Category Archives: Columns

Feast of Corpus Christi: A Quick Guide

Click to view and download this month’s quick guide about the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Second Collections for June & July

by Father Rothell Price

PETER’S PENCE
Announcement Dates:  June 16th & 23rd
Collection Dates:  June 29th & 30th

Be a Witness of Charity.” This is the clear call and witness of our annual Peter’s Pence Collection. The Feast of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, celebrates these two pillars on which the Holy Spirit built up the early Church. Both apostles were guided by the Spirit to focus their zeal on the Jews and Gentiles. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded on the proclamation of these two and the other Apostles, takes up the Peter’s Pence Collection on their joint feast day.

As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is the head of the Universal Church and successor to St. Peter, he is called upon by suffering individuals, families, communities and nations to help them in a time of crisis and suffering. The Peter’s Pence Collection makes it possible for him to respond to this cry on behalf of Jesus Christ and His Holy People, the Church. Pope Francis has been inspirational in the humble yet dramatic way he makes the human and material resources of the Holy See readily available to those in need.

Join our Holy Father Pope Francis in representing Jesus Christ to our brothers and sisters in need. “Be a Witness of Charity.” Participate generously in the Peter’s Pence Collection. •

SOLIDARITY FUND FOR THE CHURCH IN AFRICA
Announcement Dates: July 7th & 14th
Collection Dates: July 20th & 21st

The Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa collection helps our brothers and sisters in Christ on the huge African continent grow in the Catholic faith. Your participation in the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa accomplishes the great spiritual and material good of building up the faith, transforming lives and contributing to the improvement of standards of living among people hungering and thirsting for God and the basic necessities of life.

Through the marvel of television and social media, we are blessed to see with our own eyes the good news that the Church in Africa is growing. Pope Francis and his predecessors, Benedict XVI, Saint Pope John Paul II, and Saint Pope Paul VI held the people of Africa close to their hearts. They admirably did their part in nurturing the growing and vibrant faith of the peoples of Africa. Join Pope Francis and the bishops of our country in strengthening the faith of the people of Africa. Your contribution to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa makes it possible for our bishops to provide grants to finance religious education, Catholic schools, clergy and religious education, youth ministry, communications, evangelization, leadership formation, justice and peace, construction and outreach programs.

Please be generous in your support of the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. This fund provides access to the Sacraments of the Church for a spiritually enthusiastic and hungry people. Help them overcome their spiritual and material challenges due to poverty, food shortages, disease and migration. Stand with the people of Africa. Give generously to the Solidarity Fund.

Mike’s Meditations: What Are Your God-Given Gifts?

by Mike Van Vranken

As a child in school, I memorized the “gifts of the Holy Spirit:” wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord,” all from the prophet Isaiah. Then, we committed to memory the “fruit of the Spirit:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I later learned enough Scripture to know that everything belongs to God. Consequently, all good gifts must come from God. And in addition, there are many Scriptures attesting that we have each received gifts from our good and gracious God.

So, how do we know what our gifts are? And equally important, how do we know when, where and how to use them? Do you have trouble, at this moment in your life, knowing your gifts and how God wants you to use them? Well, relax! You are not alone. I have learned that knowing our gifts takes effort. Doing something with our gifts, takes love.

In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us a starting point. He suggests we ask God for interior knowledge of all the great good we have received from Him. By “interior knowledge,” he is challenging us to do more than just memorize a list of gifts as we did as children. He wants us to open ourselves so God can place in our minds and hearts all the good things He has given us. He wants us to not only know of these gifts intellectually, but to feel them, to allow their very essence to penetrate who we are. Can we consume these gifts in our hearts to such a point that we can taste them, hear them, touch them, smell them and even see them? Can we, with God’s grace, experience these gifts, which are now part of who we have become?

Ignatius continues by asking us to consider how all these good gifts descend from above. He suggests that we, in silence, picture with our imagination how goodness, piety, mercy, justice, etc. all come down upon us like rays from the sun. See, feel, smell, taste and even hear those rays of sun, filled with God and His gifts, penetrating your entire body, soul and spirit. Experience each gift closely. Give each gift a name, and continually thank God for that particular gift. This is how we prayerfully obtain the interior knowledge he is talking about.

However, this interior knowledge is not enough. Ignatius now asks us to pray for God’s powerful grace to help us be so stirred with gratitude, that we may be able to love and serve Him in all things, all creatures, and all people. And, in all of this, he reminds us that God is assisting us, working with us, even laboring with us to love Him so much that we desire to serve Him by using these gifts to intimately and passionately love all of His creation; including each other.

I respectfully suggest that you take some time with God this month and pray for the grace to interiorly know and be aware of all of the gifts He has given you. Then, if you have the courage, pray for the further grace to be so moved with gratitude and thanksgiving, that you offer to serve Him in all things, in all creatures, and in all people. This is a transformation that allows us to work with God to change the world.

On Another Note:
When I began submitting these articles to The Catholic Connection about a decade ago, our editor, Jessica Rinaudo, graciously welcomed me as a contributing writer. With gentleness, compassion and a deep love for the people of God, she gifted her expertise and taught me how to share with the Church through my writing. Her many literary talents and gifts, as well as her countless spiritual gifts, always freely given with love, have been more of a blessing to me than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. By sharing her gifts with our entire diocese, we all will reap many harvests for decades to come. As she and her family follow God’s call to sow even greater seeds in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I ask you to join me in prayer for Jessica and her family – that God will grant them the grace to joyfully and lovingly share their many gifts there, and that He will bless them with His love and His grace in this next leg of their journey, manifested in ways that are more than they could ever think or imagine.

Kids’ Connection: Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Kids’ Connection: Celebrating Mary in May

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection on Mary.

Navigating the Faith: Titles of Our Lady

May is the month of Mary, a time when we bring the Rosary to the forefront, have May crownings and make special time to pray through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. Mary is represented under a number of different titles. Here are a few you may not be as familiar with.

 Click to download and view this graphic!

Second Collections for May & June

by Father Rothell Price

 DIOCESAN RETIRED PRIESTS’ FUNDCollection Dates: May 4th & 5th 

As we move toward the climax of the Easter Season, I wish you every spiritual blessing from Heaven. I especially wish you a new and transforming encounter with the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. May the grace of Christ’s resurrection from among the dead lead you to a heartfelt and generous support of our Diocesan Retired Priests’ Fund. Make a simple and dignified life possible for our retired diocesan priests who have given all to Jesus Christ and his mission of salvation. These are priestly men you know and love. You can personally vouch for their good name and character. You can truthfully testify to their inspired labor among the people of God. So again, I thank you for opening your heart and your resources to the men who have faithfully served the Risen Lord Jesus and the People of God in north Louisiana with heart and soul.

Our Diocese of Shreveport Retired Priests’ Fund supports good and faithful priests you know and love. One hundred percent of this collection remains in our diocese to cover the care of your loving shepherds in their retirement years: Fathers Kenneth Williams, Pike Thomas, Patrick Scully, Joseph Puthuppally, Phil Michiels, Patrick Madden, James McLelland, John Kennedy and Msgr. Earl Provenza. You know them, love them and can bear witness to their good work. Our active priests, who are such a spiritual help and joy to you, will one day reach the reward of retirement age. I thank you for helping us take care of our current and future retirees. Please give generously to our Diocesan Retired Priests Fund collection.  •

 

CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN

Announcement Dates: June 1st & 2nd 

Collection Dates: May 19th & 26th  

My father, Robert, was the strong silent type. He wasn’t shy and retiring, nor was he a wall flower. He said little, but did much. He reminds me so much of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father and guardian of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Joseph and my father, Robert, communicated profound wisdom in his sparsity of words and largess of action. Their fatherly examples express something of essence and power of our second collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign. This second collection gives our nationwide Catholic family the opportunity to receive and spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Jesus communicated to us what he heard and learned from his Father. The Apostles communicated what they heard and learned from Jesus. We, the Church today, communicate to each other and the society around us what we have heard and come to believe. Our words and actions continue those of Jesus and the Apostles through the Catholic Communication Campaign.

I hope this “communication” campaign comes to mind each time you profess your faith in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Half the funds collected in the Catholic Communication Campaign remain in our diocese so that we can reach souls through the internet, television, radio, print and social media. The various departments at the Catholic Center share the Good News with you in many forms. Be part of this “campaign” to spread the Gospel message. Please generously support the Catholic Communication Campaign.  •

Domestic Church: The Take-Aways

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by Katie Sciba

How do you begin a conclusion? When I started writing for The Catholic Connection over eight years ago, I had a two-year-old marriage and a one-year old son. My lofty theories on how the domestic church – the family – should function had yet to be tested in the School of Experience, but I was eager. Sitting here in Nebraska, hundreds of miles away from where I penned my first column, my babies aged 9 down to 2 sleep while their youngest sibling waits for us in Heaven. Andrew, my husband of nearly 11 years, and I have had our share of storms both together and even against one another. We’ve been blessed by friendships with other married couples living their lives for Christ. I’ve been humbled and honored to win six Catholic Press Awards in as many years, and my writing became a springboard for my work as a national speaker. I’m so incredibly grateful, but, my friends, the Lord is calling me away from The Catholic Connection, so I’m writing this last time to bid farewell and offer my prayers for your families.

To wrap up, here are the take-aways – the hopes I have for our families and some lessons I’ve learned in my time as a wife, mother and writer. I pray they will bring our hearts closer to Jesus, so we can see with more clarity that He is actually with us and calling us to eternal life.

1. Go to Mass – The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith; there is no greater way to pray than to participate in the Mass, to receive the God of the universe in the form of a simple host, and to reflect Jesus’ love to others.

2. Be real with Jesus - Once I told Bishop Duca that, in the wake of my father’s passing, I was too angry to pray. “Why don’t you tell God?” Bishop asked me, “He can take it. He’s big enough.” In showing Jesus just how angry I was, I consequently opened my heart and let him in. Following Bishop Duca’s advice saved my faith.

3.  Keeping in touch with God is ESSENTIAL – We are made in the image of God, which means that we’re called to imitate Him. Have you ever tried to imitate someone you hardly know? It doesn’t work out too well. When we are in touch with the Lord through prayer – Mass, Confession, reading scripture, etc, the more spot-on our imitation will be.

4.  Mom and Dad are a kid’s first teachers - Our kids do what we do, say what we say (sometimes to our horror and humiliation), and they will consider Jesus and their Catholic faith as important as we do. Whether we like it or not, kids are the ultimate copycats. So parents, take hold of your faith, pray with each other and keep Catholic families among your friends.

5.  Pornography destroys family - I wrote a column series on pornography’s effect in 2017. Pornography consumption easily leads to addiction in a short period of time, causing anxiety, depression, isolation and shame for the consumer. Spouses of pornography users often develop a deep sense of rejection, as well as Betrayal Trauma or PTSD. The average age of exposure to pornography is 8-years-old, and because children don’t have the cognitive ability to process it, pornography effects unusual behaviors in children, including isolation and depression. For help, go to addorecovery.com and bloomforcatholicwomen.com.

6.  Minimalism is a way to imitate Christ - The idea of minimalism involves cutting distractions in favor of what deserves our full attention. It’s clearing physical clutter to reveal hidden beauty; it’s freeing a calendar of activities not conducive to the life God desires for us, the life we hope to have. It’s finally seeing possessions as just things and recognizing people as more deserving of our time and attention. Giving our best to Jesus and others becomes easier and more joyful.

7.  There’s more than one way to be a faithful Catholic - I know good, holy parents who pray the Rosary with their kids every night and I know good, holy parents who haul their rambunctious kids to Mass only to leave early because of a temper tantrum. The Lord asks for our love and our best; offer Him that and give others the benefit of the doubt.

8.  We have an audience of One – The point of all of the above? To please God; to become fully aware that He is with us and encouraging us to Heaven.

Thank you Jessica Rinaudo, my dear friend and editor, for your confidence in me; and thank you to you, dear readers, for your support and encouragement over my time here at the Domestic Church column. Please pray that I do what the Holy Spirit wills, and know that your families are in my prayers. God bless you. •

Faithful Food: Power in a Word

by Kim Long

Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies. Proverbs 20:15

There is an old story in which a penitent seeks forgiveness for gossip (read here words that hurt or offend whether intentional or not). The priest forgoes a traditional penance of prayer instead charging the penitent with these instructions: cut open a feather pillow and shake it out and gather all the feathers to refill it. This lesson can be applied anytime speech goes awry.

Recently, this happened to me with my daughter-in-law. No malice aforethought, no anger, just one person trying to be helpful and the help – which was offered in kindness – was not received as intended. The path from brain to mouth to ear is not always straightforward, often the route is fraught with nuances, tone and points of reference to which the involved parties are not always privy. This can run the best of intentions afoul. God speaks creation into being and with His help, repair can occur.

Once my offer of help was uttered it took a moment to see that it wasn’t helpful at all. I saw my daughter-in-law struggle, become upset and then suddenly she was very busy, too busy, and brightly cheerful. Always a bad sign. I was ready to throw my bags in the car and leave, my rode home paved with cowardice, escape my sole aim, good intentions all but forgotten.

Thankfully, I abandoned my first instinct. Speaking a second time I allowed God’s loving kindness to guide me, reminding me of the love I feel for her, gratitude for the happiness she brings my son, and her goodness to my grandchildren. Those feelings come from a deep reservoir of Divine Love, available and waiting for us when we are ready. Understanding between the two of us was spoken into being that late Friday night with much help from God.

You would think as a writer awareness of the power of words would be second nature for me, but not always.

Beginning with a blank page, a sentence, or a scrap of memory, we as writers weave something around these fragments in an effort to make them whole and complete and, by extension, ourselves. That text holds us accountable. With spoken words carelessness is almost second nature, and calling those words back to us is impossible. Words have the power to build up and tear down sometimes in the space of a few moments; take care with them.

Like most of us, whether intentional or not, I have feathers I am chasing, but when kind or cheerful words lead me to respond rather than react, I believe I am refilling my pillow that way, too. With God’s help, I pray that I think before I speak and that when I must give chase He will guide my steps.

With 66 references in both testaments enjoining the wise use of speech, and 56 references about honey and its benefits, this offering combines the two. Here is a little prayer before you begin: “Lord guide my hands as I create this dish both for your glory and the nourishment of those who will eat it. May we always be mindful of what is offered and how we receive it. AMEN.”

Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”

Milk and Honey Kugel

Ingredients:

• 16 oz package of egg noodles

• ½ cup butter

• ½ cup honey

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar

•  ½ cup cream

• 5 large eggs

• ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Boil and drain noodles and return to pot.

3) Add butter, honey, salt and vanilla sugar.

4) Mix well and add eggs and cream.

5) Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake for about an hour, or until kugel is golden brown and firm to touch. Serves 8-10.

This unusual dessert should make for some good conversation since your words are already sweetened! Enjoy!

 (from Eating the Bible by Rena Rossner, published by Skyhorse Publishing copyright 2013)


Kids’ Connection: Triduum

Click to download and print this month’s Kids’ Connection.