Category Archives: Columns

Domestic Church: Taking Little Ones to Mass

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by Katie Sciba

I have a confession to make: I haven’t always liked going to Mass. There have been some lengthy periods when the idea of going to Sunday Mass with my family made me want to head for the hills. Our kids were challenging and obnoxious in Mass, so much so that I was resolved that Andrew and I would attend Mass separately each Sunday just so we could avoid hauling our traveling circus into parish-view. We’ve received fantastic advice and insight from veteran parents that made going to Mass as a whole family not just possible, but enjoyable. It’s taken tears, fits and persistence to get us where we are, but we’re grateful for the wisdom passed to us.

1. Up your pre-game.

We’ve learned there’s no such thing as getting ready for Mass “real quick” for our family. It has to start 1 ₂ to 3 hours ahead of departure time, and it takes a divide-and-conquer approach from Andrew and me. Teamwork from us parents is a must if we want to arrive on time and stave off mutual resentment. The kids’ Mass attire is presentable, but it has to be comfortable, too. Uncomfortable shoes, pants and shirts make it hard for the kids to deliver good behavior. To avoid further disruption and tears during Mass, every child takes two trips to the bathroom an hour before and immediately prior to our departure. Though things can be pretty chaotic at our house, we try to keep Mass prep slow to avoid the stress of rushing.

2. Check and voice expectations.

Regardless of how terribly or well our preparations go, the ride to church is a behavioral pep talk. We’ve been going over the same rules every Sunday for years, and now every little Sciba can recite them. They know there won’t be any trips to the bathroom, they have to be prayerful with their bodies – folded hands and upright posture – and they have to pray along, saying the responses. Three simple rules. When our kids slip in any area, we give them a nudge and then model what we want them to remember.

3. Sit up close and talk.

This one is counter-intuitive. It’s tempting to sit toward the back in case we have to make a quick exit with a fit-thrower or potty-goer; but it turns out that kids with comfy clothes and empty bladders are more likely to behave, and with the added bonus of being able to see, the whole family has a shot at making it through Mass, sanity intact. There in the front pews the kids experience every part of the liturgy in plain sight. For our younger ones, we hold them and whisper what’s happening on the altar, “See how Fr. Dan kisses the Gospel after he reads it?” “Watch the servers when they ring the bells. They do it because Jesus is here.” We talk almost the whole Mass to our little ones learning so we can help keep them focused.
4. Respond to behavior.

For the children with angelic manners during Mass, there are stickers or check marks on a chart at home; high fives for the older ones. Whatever we use to reward, the kids get psyched for it. For the kids whose behavior needs tweaking (or revolutionizing), there is a conversation about what they need to work on with follow-through the next Sunday. Really bad behavior gets bigger discipline.

Above all, the biggest, most important tip I’ve received was to KEEP GOING. Practically speaking, parents and kids need consistent practice for behavior and experiences to improve; but even setting this aside, there is nothing more powerful than bringing our families before God. Wild kids will at least be in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, as well as their tried and tired parents. The Lord sees our persistence, our struggles and victories with our families, and loves us in both.

Faithful Food: Groans Too Deep for Words

by Kim Long

Last month I received a text message that a woman I had known growing up was killed in an automobile accident. It hit me hard, harder than expected as we were friends, but not “besties,” and with the exception of the great digital gathering place Facebook, I hadn’t laid eyes on her in years. The news set me on my heels and I cried for a good two hours. Later, I puzzled at what I was truly mourning. The answer came from two friends and a cousin: I was mourning “home,” the place where I came into the world, the associations which continue to form me as I move through the days and weeks of my life.

When I consider other things which have had their hand in forming and shaping me, this is how they rank up: family, scripture and church. Those may sound self-explanatory, but things are seldom as simple as first believed. Here is a scripture I read, quite by accident, on the same day I received the unwelcome news of my friend’s death: Paul writes in Romans: “but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” (8:26).

“Groans too deep for words” blew me away with comfort and wonder. I realized I had felt that feeling a little before in my life, at those liminal moments which define us in our eyes and the eyes of those who hold us. All that day I sat with that text, prayed those words and saw them gathering around me to keep me upright until I could move past my sadness for this latest loss to the bright light we so bravely profess and in which we so fervently hope.

And now we are in November, a truly tricky month combining saints, souls, ghosts, giving thanks, counting blessings and, last but not least, feasting all in one 30 day time frame. November is not so much a month of remembrance, as it is a month of celebrating those memories. There are two Masses on the first and second days of the month to set the tone: All Saints and All Souls. Everyone is covered, so to speak. Oscar Wilde has a wonderful quote “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.” It’s good to know I have a future!

November also holds the celebration of Thanksgiving, the feast when we take a day and we are still and know that He is God, and in Him all our lives originate. This is the light and hope we pray for, we count on, and in November we recall and remember those who first shared that with us.

What did my friend share with me? I can tell you easily and quickly: life, a sense of “joie de vive,” a delight in being alive! She had long red hair, a huge beautiful smile, and sartorially she could hold her own against anyone choosing bright bold colors over my more modest palette. When I was in fifth grade she strode confidently into the classroom to deliver the daily school bulletin to our teacher, inviting us into the grace in which she lived. We little fifth grade girls soaked it in.

In the week before Thanksgiving I am typically self delusional, believing with an absolutism that I have more hours than I do and I end up clinging to the myth that I work better under pressure so I will do it “tomorrow.” This year I will let go and let Thanksgiving unfold. I will be thankful that I have seen joie de vivre in action, and I will try to let that flow through me.

My sister-in-love, LaJo, gave me this recipe some years ago, and it has been a staple since then. I share it with you now.

May we find peace and joy in our days and may we all throw ourselves into the love of a God whose spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.

La Jo’s Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
• 2 cans (17 oz) green beans
• ¼ chopped onions
• 1 stick butter
• 10 oz package of cream cheese
• 1 can cream of chicken soup
• 1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers

Directions:
1) Warm green beans.

2) In a separate pan, sauté onions in butter until translucent.

3) Stir cream cheese and soup into green beans.

4) Remove onions with slotted spoon and mix with green beans.

5) Crush Ritz crackers and mix with butter.

6) Spread beans into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker mixture

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

In Review: From the Dust of the Earth – Who, Me? by Michelle Chopin

reviewed by Kelly Phelan Powell

Local Catholic author, Michelle Chopin, was inspired to write her first book, From the Dust of the Earth – Who, Me? A Study for Reflection, after a bout with a serious illness. Though she had originally envisioned a manuscript entitled Hopes, Dreams and Realities, it wasn’t until her body “shut down,” as her doctor phrased it, that this busy wife, mother, grandmother and professional was able to spend time discerning the nature and topics of her long-dreamed-of book. What resulted is an uncomplicated yet profound collection of quotes, scriptural quotations, excerpts from sermons and a myriad of other treasures that provide fertile ground for study, reflection, insight and prayer.

From the Dust of the Earth is organized into sections: “Meditations for the Heart and Mind,” “Melodies for the Soul” and “Nourishment for the Mind and Body.” Each section contains “themes,” as Chopin calls them, such as “Creation,” “Gratitude” and “Accomplishment.” Within each of these themes (organized alphabetically so the reader can easily return to any of them for further study) are poems, stories and quotes by a myriad of people ranging from astronomer Carl Sagan to local parish priest, Fr. Karl Daigle. Throughout the book are plenty of lined pages on which the reader can jot down notes and questions, making this an ideal devotional or material for a discussion group.

Within the theme “Journey,” Chopin writes, “Thoughts were streaming, flying, of course not at light speed, but almost. With so much going on inside of me, a real sense of urgency absolutely had developed. I realized I had so much to say, so much to share. Not only thoughts, but also words, phrases, sentences, examples, analogies and themes were coming to mind so fast that at times I actually felt dizzy. I felt excited and enthusiastic to have a writing project.” Her passion is evident throughout From the Dust of the Earth, and it gives her manuscript a sense of the personal nature with which she approached the work of writing and collecting a literal lifetime of wisdom.

One of the things I most enjoyed about From the Dust of the Earth is that the reader is able to approach it in a nonlinear fashion. As a wife and mother of two small children, I frequently find myself in need of copious amounts of encouragement and wisdom, and it was nice to be able to turn to practically any page in this book and find something uplifting and thought-provoking.

The newly-installed Bishop of Baton Rouge, Michael G. Duca, said in a dust-jacket excerpt for the book, “[The] power to inspire is the real gift Mrs. Chopin gives us in this collection of wisdom from her life. I thank her…for reminding me that an attentive spirit can find wisdom and inspiration from many sources: The Bible, for sure, philosophers, parish priests, friends and even, at times, fortune cookies.”

From the Dust of the Earth is available through Amazon.com, or by contacting the author at 318-505-8350, or professorec@bellsouth.net.

Mike’s Meditations: One Commandment is Enough

by Mike Van Vranken

Many of us learned as children that there are Ten Commandments of God. He gave them to Moses for all of us to obey. And, while they may be difficult to keep, our humanity likes commandments or rules. They give us boundaries to live in. Of course, we usually ask for exceptions for each commandment, but we like them just the same.

In one of the gospel stories, someone asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. This man too was looking to make sure he was following the rules. Jesus began by saying: “You know the commandments…” (Matthew 19:16). Of course, in this particular story, Jesus ends by explaining that it’s who we become, not what we do, that really matters. In this case, it is to be a follower of Jesus; be his disciple; that’s who Jesus commanded the man to be.

If we study Jewish history, we learn that they followed around 613 laws or commandments. Wow! That seems like a burden to keep. But again, the more rules we have, the easier it is to say “we are doing it right!” Our egos absolutely LOVE to do it right. So, how confusing it must have been for those attending Jesus’ last supper when he gave them only one commandment to follow. That’s right, only one. He said it twice, but it is the same commandment. Here’s how John the Evangelist quoted Jesus:

“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). “This I command you: love one another” (John 15:17).

One God, one Body of Christ, one people, one commandment. We really don’t have to worry if we are following the seventh commandment, or the fourth commandment or the 612th commandment. There is only one that Jesus left us: “Love one another.” Why have we made it so difficult?

You may be thinking: “But what about loving God above all things with our whole heart, mind and strength?” Didn’t he say that too? Yes, and more than once. But, if we think about it, when we love one another, we are loving the God who lives within us. It is such a reality that Jesus could declare that whenever we do something or neglect to do something to anyone, we are doing it or neglecting to do it to him. How we treat another human being, is exactly how we are treating God at the same time. While the other person is not God, because God’s real presence lives in all of us, whatever we do or don’t do to another person, we do or don’t do to God.

Genesis 1:27 declares that God made humans in His image and likeness. Psalms 8:6 teaches that God made mankind a little less than “elohim.” My Jewish study bible translates “elohim” as “divine.” We are made a little less than divine. So, any way we can understand all of this, our conclusion has to be: when we love another person, we are loving God at the same time.

Jesus makes it very easy for us to follow him: “Love one another.” And, to what degree do we love one another? He goes on to say: “as I have loved you.”

Reading all of these scriptures in prayer recently, I felt an overwhelming sense of awe, but also conviction. I asked God: “In spite of knowing all of these Bible verses, why is it so hard for me to be conscious of you in every other human being on the face of the earth? God, why don’t I always recognize you in others?” Then I sat in the quiet and allowed Him to enlighten me.

He reminded me of Mother Teresa’s words when she was talking about the poor and helpless: “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” He asked me how I would treat others differently, no matter who, if I realized each one was Jesus in disguise. I began thinking of everyone who is different than I am: race, age, gender, philosophically, spiritually, socio-economically, enemy – everyone. We continued to sit quietly for an extended period of time. I could feel myself changing, but would it continue once I was back in my daily routine? I prayed for the grace to be constantly aware that God is not only in all things, He is especially in all people.

In your personal prayer time this month, take Jesus’ one commandment to contemplation and prayer. Ask God for His perspective about “love one another as I have loved you.” Then, sit still in the quiet and wait for His loving and compassionate response. And whatever that response is, pray for the grace to be able to become whoever He is asking you to be. It will change your heart. It will transform your life. And you only have to remember one commandment. It alone is enough.

Kids’ Connection: Guardian Angels

Click to download and print this month’s KIDS CONNECTION.

Vocations View: A Day in the Life of a Seminarian

The Notre Dame Seminary flag football team at their annual game against St. Benedict's. Duncan is pictured back left. (Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Seminary).

by Nicholas Duncan, Seminarian

I often encounter people who have no idea what a seminary is or how it functions. People are left to ponder what a typical day is like at a seminary. Are we working and praying all day like Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act? Is it like shipping off to basic training, or is it like going to a trade school where you live in an apartment somewhere and have a job on the side?

The seminary I happen to attend is essentially a boarding school for grown men. Instead of a covenant or monastery like you would see in The Sound of Music, it is more like the X-mansion from the X-men film franchise. But instead of young mutants learning to control their powers so they can protect the world from evil, the men at seminary have heard a calling from God and undergo formation so they can bring Christ to the people of God; thus also protecting the world from evil.

Notre Dame Seminary is the biggest house on Carrollton Avenue in the uptown district of New Orleans. We have about 140 seminarians and 10 priests that live in residence.
I’d like to share what a typical day is like for a seminarian at Notre Dame Seminary. I am writing this during my spring semester, and just like any other day at the seminary it is guided by the community horarium, Latin for “the hours,” which is the schedule of prayer that takes precedence over everything else. After this community prayer is our class schedule, followed by our personal horarium of prayer, work and leisure.

7:30     Morning prayer in the chapel.
7:45     Breakfast in the refectory; otherwise known as a cafeteria, but us Catholics love to give things weird names.
8:00     Most seminarians are off to class, but my group has a professor on sabbatical, so our schedule is a little different. I’m off to the library to work on a presentation for my class on evolution (PH 205) on how science and religion are compatible.
9:45     I move to classroom 7 for PH 203, political philosophy, where we studied the errors in Machiavelli’s The Prince and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
11:15 After class I head over to classroom 2 to rehearse for the day’s Mass with the schola (ie, the choir).
11:45 Attend Mass.
12:30 Lunch in the refectory.
1:05 I run up to the NDS Store’s storage closet to get 20 pint glasses to give as gifts to the priests who have come as mentors for the diaconate internship orientation that was going on that day. Running the NDS Store is one of my house jobs.
1:30     I’m back in classroom 7, this time for PH 204, my Philosophy/Theology seminar class. I have already given my presentation on John Wycliff, but today three of my classmates are giving hour long presentations on Rene Descartes, Henry VIII/St. Thomas More/Erasmus, and Jean Jacques Roseau.
4:30     Formation Conference: Father J.D. Matherne gives a talk to my class on his first year as a priest.
5:45     Evening Prayer with the entire community in the chapel. I arrived early and prayed daytime prayer as well.
6:00     Dinner in the refectory.
6:45     I go back to the library to work on my Latin homework for the next day’s class.
8:30     I head up to my room straighten it up, sweep the floor, and change into workout clothes.
9:00     I head to the gym on campus to workout.
10:00 I go back to my room, shower and get everything ready that I will need for class the next day.
10:30 I go to the chapel on my floor and pray the Office of Readings and Night Prayer from the Breviary (Catholic for prayer book)
11:30 I return from the chapel and go to bed.

This a pretty typical day at the seminary, Mass is always at the center, as the Eucharist is the source of our faith, and the day is bookended by community prayer in the morning and evening. The class times may differ depending on how far along you are in your studies, and different guys choose to do their personal prayer and exercise at the times that best suit them.

But a typical day is not the norm here. There is always something going on; the relics of St. Padre Pio or St. John Paul II might be here, we could be having visitation services for the New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, or perhaps a fancy dinner with some of our benefactors. We could be staging a play, or hosting a lecture for the community. They keep us very busy, but I love being here and feel blessed to have the opportunity to study for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Prayers: Our Spiritual Roadmaps

by Kim Long

This is a difficult time. In light of the recent clergy abuse allegations, many people have asked me a variety of questions in the past two weeks – questions perhaps you have considered or been called upon to answer. Questions like: How can I stay in the Church? When is the Church going to fix this mess? Ugh, I cannot cope. I’m just going someplace better. Do you think that will work? These questions were not born in a vacuum, they followed a dark tale, so how can I reply appropriately? How should a faithful Catholic respond both in word and practice? “Please, Lord, help me,” I thought.

When the news first began to break, three prayers I had not thought of in many years came to my mind. Without conscious thought, I had gathered my spiritual tools.

Guardian and Protector of the Church
The old prayer to St. Michael is something it took forever for me to learn all the way through. Recognized by the early Church Fathers as a guardian and protector of the Church and as the Prince of all Angels, St. Michael is a heavy hitter and I was glad to know he is praying not only for me, but for the entire Church. Thinking the phrases of the St. Michael prayer, and then speaking them aloud, I felt heartened that St. Michael was on the job. A powerful prayer was what I needed, and this one filled the bill. St. Michael pray for us.

The Kaddish
The Kaddish, an Aramaic prayer from the 5th century BCE, is recited by priests and lay people. Years ago I decided I wanted to learn Hebrew, the language of Jesus, and took a class on the subject. Our instructor laughed when the class voted to begin with this prayer. “It’s Aramaic, the language of Jesus.” I did not know it then, but it was a moment of deep connection, a sense that has remained with me.

At times I find myself praying the familiar, yet foreign words, imagining Jesus forming the words with me. This is a prayer of mourning, and right now we are mourning a loss of trust, a loss that has left a gaping hole in each one of us. The late Debbie Friedman sings a version of this prayer and she introduces it with these words, words which give me a great deal of comfort: “May the One who makes peace in the high places, make peace over us and over all of humanity and let us say Amen.”

As I pray these words, extolling God’s greatness, even in a time when nothing feels great, the connection to Jesus deepens and I feel we are truly praying together. As the prayer comes to a close, I welcome the beginning of healing and comfort.

The Divine Praises
The first time I heard the Divine Praises, I was in early days of my own conversion at an all-night prayer vigil sponsored by St. Mary of the Pines and The Blue Army. It was written in 1797 by Fr. Luigi Felici, a Jesuit priest, to make reparation for blasphemies against the Divine Name; blasphemies which encompassed speech, thought, and action.

Honestly, at the time, they did not resonate with me, but if ever there was a time this is it. Everywhere around me, doubt and confusion are swirling.

“Blessed be God. Blessed be His holy name. Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.” These three statements are part of those praises and they are helping me remember my foundation, remember where I have put my hope, in the Lord.

We stay Catholic for all the best reasons: the Eucharist, Mary, the saints. We stay Catholic because when God called us, we answered. He hasn’t stopped, He hasn’t checked out on us, and these particular prayers, serving as my roadmaps, remind me of those things. Through them, God is assuring me that we will all survive these tough times and, in fact, that we will be revived.

Your roadmaps may be different prayers, mine may change as God offers me what I need, if I am open enough to accept it. Often we say, “All I can do is pray.” Our prayers cannot change the past; it cannot be rewound or undone. Our prayers can change us and help us handle these awful times, as well as whatever personal issues we are all encountering right now. They can assist us when we need strength to go on, when we need permission to mourn, and when we need assurance that God is where our hope lies.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23 •

World Mission Sunday Collection

by Fr. Rothell Price

World Mission Sunday Collection

Collection Dates:  October 20th & 21st

Announcement Dates: October 7th & 14th

Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all.” This is the chosen theme for World Mission Sunday and Collection this year. World Mission Sunday is far more significant and personal than we may realize. Jesus’ great commission to his disciples after his resurrection was, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20. By divine grace, each one of us is that particular disciple commissioned by the Lord to go forth as His personal agent of glad tidings. That is what World Mission Sunday is about. Every one of us, out of love for our crucified and risen Savior, is an evangelizer, a bringer/bearer of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Participation in the World Mission Sunday Collection is a significant way that we fulfill our God-given mandate as a unique and particular disciple, and as a disciple joined in mission to all other disciples of the Lord.

Pope Francis encourages us to bring this Gospel to all people, together with our inspired and inspiring young people. In this time of heart-wrenching news of clergy sexual misconduct and ineffective decisions to correct those horrors, there is good news and good reason for us to keep moving forward. Jesus Christ and his Church is the healing and transformation that all of humanity needs. The World Mission Sunday Collection, along with our other second collections, shows the true face of our Savior and His Church. Our mandate is to heal and transform. To make use of a quote from Pope Francis, “For those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love…”

Especially in these troubling times: “Be a voice for mission in Latin America; Be a voice for mission in Europe; Be a voice for mission in Africa; Be a voice for mission in the Pacific Islands; Be a voice for mission in Asia.” And be a voice for the mission of Jesus Christ right here at home. Your steadfast and generous participation in this work of the Church, now, in these times, spreads the authentic Gospel of the Lord’s mercy and compassion. Your unflinching loyalty to Christ and his Church corrects the distorted doings of those who have gone astray. Through your contribution to the World Mission Sunday Collection, be the true face and voice of Jesus Christ, in the Church, in our nation and to the world. Please give generously to the World Mission Sunday Collection.

Domestic Church: Help Us, Lord! We’re Sinking!

1018katie

by Katie Sciba

My friend texted me, “Pleading for prayers for my husband,” she began, “All these scandals in the Church have shaken him up and he’s got one foot out the door of the Church.” Unfortunately it wasn’t the only message like this I received. Another friend called upset saying she knew an abuse victim in a diocese out of state; still another said her dear friend and favorite priest was removed from ministry to be investigated.

The present crisis in the Catholic Church is like a cancer; some way or another, it touches all of us in the Body of Christ.

My emotions have run all over the place: anger, disbelief, deep sadness, fear for what will happen to the remaining faithful. At times I’m sure that whatever the future holds, all will be well for the Church that’s been protected for 2,000+ years by the Holy Spirit; however, I have moments when my confidence is more like the disciples’ caught in a storm on the sea, “Help us, Lord! We’re sinking!”

Though the Lord lay sleeping, wasn’t He there with His frightened friends? While the scandals rock the Church at large, Jesus remains; only now the vessel caught in upheaval is the universal Catholic community, and Christ is still, yet present in the Eucharist.

I was in the grocery store when a young man, a stranger to me, approached and invited me to his church’s Bible study. Smiling, I declined saying I was already in one. His friendly expression fell when I told him I was Catholic. He was quick to ask if I had seen the news lately, and he reminded me of the deeply-rooted and widespread scandal in my Church. “You have to be looking for a new church home. How can you stay Catholic?” he asked, almost to himself. “I’m Catholic because of Jesus,” I replied.

God moves and loves us through others – especially through the leaders in our Church; still, though leaders fall or fail, though we may lose faith in people, it’s paramount that we keep our faith in Christ, who is after all, the very reason any of us are Catholic.

And in any moment when we struggle to trust in God’s wisdom, think back. Not only has He upheld the Catholic Church as a whole, He’s upheld us in personally trying circumstances. Psalm 143 says, “I muse on what your hand has wrought” — how has the Lord outstretched His hand and given grace the very minute we need it? How has He supported us each when we’re burdened? A mother of a young abuse victim told me that it was reading scripture, especially the words of Jesus, that kept her and her family in Mass.

The epic drama within the Catholic Church will not likely conclude quickly, but we can allow ourselves to be still and know God, who has forever upheld the Catholic Church, and will continue to do so. We can proceed bravely into the unknown armed with hope and certainty in the Eucharist. Above all we have to pray, offer sacrifices in the day, and penance for victims of abuse, for conversions of abusers, for faithful priests and laity to support the truth with humility and peace.

Faithful Food: Seeking Gifts Where They May Be Found

by Kim Long

Autumn, my favorite time of the year, in Louisiana is more often a state of mind than a meteorological fact, although that never prevents us from pumpkin spicing our way to Mardi Gras.

Each season brings lessons and gifts; autumn does not disappoint, offering the themes of abundance, harvest and the spring’s eventual promise.

August found me in Baton Rouge in a packed Cathedral, seated with the press corp. I was eager to see Bishop Duca take this next step, this transition, and in turn experience my own sense of transition. I was present when 10 years ago, he was ordained a bishop and installed in my adoptive Diocese of Shreveport. Now I was there, witness to the next step, another strand in the fabric of Catholic life which holds us all together.

A loud knock broke the silence. Bishop Duca stood at the threshold, literally and figuratively. We speak of Christian witnesses as they relate to the sacrament of baptism, but this day the assembled company witnessed a liminal moment, and if asked to give testimony to that we could. This is one way our faith is passed to us, by what we see and hear. A way our faith is passed to others is by what we do.

As the installation continued, the assembly seemed divided into those who were losing a bishop and those who were gaining one, merged into one people standing on the brink of what God has for them: harvest, abundance and the promise of spring and new life.

On the bus to the installation, I glanced at the program. Chef John Folse of legend, roux and renown was catering this event. I had to stay long enough to just taste his food!
Saturdays when my children were small found me rushing to make sure that laundry folding coincided with his time slot on the LPB lineup. As I folded towels, he worked his culinary powers on the natural bounty of Louisiana. Chef Folse, like those Saturdays of years past, had been tucked away in memory until June, when one of my sons surprised me on my birthday with a massive cookbook entitled, After the Hunt. I was eager to taste what I had watched him effortlessly prepare.

Arriving at the reception on what proved to be the first bus, I was able to ease into the space. I told myself I would have a couple of bites and then get on the road. In the serving line, I bumped into my seat mate from the ride over to the Cathedral. We greeted one another as though we were old friends. When I read her name tag, which neither of us was wearing when we met on the bus, I asked her if she were related to the family of that name in Natchitoches. She lit up, “Yes those are my cousins” – another strand of connection.
I fell in line to welcome Baton Rouge’s new bishop. Smiling I told him he didn’t need luck, he would be great. Jeanne, my seat mate, offered to snap a photo. I felt as though I had seen something through. I was there when he was ordained a bishop, and now I was among those seeing him move from strength to strength.

I savored the lingering memory of crawfish eutoufee, cheese grits and experiencing the ever widening understanding of being Catholic. In preparation for family dinner, I pulled out After The Hunt and found the recipe I needed. On Sunday nights when enough time has passed after supper, one of us makes the coffee to go with dessert. Tonight it would be Chef Folse’s version of cafe au lait, a perfect companion with apple cranberry pie.