Monthly Archives: October 2017

Angelus Prayer at the Church of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena and Visit to the Shrine of St. Peter Claver

from Vatican Information Services

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Shortly before I entered this church where the relics of St. Peter Claver are kept, I blessed the first stones of two institutions that will minister to the those most in need, and I visited the house of Mrs. Lorenza, who daily welcomes many of our brothers and sisters, offering them food and affection. These visits have done me much good because they demonstrate how the love of God is made visible each day.

As we pray the Angelus, recalling the incarnation of the Word, we also reflect on Mary who conceived Jesus and brought him into the world. We look to her this morning under the title of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá. As you well know, over a long period of time this image was abandoned, discolored, torn and full of holes. It was treated like an old piece of cloth, shown no respect, and finally discarded.

It was then that, a humble woman, who traditions tells us was called Maria Ramos, and the first devotee of the Blessed Virgin of Chiquinquirá, saw something different in that piece of cloth. She had the courage and faith to put this blurred and torn fabric in a special place, restoring its lost dignity. She encountered and honored Mary who held her Son in her arms, doing precisely what was despicable and useless in the eyes of others.

And so, this woman became a model for all those who, in different ways, seek to restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters lost through the pain of life’s wounds, to restore the dignity of those who are excluded. She is a model for all those who make efforts to provide dignified accommodation and care for those most in need. She is, above all, a model for all those who pray perseveringly so that the men and women who are suffering may regain the splendor of the children of God which they have been robbed of.

The Lord teaches us through the example of the humble and those who are not valued. While he gave María Ramos, an ordinary woman, the grace to receive the image of the Blessed Virgin in its poor and torn state, He also granted to the indigenous Isabel and her son Miguel the grace of being the first to see the transformed and renewed fabric of the Blessed Virgin. They were the first to look humbly upon this completely renewed piece of fabric and recognize there the radiance of divine light which transforms and renews all things. They are the poor, humble ones, who contemplate the presence of God, and to whom the mystery of God’s love is revealed most clearly. They, the poor and simple of heart, were the first to see the Blessed Virgin of Chinquinquirá and they became missionaries and heralds of her beauty and holiness.

In this church we will pray to Mary, who referred to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord,” and to St. Peter Claver, the “slave of the blacks forever,” as he wanted others to know him from the day of his solemn profession. He waited for the ships from Africa to arrive at the New World’s main center of commerce in slavery. Given the impossibility of verbal communication due to the language difference, he often ministered to these slaves simply through evangelizing gestures. For a caress surpasses all languages. He knew that the language of charity and mercy was understood by all. Indeed, charity helps us to know the truth and truth calls for acts of love. These two go together, they cannot be separated. Whenever he felt revulsion towards the slaves – they came in a repulsive state – Peter Claver kissed the wounds.

St. Peter Claver was austere and charitable to the point of heroism. After consoling hundreds of thousands of people in their loneliness, he died without honors and was not remembered, having spent the last four years of his life in sickness and confined to his cell which was in a terrible state of neglect. This how the world paid him, yet God paid him in another way.

St. Peter Claver witnessed in a formidable way to the responsibility and care that we should have for one another. Furthermore, this saint was unjustly accused of being indiscreet in his zealousness and he faced strong criticism and persistent opposition from those who feared that his ministry would undermine the lucrative slave trade.

Here in Colombia and in the world millions of people are still being sold as slaves; they either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights.

María de Chiquinquirá and Peter Claver invite us to work to promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking. They all have human dignity because they are living images of God. We all are created in the image and likeness of God, and the Blessed Virgin holds each one of us in her arms as her beloved children.

Let us now turn to Our Blessed Virgin Mother in prayer, so that she may help us recognize the face of God in every man and woman of our time.

Angelus Domini…

Domestic Church: Make Time to Rest for Your Wellbeing

by Katie Sciba

It’s typical for us to deprive ourselves of genuine rest. I’m especially horrible at this. If all our kids are occupied and I deliberately ignore the laundry and looming dinnertime, I typically slough onto my couch and whip out my phone or computer. A few minutes has a way of becoming a significant amount of time and before I know it, I have to tear myself away from my bite-sized screen to pay attention to real demands.

If I’m not passing the time device-in-hand, then I avoid rest all together. Why sit when I can use the time to get ahead? Or who am I kidding, to try to dig myself out of the dishes and to-dos? But rest isn’t just a luxury to pass up; it’s a necessity. And for those of us blessed with raising children and trying to be someone else’s better half, taking the time to breathe improves our game and makes giving of ourselves a whole lot easier.

PRAY  We are made in the image and likeness of God. The best rest we can ever achieve is being in touch frequently with the Lord so we can receive grace, strength and wisdom for everything He asks of us whether it’s a crisis or homework after dinner. The more we pray, the more we know God; and because we’re made in His image, the better we know God, the better we know ourselves – our capabilities and our limits.

UNPLUG  A fantastic way to wind down at night is to set screens aside. Take the last 20-30 minutes before your head touches the pillow to turn off devices and put your mind to rest. In addition to this regular unplugging, go the extra mile and put them away for a whole weekend every so often. Read a book – a real one with pages. Go for a walk or a run, or just step out into your yard for a breath of fresh air. Drive. On your own or with your family, go experience tangible living apart from the computer or phone.

CREATE  I’ve heard it from countless people, “I’m not a creative person.” Oh, but you ARE. Made in the image and likeness of the Creator himself, we’re born to do, to make. Take a few minutes to write in a journal or to a friend. Resurrect that thing you used to do – running, dancing, singing – and experience the joy of it again. It doesn’t have to be fancy or public; creating goes beyond trends of “expressing yourself,” and validates the gifts God gave you specifically. Recreational rest does just that, it re-creates and restores us.

Rest is paramount because it’s a clear imitation of the Lord. After creating the world, God rested. This is an invitation for us to do the same. In the Gospel of Luke, after spending hours upon hours healing the sick and expelling demons, “Jesus went to a deserted place.” No people, no work, no phone. After giving of himself so much, he stepped away to rest and recuperate.

So go ahead. Sit. Breathe. Pray and ask Jesus to settle your mind and thoughts. Step away and experience the holy refreshment of rest.

Faithful Food: Reconstructing with a Solid Foundation

by Kim Long

Fall is my favorite season and October is my favorite month. By now life has reestablished a routine fitting for this changed rhythm. School and religion classes are in full swing. The pews are full again as the summer vacationers have returned rested, and the temperatures are finally showing us some mercy. I am preparing for the big “settling in,” for which our wet and chilly winters are designed.

October has always been an ingathering time, a time to collect scattered fragments and put them together again. I have written about deconstruction: getting down to the basics, stripping away all that is unnecessary. Then, I wrote about balance, that small space where I am standing on both feet, relaxed and aware of my blessings. These two steps were, for me, necessary to meet this ingathering as I only want to take the good and Godly things forward into my next season.

In Isaiah we are reminded that God has given an example of taking a stone, and not just a brand new pretty thing, but a stone that has been tested, and laying it in place. “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation firmly placed. He who believes in it will never be disturbed.’”

There are a couple of definitions which speak to the concept of reconstructing something: to build or form something again after it has been damaged or destroyed and form an impression from the available evidence. My faith and my family are my foundations, and trust me when I say they have both been tested, and yet here they are, firm and in place, helping me know my place.

Where does this stone have its origin? In my faith, my family… and in my baptism. So many things happen during a baptism that I confess, things are very often missed. During the Easter Vigil, the wonder of baptism continues to unfold in every area of my life. I belong. I have a place, an identity, and while many sources contribute to that identity, God alone laid the stone.

So with October my “reconstruction” starts anew. As I make additions to this foundation, I pray that they are as James tells me, “good and perfect gifts.” I am sure there will be events, pieces of news and bad decisions. And while they will not seem like a gift, my prayer is that even in the midst of those moments, I remember my firm foundation: something of substance to build on, stand on, rest upon and rejoice in. Our lives are a pilgrimage toward God in steps seen and unseen. We gather our supplies and begin again.

Scallop shells have long been a symbol of baptism and pilgrimage. To that end, I offer a recipe for madeleines, a traditional French cookie baked in a shell shaped pan. Like life they are simple, but not easy, and always well worth it!

Classic French Madeleines

Ingredients:
• 1 stick unsalted butter (no substitute)
• 2/3 cup white sugar
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• ½ tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
• 1 tbsp. lemon zest (optional)
• Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:
1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans by using cooking spray or butter and flour.

2) Melt butter and set aside to cool.

3) Sift baking powder and flour and set aside.

4) Mix eggs and sugar and vanilla for five full minutes until fluffy.

5) Remove 3 tbsps. of the batter and incorporate into melted butter.

6) Slowly add flour to the batter, only just incorporating it with a spatula

7) Gradually add the butter mixture to the batter and fold until just blended.

8) Cover bowl and chill batter and pans for one hour.

9) Place 1 tbsp. batter in each shell.

10) Bake 7 minutes and check to see if the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Sprinkle on powdered sugar if desired.

In Review: Feeding Your Family’s Soul DVD

Feeding Your Family’s Soul DVD
by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

reviewed by Jessica Rinaudo

In our April 2017 issue, I reviewed Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s Feeding Your Family’s Soul, a book with weekly teachings, wisdom from the saints, prayers and recipes to be shared over the dinner table with family. Cooper O’Boyle now has a DVD under the same title. It features seven sections, each dedicated to a specific aspect of faith or living a Christian life that can be taught to children.

Much of what she shares in the Feeding Your Family’s Soul DVD can also be found in the book, but the DVD condenses that information and provides explanations and action steps more in line for younger children. The audience for the DVD is clearly adult parents and grandparents. In each of the seven sections, Cooper O’Boyle shares wisdom from the saints, scripture and passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to back up her points. She also shares some of her own real life stories to explain how, for example, practicing forgiveness when it seems impossible to forgive, is following the will of God.

In the DVD’s introduction, Cooper O’Boyle summarizes all the reasons parents and grandparents feel daunted in instructing children in the faith.

“So many parents and grandparents today feel stretched beyond measure,” she says, “and it’s no secret that we live in a fast-paced, technology driven world which continually beckons to us to do this and to do that.”

She asserts that the dinner table is the perfect time to teach, listen and pray.

In each of the seven sections that follow, Cooper O’Boyle educates parents on the section topic, including why the Church teaches it and how it’s critical to our lives as Catholic Christians. She then provides Teaching Tips and questions you can bring with you to ask your children at the dinner table. She suggests providing real life examples from your own life to share with children, as well as allowing them to make suggestions on ways to carry out the teachings in their everyday lives.

The seven sections / teachings of the DVD are: Learning to Love Our Neighbor from Mother Teresa; The Tradition of Prayer; Learning and Teaching Forgiveness; Why Catholics Honor the Blessed Mother; Learning and Teaching the Virtues; Learning Perseverance from St. Monica and Learning Steadfast Faith from St. Teresa of Avila.

Cooper O’Boyle emphasizes throughout the DVD that it’s important to establish a foundation of prayer for ourselves as adults before teaching our children, after all, they learn by example. She also suggests integrating scheduled prayer times with our children to help them form their own prayer lives.

Cooper O’Boyle delivers these lessons in a soothing voice, that makes her feel like your kind and loving aunt. I did find though that she was sometimes so soothing that I became easily distracted while watching. I suggest breaking up viewing the video – perhaps watching a section a week.

The DVD comes with a discussion guide with questions for children and tangible ways they can carry out these lessons from each section.

I recommend the DVD Feeding Your Family’s Soul for parents or grandparents of young children who struggle with teaching and integrating their Catholic faith at home. Cooper O’Boyle’s suggestions are good and easy to follow and will help bring a real awareness of faith to all members of your family.

Feeding Your Family’s Soul DVD is available to purchase from Paraclette Press and Amazon.com. It is available to borrow from the Slattery Library inside the Catholic Center in Shreveport.

Mike’s Meditations: The Human Image of the Invisible God

by Mike Van Vranken

Christ Jesus is the physical, human image of the invisible God ( Col 1:15). As his disciples, we are summoned to be Christ-like; to emulate and imitate him. We become Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:27).

Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…”  (Luke 4:18-19).

Imagine yourself being anointed and sent to bring glad tidings to the poor of your community. Ask yourself: who are the poor? The financially poor? The poor in spirit?  Those who are poor in hope, or who have lost hope because they are unemployed, lonely, depressed, sick or abused? You realize these “poor” are all around you. How do you bring them glad tidings? How did Jesus interact with poor? He ate with them. He listened to them and had compassion for them. He healed them and fed them. He spent quality time with them and changed their lives.

As you continue, you realize you have also been sent to proclaim liberty to captives. Again, who are these captives? Prisoners? Those addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, food, sports, physical images or even other people? How do you proclaim liberty to them? How do you help liberate them from their captivity? Jesus spent quality time there, compassionately listening, looking for ways to nourish and sustain them. He shared his own love with them, as well as his Father’s love. He taught mercy, forgiveness, joy and freedom.

Let’s continue. Jesus certainly cured those who were physically blind. We too are called to recover sight to the blind. We must learn to see what we once could not: our own selfishness, hypocrisy or blindness to the suffering all around us. Do we see ourselves participating in social sins of neglect, greed and oppression? Once we regain our own sight, we are able to minister to others and help them recover their sight, allowing them to become part of the mainstream of our society.  They then can join us as missionary disciples.

In his teaching, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis challenges us to see in entirely new ways. He beckons us to see like Jesus. He calls us to see those on the outskirts of society; what he calls the “periphery,” and he urges us to actively minister to them. He begs us to walk with them like Jesus did. He calls us missionary disciples because to be like Jesus is truly our mission.

Several areas where Jesus ministered to people on the edges were:

1. The poor. He calls us to satisfy their needs. We cannot be community without satisfying both our own needs and the needs of others.

2. The people who didn’t know the law or belong to the synagogue. Those who were not accepted by the religious leaders, yet were seeking God. Who would those be in our society today?

3. The physically afflicted. Poverty and physical illnesses went hand-in-hand in Jesus’ time. They still do today. Are we eager to focus on these people who are mostly neglected in our communities?

4. The geographically marginalized. In Jesus’ day, it was the Samaritans. They were considered the religious non-pure. Who are the geographically marginalized in our times? Can we proactively minister to them?

5. Women. Jesus healed women, forgave them, had deep, personal friendships with them, and even sent one woman to proclaim his resurrection to his disciples. Jesus taught that oppression of any kind is wrong. Who are the oppressed in our society today?

Spend some time this month identifying a few of the peripheries, some of the areas where people are marginalized, in your own community. Ask God for the grace to eliminate your blind spots and see where He wants you to be His image to others. God always meets us where we are. As His missionary disciples, we are called to meet others and see Jesus in them where they are – to be Jesus to them where they are. How will you respond to His call?

Bishop’s October Reflection: Speak Out for Our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters

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by Bishop Michael G. Duca

Last month a former member of the White House staff, Steve Bannon, a Catholic, gave an interview to Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes in which he gave an assessment of the Catholic Church and their position on immigration issues in the United States.

When questioned about the opposition expressed by some U.S. bishops to President Trump’s decision to rescind immigration protection afforded under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), he responded: “The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? …they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. …they have an economic interest. … As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine… This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they’re just another guy with an opinion.”

There are so many ways that this statement is disrespectful, inflammatory and simplistic in portraying the position of the Catholic Church. This response is politically motivated around the issue of immigration and the fact that the bishops continue to demand respect for immigrants living in our country and advocate for just and supportive ways to normalize their status. I believe two statements Mr. Bannon made are wrong and should be addressed so we are clear about our Church’s stand on the issues surrounding immigration.

In regards to the Church’s position on immigration, it is not based on economic interest, nor on filling the pews, but on the central command of Jesus to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Our understanding of this text is revealed in two of the great teachings of Jesus. In Matthew 25, Jesus describes the final judgment of all humanity and reminds us, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Matt 25:35).

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, told by Jesus in answer to the question, “Who is my neighbor?,”  it is the foreigner who tends to the needs of the man who was robbed – and not just any foreigner. The Jews were filled with hostility and dislike for any Samaritan person. It was an animosity that was political, religious and rooted in a long history of conflict. The fact that there was such dislike and hostility between Jews and Samaritans is what gives the use of the Samaritan in the Parable of the Good Samaritan such force! (Luke 10:29-37) The Samaritan is the one who is able to rise above the bigotry and prejudices of centuries and show mercy and compassion for the injured Jew after the Jew’s own countrymen passed him by!
These great teachings of Jesus remind us that we are always to love our neighbor and that this love must work for the support of those in need and insure their just and respectful treatment. This command of Jesus to love one another certainly includes the immigrant among us. This is not an economic teaching, but rather the true reflection of the loving heart of Jesus to those among us who deserve their status to be normalized, to not have their families divided, to not live in fear of losing everything they have built in the U.S. and who deserve the respect that should be given to every child of God.

The second statement that was expressed should cause us to stand up immediately and cry out, “NO!”  He says the bishops are just “another guy with an opinion.” He is specific when he says he believes this is a political matter, not a doctrinal issue. Therefore, he believes the bishops’ teaching, the teaching of the Church, is just a political opinion like anyone else.  That might be true if I told you to root for the Cowboys and not the Saints, or if I tried to give some stock advice, but in this case the Church is teaching. The teaching of the Church is not just any other opinion, but an exhortation on how to live as disciples of Christ in this world today. We believe that Jesus is not just one opinion to be considered among many, but that He IS The WAY, The TRUTH and The LIFE.  We believe Jesus, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, speaks truth through the Magisterium of the Church, the bishops, and it is not only the “opinion of just another guy.” The bishops often state that there are many ways to find a political solution, but the Church insists that any comprehensive plan should be just, respectful, merciful and acknowledge the gifts and value that immigrants, our brothers and sisters in Christ, have to offer our country, our city and our Church.

We must speak out for our immigrant brothers and sisters who need our support. We cannot allow this to simply be a political, cold, application of law to the unknown among us. These are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our fellow Catholics who receive the Body and Blood of Christ with us at the altar at Mass. Our only ordination to the priesthood this year, Fr. Fidel Mondragón, is from Mexico.  This should be personal to us because it affects members of our Catholic family. Our stance is not economic; it is not just an opinion. It is simply doing what we do: showing love and solidarity with our brothers and sisters because they are children of God and because we are disciples of Christ who commands that we “love one another.”

4th Annual Multicultural Rosary

St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport
204 Patton Ave., Shreveport  • 318-865-3581
Sunday, October 8 •  2:00pm

One decade of the Rosary will be prayed in each of the following languages: Italian (Sr. AnnaMaria Iannetti), Gaeilige (Kim Long), Tagalog (Emee Reynier), French (Normand Roy) and Malayalam (Sr. Suny Augustine).  The first half of each prayer will be said in foreign languages and all responses will be in English.

We invite all our Christian brothers and sisters to participate. Please join us for this glorious event!