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Ruston Catholic Received French Legion of Honor

by John Mark Willcox There is always a first time for everything when you work for the Church and I had a first time experience recently when I conducted my first interview More »

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From Atheism to Seminary: Meet the Diocese’s Newest Seminarian

by Jessica Rinaudo When you think of candidates for the Catholic priesthood, the word “atheist” likely never crosses your mind, but the Diocese of Shreveport’s newest seminarian, Francis Genusa, used that term More »

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Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat: Post-Abortive Healing

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the LORD: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe More »

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His Presence & Prayers Saved My Daughter’s Life

by Susan Flanagan On a hot Saturday this past July, the local abortion clinic’s parking lot was filled with cars, business as usual getting underway there. On average, 60-70 babies are aborted More »

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Money School Gives Value to Those in Need

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday at Catholic Charities and the lobby is filled with people waiting to attend the Money School, the weekly More »

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Catholic Schools Annual Report

by Sr. Carol Shively, OSU This 2017 – 2018 Annual Report is organized around the four major themes of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools—Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance More »

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Domestic Church: Finding Treasure in Monotony

by Katie Sciba If you have a family, you have monotony; there’s no way around it. Work, school, errands, activities – there is so much “same ol’” on repeat. Quite simply, all More »

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BIshop’s Reflection: Do You Accept?

by Bishop Michael G. Duca On June 10th, as I pulled into my garage after having just ordained Father Duane Trombetta as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport in a beautiful More »

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A Decade with Bishop Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor, The Catholic Connection In December 2007, newly married and stepping into a budding career as a graphic designer and journalist, I was hired as the editor of The More »

Are People Seeking Your Help?

by Mike Van Vranken

Has anyone asked for your opinion or advice about his or her prayer life? Do people approach you to talk about their relationship with God? Have others sought you to help them with a major decision? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these, God may be calling you to the ministry of spiritual direction. All across our diocese, people are hungry for someone to discuss these matters with. Are you one of those who people seek out? The Archdiocese of New Orleans provides an Internship to help people discern if spiritual direction is a ministry they are being called by God to pursue.

From the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center’s brochure: In spiritual direction, a trained and certified “director walks with the directee in order to deepen awareness of God’s Presence. This desire for intimacy with the Lord creates the situation of spiritual direction. The Internship prepares the Intern to assist the directee discern the presence and movement of God in the life of the directee.

The ASC Internship incorporates a broad reflection on the ministry of spiritual direction within the context of today’s Church. Following the theology and methodology of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Internship prepares the Intern to guide others in on-going spiritual direction and directed retreats.

The honing of skills is part of the formation of a spiritual director; essential formation comes from God’s gifts, the Church’s formation, and the spiritual hunger of the Intern. When God has gifted a person with faith and discernment a training program can help that person recognize, strengthen and purify their gift of discernment.

The two-year Internship closes with a process of individual and group discernment that assists the participants to discern if they are called to the ministry of spiritual direction or to another form of faith ministry. This discernment also considers the areas of Spiritual Direction to which each intern feels called.”

Spiritual Direction Informational Meetings:

Informational meetings with more information about this Internship in Spiritual Direction will be held in our diocese on the following days and times:

Thursday, September 27, 10:00 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.

The Catholic Center • 3500 Fairfield Ave, Shreveport
Thursday, October 11, 6:30 p.m.

St. Paschal Church • 711 North 7th Street, West Monroe
For more information, call or email Mike Van Vranken

318-423-4617, or mikevanvranken@comcast.net

Ruston Catholic Received French Legion of Honor

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by John Mark Willcox

There is always a first time for everything when you work for the Church and I had a first time experience recently when I conducted my first interview with an centenarian. Robert “Bob” Hurtig is now awaiting his 101st birthday and he has less grey hair than I do within my mere 59 years of life!

There are many amazing things about the life Bob has led since he was born in Cincinnati, OH, in 1917. He grew up an active Catholic and served as a eucharistic minister prior to joining the armed forces in January of 1941 before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He spent time at several bases in the south and was scheduled to board the famous French passenger liner Normandie for passage to Europe. Before that could happen, the Normandie was resting on the bottom of the Hudson River in New York due to what was reported at the time as a severe fire that broke out on deck. “That is not really what happened,” offers Bob. “The truth is that a German U-boat snuck up the Hudson River and torpedoed that ship before the United States could use it. The officials didn’t want that story to get out so they created the fire story.”

Bob ended up being part of the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier navigator assigned to the famous “flying fortress” which was of course the B-17. “We made bombing runs in France, Germany, Austria and Norway,” recalls Bob, as his still sharp mind recounts his years in combat. “I was quick then, and I’m quick today!” he proclaims with a broad and infectious smile.

Bob Hurtig was part of the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier navigator assigned to a B-17 during WWII.

Some of his bombing targets included chemical plants, factories, a buzz bomb launching platform and submarine pens housing deadly U-Boats. All of these missions resulted in a literal shirt full of medals and commendations for Bob, including the French Legion of Honor medal. “After one successful mission I was told that I was to be promoted from Lieutenant to Captain and slated to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. I was never promoted to Captain and I am still waiting on that medal!”

Bob flew his last mission in April of 1945 and looks back with a large degree of sadness on his involvement with the war. “I lost approximately 87 good friends during World War II. When we were flying in formation on bombing runs you would many times see our planes going down in flames. With a B-17, that’s 10 good men you lost with each plane shot down.”

I asked about his prayer life during the war and Bob offered “If you weren’t good at praying when you arrived in the European Theatre, you sure learned how to pray real quick.”

Returning to America, Bob had a successful career in New Orleans working in the wine, liquor and beer industry before moving to Ruston to be close to his only child, Dr. Dolliann Hurtig who is a professor at Louisiana Tech University. He has been a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ruston since 1993.

When asked about the secret to living one hundred years, Bob’s advice is straightforward and simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and don’t let politics or people ever convince you that the Lord God is not the most important thing in your life!”

Sock Collection for Prison Ministry

by Mary Morgan

Seeds of caring were planted last year and we all became real life gardeners as we harvested over 1,600 pairs of socks.

In the store of life, Jesus wants people to find the seeds that best suit them so they might live and make the Kingdom grow. His seeds might go wild and even get trampled, but He knows they can open hearts and make hands become loving and helpful toward others.

When the sock drive of 2017 ended, the small gift of a pair of socks had grown into a beautiful surprise for about 1,600 inmates in the Bossier and DeSoto parish facilities, a Christmas gift from the people of the Diocese of Shreveport. The great green thumb of Jesus is planning the Christmas of 2018 event, the 2nd Annual Sock Drive. The seeds are flying already and falling everywhere. If any of them land near your heart’s garden, plant them and let them grow.

All that is needed before December 2018 are men’s white socks (note: women are included and will receive the men’s socks). Help make this collection happen and we will again warm the feet and hearts of those in prison.

For more information contact Mary Morgan at 318-742-3774.

Sock Collection Detail:

Must be men’s white socks, crew or up the calf type only. Please keep them in the original packages. No used socks please.

Delivery will be two weeks before Christmas.

From Atheism to Seminary: Meet the Diocese’s Newest Seminarian

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by Jessica Rinaudo

When you think of candidates for the Catholic priesthood, the word “atheist” likely never crosses your mind, but the Diocese of Shreveport’s newest seminarian, Francis Genusa, used that term to describe his life during many of his high school years.

“I was an atheist, or at least agnostic, and I didn’t really put much stock into Catholicism or anything at that time. I never really thought about my faith in a deep way, and so I pulled away from it… I got into looking into Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and other great thinkers who I still respect,” Francis said. “But I got into them and just thought it was reasonable not to be faithful, that God didn’t exist, and that all that was something that made people feel good and, not that I didn’t want to feel good or fulfilled as a person, I just thought that you didn’t have to have God to feel good… and that’s partly where my search picked up, I was trying to find fulfillment.”

“I was always that kid who argued so much in class, but our youth minister was a pretty smart guy. He argued with me and I met my match. So I had to do investigation and I had to do digging, and that led me to the seminary because of all those questions.”

And when Francis says it led him to the seminary, he means that quite literally. While in high school, he attended a “Come and See” event at St. Joseph seminary in south Louisiana.

“I had gone to seminary with the mind set that I wanted to talk to these people and figure out those arguments; throw those arguments at them and see what bounced off. But really what bounced off was faith,” Francis said.

During the weekend-long event, he was encouraged by a friend to go and kneel before the Blessed Sacrament.

“As I prayed, I said, ‘If you’re real and you’re not just a piece of bread on a stick, then nothing’s really more important than that.’ And it was a weird kind of epiphany. I started saying things in my mind that were incredulous … Like, ‘If you are the center of the universe, God of everything, the Creator … there really isn’t anything more important.’ And that’s really where the light kind of turned back on.”

Francis attended the Come and See events three times. And what began as a faith life full of incredulity, quickly grew into what Francis describes as a “mountain of faith.” He investigated St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for God, and it just, as he says, “clicked into my mind. ”

But even finding his faith again, the leap from atheism to discerning priesthood is a large one.

While at St. Frederick High School, Francis was critical of the Mass and he and former youth director, Mark Loyet, often talked about it and all aspects of the faith. “And one day he just asked me ‘Why do you care so much? Why do you come in here and keep trying to berate me about it?’ And I said ‘I don’t know.’”

Several weeks later, Fr. Keith Garvin, chaplain at St. Frederick’s at the time, talked to Francis after Mass and asked him if he had ever thought about a vocation. Francis’ immediate response was not positive.

“What a vocation?! Priesthood?! No… But then it started to settle in, and I started to think about it, and I thought, ‘Well, gee, this is important for some reason. Why?’ So I just started to feel it and it got a lot more real. … Mark Loyet had been in touch over the summer and he called Father Jerry [Diocesan Vocations Director] and we had a conversation. That’s when I knew.”

His discernment process has bloomed since then. Francis began attending St. Matthew Parish in Monroe, and has become very involved with the church, so much so that he was eventually hired on as their administrative assistant.

“I think the most impact on my vocation is being in the presence of the church and being in the presence of the priest,” said Francis. “And I’ve been with Fr. Mark [Franklin] so much, not only at the church, but we’ve also gone to eat and spent a lot of time together. That time has enriched me because a lot of what people think about the priesthood or religious life, in general, they don’t see it, and they can’t feel it. … I didn’t know what seminary was like, I thought they just went into a cave and prayed, but, no, they’re people. They live and they live even better than us.”

Francis began attending seminary at St. Joseph Seminary on August 10.

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat: Post-Abortive Healing

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by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship

Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the LORD: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. . . there is hope for your future. (Jeremiah 31:15-17)

The Diocese of Shreveport is glad to announce the reintroduction of Rachel’s Vineyard retreat ministry. Janice Gonzales and her dedicated team of ministers conducted Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in the diocese from 2006 to 2008. Team members today acknowledge that they carry this ministry forward upon the firm, yet grace-filled foundation laid by their predecessors.

Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreats help women and men to heal in the painful aftermath of abortion. Exercises, scripture and ritual, combined with opportunities to share and listen, allow participants to work through emotions of anger, shame, guilt and grief on their journey to finding forgiveness and reconciliation and hope.

Over 60 million abortions have occurred since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Many people have been impacted by abortion, not just the mother and father of the aborted child, but their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, even clinic staff. Rachel’s Vineyard retreats give everyone a starting point to begin their healing journey.

The next Rachel’s Vineyard retreat will be October 26-28, 2018. Please call 318 588-1064 for information, or visit the website at www.rachelsvineyard.org.

Absolute confidentiality is maintained by team members and participants prior to, during and following a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. A Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Spanish will be scheduled in the near future.

St. John Paul II: “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision… If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. … You can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.” – Evangelium Vitae, 1999.

His Presence & Prayers Saved My Daughter’s Life

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by Susan Flanagan

On a hot Saturday this past July, the local abortion clinic’s parking lot was filled with cars, business as usual getting underway there. On average, 60-70 babies are aborted at Hope Medical Group in Shreveport each week. But this day, the clinic sidewalk was the site of a special reunion between a mother, her child and the man whose prayers helped save her baby from being aborted there seven years ago.

Amy Blackwell of east Texas shared her story on Facebook earlier this year, about her “almost abortion.” She was, as she recounted, hopeless, far away from God, and not making good decisions in her life. She drove herself to Hope Medical Group for her initial consultation in April 2011, and she noticed a “little old man standing on the curb, praying the rosary.” Amy said he kept looking at her and she instantly knew that he was praying for her and her baby. She sat in her car a long time, alone and afraid, while he continued praying — they never spoke to each other, but his presence and prayers changed her life.

She finally went into the clinic for her consultation. Looking back now, Amy says she is amazed how Satan can package sin to make it sound so good. The reassuring abortion pamphlets stated that some people are just not ready to have children, financially or emotionally, which sounds plausible – until you stop to realize that their “logical solution” then is to kill those children. The abortionist asked her if she had kids already, which she did have two; he then pronounced that two was enough and he scheduled her abortion. “Someone will need to drive you home afterwards,” he added.

The friend enlisted to drive with her knew Amy was making a big mistake, and spent the better part of the drive from east Texas reminding her that God had a plan for this baby. Finally, as Amy puts it, she “came to her senses” and knew she could not proceed with the abortion. In her Facebook story, she tearfully adds, “I want to say to that little man standing on the curb, thank you because I know you were praying for me. I don’t know who you are, but I know prayers are powerful, and I won’t ever forget you. You are in my head and my heart for the rest of my life.”

Local 40 Days for Life Coordinator Chris Davis saw Amy’s Facebook post and contacted her, saying that he knew who that “little old man with the rosary” was and did Amy want to meet him? Needless to say, she jumped at the chance! Chris then called Mr. Camille Brocato and lined up the July meeting for mother, daughter and prayer warrior on the same abortion clinic sidewalk where their paths crossed seven years earlier.

Brocato has been praying the rosary his entire life, ever since he was around 10 years old. He was never involved in any pro-life activities or groups, but when he was 80 years old, he felt a call to pray the rosary at the abortion clinic with the VITA group on the first Saturday of the month. He later began to go every Saturday, but felt the Blessed Mother wanted more. Finally, he began to show up at the clinic every day, praying the rosary and handing out brochures and his hand-made rosaries to everyone he could. In the course of eight years of daily prayer at the clinic, rain or shine, hot or cold, he has given away over 3,000 rosaries. He would be there still, but finally had to stop because of hip surgery and health issues.

Brocato has a treasure trove of stories of encounters, both good and bad, during those eight years, but few have brought him greater joy than meeting Amy and her 7-year-old daughter, Emma Grace. He gives all the credit for positive outcomes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying that he just puts the rosaries in people’s hands and then “Our Lady works on them!” Over time, several people who had originally heckled him have returned with changed hearts and asked for more rosaries.

And when he finally met Emma Grace in July? He gave her a big hug, a few peppermints, and of course, a bag of rosaries! •

Money School Gives Value to Those in Need

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by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

It’s 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday at Catholic Charities and the lobby is filled with people waiting to attend the Money School, the weekly financial literacy class. There is a sense of anxiety and hope as they wait for the class to begin, the first step in the process of potentially receiving financial assistance for rent or utility bills.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb

Since 2012, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) has been “teaching people to fish” through its financial education class, the Money School. The nonprofit financial education program’s attendance reached a record number of 1,600 students in the past fiscal year. The Money School has evolved into a two-hour class offered on a weekly basis, followed by a “needs” assessment and personal financial coaching sessions with CCNLA case managers. It is mandatory that all clients who seek financial help for rent or utilities must attend the Money School in order to be considered for assistance. Class size in Shreveport is limited to 30 people per week and clients can only be considered for assistance once every 24 months.

The premise of the Money School is to help clients review their current spending habits and evaluate their “financial leaks” – habits that may drain their resources and leave little money to cover the basics (rent, food and utilities) – in order to make smarter money decisions. The Shreveport Money School is taught by CCNLA’s case managers, Carl Piehl and Joe Bulger, who work hard to make the class relatable and informative.

Piehl, who has been with the Money School since its beginning, teaches the class with enthusiasm. He describes the evolution of the Money School as “a living laboratory that experimented with new ideas, new approaches, new source material and media to connect powerfully with our clients.”

Clients in the class are pre-tested and post-tested for financial literacy. Scoring indicates a 40% improvement on a consistent basis, with many who have attended the class reporting that it has been a life changing experience for them.

The Money School can be defined as the beginning of the journey of financial capability, stability and ultimately the accomplishment of our client’s self-described goals. The needs assessment session conducted by CCNLA case managers provides an opportunity to discuss with clients how they perceive their situation and to reveal possible solutions to their problems. After meeting with the week’s clients, Piehl and Bulger meet to select who will receive partial assistance with their bills. It is never an easy task. Because of limited resources, CCNLA is only able to assist 25-30% of each week’s applicants.

“Some weeks, every client is eligible to receive assistance,” says Piehl. “There are many people struggling in our community, but we are only able to help a few of them financially. The true value we hope to give all of our clients is the lessons we teach in the Money School and through financial coaching.”

As the poverty levels rise across north Louisiana, so does the weekly attendance of the Money School. With all three locations serving a total of 40-45 clients per week, the lessons taught in the Money School are vital in the quest to create financial change. Clients who attend the Money School are contacted three months following the class to assess if they are putting the lessons they learned into practice. This is a service provided to all clients, whether or not they received financial assistance from CCNLA. Bulger sees the call as an important follow-up to the Money School class.

“Before we started contacting clients, we had no idea if they were actually putting the financial education steps into action,” explains Bulger. “The phone calls give us a chance to check in and also remind the client that they are always welcome to come in for free financial coaching.”

CCNLA’s Money School and Emergency Assistance programs are made possible in part by grants by The Community Foundation of North Louisiana, The Carolyn W. and Charles T. Beaird Family Foundation, First Presbyterian Church – Shreveport, First United Methodist Church – Shreveport, The Grayson Foundation, The Powers Foundation, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, and the support of individual donors. •

Catholic Schools Annual Report

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by Sr. Carol Shively, OSU

This 2017 – 2018 Annual Report is organized around the four major themes of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools—Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence and Operational Vitality. “Catholic schools are an outstanding apostolate of hope…addressing the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of millions of children.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Catholic Educators, April 17, 2008, Washington DC, par. 5)

“The environment in our Catholic schools express the signs of Catholic culture, physically and visibly (The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School)

Mission and Catholic Identity

Each of our Catholic schools provide the students with faith-filled experiences. They participate in daily prayer, prayer services, holy day celebrations, weekly liturgy and service in the community. Our mission is to be Christ’s hands and feet to our neighbors.

Governance and Leadership

Successful Catholic schools require strong leaders. Seasoned, knowledgeable and collaborative principals, pastors and boards/councils can together help to guarantee that every student has access to a high quality, faith-filled education. Our schools are led and guided by faith-filled educators which is a hallmark of our schools. They work in full partnership with our pastors and school volunteers who guide us in reaching the needs of our families in the community.

Academic Excellence

For over 32 years, the Diocese of Shreveport has been known for providing high quality education, and that reputation continues to grow day after day. As an example of ongoing academic strength and growth, our Catholic schools have rapidly adopted STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics) and related programs into their curricular and co-curricular instruction and activities. Our excellence is demonstrated in our ACT Aspire / ACT test scores and in our loyal and dedicated teachers. Our teachers are life-long learners and attend summer workshops and on-going development in our local colleges.

We want our families to feel a sense of confidence in their decision to invest in Catholic education.

Operational Vitality

Parents facing the many challenges of today’s economic challenges desire their children’s education to be strong and their schools to be stable. The long-term viability of our Catholic schools require us to focus on the school’s operations, such as its finances, human resources, facilities and advancement/development. Our attention to being good stewards of their investment enables them to feel confident about their decision to invest in Catholic education. During the year, our principals in Monroe developed ways to operate as a collaborative team of experts. Many successful events occurred to draw the schools closer together. The events included a unified message of excellence in recruiting students and in providing professional development for the faculties. The collaboration was very meaningful for the teachers. One teacher shared that it’s so easy to simply teach in a “silo mentality.” It is better when we think that there are two to three classes of grades in the Catholic elementary schools so I feel that I don’t work alone!”

Our commitment to our families is to return their child to them with a servant’s heart.

Click to download the Annual Report.

Navigating the Faith: Gaudete et Exultate: Living Out Our Faith

by Fr. Mark Watson

As a young adult I spent much time figuring out the meaning of holiness. My understanding of this virtue has evolved over the years. Thus, I enjoyed reading the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exultate, (Rejoice and Be Glad), which has helped me better understand this central virtue of our Christian faith.

Universal Call to Holiness: The pope states that all Christians are called to be saints. “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves (GE, 14).” People live out this holiness in small ways, as when they decide to not gossip, when parents listen to their children, when families pray the rosary and when we say a nice word to the poor.

Holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection. It comes in constantly dying and rising with Christ. We are to identify with Christ and his will. Identifying with Christ in this way involves a commitment to build with him the kingdom of love, justice and universal peace. (GE, 25)

Enemies of Holiness: The pope discusses two subtle enemies of holiness. The first enemy is called Contemporary Gnosticism. By Contemporary Gnosticism he refers to those whose faith is focused on the understanding of knowledge. A person’s spiritual perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity. “Gnostics do not understand this because they judge others based on their ability to understand the complexity of certain doctrines (GE, 37).” These Christians try to control God through their intellect.

A second enemy of holiness is Contemporary Pelagianism. In the history of the Church, the Pelagianists believed that Christians could earn salvation through their own efforts rather than through relying on the mercy of God. Contemporary Pelagianists “ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 94) Instead we should understand that none of us are perfect and we all need God’s grace to live faithfully. Our focus in life should be to live in love and to passionately communicate “the beauty and joy of the Gospel and seek out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.” (Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 95)

The pope states that in the beatitudes, Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy. In the beatitudes we are given a portrait of Jesus and our daily lives are to reflect his life. Each beatitude teaches us who is truly happy and holy.

The Beatitudes and Matthew: The beatitudes call us to a “radiant interior freedom” (GE, 69) in which we accept God’s will for us. Holiness is characterized in the beatitudes in the following ways: Holiness is dealing with others with a sense of meekness and humility. Holiness is suffering with others and reaching out to them in their suffering. Holiness is working for justice even if we do not see the fruit of our labor. Holiness is giving, helping and serving others as well as forgiving and understanding them. Holiness is freely living out love with our whole heart. Holiness is building peace in our relationships, our communities and in our world. And finally, holiness is accepting “daily the path of the Gospel even though it may cause us problems…” (GE, 94).

The pope then offers Matthew 25:31-46 as a second Gospel passage that is central to the meaning of holiness. Matthew 25:31-46 expands on the beatitude which calls one to be merciful. This scene calls us to care for those who are most in need. We are to not separate caring for those in need from our personal spiritual lives. We are to recognize, protect and cherish the dignity of all human beings. In short mercy is central to holiness.

Signs of Holiness: My favorite chapter is that in which the pope discusses the Signs of Holiness in today’s world. He sees these signs of holiness as being important given certain dangers and limitations present in today’s culture. The pope invites us to live out the following Signs of Holiness: 1) Perseverance, Patience and Meekness; 2) Joy and a Sense of Humor; 3) Boldness and Passion; 4) Living Holiness in Community; and 5) Living in Constant Prayer.

Discernment: The pope ends the document by calling us to prayerful discernment. Discernment refers to figuring out God’s will for us. We are called to listen to the Lord through Scripture, the Magisterium of the Church, others and reality itself. This discernment is to help us recognize and “better accomplish the mission entrusted to us in our baptism (GE, 174).”

May Gaudete et Exultate assist us in better living out the holiness to which God has called us. •

Second Collection for September

by Fr. Rothell Price

Collection Dates: September 1st & 2nd 

he second collection in the parishes and churches of our diocese this month is for The Catholic University of America. We ask the Catholic faithful of our diocese to join with the Catholic faithful across our country to make Catholic higher education possible. You may not have a child, grandchild or great grandchild at Catholic University, but every student at CUA is your son, daughter, grandchild, brother and sister in the family of our Catholic faith. When you make a gift to the students and faculty, academic and service programs, and foundation and operations at CUA, you empower The Catholic University of America community to grow and strengthen its capacity to offer a world class education unlike any other.

The Catholic University of America collection prepares and strengthens the current and next generation of apologists who explain the Catholic faith and social teaching to the rest of the world. Your gift supports scholarships for students who need financial assistance. Please support the next generation of Catholic leaders for our Church and nation – including those studying to become our future priests and religious men and women.

Since 1903, The Catholic University of America has been greatly blessed by the generosity of parishioners around the country through the National Collection. James Cardinal Gibbons, the first chancellor of CUA and ninth Archbishop of Baltimore, once called this collection, “the people’s endowment.” I ask you to take his words into your heart. Join your contribution to that of faithful parishioners across our country to spiritually and academically prepare this and future generations of students, particularly those who have financial need.

More than 12,000 priests and religious are proudly identified as alumni of CUA. Hundreds of priests and religious attend CUA each year, furthering their charge to engage in ongoing religious formation. The Catholic University of America’s mission centers on the discovery of knowledge and truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church – a service that is greatly needed today. University faculty and scholars promote Catholic Social teaching and through their research and discourse, help form the Church’s response to challenging social issues of our time.

Please give generously to The Catholic University of America collection. Your heartfelt participation in the second collection is joined to the generosity of CUA alumni, friends, faculty and staff. Your donation strengthens the Catholic University’s mission and extends its reach. Your contribution helps our national university move forward, ensuring that current students and future graduates can continue to be God’s light in our world.

Learn more at collection.cua.edu. •