Monthly Archives: December 2017

Employee Gives Help and Hope to CCNLA Clients

Allison Kulbeth, a former client of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, now works for CCNLA as their Intake Coordinator and spreads warmth to all who walk through the door.

by Lucy Medvec

For Allison Kulbeth, a typical day in the Shreveport office of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana consists of answering or returning over 100 phone calls, coordinating client appointments, organizing files and paperwork, data entry, fulfilling staff requests and helping people who walk into the office requesting assistance. Through it all, no matter how hectic it gets, she greets everyone with a sincere smile and an encouraging word.

“Allison is truly the face of Catholic Charities,” said Carl Piehl, Director of Financial Stability for CCNLA. “She reflects who we are and what we do. She believes that as God’s children, we can raise ourselves up, no matter what challenges life gives us. She is good at reminding people, ‘You can do this.’”

Kulbeth’s role is more than just serving as CCNLA’s Intake Coordinator; she wants to truly help people because she was once in their shoes. Her first experience with Catholic Charities was as a client, seeking assistance with her rent. Like all clients, she attended the Money School, a three-hour class that teaches the basics in financial education. After meeting with Piehl to assess her financial situation, she was denied assistance.

“I wasn’t working at the time and had gotten behind on my rent,” said Kulbeth. “Carl gave me some advice on how to make changes to my budget and my living situation in order to improve my finances. He was supportive, but also helped me to take an honest look at my situation.”

The next time she walked through CCNLA’s doors, it was as a temporary employee through Jean Simpson Personnel Services, hired to do data entry on a short-term basis. When the Intake Coordinator position became available, Executive Director Meg Goorley knew that Kulbeth would be the perfect hire.

“When Allison was first working here as a temp employee, she was a hard worker, very organized, and got along with everyone she met.” said Goorley. “One of her strengths as our Intake Coordinator is that she makes everyone who walks into our building feel special.”

Kulbeth is also described as a great listener. “She engages people and is sympathetic to their situation,” said Piehl. “She listens to their story and is patient when giving information and other resources to clients. She can be empathetic, but also holds them accountable when they need to provide the proper information and paperwork. Her attention to detail helps us do our job efficiently when the clients come in for their appointments.”

When asked what Kulbeth enjoys about her role at Catholic Charities, she immediately replied, “the interaction with people.” “I do enjoy listening to our clients’ stories, because sometimes that’s what they need most – someone to just listen,” said Kulbeth.

While she finds it hard that CCNLA isn’t able to help everyone, there are many client stories that make her smile. “Just last week, I was talking to one of our clients who did not have a job. As she was leaving our office, I had a feeling that I needed to help her. I followed her out the door and suggested that she call Jean Simpson’s office to find a job. They were able to help her and she will start working in January. When I hear back from our clients that we were able to truly help them, that’s what makes my job most rewarding.”

For more information about Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, visit or call 318-865-0200.

Bishop’s January Reflection: Make Small Commitments for Big Changes

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. 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 about 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 that 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.

Discerning a Vocation in High School

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

High school can be a fun but stressful time. Life can easily become consumed with classes, extracurricular activities, jobs and finding moments to spend time with friends. Added to the stress of all this is the anxiety that comes with thinking about what to do after high school. It can be difficult to see where exactly discerning a vocation fits into the active life of a high school student.

I started discerning my vocation at the end of my freshmen year of high school. Some start the discernment process at the end of their time in high school as seniors. Whether a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, it is never too late or too early to discern a vocation in high school.

Since my own vocational discernment has been to the priesthood, I’m going to focus on discerning a vocation to the priesthood in high school. However, some of the tips I will give are applicable to the discernment of any vocation while in high school.

My first tip is to find someone to talk to about discerning the priesthood on a regular basis. Thinking back to my freshman and sophomore years, speaking with someone regularly about my desire to be a priest would have been very helpful. I kept my desire to be a priest very private until around the beginning of my junior year. I waited to discuss wanting to become a priest due to a mixture of fear and feeling unworthy of the priesthood. I know other young men discerning the priesthood might experience the same emotions, but these feelings should not be a deterrent to seeking out someone to talk to. The person could be a religious education teacher, a youth director or a priest. Each diocese even has a Church Vocations Director who is specifically charged with helping to discern a vocation. In the Diocese of Shreveport, Fr. Jerry Daigle is the Church Vocations Director.

My next tip is to include mom and dad. This could be a simple heads up that discerning the priesthood is on the radar, or a sit down conversation. Bringing up discerning the priesthood with parents should happen whenever it feels comfortable to do so. Parents only want what is best for their children, so any reservations about a discernment to the priesthood are probably coming from a particular concern. So, if mom or dad react negatively to the idea of discerning the priesthood, do not feel discouraged, and if mom and dad get overly excited about the idea of discerning the priesthood, do not feel pressured. Simply ask them to be patient and understanding, and maybe even try to set up a meeting between them and the Church Vocations Director to discuss any questions or concerns.

My third tip is to visit a seminary to see what it is like to be a seminarian discerning the priesthood. St. Joseph College Seminary in Covington, LA has a Come and See retreat every year so that young men discerning a priestly vocation can visit and learn about life in the seminary. If possible, try to go to one of these retreats or another retreat that is specifically for young men in high school discerning the priesthood.

My fourth tip is probably the most important. Always keep God at the center of your vocation, and it definitely helps to also keep the Mother of God, Mary, close while discerning. Visiting Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament during adoration every so often, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month, and praying the rosary were all spiritual practices that helped me to discern in an active way while in high school. I would encourage these spiritual practices to anyone discerning a vocation to the priesthood. Becoming an altar server and helping at the Lord’s altar is also a great way to discern the priesthood in high school. My experiences as an altar server in high school kept my desire to be a priest strong.

My final tip is to stay calm. Discernment of any vocation should always be peaceful, especially discernment of the priesthood. Never feel pressured to become a priest and always discern in freedom. Jesus stayed close to me throughout my discernment of the priesthood in high school, and any young man discerning a vocation in high school should know that Jesus will do the same for him.

If you would like more information about the priesthood, contact Father Jerry Daigle,, or call 318.868.4441.

Reflection: Even as We Age, Be a Source of Joy in the World

by Sr. Martinette Rivers, OLS

“In this world of ours, every believer must be a spark of light, a center of love, a vivifying ferment for the mass…” (St. Pope John XXIII).

In our fast changing world it is often difficult to know how to act. There are too many demands on our spirit and psyche. It becomes overwhelming, yet we can still remain in sync with God. Don’t lose sight of what we want our aging lives to be about. It can be a challenge to sit still without all the memories looming up before our eyes.

God fills our aging hearts with love and joy and we know our future is still brimming with potential. You may feel like you got all A’s in school when you were young, and then aged and flunked life. But that isn’t true! We have become millionaires with a bank full of joy and happiness, to share with the world.

God fills our hearts with love and joy to keep us on His path. All the signs you pass will be older, but those of joy will permit you to be your best self. Live in the present moment. Pope St. John Paul II echoed the challenge of Jesus, “Christ came to bring joy… Go, therefore, and become messengers of joy.” Let’s choose to become joyful agers so we can make a difference in the lives of others.

Jesus lives on in our modern world. The miserable condition of the world we live in is the legacy of our failure to love one another. We all need to trust someone. G.K.Chesterton said, “Joy… is the gigantic secret of the Christian.” I think we were made for joy. It enhances everything we do and improves our health. In this world of ours, there is a lot of suffering. Still, we must not lose sight of what we want our lives to be and what we were meant to be. Aging and joy are our vocations now. This has become our real wealth, not our money.

What does God require of you in 2018? “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). If we follow this advice, we will all have what is necessary to live a good life as we age. All the negative stuff has to go. Keep your heart and mind open to what is new. This new year gives us the opportunity to shape our future differently by what we do today.

We need to think about who brought us to this day: God, of course. Then we should remember all the people who helped us along the way. What is it that we actually want for the rest of our years? How do we make sure we don’t get in our own way? Do I pray more in my elder years for patience with myself and others? How do I deal with life’s uncertainties? What barriers in my own heart must I overcome? Is your love for others the great definer of your life? Have we become the best version of ourselves?

These questions are for your reflection as you begin the New Year. May 2018 be a year filled with all God’s blessings! Never give up hope. Happy New Year!

Mike’s Meditations: Are You Radical?

by Mike Van Vranken

Recently a new English translation of the New Testament was published with the intention of creating the most literal rendering of those sacred writings. The purpose, in part, was to highlight the belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires a much more radical conversion and transformation than most of us have experienced. While many critics have already analyzed this work, our question today has to be: “How have I responded to the gospel demands of missionary discipleship?’
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus called Andrew and Peter. They abandoned their fishing nets and followed him. He then called James and John, who did the same; even leaving their father and all the hired hands. Jesus said they would become “fishers of men.” Do you think you know what that means?

In Amos 4:1-2, the prophet says those who oppress the destitute and abuse the needy will be dragged away with ropes and fishhooks. And in his work, the prophet Ezekiel condemns the powerful Pharoah saying God will put hooks in his jaws and make all the fish of the Nile cling to his scales. Now Jesus, using these Old Testament prophets as his source, invites his disciples to join him in his mission to change the existing conditions where the rich, powerful and privileged rule over everyone else. Jesus’ “fishers of men” left their world behind and spent the rest of their lives proclaiming that, in the reign of God that Jesus preaches, everyone is equal. Living the good news meant working for change wherever socio-economic relationships were distorted between the haves and the have-nots.

You and I are called to this same ministry; this same missionary discipleship. Every gospel account shows that Jesus called plain, ordinary people to be his disciples. They were not educated, nor were they perfectly moral men and women. They were free to choose to accept or reject what Jesus was offering. This is the same choice that you and I face every day. How radically are we working each day to be “fishers of men” – to bring equality to the citizens of our community?

Pope John Paul II said: “No one can say that he is not responsible for the well-being of his brother or sister” in his encyclical Centesimus Annus in 1991. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said acts of charity must not replace our commitment to social justice. He went on to say that true social justice happens when we live and work for one another. And in his 2013 Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis says we must help the poor with spiritual gifts as well as economic.

From Jesus’ time to today, church leaders continue to remind us of our radical need to take care of each other both spiritually and materially. As St. Ambrose said: “It’s not from your own possessions that you bestow alms on the poor, you are restoring to them what is theirs by right.”

It seems to me, the Gospel of Jesus may very well be more radical than we currently believe. Maybe we’ve been lulled to sleep and we no longer recognize the lifestyle demands Jesus made on us. Perhaps we’ve become experts at trivializing all that he said. Now seems to be a good time to ask: “As a missionary disciple, how well have I become a fisher of men?”

This month, let’s spend some time listening in prayer rather than talking. As we begin our time with God each day, let’s ask Him how he wants us to be transformed today to be His missionary disciples. Then, spend about 15 minutes or so just listening – staying quiet. Allow Him to work on your emotions, your feelings, and your imagination, and ask Him what it all means. Listen carefully to what seems to be moving within you. Ask God for the grace to radically transform you each day so you can do what He’s asking of you. The changes may seem slow and incremental. But in the process, you’ll do much more than catch men – you’ll change the world.

In Review: A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa M. Hende

reviewed by Jessica Rinaudo

As a mother of four children, I often find myself caught up in the chaos of every day life. So many times I’m quick to throw up my hands in frustration, feeling like it’s impossible to accomplish anything. It’s an isolating feeling, and it’s easy to feel like I’m the only one facing these daily struggles, or that I’m a bad mom for feeling that way.

But in Lisa Hendey’s A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, she reminds us that we aren’t doing this alone because Christ is with us every step of the way and that these are struggles moms everywhere face. To help us not only endure, but find joy in these moments of life, she’s penned 52 chapters – one for each week of the year – focusing on a different “saintly friend” and how their struggles and companionship can help us in our own lives.

Each chapter takes the time to help us get familiar with the saint. Hendey shares their life story and their legacy: including popular devotions associated with the particular saint, their words, and lessons she herself has gleaned. There are suggestions for activities and projects separately for mom and then another for the family together. There are scriptures, prayers and reflection questions, all geared to help you bring the saints and your faith more fully into your everyday life.
In the introduction, Hendey offers two ways of reading her book: chronologically, chapter by chapter, each week of the year; or you can browse for the saint that you need in that moment in time. Each saint and their feast day is listed in the back index to help you navigate the book more easily.

This book is chocked full of wisdom and understanding. Hendey tackles everything from the struggle to accomplish domestic tasks to finding grace in our challenges and struggles. Hendey shows us how St. Damien can grant us patience for our sick family members who need us, while St. Isidore can help guide us through the struggles of living in a tech-driven world.

One chapter that stood out to me in particular was that of St. Rose Venerini, whose life didn’t go as she had planned, but still took her situation and not only lived a good life, but improved the lives of those around her. Heney emphasizes the important lesson of  “blooming where you’re planted” instead of focusing on the “what ifs” of our lives.

“Ultimately, Rose’s teaching vocation blossomed through her relationships with women,” said Hendey. “I often find myself turning to my own informal female societies for support just as my mother did. Interestingly, online communities now supplement my own local friendships as I connect with fellow Catholic moms around the world on a daily basis. The common denominator in these friendships – whether physical proximity or online – is a mutual love and a commitment to communal prayer. In our relationships with each other, we live out our commitment to the larger Body of Christ just as Rose did with her friends in Viterbo.”

Through this book I also learned about saints who I was not familiar with, like St. Zita of Lucca, and the much more recent Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano, who died at the age of 19 from osteosarcoma in 1990.
A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms is a great companion for any Catholic mother – whether she needs more faith direction in her life, or she just wants to learn more about saints and how their lives parallel our own.

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms is available to purchase from Ave Maria Press and
It is available to borrow from the Slattery Library inside the Catholic Center in Shreveport.

50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

by John Parker

On July 25th 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a brief but controversial document that shook the secular and ecclesial world. The document was Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life, and within its short 31 paragraphs, the pope affirmed the truths of the Catholic Church, that same Church established on the rock of Peter by Jesus Christ, who Paul declares is the same “yesterday and today and forever.” It is through this authority, handed down by apostolic succession, that our popes have the courage to speak the truth with boldness. Paul VI did this with Humanae Vitae, and was castigated and rejected by the world and practicing Catholics alike. But what was it that we were rejecting? And what have been the consequences of our rebellion?

The world was in the throes of change when Humanae Vitae was issued to the masses. The reforms of the Second Vatican Council were in its infancy and struggling to find purpose with both clergy and laity. The sexual revolution was in full swing, and “free love” reigned. Intoxicated by the spirit of newfound liberty, we cast off the morals that anchored our culture and Christian tradition and allowed ourselves to become adrift in moral autonomy. We shared again in the sin of Adam and Eve, choosing for ourselves the definitions of good and evil. Sexual license, the devaluation of human life through eugenics, abortion and euthanasia, and the widespread acceptance of contraception – these became the new norms, the new good.
In the midst of all the mania, Pope Paul VI saw the future. Speaking of contraception, he wrote in Humanae Vitae, “this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards…[furthermore] a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

We have seen the profound effects that these new norms have had on our world: millions of children sacrificed at the altar of convenience, the destruction of the dignity of women by pornography and rampant sex trafficking, homes shattered by divorce, children growing up without a coherent family unit, creating hurt and confusion that strikes right to our very identity, that we are beloved children of our Heavenly Father.

There has to be another way than the one the world has chosen for us, the world that tried to reduce Pope Paul VI’s encyclical to the last gasp of a dying patriarchy. But it wasn’t a dying patriarchy that proclaimed Humanae Vitae, it was the Church established by Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who loves us and shows us the way.

Fifty years later, I would like to believe that we can now look soberly at our situation. Fifty years later, I believe the words of Pope Paul VI, words spoken with the authority of the Good Shepherd, can ring true and fruitfully in our hearts.
It is with great joy that I introduce you to the 50th Anniversary of the proclamation of Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life. In commemoration of this most important document, St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport and the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans will host a series of speakers who will flesh out the meaning of Humanae Vitae and help breathe new life into this starved world. I invite you to open your hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and participate in these events. You can find a list of the speakers, topics, locations, dates and times on the page to the left. Nursery care is available with a prior reservation.
May the God who is the Way, the Truth and the Life bless us on this journey. Amen!

Click to download the poster.

Second Collections for January & February

by Fr. Rothell Price

I take this opportunity to wish you a happy, blessed, healthy and Abundant New Year, as well as a joyful conclusion of the Christmas season.

Collection for the Church in Latin America
Announcement Dates: January 14th & 21st
Collection Dates: January 27th & 28th

Share Your Faith: Support the Collection for the Church in Latin America.”

Please give generously to the Collection for the Church in Latin America. Your contributions support the Holy Roman Catholic Church throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The Church proclaims the Good News of life in Jesus Christ. For many living in Latin America and the Caribbean, rural terrain and lack of ministers make it difficult to practice the faith. Your donations and renewed support will fund catechesis, marriage and family life programs and seminarian formation, so people can grow closer to Christ. Please prayerfully consider supporting this collection as a way to share your faith with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The storms of last summer have greatly hurt the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin America. Many Catholic churches, schools, orphanages and diocesan centers have been damaged or destroyed. Your donation to the Collection for the Church in Latin America is even more precious today than ever. Many women, children and men are looking to the Church, as well as their governments, for whatever help can be given to them. Bishops in these areas are working heroically to keep Catholic institutions open; so many are depending on them. Please share your faith and give generously. Support the Collection for the Church in Latin America.

Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection
Announcement Dates: January 21st & 22nd
Collection Dates: February 3rd & 4th

Our Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection is a concrete sign of our support for Catholic education in our diocese. Your contribution bridges the gap between what families can pay and the actual cost of religiously educating the children of families who want their children to have a Catholic education. Your donation is one of the best demonstrations of our commitment to the children who attend our schools and their families. Some of us do not or no longer have children and youth in Catholic schools, but we are still called and depended on to embrace these children as our own. They are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

St. Frederick High School and Loyola College Prep, our Catholic high schools, as well as our Catholic elementary schools, Our Lady of Fatima School, Jesus the Good Shepherd School, St. Joseph School, and St. John Berchmans School, operate, in part, on your contribution. Your donation is essential to the vibrancy of these religious environments. Here, our children and youth encounter Jesus Christ, the teachings of the Church, the witness of the saints and the missionary discipleship of our parishes. Please give generously to our Diocesan Catholic Schools Collection.

Celebrating the Spirituality of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul

by Bonnie Martinez

Those who serve as members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) have chosen a vocation to grow in spirituality through the ministry of serving the poor. We are truly blessed to live the gospel by seeing the face of Christ in each person we encounter, especially in our home visits. In fact, the most important parts of any St. Vincent de Paul meeting, training, service or work are prayer, reflection and meditation.

Sunday, December 10, brought together Vincentians from the SVdP Council of Shreveport to celebrate the 11:00 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Bishop Michael Duca celebrated Mass and shared some inspiring words about our ministry.

Following Mass, Vincentians attended the St. Vincent de Paul Annual Appreciation Dinner in Loyola’s St. Vincent’s Hall. The gathering began with prayer led by Fr. Peter Mangum. Everyone enjoyed the delicious meal and fellowship. Bishop Duca praised the positive impact of the SVdP members locally who go about their service to the poor quietly, humbly and effectively.

The celebration continued with Bishop Duca conducting the commissioning ceremony for the newly elected Diocesan Council President, Jim Beadles.

Jim expressed sincere gratitude to all Vincentians, the clergy of the Diocese of Shreveport, the many associate members such as St. Vincent de Paul Help Line volunteers, and the numerous contributing members whose generous donations provide the resources to help the needy. Jim also provided an overview of the Society’s 2017 accomplishments and challenged all Vincentians to work diligently to increase membership and grow new leadership. Fr. Mark Watson, Western District St. Vincent de Paul Spiritual Advisor, led the closing prayer.

Many of those who attended continue to reflect upon Bishop Duca’s observation that the membership of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is not always large in number, but for those who choose this ministry, the opportunity to grow in spirituality is unsurpassed.

I encourage anyone reading this to contact your parish’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference leadership if you are interested in learning more about this ministry and the opportunity to grow in your spirituality.

Navigating the Faith: The Divine Praises & Praying the Psalms

by Kim Long

I enjoy a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Oh I make them, but keeping them is well… another story. My prayer life needed a bump, some insight. My prayer is usually conversational, but at times I just don’t “say much.” I felt I needed a new start for a new year. To facilitate this I looked into our Catholic heritage and chose two “old standards” to get me back onto a workable routine.

The Divine Praises
I cannot recall the first time I heard this litany, but I can tell you when it stuck with me. I was on a family vacation where everyone packed the “wrong” things (read here hurts, little offenses, pride, ego, etc). I always attend Mass on my birthday and this year was no exception. So early that morning, I drove to Our Lady of the Gulf with reluctant family members rubbing sleep from their eyes and filing into the pew for “Mass as usual.” What I distinctly recall was the elderly priest coming up the aisle at the close of Mass praying The Divine Praises. God had given me a lovely birthday gift; his voice undulating as the recessional reached the back of the church had me struggling to recall each part of this prayer. So I decided to dust it off and employ it in the new year.

First penned in 1797 by Luigi Felici, a Jesuit priest, this prayer is also known by its Latin name Laudes Divinae. These “Divine Praises” are often recited after Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and before the Holy Eucharist is returned to the tabernacle. They were composed in reparation for blasphemy and profanity. Private recitation of the Divine Praises is always appropriate and, as a side note, they have been traditionally used to “ward off” or make reparations for use of foul language.

St. Thomas Aquinas once noted that the Divine Praises can increase the fervor of our devotion to God, and that thus “we praise God not for His benefit, but for ours.” This prayer reminds us of the glories of the Trinity, and of the key role our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph the angels and saints have played in our salvation as well.

The Divine Praises:
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints.
May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

Praying the Psalms
The Church has a long-standing tradition of “praying” the psalms. The word psalm means praise. The psalms, like our lives, run the gamut from petitions, laments, prayers of thanksgiving, confidence in God, penitence and extolling the royalty of God.

I decided to “retrieve” Psalm 150 for part of my daily prayers. I chose it because it is a psalm of praise, making it a natural segue from The Divine Praises. The practice of praying the psalms was given to me many years ago by Fr. John Scanlon. I was “stuck” and felt that I couldn’t pray. In his wisdom he suggested I follow many of the saints in our history and give the psalms a try. I was put off by it. Firstly the language wasn’t mine, it seemed stilted and even contrived; they did not seem relatable.

I was very young when Fr. Scanlon counseled with me. Now, I have some age, experience, heartache and joy under my belt, this practice hits a home run. Psalm 150 is an unbridled expression of joy and we can never experience too much of that. Fr. Scanlon recommended that I pray before reading the psalm once through, and then go back and slowly read it a second time allowing the Lord to show me what He had for me. It works. Here is Psalm 150 in all its glory. May your new year be filled with every good and perfect gift which is from above.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.