Monthly Archives: January 2014

Louisiana Life March

What is the Louisiana Life March (LLM) North?
The LLM North is a chance for the citizens of Shreveport, Bossier City, Ruston, Monroe, Natchioches and all of North Louisiana to stand together for an abortion-free Louisiana.

The event will be on January 25 and consist of a historic march from Bossier Citys “Louisiana Boardwalk” across the Texas Street Bridge to a gathering in Shreveports Festival Plaza. At Festival Plaza, nationally-known speakers and local music groups will lead prayer and presentation. After the gathering, a “Life Ministry Mobilization” area will plug you into all the pro-life efforts in your communities.

Why “4,003 Lives Too Many”?
In 2012, 4,003 abortions were performed at the two abortion facilities in Caddo and Bossier parishes, making the combination of Shreveport and Bossier City the “abortion capital” of Louisiana.  In 2012, 9,225 abortions were performed in Louisiana. The LLM North is the beginning of an effort to save these lives by motivating the faith community to reach out in service and education.

Event Details / Answers to FAQ
Gather by 9:45 a.m. at the North Lot of the Bossier City Boardwalk. The March will commence at 10:00 a.m. after opening prayer, music and remarks, head across the Texas Street Bridge, and end at the Festival Plaza where the program will continue. The march from the Boardwalk to Festival Plaza is 1.2 miles.  For those who cannot make the march, please gather at Festival Plaza. Limited transportation will be available to return people from Festival Plaza to the north lot of the Boardwalk.

For more information, call the Shreveport office at 318-300-3533. You can also request promotional materials to be sent to your church or group.

Domestic Church: I Finally “Get” Joy in Suffering

Originally published on thecatholicwife.net on October 4, 2012.

The idea of joy in suffering is hard to swallow and Ive wrestled with it for years. Its a challenge that goes beyond emotions and requires a huge effort of the will; it calls for understanding that we can imitate Christ in a more specific way, humbly offering our crosses to God to glorify Him.

To be straightforward, the view from my familys window is gray these days. Though life contains typical stresses, the most prominent are that my husband Andrews grandmother recently passed and my dad has terminal cancer that is quickly advancing. Both of these things really hit hard early last week; and its been emotionally draining to the point that I have to remind myself to keep functioning, keep doing laundry, keep cooking. Honestly though, I wish the world would pause so we could all catch our breath and regain strength. Suffering is undeniably present and were trying to keep our heads above water.

I had a doctors appointment yesterday to see how our unborn baby is doing. No ultrasound planned, but my doctor used a monitor to feel for the baby and catch the heartbeat. I heard the soft, quick rhythm and, I confess, a few seconds was good enough for me. I was ready to get on with planning my next visit; but holding the monitor to my bump, my doctor lingered for a while, almost forcing me to relish in my baby’s life. For those 30 seconds I checked out of the gray and felt a lovely brightness and hope. It really was neat being silently encouraged to treasure the sound and the moment. When we wrapped up our visit he asked if we want to know what were having and I assumed wed find out in a month. “Nah,” he smiled, “Lets find out next week! Lets see who’s in there.” My breath caught in my chest and an immediate sense of giddiness overwhelmed me. YAY! NEXT WEEK.

Gods plan is perfect and our baby’s life came at just the right time. I want this little one to know that from the very start, he or she was wanted, loved and excitedly anticipated; that the novelty of pregnancy and having kids in our family doesn’t wear off. Today I realized that in the midst of sorrow and trial, God has given us a source of great joy and I want to magnify it as much as possible.

Joy in suffering does involve drawing oneself closer to Christ in His Passion and Death. It involves hoping in Gods will, knowing that He allows all suffering ultimately for some particular good. It is joyfully accepting that His Plan is hands-down, the best for us and though there are thorns, the roses are abundant and full. What are even the littlest bits of happiness or peace amid your suffering? Its so easy to identify and focus on trials and write off the joys as being lesser; but I encourage you to identify the blooms on your own thorny path and grasp that they are signs of Gods upholding grace.

“Oh, I fear nothing; if God sends such great suffering to a soul. He upholds it with an even greater grace, although we are not aware of it.” -St. Faustina

Katie Sciba is the author of thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and three sons, Liam,Thomas & Peter.

Second Collections: Diocese of Shreveport Catholic Schools

Collection Dates: January 25th & 26th
Announcement Dates: January 12th & 19th

We begin this year doing for our eternal God what He has consistently done for us: be charitable, generous and gracious. The first special collection of the new calendar year is for our diocesan Catholic schools. Our Catholic schools bring  to mind the holy home and school of Nazareth. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the saintly Joseph were the first teachers of their child, Jesus, in the ways of faith. They proved themselves to be the BEST of teachers as evidenced by the faith, ministry and saving passion of our Lord. Parents, teachers and other caring adults, like Mary and Joseph, welcome children, youth and young adults as gifts from God the Father.

Our participation in the Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection allows us to begin our acts of divinely inspired charity within our own ecclesiastical house. This collection makes possible what would be very difficult or impossible for a great many children and their parents.  Our Christ-like generosity is a great gift and witness to our love for the Lord Jesus and our children, whether we have children or not, whether they are minors or have reached adulthood. Our Catholic educators embrace them in the great work of Catholic education and Catholic Schools.  Catholic educators and school support staff are like the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph –  they too give love, guidance, inspiration and purpose to those entrusted to their care.

These memorable men and women hand on our Catholic faith.  They nurture and fan into flame our children’s love of the Lord Jesus, reverence for the House of God, and service to others in the name of our charitable God. Catholic education is directed toward our children’s eternal salvation, and secondly toward their success on earth. The order is important: salvation first, knowledge second.

I invite you to be exceptionally generous to our Second Collection for the Diocese of Shreveport Catholic Schools the weekend of January 25 and 26. In the spirit of our Louisiana culture and heritage, I invite you to bring forth some “lagniappe.”  Please remember our Catholic educators, support staff and children during Catholic Schools Week, January 26th – 31st. In addition to your participation in this special collection, do a “little something extra” for them that expresses your gratitude to our educators and your love for our children.  A thank you card or other token of gratitude and love means a lot.  Thank you for ALL you do throughout the year to financially support this apostolic work of the Church at home and abroad.

Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General, is the Director of Special Collections.

I Need More Hours In The Day

by Mike Van Vranken

I recently caught myself verbalizing the excuse:  “I don’t have enough time.”  I had surmised there were not enough hours to complete a certain project.  I immediately heard from the Holy Spirit within me. God put the thought in my heart that He created the 24-hour cycle we call a day to give us the perfect amount of time to eat, sleep, develop relationships and complete any task He would give us for any particular day. In other words, humans would not be able to handle any more than those 24 hours each day. So, why are we always asking for more?

There is an entire industry that offers solutions for “time management.” And, while some of those strategies and tools may be helpful, they are absolutely useless unless Jesus is at the center of our decision making process. Every time we are faced with a new opportunity to add something to our schedule, rather than using an online tool to assist us, we would be more blessed to ask Jesus if this is something he wants us to pursue.  If it is, we should be obedient and do it.  If not, we should decline. It sounds simple, and it really is.

You see if our daily agenda is created based on our own ability to make decisions, we will make many mistakes. If we accept new responsibilities and obligations based only on the blank spots on our calendar, we will eventually allow time to become a false god. The illusion of “free time” will become our guide.

But, if we go to the Savior for every decision, and listen to his advice, we will find there is plenty of time each day to do what he asks.

Consider this as a New Year’s Resolution:  Every evening of this year, let’s spend time with Jesus asking what he wants us to do the next day. Then, be submissive to his will and do only what he tells you. We will experience less stress as we turn all our decisions over to him. “Cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)  After a few weeks, we will determine who is Lord over our calendars. Will it be Father God, or will it be Father Time?

Mike has a teaching ministry (www.mikevanvrankenministries.org) and serves as an adjunct professor for the Diocese of Shreveport’s Greco Institute.

Strive for Perfect Goals This New Year

by Bishop Michael G. Duca

As you receive this Catholic Connection, I suppose we are all well into our New Year’s resolutions. Changes are tricky things because we often have a strong beginning, but in the end give up because we realize how hard it is to change. We give in to the old ways because we were not perfect in our resolve. And yet the Gospel messages call us to conversion and change as a means of reshaping of our lives ultimately in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.  We are continually trying, and should be trying, to conform our lives with the teaching of the Church as it reflects what it means to love and to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  So if this is so central to our Christian faith, how can we be more successful in shaping our lives, as St. Paul says, so that we might “take on the mind of Christ?”

I have a few suggestions that might guide our decisions based on a few passages of scripture.

In the Gospel we hear, “so be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) While this passage may seem to put the achievement bar fairly high, okay, impossibly high, it is a good place to start. The truth is, and we know this deep in our hearts, that we will never be perfect as God is perfect.  But that doesn’t mean that the perfect goal is wrong or that we should not set our hopes high. The goal that guides our change is as important as the bad habit or action we want to change. In fact, this goal should be the first consideration because in our striving for a particular ideal we are shaping the person we are becoming. If our desire to lose weight is really about vanity, for example, the more we strive to reach our goal the more vain we will become.

We should always seek a higher goal that reflects the perfect ideal that God has given us in the example of Jesus, which we discover in our spiritual lives through prayerful reflection on the witness of Jesus Christ, the teachings of the Church and the understanding we have of the scriptures.  Those ideals guide us and, even though we will never be perfect, we keep striving for perfection because these are the values that will rightly shape our lives.  We should understand that we become virtuous not in achieving the goal perfectly, but in the striving for holiness.

The words of St. James take us a little deeper into this mystery of conversion: “and let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and completely lacking in nothing.” James 1:4

Saint Paul says from a different point of view: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Once we have the spiritual ideal that will guide us, it is important to keep trying to reach our goal.  First, be honest. To make a real change we are not talking about a sprint to the finish as in a quick race.  We are talking more like a marathon because it will usually take a long time to affect a serious change in our lives.

As St. James says, our “perseverance should be perfect.” We must put our emphasis not on being perfect, but on the grace of God.  So each day as we examine how we are doing, we should accept that each day it is not about how perfect we are in achieving our goals, but how perfectly we continue to begin over and over again to seek the mind and the heart of Christ in our lives and call upon the grace of God to help us.

In the end it is more about faithfulness than perfection.  And so if you have begun your New Year’s resolution and you have already blown it – smoked a cigarette, had too much drink or cheated on your diet – the answer is not to give up and say, “well, I blew it this year, so I won’t have to start again until next year,” but rather to simply say, “I blew it yesterday, but today I begin again.”  It is that faithful decision each day to pick up our cross and to follow Christ which causes us to grow in virtue.

My last humble insight is that we should take small changes except where serious sin is involved.  If our spiritual need is to change our behavior and avoid serious sin, then we must make a complete break no matter how big the commitment is and depend on the mercy and love of God who will provide what we need.  In other areas of our lives we should take really small steps.  One of the things we often try to do is change our whole life at once. To change our life means to change more than one little behavior. A small commitment done faithfully will often have the effect of making big changes in our lives and lead us to deep spiritual insights.

It is my prayer that this New Year will be a time of conversion and holy change in your life.  May we say next year that this was a good year, a year of grace and conversion.

Esforzarse Por Alcanzar Metas Perfectas Este Nuevo Año

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

Cuando reciban este volumen de la revista Catholic Connection, supongo que ya estarán practicando sus resoluciones de Año Nuevo. Hacer cambios es algo difícil porque con frecuencia comenzamos muy bien, pero al final nos damos por vencidos porque nos damos cuenta de que tan difícil es hacer cambio en nuestras vidas. Regresamos a los hábitos viejos porque no fuimos fuertes en nuestra resolución. Y aun así los mensajes del Evangelio nos llaman a la conversión y al cambio como una manera de regresar a dar forma a nuestras vidas para que al final podamos ser imagen y semejanza de Jesucristo. Intentamos continuamente, y debemos tratar de alinear nuestras vidas con la enseñanza de la Iglesia ya que ella nos enseña  lo que significa amar y ser un discípulo de Jesucristo. Si no hacemos esta lucha de cambio una parte central de nuestra fe Cristiana, ¿Cómo podremos tener éxito en formar nuestras vidas como San Pablo nos dice, para que podamos “tener la mentalidad de Cristo?”

Les propongo unas sugerencias basadas en algunos pasajes de las Escrituras que pueden ayudarnos a guiar nuestras decisiones.

En el Evangelio escuchamos, “Sean ustedes perfectos como su Padre celestial es perfecto.” (Mateo 5:48) aunque este pasaje pueda parecer que pone la barra muy alta, bueno más bien, imposiblemente alta, es un buen lugar para empezar. La verdad es, y lo sabemos en el fondo del corazón, que nunca seremos perfectos como Dios es perfecto. Eso no significa que la meta perfecta sea equivocada o que no deberíamos tener nuestra esperanza en alto. La meta que guía nuestro cambio es tan importante como el mal hábito o acción que queremos cambiar. De hecho, esta meta debería ser lo que consideramos primero porque en nuestro esfuerzo por un ideal en particular debemos formar primero la meta sobre la persona que queremos llegar a ser. Si nuestro deseo de perder peso es más bien por vanidad, por ejemplo, entre más nos esforcemos para alcanzar nuestra meta, más en vano será nuestro esfuerzo.

Deberíamos siempre buscar una meta más alta que refleje el ideal perfecto que Dios nos ha dado en el ejemplo de Jesús, el cual descubrimos en nuestra vida espiritual por medio de reflexión, de oración en el testimonio de Jesucristo, de las enseñanzas de la Iglesia y del entendimiento que tenemos de las Sagradas Escrituras. Esos ideales nos guían y, aunque nunca seremos perfectos, nos ayudan a continuar buscando la perfección porque esos son los valores que darán forma a nuestras vidas de una manera correcta. Deberíamos entender que nos seremos virtuosos no alcanzando la meta perfectamente, sino buscando  la santidad.

Las palabras de Santiago van un poco más profundo en este misterio de la conversión: “procuren que esa fortaleza los lleve a la perfección, a la madurez plena, sin que les falte nada.” Santiago 1:4.

San Pablo lo dice de un punto de vista diferente: “He peleado la buena batalla, he llegado al término de la carrera, me he mantenido fiel.” (2 Timoteo 4:7)
Ya teniendo el ideal espiritual que nos guiará, es importante continuar tratando de alcanzar nuestra meta. Primero, siendo honestos. Para hacer un verdadero cambio no necesitamos decir que vamos a llegar a nuestra meta rápido. Para llegar a un cambio serio en nuestras vidas, hablamos más bien como de un maratón que por lo regular toma mucho tiempo.

Como el apóstol Santiago nos dice, nuestra “perseverancia debe ser perfecta.” Debemos poner nuestro énfasis no en ser perfectos, sino en la gracia de Dios. Para que al examinar cada día cómo estamos, debemos aceptar que no se trata de que tan perfectos somos en alcanzar nuestras metas, sino en que tan perfectamente continuamos comenzando una y otra vez buscando la mente y el corazón de Cristo en nuestras vidas y pedimos que nos ayude la gracia de Dios.

Después de todo se trata más de fidelidad que de perfección. Por eso, si ya comenzaron su resolución de  Año Nuevo y ya la rompieron –como fumar un cigarro, tomar de mas, echar a perder su dieta– la respuesta no es darse por vencidos y decir “bueno, ya fallé este año, así que ya no tengo que empezar otra vez hasta el próximo año,” más bien digan simplemente, “fallé ayer, pero hoy comienzo otra vez.” Lo que nos lleva a crecer en virtud es la fiel decisión de levantar nuestra cruz cada día y seguir a Jesucristo.

Mi humilde y último consejo es que deberíamos comenzar por hacer los cambios pequeños, excepto cuando hay pecado serio. Si alguna de nuestras necesidades espirituales es cambiar nuestra manera de ser y evitar pecados serios, debemos hacer una pausa no importa que tan grande sea el compromiso y depender de la misericordia y amor de Dios que nos dará lo que necesitamos. En otras áreas de nuestras vidas deberíamos realmente tomar pasos pequeños. Una de las cosas que con frecuencia intentamos hacer es cambiar toda nuestra vida en un solo paso. Cambiar nuestra vida significa cambiar más de un acto pequeño de comportamiento. Un compromiso pequeño hecho fielmente tendrá el efecto de hacer grandes cambios en nuestras vidas y nos llevará a una revelación espiritual  más profunda.

Es mi oración que este Nuevo Año será un tiempo de conversión y de cambio santo en sus vidas. Que podamos decir que este fue un buen año, un año de gracia y conversión.

Calling Catholics Home

During the 2014 Lenten season, parishes throughout the diocese are taking the opportunity to welcome back those who were “once Catholic” through the program “Calling Catholics Home.” If you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church for a while, this invitation is for you. Our faith community misses you and is incomplete without you. No matter how long you have been away, and for whatever reason, we invite you to consider renewing your relationship with the Catholic Church.

Please join us for informal sessions and an update of the Catholic faith. The sessions are conducted in a support-group format with speakers including local lay people, priests, deacons and Bishop Michael Duca. Everyone is welcome.

Please keep this program in mind while visiting with friends and family who might be fallen away Catholics.
This six week program will take place at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Parish Hall, located at 939 Jordan Street in Shreveport, on Wednesdays, February 26 – April 2, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. For more information, contact Jane at St. Joseph Church in Shreveport at 318-865-3581, or go to www.callingcatholicshome.com