Monthly Archives: November 2012

Celebrating the True Spirit of Christmas

1212bishop

Pictured: The adoration of the Magi. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

As your receive this month’s Catholic Connection, we have entered the Christian season of Advent and are waiting with hopeful expectations for the celebration of Christmas, the Nativity of the Lord. This time of year is unique because our religious observance of the seasons of Advent and Christmas correspond with a secular observance of the Christmas holiday season.

The question we are faced with is this: Which understanding of these seasons – the religious or secular – will most deeply shape our observance of Advent and Christmas? While many of us can remember when the secular and religious observances of Christmas were not that different, today, as the secular culture continues to redefine Christmas without Christ, these two observances are really two different celebrations. They may appear to be the same because the symbols are the same, but their meanings are very different. We realize this when we feel we have to fight to remind others of the real meaning of Christmas that often times gets formalized in the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays battle in our public encounters.

When we see this continual secularization of Christmas in the marketplace we need to take some time and remind ourselves that we are not called to fight, but to proclaim the good news of Jesus’ Birth and rediscover the joy of Christmas within our own hearts.

We should take a prayerful breath and remember it is not the responsibility of the department stores or the malls to be the keepers of the primary heart and soul of the Christmas message. No, that is our message, our holiday and OUR MYSTERY to celebrate and proclaim. We should relax and look for the wonder, joy and mystery of Christmas where it will be truly found, in the heart of the Gospel, in our personal and shared Liturgical prayers and in the charitable heart of the Church. The Gospel is the source of the story of the Birth of Jesus and we would do well to read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible during these Advent and Christmas seasons. What a wonderful tradition it would be to read from the Gospel of Luke the story of the Birth of Jesus before we open gifts or at the beginning of our Christmas meal.

Another way to reclaim our Christ centered celebration of the season is to remember that while the marketplace around us moves immediately to Christmas, we begin with the season of Advent because part of the story of Jesus’ birth is the biblical history that chronicles the time humanity waited and prepared for the Redeemer.  The Bible also foretells the future suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. In the Word of God we are plunged into a mystery that is only complete when we hold together the waiting of the past, the joy that is present and future hope that is promised. A meaningful way to bring this Advent celebration into the family is with the Advent wreath burning at our family meals reminding us of our waiting for the coming of our Redeemer.

Finally we recover the true meaning of Christmas in our personal prayers and in our Liturgical celebrations of the Sundays of Advent and on Christmas Day. In our Liturgical celebrations, the anticipation and joy of the mystery of Christ’s birth is shared. In our shared Mass we are inspired from the heart of the mystery of Christ’s love for us (the Eucharist) and this gives us a refreshing and deeper meaning to all the decorating, gift giving and celebrating we will do this Christmas season.

This holy inspiration keeps us focused on the real meaning of Christmas, so we do not depend on the secular world to give us the Christmas spirit. Instead, we bring the Christmas spirit to the world; we bring and proclaim Christ, who is the Light and Hope of the World. This is even more clearly manifested in the charity we show to others, especially to those in need. The freely given acts of kindness, the donations to the poor and the thoughtful gifts we give to loved ones are the clearest signs that we have the true Christmas joy in our hearts. It is the true Christmas spirit because we are moved to give to others as God gave His Son to us for our redemption.

If we look back on the best memories of Christmas, we may discover that these wonder-filled moments were created with someone faith-filled. It was their faith and underlying desire to make real the love of God, revealed in the gift of His Son that was the source of joy in those moments.  Our mistake is often to try and imitate the event and forget the deeper source of joy: the parents or friends who created a joyful memory of Christmas. The real joy of Christmas is not about finding the Christmas spirit, but about being the source of that Spirit for others.

Celebrando el Verdadero Espíritu Navideño

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

(CNS photo/Lisa A. Johnston)

Cuando reciban la Catholic Connection de este mes, ya habremos entrado a la Cristiana temporada de Adviento y estamos con grandes esperanzas y expectativas de la celebración de Navidad, el Nacimiento del Señor. Este tiempo del año es único porque nuestras observancias religiosas de la temporada de Adviento y Navidad corresponden  también a una observancia seglar en la temporada santa de Navidad.

La pregunta que enfrentamos con esto es: ¿Cómo podemos todos – seglares o fieles formar un mejor entendimiento de esta temporada de Adviento y Navidad? Mientras que muchos de nosotros podemos recordar cuando las observancias seglares y las religiosas de la Navidad no eran tan diferentes, hoy que la cultura seglar continua definiendo Navidad sin Cristo, estas dos observancias son verdaderamente dos celebraciones diferentes. Pueden parecer lo mismo porque los símbolos son los mismos, pero en significado son muy diferentes. Nos damos cuenta de esto cuando sentimos que tenemos que pelear para recordar a otros el verdadero significado de Navidad que muchas veces se formaliza en Feliz Navidad Vs. Felices Festividades cuando tenemos encuentros públicos.

Cuando vemos esta continua secularización de Navidad en el mercado necesitamos tomarnos un tiempo y recordarnos a nosotros mismos que no estamos llamados a pelear, sino a proclamar la buena nueva del Nacimiento de Jesus y a redescubrir el gozo de la Navidad en nuestros propios corazones.

Debemos respirar profundo en oración y recordar que no es la responsabilidad de las tiendas o los centros comerciales de mantener primordialmente el corazón y el alma del mensaje de la Navidad. No, ese es nuestro mensaje, nuestra festividad, NUESTRO MISTERIO para celebrarlo y proclamarlo. Debemos tranquilizarnos y buscar el maravilloso gozo y misterio de Navidad donde se puede verdaderamente encontrar, en el corazón del Evangelio, en una oración Litúrgica y compartida, en nuestra propia persona y en la caridad del corazón de la Iglesia. El Evangelio es una fuente de la historia del Nacimiento de Jesus y nos haría muy bien leer la historia del nacimiento de Cristo sacado directamente de la Biblia durante estas temporadas de Adviento y Navidad. ¡Qué hermosa tradición sería leer la historia del Evangelio de San Lucas del Nacimiento de Jesus antes de abrir regalos o al comienzo de nuestra cena de Navidad!

Otra manera de proclamar nuestra celebración de la temporada centrada en Cristo es recordando que mientras que el mercado alrededor nuestro nos lleva directo a la navidad, comenzamos con la temporada de Adviento porque parte de la historia del nacimiento de Jesus es la historia bíblica que cuenta el tiempo que la humanidad esperó y se preparó para recibir al Redentor. La Biblia también predice el futuro sufrimiento, muerte y resurrección de Jesus. En la Palabra de Dios nos sumergimos en el misterio que se completa solo cuando juntos mantenemos la espera del pasado, el gozo del presente y la esperanza del futuro prometido. Una manera significativa de vivir esta celebración de Adviento en la familia es encendiendo la Corona de Adviento durante nuestras comidas familiares para recordarnos de nuestra espera del regreso de nuestro Redentor.

Finalmente, recuperamos el significado verdadero de Navidad en nuestras oraciones personales y en nuestras celebraciones Litúrgicas del domingo de Adviento y el día de Navidad. En nuestras celebraciones litúrgicas, la anticipación y el gozo del misterio del nacimiento de Jesus es compartido. En nuestra Misa compartida nuestro corazón se inspira en el misterio del amor de Cristo por nosotros (la Eucaristía) y esto nos da un significado mas refrescante y profundo que  todas las decoraciones, regalos y celebraciones que tendremos esta temporada de Navidad.

Esta inspiración santa nos mantiene enfocados en el significado verdadero de la Navidad, para que no nos arrepintamos del mundo seglar que nos da el espíritu de Navidad. Sino más bien, llevemos el espíritu de Navidad al mundo; llevemos y proclamemos a Cristo, que es la Luz y la Esperanza del Mundo. Esto se manifiesta aun más claro en la caridad que mostramos a los demás, especialmente a aquellos en necesidad. Los actos de bondad hechos gratuitamente, las donaciones a los pobres y los regalos significativos que damos a nuestros seres amados son las señales más claras que tenemos el verdadero gozo de la Navidad en nuestros corazones. Ese el verdadero espíritu de Navidad porque somos movidos a dar a los demás un Dios que nos dio a su Hijo para nuestra redención.

Si vemos el pasado en nuestros mejores recuerdos de Navidad, podremos descubrir que esos momentos llenos de maravillas fueron creados por algo lleno de fe. Fue su fe y ese deseo oculto de hacer el amor de Dios real, revelado en el regalo de Su Hijo la fuente de gozo en esos momentos. Nuestro error es frecuentemente tratar y solo imitar el evento y olvidar que es la fuente más profunda de gozo: los papás o amigos que crearon una memora feliz de Navidad. El verdadero gozo de la Navidad no es encontrar el espíritu Navideño, sino ser la fuente de ese Espíritu para los demás.

St. Joseph School Celebrated All Saints Day

Msgr. Earl Provenza celebrated St. Joseph School’s annual All Saints Day Mass on November 1. The Kindergarten class dressed as their favorite saint and told the congregation about their saint’s life.

St. John Berchmans Students Participated in Retreat

Members of the 8th grade class at St. John Berchmans School recently participated in a three-day spiritual retreat at The Pines Catholic Camp in Big Sandy, TX. Accompanied by school staff, clergy, and parent chaperones, the 24 students participated in a challenging ropes course and team-building exercises, took part in worship and adoration services, and interacted with missionary counselors from around the country. The Pines Camp Retreat is an annual event for St. John Berchmans students and creates a lasting bond in the class throughout their eighth grade year.

Our Lady of Fatima School Competed in Saint Election Day

Our Lady of Fatima School’s 6th grade students competed in a “Saint Election Day” on All Saints Day. Each student chose their favorite saint and campaigned for them to win OLF’s favorite saint. This year St. Francis of Assisi won the election. The purpose of the election was to learn more about the saints and to show students the importance of their vote. Pictured: Erykah Wallace campaigns for Saint Ursula.

Jesus the Good Shepherd Students Trick-or-Treat at Nursing Home

Jesus the Good Shepherd School’s PreK3 and PreK4 students had a ghostly time trick-or-treating at St. Joseph Nursing Home in Monroe, LA. The students, dressed in costumes from pretty princesses to scary pirates, visited with the residents as they went door to door collecting candy. A good time was had by all!

Loyola Names Student of the Year

Bailey Monsour has been elected as Loyola College Prep’s Student of the Year. In addition to maintaining excellent grades and earning a high ACT score, Bailey has also been named as a National Merit Commended High Scorer from her PSAT scores her junior year. Bailey will go forward to represent Loyola as Student of the Year and compete against other students at the diocesan, regional and state levels.

St. Joesph School Names Student of the Year Nominees

St. Joseph School honored five 8th graders and four 5th graders in their achievements for being named the Student of the Year Nominees for 2012. One eighth grader and one fifth grader will be selected to represent St. Joseph in the state’s student of the year competition, non-public school division.

St. Fred’s Senior Selected for All-State Football

St. Frederick High School senior, Gregory Long was recently selected to the All-State Academic Football Team and was also named the SFHS recipient of Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church Held Ministry Fair

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Shreveport held their annual Ministry Fair, sponsored by the Parish Council on September 30. For the event, parish ministries, including Eucharistic Ministers, ushers and the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, set up information tables to educate church members about the various parish ministries and to recruit new members.