believed that the restless desires he felt inside was for the beautiful things of the world. The pivotal moment came when he realized that the restless desire within him wa really for God.  St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Do we feel a restless desire within?

Our journey to sainthood is unique, therefore, we should respect and reverence where each person is in their own journey. Just as we should be hopeful and patient with ourselves, we need to do the same for others. Mother Teresa said to her sisters, “Keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints.”

Let us emulate the saints and strive to be sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Oct. 29, 2017: 30th Sunday A

Oct. 29, 2017: 30th Sunday A

Click to hear Audio Homily
Some years ago, I had a chance to visit the Temple Mount located at the Old City of Jerusalem. It’s the holiest site for Jewish people because on it stood the ancient Jewish temples of Solomon and Herod. The temple was destroyed in the year 70, yet there stands a surviving remnant of the temple  -- the Western Wall.  Even till today, Jewish men gather at the Western Wall to pray.  One prayer that is prayed frequently in the Jewish tradition is the Shema: “Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” These prayers and precepts come from the Book of Deuteronomy and Numbers which are thousands of years of old.

The Shema prayer is the centerpiece of the daily morning and evening prayer services and is considered by some the most essential prayer in all of Judaism. As faithful Jews, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph stopped three times each day to pray together this prayer. In fact it was prayed by Mary’s parents, her grandparents, her great grandparents, and generations before them. What was the purpose for this command to pray? From the very beginning of time, God called us to love Him and to be that love. He called us to be in relationship with Him. But our sins got in the way. Laws were given to bring us back, but instead we emphasized following rules and regulations which separated the person from God rather than uniting them to God. Jesus was sent by God to place us back in relationship with God showing us how to truly love Him.

For Jesus, the prayer life, the law and the Commandments, and the love of God are all in unity. Jesus understood that His Father’s love is holy, just, and pure, seeking only what is good and life-giving. Therefore, the Father commands us to love likewise; to give what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject what is destructive, evil, or deadly. Jesus summarized all of God’s whole law in two great commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How do we keep relationship with God in the forefront of our mind throughout the day? I noticed that when I was at the Western Wall among the throngs of Jewish men, they kept their heads covered with skullcaps and all wore prayer shawls. The skullcap is worn as a sign of recognition that there is Someone above who watches their every act. The prayer shawl, for these men, is a sign of constant devotion to God. Rather than a cap or prayer shawl, God asks us to be in relationship with Him by the way we treat our neighbor. Do we love God so much that we would never hurt our neighbor? Do we love God so much that we would never lie, cheat, covet, or commit adultery against our neighbor? God knows that how we treat others reflects the relationship that we have with Him. God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns - do we put him first in our thoughts through our concerns for our neighbor? What keeps us from deepening our relationship with God and our neighbor?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Oct. 28, 2017: St. Jude and St. Simon, Apostles

Oct. 28, 2017: St. Jude and St. Simon, Apostles

Prayer to St. Jude in Times of Suffering
Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, I place myself into your hands at this difficult time.  Help me to know that I am not alone.  Please pray for me, asking God to send me comfort for my sorrows, bravery for my fears, and healing for my suffering.  Ask our loving God to strengthen my faith and give me the courage to accept His Will for my life. Thank you, St. Jude, for the hope you offer to all who believe in you.  Amen.

There is perhaps no one among us, particularly at this point in our nation’s history, who is not facing a crisis on some level.  Maybe yours is of a financial nature.  Maybe your home is in foreclosure or you are facing a short sale.  Perhaps your marriage needs healing or you are newly bereaved.  Maybe you lost your job and are unable to find meaningful employment.  Whatever your suffering is on a physical, fiscal, mental, emotional or spiritual level, one thing is certain – your problem appears to be immoveable, impassable, and simply impossible to solve!  Perhaps you even feel like giving up. In other words – you have become desperate!

Whatever challenges you are facing in life– know that there is a powerful Saint of the early Church who eagerly awaits your call for help. Even now, in our present age, he stands ready to robustly assist you in the seemingly impossible problems of life.

I speak of a Saint of which little is known.   A Saint who was ordinary until Christ made him extraordinary.  A Saint mentioned little in the Gospels – but who broke his silence to write a short, powerful letter which speaks to the challenges of our times. A Saint who bore the ultimate witness, dying a martyr’s death with a spirit steeped in courage.

I speak of Saint Jude – the Saint of the impossible!  The inconsolable!  The desperate! A Saint who has never been known to fail! Saint Jude is specifically invoked in despairing situations because his New Testament letter, The Letter of Saint Jude, stresses to us the importance of persevering despite harsh and difficult times.  Therefore, he has been appointed as the Patron Saint of desperate cases.  And I can tell you from experience, he takes his title very seriously!  In our challenging times, would it not be wise to befriend such a faithful ally?

Let’s face it – we all need help from time to time and there is no shame in asking for it.  So why not seek help from one of God’s most powerful intercessors who continuously goes before the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for his friends on earth. Won’t you consider making Saint Jude a part of your spiritual family to help you with the impossible?  Give him a chance and experience firsthand the many ways this mighty champion of Christ will work in your life!

- By Judy Keane

Friday, October 27, 2017

Oct. 27, 2017 Friday: 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Oct. 27, 2017 Friday: 29th Week in Ordinary Time

[Rom 7:18-25a and Luke 12:54-59]
"For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." [Romans]

By Fr. R. B. Williams. O.P.

     Have you ever felt at war with yourself?  Have you ever asked yourself, "Why did I do that?  That's not me at all!"  If so, you may be in good company.  Today's passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans shows us a man who could be in conflict with himself.  

     Perhaps the most dramatic form of this conflict could be found in any kind of addiction, but this is not the only form.  A lesser form could be in the "want/need" dilemma when we are attracted to some consumer item and deal with the temptation to spend.  "Do I really need this item?  Or do I just WANT it?"  The advertising industry is betting on your answer to that question!  In short, St. Paul is putting his finger on the fundamental challenge of temptation!

     For St. Paul, the conflict is not between physical and spiritual, i.e. between soul and body..  It is the conflict within the person of faith who recognizes that even a believer in Christ can be tempted to act contrary to that belief.  It is only God's mercy that enables us to continue to rise when we fall and try to do better.  If the problem is a true addiction, there is considerable help available in the form of Twelve Step programs.  In the ordinary temptations of life, there is prayer and the wisdom of Christianity lived for more than 2000 years, provided we are willing to accept it as our guide. God is not standing on the side of the pool to see if we sink or swim.  But we must do our part to stay afloat!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Oct. 25, 2017 Wednesday: 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Oct. 25, 2017 Wednesday: 29th Week in Ordinary Time

What lesson can we draw from Jesus' parable about a thief in the night and the parable about the master of the household who surprises his stewards with an unexpected visit? Both parables confront us with the possibility of losing everything we presently own and treasure and losing our the future inheritance as well.  

Guarding the treasure God's has given us

What treasure does the Lord expect us to vigilantly guard in this present life? It is the treasure of the gifts he has won for us - the gift of salvation purchased by his blood on the cross which has ransomed us from slavery to sin, Satan,and death - and the gift of his Holy Spirit who works in and through us to make us a new creation refashioned in the image of God. The Father and the Son through the gift of the Holy Spirit come to make their home with us. But we can ignore their presence, close our ears to their voice, or reject them through pride and unfaithfulness. 

Satan comes like a thief in the night to rob us of our faith and to draw us away from God. He works with the world (that society which is opposed to God) and with our flesh (our sinful inclinations) to make us believe that we can find treasure and happiness apart from God and his will for our lives. 

And we can deceive ourselves by putting off for tomorrow what must be done today. God offers us grace today to turn away from sin and rebellion. We must not presume that we can wait another day. The day of the Lord - when he returns again at the end of this present world - will come like a thief. We need to be spiritually alert and watchful at all times. The Lord comes to us - each and every day - to draw us to himself and to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love. 

Are you ready to meet the Lord?

The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord's warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

By Don Schwager,

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Oct. 22, 2017: 29th Sunday A

Oct. 22, 2017: 29th Sunday A
When was the last time you used your U.S. passport? Whether you’re on a cruise ship to Caribbeans, driving down to Mexico, or flying to Europe, a U.S. passport certifies that you are a citizens of this country, entitling you to travel under its protection. Do we appreciate our special privilege of being citizens of this country, and do we exercise our responsibilities for receiving these privileges? When we were born in this country, we became citizens of this earthly nation. But in actuality, we have dual citizenship. With baptism, we became citizens of Heaven as St. Paul told the Ephesian Christian community, “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19) How are we to exercise our dual citizenship? 

Jesus’ response to the religious leaders in today’s Gospel will serve as our guide in answering our question. The religious leaders tried to trap and discredit Jesus by forcing him to admit that he was either an insurrectionist revolutionary against Roman government or a collaborator with the hated Romans. When presented the question as to whether to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus replied,  “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Jesus’ answer eluded the narrow human categories set up by the religious leaders and invited them to define themselves by who they truly were--sons of God the Most High. Jesus’ prayer to his Father later in the Garden of Gethsemane revealed this truth, “Father, they do not belong to the world anymore than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one...Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:14-17) We are not defined by our pursuit of earning coins by the sweat of our brow, but by the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Someone beautifully and succinctly summarized our responsibilities of being dual citizens of earth and heaven, “We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our might that this street, this world, where God has placed us, is our place of holiness.” (MADELEINE DELBRÊL) Christ commands us to live out our earthly life with justice, responsibility, and collaboration. There are occasions when government calls us to overlook what is due to God and to force us to forget that we are children of God. When human laws carelessly push aside the sacredness of life as the gift from God, then we Christians should infuse the politics and marketplaces with the divine light and wisdom of God’s truth. As for fulfilling their responsibilities of being citizens of their earthly nation, Christians are to obey all just human laws, pay legally assessed taxes, and take an active and informed part in the political processes by voting. Meanwhile, we owe God our adoration, love, obedience, repentance, and gratitude. We are to support His Church by participating at sacred worship, offering financial support, and sharing our gifts and talents with our faith community. Heavenly Father called us out of our mother’s womb to proclaim God’s word through our lives,  to raise our children in God’s truth, and to teach them to reverence Him. When we reflect upon these responsibilities due to God, are we actually living what we claim to believe? Are we living in this world while not being of this world?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Oct. 20, 2017: St. Paul of the Cross

Oct. 20, 2017: St. Paul of the Cross

 "I say to you who are My friends: Do not be afraid." —Luke 12:4  

"You did not receive a spirit of slavery leading you back into fear, but a spirit of adoption" (Rm 8:15). Satan, however, tries to make us lifelong slaves through the fear of death (Heb 2:15). In this battle against fear, we can claim Jesus' victory by accepting the grace to:

- fear the Lord. "He who fears the Lord is never alarmed, never afraid; for the Lord is his Hope" (Sir 34:14),
- fear going to hell (Lk 12:5),
- have faith in Jesus, Who said to Jairus after his daughter had died: "Do not fear; only believe" (Mk 5:36, our transl), and
- love everyone, even enemies, for "complete love casts out all fear" (1 Jn 4:18)

Jesus commands us: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and can do no more" (Lk 12:4). He adds: "Fear nothing" (Lk 12:7). In the Scriptures, God commands us 365 times: "Do not fear." Because the Lord always graces us to obey His commands, we constantly have the grace to be free from the fear of man. Jesus says: "Do not live in fear, little flock. It has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12:32). In Christ, you are fearless.

Father, send me the Spirit of courage (see 2 Tm 1:7) to face the fears in my life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Help Finish Ascension Church Fundraiser on Sat. October 28, 2017, 5PM - 9PM

Help Finish Ascension Church Fundraiser
Sat. October 28, 2017, 5PM - 9PM
in the Ascension Catholic High School gym

Great Food, Drinks and Auction
$50.00 a person - All you can eat and drink
Tickets can be purchased at the Church Office
All Sponsors get complimentary tickets

Gold sponsor: $5,000 receives 6 tickets to fundraiser Silver Sponsor: $2,000 receives 2 tickets to fundraiser

Tickets: Call 225-473-3176 (

Appetizers: Fried Jumbo Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp, Fried Fish, Buffalo Wings, Boiled Shrimp, Soft Shell Crabs

Main Course: Sensation Salad, Grilled Cat ish with Toppings, Roast Beef au jus (Bernardo’s), Shrimp Fettuccini (Café Lafourche), Seafood Gumbo (Kenny Frederick)

Dessert: Bread Budding

Beloved: A Parish Retreat, Sat. Nov. 11, 2017, 9AM at Ascension Catholic Church

BELOVED: A Parish Retreat at Ascension Catholic Church
with Marianne Gulino, Staci Gulino & Rachael Johnson
Saturday Nov. 11, 2017  9AM

Join us for a beautiful day of prayer and reflection as we open our heart to draw closer to Jesus, Our Beloved

Staci Gulino
(Speaker) - Podcaster & host of the Faith & Good Counsel Radio Show
Rachael Johnson (Speaker) - Testimony by a wife, mother and LSU graduate

Pre-registration required by November 3rd

$15.00 per person non-refundable but transferable to
Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church,
716 Mississippi St., Donaldsonville, LA.

Lunch will be served

If you have any questions, please email

Oct. 18, 2017: St. Luke

Oct. 18, 2017 Wednesday: St. Luke

Today we celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, who was sanctified by his labours for Christ’s sake and attained everlasting glory as the author of the third Gospel as well as the history of the Acts of the Apostles. 

St Luke was not Jewish by birth, but may have converted to Judaism before later coming to Christ. He was a native of Antioch, which according to the Synaxarion, was ‘renowned [at that time] for the flourishing state of the arts and sciences . . . [There] Luke had developed his intellect with various scholarly studies. . . . He indubitably received an excellent education in general, for the quality of the Greek language of his writings is far more pure and correct than that of the other NT writers.’[1] 

According to Bl Theophylact, St Luke ‘had a great knowledge of natural philosophy’, meaning the science of his day, ‘but . . . was also much practiced in Hebrew learning’. In Colossians 4:14, St Paul calls him ‘the beloved physician’, so we know that he was a doctor. He was a great writer who ‘knows and uses conventions’ of Greek and Roman history and novels, [2] but the prologue of his Gospel ‘rings with the poetry of prophets and psalms’. [3] Thus, he was a first-rate theologian and historian, but according to Church tradition St Luke was also a skilled artist who painted some of the first Christian iconography. He was a Renaissance man. 

Some believe St Luke was also one of the two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus, but he is certainly identified as one of the Seventy Apostles sent out by Christ. It is for this reason that the passage from his Gospel in which Christ exhorts the Seventy forms the second lesson today. After his conversion to Christ, St Luke travelled with St Paul to Greece to preach the Gospel, and there he worked diligently to establish the Church at Philippi. Next he went to Corinth to collect alms for the Palestinian Christians, who were undergoing persecution (II Cor 8:18-19). Upon his return to Palestine, St Paul was imprisoned for Christ, but, the holy Evangelist Luke remained by his teacher’s side. Indeed, he accompanied the great Apostle on the difficult voyage to Rome for his trial. 

It was during St Paul’s imprisonment in Rome that St Luke, at urging of the Holy Spirit and St Paul himself, wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Thus, according to Eusebius (in Ecclesiastical History 3.4.6), who alludes to St Luke’s profession as a doctor: So he has left us examples of the art of healing souls which he learnt from [St Paul and the other apostles] in two divinely inspired books, the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The former, he declares, he wrote in accordance with the information he received from those who from the first had been eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, information which, he adds, he had followed in its entirety from the first. The latter he composed not this time from hearsay but from the evidence of his own eyes. [4] 

St Luke’s Gospel includes many of the most beloved stories of the New Testament—the story of Christ’s birth, which we read every year at Nativity, the parable of Prodigal Son, a beautiful story of repentance, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and story of the Road to Emmaus, which as I have mentioned may have told from an eyewitness perspective. The Gospel of St Luke has a special emphasis on the Gentiles becoming part of God’s people. St Ambrose of Milan says of it, ‘But, truly, St Luke kept, as it were, a certain historical order, and revealed to us more miracles of the Lord’s deeds, yet so that the historiry of his Gospel embraced the virtue of all wisdom.’ [5] 

At this point, it seems fitting to consider in some detail today’s Gospel reading, from St Luke 10. This lesson was not only written by St Luke, but presumably tells us something about him as well, thus prompting the decision to use it as the Gospel for his feast. Christ’s instructions to the Seventy, as interpreted by the Holy Fathers, suggest virtues which characterise St Luke himself, and I am sadly conscious as well that they should characterise all who would preach or teach in the Church. 

First, in St Luke 10:4, we read, ‘Carry neither purse, nor scrip.’ St Ambrose of Milan points out that Christ ‘explained clearly elsewhere why no purse is to be carried, for Matthew wrote that the Lord said to the Disciples, “Do not possess gold, or silver” (St Matthew 10:9).’ [6] Thus, we see that the minister of the Gospel is to practice non-acquisitiveness. 

As for the injunction to wear no shoes or sandals, the Fathers observe that since leather is the skin of a dead animal, apart from the literal meaning shoes can be seen as a symbol of mortal cares. According to St Gregory the Great: ‘It is not fitting that he who undertakes the task of preaching should burden himself with worldly affairs, lest, engrossed in such matters, he forget the business of eternal life.’ [7] St Luke was unhampered by the concerns of this world, and so should we be. 

When Christ says ‘salute no man by the way’, Bl Theophylact tells us, ‘He adds this command to them, Salute no man along the way, so that they do not become preoccupied with greetings and civilities, and thus be hindered from preaching.’ [8] St Cyril of Alexandria adds the comment—‘let that which is well pleasing to God be preferred by you to all other things; and so practising an irresistible and unhampered diligence, hold fast to your apostolic cares.’ [9] 

And finally, St Ambrose notes, ‘. . . [W]hen divine commands are given, human obligations are surrendered for a while. . . . Therefore, even honorable acts are prohibited, lest the grace of ceremony deceive and hinder the ministry of the task, delay in which is sinful.’ [10] Thus, St Luke was single-minded in his devotion to God’s work and was not distracted even by natural pleasures.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Oct. 17, 2017 Tuesday: St. Ignatius of Antioch

Oct. 17, 2017 Tuesday: St. Ignatius of Antioch

Is the Lord Jesus welcomed at your table and are you ready to feast at his table? A Pharisee, after hearing Jesus preach, invited him to dinner, no doubt, because he wanted to hear more from this extraordinary man who spoke the word of God as no one else had done before. It was not unusual for a rabbi to give a teaching over dinner. Jesus, however, did something which offended his host. He did not perform the ceremonial washing of hands before beginning the meal. Did Jesus forget or was he deliberately performing a sign to reveal something to his host? Jesus turned the table on his host by chiding him for uncleanness of heart. 

What makes the heart clean and holy?

Which is more important to God - clean hands or a clean mind and heart? Jesus chided the Pharisees for harboring evil thoughts that make us unclean spiritually - such as greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and the like. Why does he urge them, and us, to give alms? When we give freely and generously to those in need we express love, compassion, kindness, and mercy. And if the heart is full of love and compassion, then there is no room for envy, greed, bitterness, and the like. Do you allow God's love to transform your heart, mind, and actions toward your neighbor?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your love and increase my thirst for holiness. Cleanse my heart of every evil thought and desire and help me to act kindly and justly and to speak charitably with my neighbor."

By Don Schwager,

Monday, October 16, 2017

Oct. 16, 2017: Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Oct. 16, 2017: Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

"Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth." 
- Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

The sacred heart of Christ is an inexhaustible fountain and its sole desire is to pour itself out into the hearts of the humble so as to free them and prepare them to lead lives according to his good pleasure. From this divine heart three streams flow endlessly. 

The first is the stream of mercy for sinners; it pours into their hearts sentiments of contrition and repentance. 

The second is the stream of charity which helps all in need and especially aids those seeking perfection in order to find the means of surmounting their difficulties. 

From the third stream flow love and light for the benefit of his friends who have attained perfection; these he wishes to unite to himself so that they may share his knowledge and commandments and, in their individual ways, devote themselves wholly to advancing his glory. 

This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. 

It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need. 

Are you making no progress in prayer? The you need only offer God the prayers which the Savior has poured out for us in the sacrament of the altar. 

Offer God his fervent love in reparation for your sluggishness. In the course of every activity pray as follows: "My God, I do this or I endure that in the heart of your Son and according to his holy counsels. I offer it to you in reparation for anything blameworthy or imperfect in my actions." 

Continue to do this in every circumstance of life. But above all preserve peace of heart. This is more valuable than any treasure. 

In order to preserve it there is nothing more useful than renouncing your own will and substituting for it the will of the divine heart. In this way his will can carry out for us whatever contributes to his glory, and we will be happy to be his subjects and to trust entirely in him. 

- from a letter by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque