Monthly Archives: February 2018

A Message from Bishop Duca About the Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

Thank you to all of our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal donors who have provided their financial support since Appeal Sunday occurred last month on February 11. Your generosity has my sincere appreciation and has helped our Appeal off to a good start on this year’s campaign. Thank you and God bless you for your support!

Please know that we still have a long way to go before we reach our pledge goal of $1,500,000. The month of March is always a very important time each year for our Appeal, as follow-up efforts are taking place in each worship location to secure additional gifts to this combined effort to serve the needs of the people of our diocese. Please take some time now to consider how you can help our faith community become “One Church, One Family” with your 10-month pledge to support our array of Appeal ministries. You may click here to make your pledge online, or you can give by phone this year simply by texting “duca” to 41444.

God, Sex and the Church Series Launches to Great Enthusiasm

by Fr. Matthew Long

Bishop Duca kicked off the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae on January 25th, delivering a rousing call to courage to a packed house at

St. Joseph Parish, Shreveport. The laity were not the only ones to fill the pews, as priests from across the diocese also chose to participate in the opening of this most momentous year of Human Life. Drawing on the wisdom of the beatified Pope Paul VI, Bishop testified to the prophetic truth of his writings and presented a compelling vision of what it means to be a Catholic in light of human sexuality.

Bishop Duca’s use of the story of Moses’ encounter with the burning bush as an analogy for God’s love spoke most to my own heart. God’s love is a fire that gives life and light without consuming and eating up its host! We can have that same fire of God’s love if we give over our sexuality to Him, let Him temper, guard, and guide our passions for His ends and allow Him to instruct us in its uses. Ultimately, this obedience allows us to love in a way that will never leave us feeling empty, used and disabused, but fully alive. Our human sexuality is not a burden, a pleasure trap, or simply a biological fact. It is a flicker of the Eternal Flame, an energy that finds its full meaning within the light of its Maker, the one who wishes to set the world ablaze!

I exhort you, my brothers and sisters, to keep this fire burning and continue to participate in the God and Sex series as it continues on the 25th of each month. February saw the great success of Dr. David Parker speaking on the medical aspect of human sexuality with his talk on fertility, Natural Family Planning and the Church. This month, Dumb Ox Ministries will be offering a parish mission at St. Joseph Parish, continuing in the same vein of the Bishop and Pope Paul VI, bringing to light the truth of human sexuality in light of the Gospel. I leave you with the words of St. Paul: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.”

Click to view Bishop Duca’s talk online!

Fr. David T. Richter’s Legacy to Continue Through Memorial Fund

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by Diane Libro

Fr. David T. Richter served the Diocese of Shreveport for 29 years with a quiet but fierce passion for God and the Church. Three years after his unexpected death at age 57, his three brothers are continuing his ministry by establishing the Fr. David T. Richter Memorial Fund. The foundation supports vocations and pro-life efforts.

“He could have done a lot more good through the years,” brother Randy Richter said. “I wanted to help him and support the work he had done.”

Fr. Richter was raised in a devoutly Catholic home, where his parents prayed one of their four sons would become a priest. The real push came from the Dallas Cowboys. In 1970 the team faced a tough game, so 13-year-old super-fan David made a deal with God. If they won, he would read the whole Bible. They did, and he did.

The call to the priesthood came shortly thereafter. After graduating Fair Park High School, he attended seminary. There he met Fr. Bede Lackner, a Cistercian who became his spiritual director throughout his life.

They met only a few times a year, but Lackner described Fr. Richter as a “true servant of God,” “humble,” “fervent,” “patient” and “inspiring.”

“He was a chosen one, had no religious conflicts and led a saintly life,” Lackner said.

Ordained in 1986, he served the Diocese of Shreveport as parish priest, Vicar General, Director of Vocations, chaplain of Catholic Scouting, canon lawyer and many other positions.

He taught people about the power of silence, thinking before speaking and the power of devotion to Mary and the Eucharist.

To his family, he was a voice of measured counsel and spiritual guidance as well as presider at baptisms, weddings, and their parents’ last rites.

“One of my strongest emotions following his passing is during the Consecration of the Mass,” younger brother Kevin Richter said. “I will tear up remembering how he loved the Mass, our Lord and being His priest.”

Fr. Richter’s quiet, thoughtful nature belied a passionate commitment to the gospel and the truth. Each month
Fr. Richter wrote checks totaling a few hundred dollars to various charities – gifts discovered after his death that surprised his brothers.

Other efforts were more public. He joined prayer and protest in support of the pro-life movement, and was once arrested outside of an abortion clinic.

“One of the cops said I can’t arrest a priest,” but another had no such qualms, brother Mark Richter said. “They detained him and let him go.”

His approach was simple: “Do the right thing,” said Teresa Brandle, who met with Fr. Richter once a month or so for spiritual direction for more than 20 years. While over the years they discussed deep theology and challenging issues, she said his direction always came back to the basic truth.

“Fr. Richter said to me that that if we both strived to be holy, followed the teachings of the Church and received the Sacraments often, we could be saints too,” she said. “I’m counting on the intercession of Fr. David Richter to help me get to the Eternal Kingdom.”

By all accounts, Fr. Richter would not want much fuss made about him after his death, but he was also the kind of priest who would not let his personal wishes interfere in the work of promoting the gospel.

Continuing his legacy will require a large investment, and Randy Richter hopes those who remember him fondly will make a gift to the foundation.

“He was my baby brother. I prayed for him. I want to continue this work.”  •

Daughters of the Cross: Mothers of the Church in North Louisiana

The 10 original Daughts of the Cross sisters, inclusing Mother Hyacinthe

by Patti Underwood

When Fr. Auguste Marie Aloysius Martin was made bishop of the newly created Diocese of Natchitoches in 1853, he faced a daunting challenge. In a mostly rural, mostly Protestant area of 22,212 square miles, there were 25,000 Catholics and just four priests, seven parishes, and one Catholic school. In dire need of priests, Bishop Martin journeyed to his native France in 1854 to recruit priests for his mission.

Bishop Martin’s trip was a success. In addition to finding several priests and seminarians, he netted an offer from an order of nuns to establish schools in Louisiana. The Daughters of the Cross learned of the Louisiana mission from a young seminarian, Jean Pierre (future founder of Holy Trinity in Shreveport), who came to them to request boarding and education for his niece while he was away in America. Mother Marie Hyacinthe le Conniat, the convent’s superior, sent word to Bishop Martin that she would gladly send teaching Sisters for his mission.

Bishop Martin began correspondence to make the arrangements, which took over a year. The Sisters crossed the ocean by steamer, arriving earlier than expected. After a grueling 43-day journey, Mother Hyacinthe arrived in New Orleans with nine Sisters on November 21, 1855, the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a beautiful moonlit night when they arrived, five days later, at their new home in Cocoville, between Marksville and Mansura. Unfortunately, the property the bishop had proposed for them was sold before he could make the deal, and he had to settle for the former residence of a butcher. Although the local people had started to clean it up, the place was in terrible condition, still littered with evidence of the butcher’s trade; not the lovely place they were expecting to find. But they were determined to make their mission a success, and they rolled up their sleeves and got to work cleaning and repairing the premises (and studying English). Two more buildings were added, and Presentation Academy, named for the day of their arrival in New Orleans, opened on February 2, 1856. By March 13, they had 15 day pupils and four boarders.

Bishop Auguste Marie Aloysius Martin, made first bishop of the Diocese of Natchitoches in 1853.

Under Mother Hyacinthe’s able leadership, the American Foundation survived when others did not; and it not only survived, it prospered. In a letter to her parents dated August 19, 1857, she reported that Presentation Academy* had 30 boarders and 14 day pupils. Furthermore, there were 115 First Communions and Confirmations, mostly parents and other local families of all stations—in addition to the students who had received the sacraments earlier. Bishop Martin was so pleased that he established a second school at Ile Breville that same year. By 1870, the Daughters of the Cross had six schools, extending their range to Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe.

Over the years, the Sisters established 21 schools across North Louisiana, in addition to conducting summer classes in communities where there was no Catholic school. They overcame many difficulties: lack of funds, arduous labors and travels, privation, war, fires, tornadoes, illness and epidemic.

Today, only two Daughters of the Cross remain, Sr. Maria Smith and Sr. Lucy Scallan. With Sr. Maria’s retirement in 1997, the era of the Daughters of the Cross teaching in Louisiana schools came to a close. However, their influence permeates North Louisiana. A 1955 Centennial booklet lists 44 priests/seminarians and 103 sisters who were students of the Daughters of the Cross, and others have followed. Schools they founded which are still in operation include St. Frederick and Jesus the Good Shepherd in Monroe, Sacred Heart in Moreauville, and St. John Berchmans in Shreveport.

Mother Hyacinthe and her Daughters of the Cross are surely the mothers of the Church in north Louisiana, and Bishop Martin is surely the father. Bishop Martin’s tomb is in the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches. Mother Hyacinthe is buried in Treguier, France. Most of the other Daughters of the Cross are interred at Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport, although a few are in Monroe, Marksville and France. As the beneficiaries of their labors, we should strive to remember to pray for the repose of their souls, for their intercession in our needs, and for the grace to honor their sacrifices and extend their legacies in our lives.

The Daughters of the Cross:

• Founded in 1640 in Paris, France, by Mother Marie l’Huillier de Villeneuve

• Rule written by St. Francis de Sales

• Advised by St. Jane Frances de Chantal

• Guided through early trials by St. Vincent de Paul

• Came to Cocoville, Louisiana from Treguier, France in 1855

• Motherhouse moved to St. Vincent’s in Shreveport in 1869. •

Pro-Life Reception for Mary’s House with Abby Johnson on March 20

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On Tuesday, March 20, at the Bossier Civic Center, Mary’s House will host the Shreveport/Bossier Pro-Life Reception featuring Abby Johnson, former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, now pro-life advocate, as keynote speaker.

Abby Johnson has always had a fierce determination to help women in need. It was this desire that both led Abby to a career with Planned Parenthood, our nation’s largest abortion provider, and caused her to flee the organization and become an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement. During her eight years with Planned Parenthood, Abby quickly rose in the organization’s ranks and became a clinic director.

She was increasingly disturbed by what she witnessed. Abortion was a product Planned Parenthood was selling, not an unfortunate necessity that they fought to decrease. Still, Abby loved the women that entered her clinic and her fellow workers. Despite a growing unrest within her, she stayed on and strove to serve women in crisis.

All of that changed on September 26, 2009 when Abby was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched in horror as a 13-week baby fought, and ultimately lost, its life at the hand of the abortionist. At that moment, the full realization of what abortion was and what she had dedicated her life to washed over Abby and a dramatic transformation took place. Desperate and confused, Abby sought help from a local pro-life group. She swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb and expose abortion for what it truly is.

Planned Parenthood did not take Abby’s exodus sitting down. They are fully aware that the workers who leave are their greatest threat. Instantly, they took action to silence Abby with a gag order and took her to court. The lawsuit was quickly seen as the sham it was and thrown out of court.

The media was, and continues to be, intensely interested in Abby’s story as well as her continued efforts to advocate for the unborn and help clinic workers escape the abortion industry. She is a frequently requested guest on Fox News and a variety of other shows and the author of the nationally best-selling book, Unplanned, which chronicles both her experiences within Planned Parenthood and her dramatic exit.

Today, Abby travels across the globe sharing her story, educating the public on pro-life issues, advocating for the unborn, and reaching out to abortion clinic staff who still work in the industry. She is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers out of the industry. To date, this ministry has helped over 419 workers leave the abortion industry. Abby lives in Texas with her husband and seven precious children. •

 

Event Information

Tickets

General Admission, $50 • VIP Sponsorships $500, $1000, $1500 and $2000. • For more information and Tickets/Sponsorships, visit www.MarysHouseofLAFoundation.org, or email Lanne@maryshouseofla.org

EVENT TIMELINE:

5:30 p.m.: Doors Open

5:45 – 6:45 p.m.:  Pre-Reception, hors d’oeuvres* in the Main Hall

5:45 – 6:45 p.m.:  VIP Pre-Reception* in the Bodcau Room for sponsors and their guests

6:45 p.m.: Reception seating in the Main Hall

7:00 p.m.: Reception begins

7:30 p.m.: Keynote address by Abby Johnson

*Hors d’oeuvres by Silver Star

All proceeds benefit Mary’s House.

Vocations View: Making Present the Love of God

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by Jeb Key, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian

In the Gospels, we hear several times a command from Jesus to, “Go out and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have taught you.” (Matthew 28:20) In fact Jesus tells us “Even as the Father has sent me, so I also send you [to all peoples].” (John 20:21) But how are we to answer this call? The Church tells us that in this call, all the baptized are to announce, bear witness, make present and spread the love of God. Different religions and different people have varied ideas of how we ought to fulfill this mission; but in my life, I have seen that often spreading the love of God requires very little talking.

Over the past three years as a seminarian, I have had several amazing opportunities to serve the people of God, not only in our own diocese, but in cultures around the world. Most recently, I answered the Church’s call to mission in Granada, Nicaragua with the Theology 1 class of Notre Dame Seminary. The people of Granada are typically very poor and own very little. It was incredibly rare during this trip to find someone who knew more than a couple words of English. With my Spanish being similarly limited, I was very worried about how I could possibly share my love of God and the Church with these people. However, communicating God’s love comes through actions, just as it does through words.

In the eight days I was among the people of Granada, I had the opportunity to meet with the homeless, the elderly, the orphaned and even many of the clergy in the area. Meeting these people who are all part of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ was an incredible experience. Several times in life, there have been experiences which broadened my understanding of this world, and this was one of these experiences for me. Many of these people were suffering from hunger and going without, but more than that, they suffer from a feeling that they are unwanted or unimportant. To these people, words were completely unnecessary in showing the love of Christ. A smile, a hug, or just simply trying to communicate as best as I could, spoke to them “I know you. I see Christ in you.”

How can we best answer this call in our diocese however? First, we cannot give what we do not have! St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians, “It is the love of Christ which urges us onward,” (2 Cor 5:14) and it is that same love which is the source of missionary activity to all people. In order to share this love with all people, we must deepen our relationship with our Savior, and this of course comes from a greater participation in the Sacraments as well as becoming more intentional about our own personal prayer lives.

Secondly, everyone thinks that missionary work is all about going to another country far away and building a house or cooking food, but this is not true. While these are parts of the mission of the Church, this line of thinking leads us to forget about all of the people who need to find the love of God back in our own communities.

Not everyone is able to make a world-wide trip for Jesus, and that is OK! If we were all more aware of the needy in our own communities, how different would this diocese be? What kind of changes could we make to our lives in order to show forth our faith like a light for all to see? What changes would happen to our communities from one person simply trying to answer the call of Jesus to, “Go out to all nations and share with all what I have given to you.” •

Second Collections for March

The work of the Vocations Office is supported by the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection.

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Collection
Collection Dates: March 10th & 11th, the Fourth Sunday of Lent

The theme of our Catholic Relief Services Collection continues to be “Help Jesus in Disguise.” Archbishop Thomas Rodi, of the Archdiocese of Mobile, Chairman – of the USCCB Committee on National Collections, said this, “Christ is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking, seeking relief from pain and suffering found around the world. He comes to us in the disguise of the vulnerable refugee, the immigrant family, and the poor and marginalized, and our faith calls us to respond. The support of your parish to the Catholic Relief Service Collection (CRSC) answers this call and comforts Christ, whom we find in our suffering brothers and sisters in our midst.” Please give generously.

 

PONTIFICAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR the HOLY LAND
Collection Date: Good Friday, March 30th 

The Pontifical Good Friday Collection supports the people of the Holy Land and the pilgrims who visit. Your contribution helps preserve the most significant and holiest places of our faith.

Each year Bishop Duca receives a moving thank you letter from the Franciscan Friars whom the Holy Father has entrusted with the care of the Christian community and sacred places of our Lord in the Holy Land. Here is a portion of this year’s letter. “The Pontifical Good Friday Collection adds to the ‘universal’ dimension of our faith. Those who contribute to the Good Friday Collection stand in solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land. When your parishioners contribute to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, they are instruments of peace in a troubled land. The events in the Holy Land – the wars, unrest and instability – are an extra burden for Christians there. Your support provides the resources to minister to the ‘living stones’ – those Christians who are descendants of our early Church fathers and mothers – and to provide humanitarian aid.”

DIOCESE OF SHREVEPORT CHURCH VOCATIONS COLLECTION
Collection Dates: March 31st & April 1st, Easter 

The Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection is a beautiful expression of our faith and joy in the Risen Lord Jesus. Your contribution to this collection assures that our diocese will be able to reach out to men and women who courageously seek to answer our Lord’s call. The education and formation of future priests  and religious flows from Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Please continue to nurture the vocation of Deacon Duane Trombetta, soon to become Father Duane Trombetta. Support the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection so that Kevin Mues can proceed to ordination to the transitional diaconate and beyond to the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. Your donations will support their ordination services this June.

Several more native Spanish-speaking priests like our newly ordained Fr. Fidel Mondragón are needed to help us move our Spanish-speaking Catholics from milk to meat, borrowing a phrase from St. Paul. Your donations to this collection make it possible for young people to discern their vocations at the Mission Possible Retreat and the Beloved Retreat.

Your financial support allows our Vocations Director, Fr. Jerry Daigle, to travel to the seminaries to support our men in formation, as well as meet with young men interested in discerning the priesthood. Help us and them, give generously and joyfully to the Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations Collection at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Day. Your “yes” makes it possible for men and women to join the “yes” of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all the saints. Thank you for generously participating. •

Navigating the Faith: Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus

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by Dr. Cheryl White, PhD

Illumina Domine vultum tuum super nos…” Show the light of your countenance, oh Lord, upon us.” 

When we think about those we love, the mental image we form is of their face. The human face inspires the recollection of that person’s unique personality and the connection we share. To be able to gaze upon the face of Jesus is therefore a human desire unlike any other. During the time that he spent on earth, his disciples and others close to him enjoyed this with frequency, and countless others through the ages have been blessed with visions. The desire to see Jesus, to contemplate his image, is a wonderfully human manifestation of the great mystery of the Incarnation!

In the history of the Church, there have been two major holy relics that inspired a popular devotion to the Holy Face – the Veil of St. Veronica and the Shroud of Turin. By tradition, a woman named Veronica met Jesus as he carried his cross and wiped his face with a cloth that then immediately and miraculously bore his image. The mention of this story does not appear in any of the Gospel accounts, but there are mentions of Veronica (the name literally means “true icon) in several early medieval sources. The exact location of the Veil of Veronica is unknown today.

The Shroud of Turin has a much stronger history and tradition. Believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus mentioned in all four Gospel accounts, the cloth has a historical chain of custody that dates to the mid-fourteenth century, and references to it are found in many ancient sources as well. Exhaustive scientific testing done on the Shroud of Turin has yielded compelling evidence that points to its authenticity. Scholars know that the cloth contains pollen and soil specimens that place it in the area around Jerusalem, and the process of radiation that formed the miraculous image on the cloth has yet to be duplicated, even using technologies available today.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, a Carmelite nun named Sr. Marie de Saint Pierre had a vision of St. Veronica on the road to Calvary, wiping the face of Jesus. She composed a brief prayer of devotion, which she widely shared. St. Thérèse of Lisieux also had a profound devotion to the image of Christ’s face, based upon St. Veronica’s Veil. In 1895, she composed a “Canticle to the Holy Face,” found within her autobiography, Story of a Soul. The canticle opens with the words, “Jesus, your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps, you know your sweet face is for me Heaven on earth…” Popes Pius IX (1846-1878) and Leo XIII (1878-1903) encouraged the devotion to grow through their numerous public references and the granting of indulgences.

However, what is perhaps the most important development in the history of the Devotion to the Holy Face resulted from the advent of photography. In 1898, Secunda Pia became the first ever to photograph the Shroud of Turin, a fascinating relic that bears the faint image of a scourged and crucified man. Because of the startling detail revealed in the photographic negative of the Shroud, there was a renewed and strengthened devotion to the Holy Face. For the first time in over 500 years of documented public veneration of the Shroud of Turin, the face of that crucified man became visible.

In response to this new revelation wrought by a single photograph to the entire world, a Carmelite named Sr. Maria Pierina de Micheli received through visions the instructions to design a medal to help spread the devotion to the Holy Face in 1936. This medal bears the image of the face from the Shroud of Turin on the front, with the words from Psalm 66: “Illumina Domine vultum tuum super nos,” (Show the light of your countenance, oh Lord, upon us). On the reverse of the medal is a radiant Sacred Host, with the inscription of “Mane nobiscum Domine,” (Stay with us, Lord.) In 1958, Pope Pius XII gave official papal sanction to the medal, and authorized the Feast of the Holy Face, still celebrated in Rome and in other places around the world on Shrove Tuesday.

Just as recalling the face of a loved one brings comfort and joy, how much more does the contemplation of the Holy Face strengthen us through His immeasurable love?   •

From the Pope: Open Your Ears to the Readings at Mass

from Vatican Information Services 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us continue with the catechesis on Holy Mass. We had arrived at the Readings.

The dialogue between God and His people, developed in the Liturgy of the Word of the Mass, reaches its peak in the proclamation of the Gospel. It is preceded by the singing of the Alleluia – or, during Lent, another acclamation – with which “the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to it in the Gospel.” Just as the mysteries of Christ illuminate the entire biblical revelation, so, in the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel is the light for understanding the meaning of the biblical texts that precede it, both of the Old and of the New Testament. In fact, “Christ himself is the center and fullness of all the Scripture, as he is of the entire liturgy.Jesus Christ is always at the center, always.

This is why the liturgy distinguishes the Gospel from the other readings, and surrounds it with particular honor and veneration. Indeed, its reading is reserved to the ordained minister, who ends by kissing the book; we listen standing and we make the sign of the cross on the forehead, the mouth and the chest; the candles and incense honor Christ who, through the Gospel reading, makes his effective word resonate. From these signs the assembly acknowledges the presence of Christ who addresses to it the “good news” that converts and transforms. It is a direct discourse that takes place, as affirmed by the acclamations with which it responds to the proclamation “Glory to you, O Lord” and “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” We stand to listen to the Gospel, but it is Christ who speaks to us, there. And this is why we are attentive, because it is a direct conversation. It is the Lord who speaks to us.

So, in the Mass we do not read the Gospel to know how things went, but we listen to the Gospel to be aware of what Jesus did and said once; and that Word is living, the Word of Jesus that is in the Gospel is living and arrives to my heart. This is why listening to the Gospel is so important, with an open heart, because it is the living Word. Saint Augustine writes that “the mouth of Christ is the Gospel. He reigns in heaven, but never ceases to speak on earth.” If it is true that in the liturgy “Christ is still proclaiming his Gospel,” it follows that, by participating in Mass, we must give him an answer. We listen to the Gospel and we must give an answer in our life.

To make his message reach us, Christ also uses the word of the priest who, after the Gospel, pronounces the homily.Strongly recommended by Vatican Council II as part of the same liturgy, the homily is not a circumstantial speech, nor a catechesis like the one I am giving now. It is neither a conference nor a lesson. The homily is something else. What is a homily? It is the resumption of “a dialogue between God and His people,” so that it may find fulfilment in life. The authentic exegesis of the Gospel is our holy life! The Word of the Lord ends its path by becoming flesh in us, by being translated into words, as in Mary and in the saints. Remember what I said to you last time: the Word of the Lord enters the ears, reaches the heart and goes to the hands, to good works. And the homily too follows the Word of the Lord and also makes this journey to help us, so that the Word of the Lord arrives at the hands, passing via the heart.

I have already considered the subject of the homily in the Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, in which I recall that the liturgical context “demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist.”.

He who pronounces the homily must perform his ministry well – whoever preaches, the priest or the deacon or the bishop – offering a real service to all those who participate in the Mass, but also those who listen to it must do their part. First and foremost, they must pay attention, which means assuming the right inner predispositions, without subjective demands, knowing that every preacher has his gifts and his limits. While at times there is reason to be bored by a long, unfocused or incomprehensible homily, other times instead the obstacle is prejudice. And he who pronounces the homily must be aware that he is not doing something of his own, he is preaching, giving voice to Jesus, he is preaching the Word of Jesus. And the homily must be well prepared, and it must be brief, brief! A priest said to me that once he went to another city, where his parents lived, and the father had said to him “You know, I am happy, because my friends and I have found a church where there is Mass without the homily!” And how often we see that during the homily some people fall asleep, others chat, or go outside to smoke a cigarette. So, please, let it be brief, the homily, but let it also be well prepared. And how do you prepare a homily, dear priests, deacons and bishops? How do you prepare it? With prayer, with the study of the Word of God, and by giving a clear and brief summary, which must not exceed 10 minutes, please.

In conclusion, we can say that in the Liturgy of the Word, through the Gospel and the homily, God engages in dialogue with His people, who listen to Him with attention and veneration and, at the same time, acknowledge that He is present and working. If, then, we listen to the “good news,” we will be converted and transformed by it, and capable of changing ourselves and the world. Why? Because the Good News, the Word of God which enters through the ears, goes to the heart and arrives at the hands, to do good works. •

Domestic Church: Sick Children and Mass

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by Katie Sciba

Before I even opened my eyes Sunday morning, I smiled. Settling more deeply in my warm bed, I knew a day of real rest was ahead. Andrew and I had been pinned to the grindstone with work, house and kids, so anticipating midmorning Mass and a clear afternoon was a relief on its own.

Then a small, feeble voice broke the silence. “Mom? I need a bucket.” My eyes flew open to find not one, but two little faces peering at me, both pale with illness and worry. Suffice it to say the day took a turn before it had a chance to begin, and we experienced a very different Sunday than the one we expected.

Kids make life unpredictable at any time, but when we need to fulfill our obligation to attend Mass, illness can make chaos of our plans. With some simple adjustments, we parents don’t have to be left with our hands tied.

Divide and Conquer

An easy solution to meeting our Sunday obligation is attending Mass separately. It happens often enough in our house that it’s understood that one of us will go to “the 10” and the other will go in the evening with whoever is healthy.

But what if you miss Mass entirely? 

Attending Mass is a precept of the Church and a moral obligation, not to mention the fact that we all need Jesus, but if illness strikes and wipes out all chances of going, we have valid reason to miss. In paragraph 2181, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.” Illness or taking care of the sick are valid reasons for missing Mass.

If you can’t go to Jesus, bring Jesus home

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to keep holy the Sabbath for those sweet sickos at home. Thanks to technology, we can watch Mass online at TheSundayMass.org, which is televised from Jamaica, New York. We can pray through the Mass readings with our kids, talking especially about the Gospel and Jesus’ message within; e.g. what was Christ teaching those around him and what is he saying to your soul right now? If you know an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC), ask him or her to bring the Eucharist to anyone who couldn’t attend Mass.

We need Jesus, receiving him in the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian faith and attending Mass is not only an act of worship, but also a way to encourage one another in faith and love of God (Hebrews 10:24-25); if we can go, we need to go. When it comes to handling sick kids, however, we might have to adjust our sails a bit, missing Mass due to circumstance. When infection comes knocking, we can take it in stride, still worshipping the Lord and receiving His graces for the unexpected challenges of family life.  •