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In My Weakness is My Strength: Answering the Call to Prison Ministry

by Jessica Rinaudo God often calls us to serve in unexpected ways. We resist, shrug it off, tell God that it’s too hard, but the Lord can be persistent and surprising. It More »

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The Harm of Pornography and Hope Beyond Addiction: Spouses

Series written by Katie Sciba under guidance of Fr. Sean Kilcawley, STL This is the third article in a four-piece series on pornography; the first two can be found in the January More »

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Volunteers Care for Orphans Through Pick It Forward

by Jamie Jett Pick It Forward (PIF) for Orphans is a small nonprofit organization that has accepted the challenge to do what they can for orphaned and foster children on behalf of More »

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Catholic Community Volunteers Resources to Help Flood Victim

by Bonny Van On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the skies opened up on North Louisiana.  “It rained a long time,” says 89-year-old Shreveport resident Lizzie Harris. “And, I heard it in my More »

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Jo Cazes Retires, Leaves Legacy at SJB School

by Kelly Phelan Powell After 44 years spent changing the lives of students, Jo Cazes’ own life will take a happy turn when, at the end of the school year, she retires More »

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Navigating the Faith: The Origin of Palm Sunday

by Dianne Rachal, Director of Worship They took palm branches and went out to meet him, and cried out: ‘Hosanna!’” (Jn 12:13). The Sixth Sunday of Lent is “Palm Sunday of the More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Who is Life? Jesus.

Seeing Life, Seeing Jesus, in the Incarcerated by Mike Van Vranken Very early in the Bible, God tells us he has set before us life and death, and to choose life (Deuteronomy More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Speak Charitably, Confidently & Joyfully

by Bishop Michael G. Duca “CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! I have always been at a loss for how to greet people at Easter. I suppose the default common greeting More »

Dr. Celso Palmieri (far right), talks with the Braga family. Palmieri was instrumental in bringing the family from San Paolo, Brazil to Shreveport, Louisiana to treat 3-year-old Melyssa's myxoma tumor. (Photo Courtesy of LSU Health Shreveport)

Medical Miracle: Shreveport Catholic Doctor Reaches Out to Brazilian Family Seeking Help for Their Daughter

by Lisa Cooper When Loyola parent and St. Joseph parishioner Dr. Celso Palmieri saw the face of Melyssa Delgado Braga while looking through online publications from his native country, Brazil, he felt More »

An Accidental Pilgrim

A “vacation” to Ireland became a spiritual journey

Donegal, Ireland

I recently had the opportunity to go to Ireland for two weeks on a final “road trip” with a friend before she committed to monastic life. We spoke for months on the telephone plotting and planning, until finally the big call came: she had booked our airline tickets.The wheels were in motion, there was no going back. We were off to Ireland and my life hasn’t been the same.

How does a journey begin? Is it merely a decision: choosing a suitcase, having an intention, saving money, destination? Perhaps those are significant factors. For me the single most important element was my mother, my childhood, my family heritage. Sometimes I think this journey began even before that, it began with my own mother’s conception and inculcation into the family origins. I am of Irish descent and I have the genealogical documents to remove all doubt as to the particulars. I look forward to passing them to my children and grandchildren.

My mother’s dream for as long as I can recall was to visit Ireland, our homeland, her spiritual homeland. I likewise wanted to see the place of our origin so it was with a real awe and humility, and not a little jet lag, that I stepped from the airplane onto Irish soil… or at that point Irish cement.

There is quite a difference between a vacation and a pilgrimage. This began as a vacation in my mind. I was looking forward to being “in Ireland” for goodness sake; bed and breakfasts, driving along the ocean road all the way to the Dingle Peninsula and lots of photos and souvenirs. This, however, was not quite the way things worked out. Ireland was on its own time, slower, quieter, more spiritual, telling me to step out of my worries and cares and be present to the creation that is Eire, that is Ireland. And so I was.

Of course it was easy. There were sheep everywhere, no where to run or hide from these iconic images of the Paschal Lamb and the lost sheep. Driving down narrow winding Irish roads the sheep seemed within reach.

On our first real day of “touring” we found a Marian grotto just along the roadside. It looked exactly like photographs I had seen in my dream books about Ireland. I knelt there on the roadside and prayed before a very beautiful and weathered statue of the Blessed Mother and asked her protection for us on this journey and also to bless those whom I love and am carrying with me in my heart.

Later that morning we parked the rental car and walked down a dirt road and as we crested the hill the ocean lay before us, a beautiful blue expanse bordered by clean sand. Walking towards the water felt as if I were going from one realm to another. The tide was beginning to go out and with each step I took into what had previously been covered by water, I realized a new meaning of the concept of proportion. Caves bordered the water and looking into them and then back to the ocean I thought of Catholic theologian Thomas Berry and his understanding of all of God’s creation as the “great curriculum.” I began to understand beyond the words in his book, and I began to know this in my bones.

After we left Donegal and drove south to County Kerry, all the way at the other end of the country, the outer landscape began to change a bit. The wildness and dark desperate beauty of the West of Ireland began to fill me, to overfill me and to flow into the journal I was keeping, the conversations we were sharing, the prayer I was making, the prayer that was making me.

Standing on the shore of Dingle Bay in temperatures of 50 degrees in a misting rain and brisk wind and gazing into the gray horizon, all the distractions I packed and brought through customs began to fall away, all the worries, all the negativity, the doubt and I became truly present to the gift of life, real life which is from God. I was beginning to understand where my blood came from.

Kim Long is the Director of Religious Education at St. Mary of the Pines Church.

Second Collections: Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry

In the month of August, we take up a collection to help our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters. Summer, fall, winter and spring, the mission of the Church moves towards completion in Christ.  In every season the Spirit guides us on our pilgrimage and impels us to attend to the lost sheep and other souls we encounter along the way. These second collections of the Church keep us mindful of our fellow pilgrims and those who are especially in need of the concern and compassion of the Church. As our Lord has said, “The harvest is abundant, laborers are few.  Beg the Master of the harvest to send forth laborers for the harvest.”  Our participation in the collection for the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry is the Master’s response to our prayer and our participation in the Master’s compassion.

These “second” or “special” collections of the Church have their roots in the Bible. The Scriptures exhort us to “have a concern for all.” The “Year of Faith,” announced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will begin in October of this year. Pope Benedict XVI wants the Year of Faith to help the Church focus its attention on “Jesus Christ and the beauty of having faith in him.” This month’s special collection for the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry has several wonderful connections to the Year of Faith. “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” and the “Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity” are three documents of the Second Vatican Council which connect us with the Catholic faith and migration of our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters in a powerful bond of Christian charity born of the Spirit.

The Sacred Scriptures have consistently called us to a profound concern for the alien and sojourner among us. The Old and New Testaments call us to God’s standard of compassion and hospitality for the least of His people. Please be generous to the second collection for the Diocese of Shreveport Hispanic Ministry. Your participation makes it possible for the clergy and laity of our diocese to offer the Church’s care to the Hispanic Catholics of our diocese. Those whom we serve through this special collection bless us with their vibrant Catholic faith, strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, and their strong love for the Church.

Fr. Rothell Price is the Vicar General for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Sacred Linens

In response to questions from sacristans and altar guilds about the proper name and care of liturgical linens, this is a review of the sacred linens used in the celebration of the Mass.

The term linen refers to any vestments or cloth accessories used in church. The fabrics used should be chosen because of the quality of design, texture, and color  (#95 of Environment and Art in Catholic Worship by the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy).

Altar cloth—This is the tablecloth that covers the altar.  It is usually white but may be of a color related to the liturgical season or occasion.

Corporal—A white linen cloth spread on the altar at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist on which the chalice, the paten(s), and ciboria are placed.  The corporal is traditionally folded inward in thirds horizontally and vertically so that any fragments of host may remain enclosed in it. Use of a corporal is required.  The corporal is not to be left on the altar, but is to be taken to and taken from the altar at the appropriate times.

Pall—This is a stiff square white cover that is placed over the paten when it is on the chalice and over the chalice during Mass to protect its contents. Usually the pall consists of a fabric pocket into which a piece of cardboard or plastic is inserted.  Use of a pall is optional.

Purificator—This is a cloth used to cleanse the chalice during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Traditionally, it is a white cloth folded twice lengthwise.  The purificator is placed over the chalice beneath the paten.
Hand towel—This is a small towel use by the priest to dry his hands during the lavabo at the Preparation of the Gifts.  No specific fabric is prescribed.  The hand towel is set up with the cruets and the bowl.

Care of Sacred Linens
To preserve the dignified appearance of all liturgical linens, especially purificators, they should be laundered frequently and kept in good repair.  It is customary that purificators and corporals be rinsed out in the sacrarium before being laundered.

Dianne Rachal is the diocesan Director of the Office of Worship.

Bishop’s Reflection August 2012

Southwest United States Mountain scene in northern New Mexico. (sxc.hu/frayidaho)

Photo: Southwest United States Mountain scene in northern New Mexico. (sxc.hu/frayidaho)

SILENCE IS ESSENTIAL TO COMMUNICATION

by Bishop Michael Duca

I write this month’s message from the peace of my summer vacation retreat in Red River, New Mexico where the air is clear and cool. I keep coming back here, not only for the cool temperatures, but also for the peace and the quiet. The idea is that “quiet” is easy, relaxed and without stress, but, in fact, quiet can be hard.

Why is it hard? Well, think about it. When we find some time in our busy life to be silent, as soon as we sit down a flood of projects and needs we have put off crowd into our minds and now seem to be urgent. Even when we overcome this distraction we are left with ourselves and discover that we may not know what to do with silence, or the feelings that begin to emerge are not relaxing at all, in fact they may be disturbing. Yet even though silence can be hard, our Holy Father recently reminded us that it is essential to our lives even though we can all admit it is hard to find silence in our noisy world.

Our Holy Father reminds us:
“Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves.”

In our busy world we must make a real effort to find time to be quiet so we can discover the wisdom that is only found in silence. It is silence that makes real communication possible.  When we are quiet and listen to another, we have the opportunity to really understand what the other person is trying to communicate.  In silence we have the time to gather our thoughts and consider our choices from the deepest values of our lives and not be swayed by the loud shouting voices that want to force us to act against our deepest values. Silence is where we allow the voice of God to draw us deeper into the mystery of God’s love.  Silence is the space of prayer. One of the deepest wisdoms of the Church and the teachings of the saints is that we should meditate on the Word of God. Meditating is making time to be quiet and in silence allowing the full meaning of the scripture to emerge.  This deeper understanding is only possible in quiet, and in the silence we find time to put into words the surprising feeling a scripture has evoked in our hearts.

Sometimes we judge a Mass by whether the homily was good, but if we foster a silent listening heart during the Mass, God can touch our hearts through the prayers, the readings, the grace of receiving Holy Communion and in other surprising ways.  A silent heart can be fostered even in the middle of the congregation at Mass.

Summer often offers us opportunities for silence that gives us the time to consider the state of our spiritual lives. We should not be afraid of the silence and make time to consider how God is calling us to change our lives, reconsider our choices, and discover the wisdom of meditating on the Word of God.

This silent reflection does not leave us with only new personal insight, but it is also where we hear the needs of the poor and suffering and hear God’s call to mission. As our Holy Father recently said:
“In speaking of God’s grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission.… Silent contemplation immerses us in the source of that Love who directs us towards our neighbors so that we may feel their suffering and offer them the light of Christ, his message of life and his saving gift of the fullness of love.”

Let us seek out the wisdom that can only be found in silence. The quiet is often not easy to endure but “do not be afraid,” for the wisdom we discover in the silence of our listening heart is the saving words of our savior inviting us deeper into the mystery of His love.

La Reflexion del Obispo

EL SILENCIO ES ESENCIAL PARA LA COMUNICACION

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

(sxc.hu/pmartike)

Estoy escribiendo el mensaje de este mes desde un lugar de retiro y de paz en mis vacaciones de verano en Rio Rojo, Nuevo México donde el aire está limpio y fresco. Regreso aquí, no solo por las temperaturas frescas, sino también por la paz y el silencio. La idea es que el “silencio” sea fácil, relajado y sin estrés, pero, el hecho, es que el silencio puede ser difícil.

¿Por qué es difícil? Bueno, piensen en esto: cuando encontramos tiempo en nuestras vidas ocupadas para tener silencio, en cuanto nos sentamos, un mundo de proyectos y necesidades que hemos tenido pendientes en nuestras mentes y ahora nos parecen todos urgentes. Aun si sobrepasamos esta distracción nos quedamos en nosotros mismos y descubrimos que no solamente no sabemos qué hacer con el silencio, o los sentimientos que comienzan a surgir no son para nada relajantes, sino que pueden ser  preocupantes. Aunque el silencio sea difícil, nuestro Santo Padre nos recordó recientemente que es esencial para nuestras vidas aunque todos aceptemos que es difícil encontrar silencio en nuestro mundo ruidoso.

Nuestro Santo Padre nos recuerda:
“El silencio es un elemento integral de comunicación; en su ausencia, no existen palabras ricas en contenido. En el silencio somos mejores al escuchar y entendernos a nosotros mismos; nacen las ideas y adquieren profundidad; entendemos con mayor claridad lo que queremos decir y lo que esperamos de los demás; y escogemos como expresarnos.”

En nuestro mundo ocupado debemos hacer un verdadero esfuerzo de encontrar tiempo para estar en silencio para que podamos descubrir la sabiduría que solo se encuentra en el silencio. Es el silencio el que hace la verdadera comunicación posible. Cuando estamos callados y escuchamos a otros, tenemos la oportunidad de comprender verdaderamente lo que la otra persona está tratando de comunicar. En el silencio tenemos el tiempo de reunir nuestros pensamientos y considerar nuestras opciones desde los más profundos valores de nuestras vidas y no nos desviarnos por las voces fuertes que quieren forzarnos a actuar en contra de nuestros valores más profundos. El silencio es donde permitimos que la voz de Dios nos acerque más al misterio del amor de Dios. El silencio es el espacio de la oración. Una de las más profundas sabidurías de la Iglesia y las enseñanzas de los santos es que debemos meditar en la Palabra de Dios. Meditar es hacer tiempo para estar callados en el silencio y permitir que emerja en nosotros el significado completo de la escritura. Este entendimiento más profundo solo se da en el silencio, y ahí es donde encontramos tiempo para poner en palabras el sentimiento sorpresivo cuando una escritura nos ha llegado al corazón.

Algunas veces juzgamos una Misa según si la homilía estuvo buena, pero si entregamos un corazón atento en la Misa, Dios puede tocar nuestros corazones a través de la oración, las lecturas, la gracia de recibir la Sagrada Comunión y en otras maneras sorpresivas. Un corazón silencioso puede abrirse aun en medio de la congragación de la Misa.

El verano frecuentemente nos ofrece oportunidades para el silencio que nos da el tiempo de considerar el estado de nuestras vidas espirituales. No deberíamos tener temor del silencio y hacer el tiempo para considerar como Dios nos está llamando a cambiar nuestras vidas, reconsiderar nuestras opciones, y descubrir la sabiduría meditando en la Palabra de Dios.

Esta reflexión silenciosa no es solo para darnos una aclaración personal, sino también es donde escuchamos las necesidades de los pobres y el sufrimiento y atendemos al llamado de Dios a la Misión.

Así como nuestro Santo Padre dijo recientemente:
Al hablar de la grandiosidad de Dios, nuestro lenguaje estará siempre incompleto y debemos hacer espacio para la contemplación en silencio. De esta contemplación florece, con todo su poder interior, el sentido urgente de misión… La contemplación silenciosa nos emerge en la fuente de ese Amor que nos dirige hacia nuestros prójimos para que sintamos su sufrimiento y les ofrezcamos la luz de Cristo, su mensaje de vida y su regalo salvífico del amor pleno.”

Busquemos la sabiduría que solo puede ser encontrada en el silencio. El silencio no es frecuentemente fácil de soportar pero “no tengan miedo” porque la sabiduría que descubrimos en el silencio de nuestro atento corazón es la palabra salvadora de nuestro salvador invitándonos más profundamente al misterio de Su amor.

Vocations Office Sponsored Mission Possible Camp for Boys

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The Diocese of Shreveport Church Vocations department sponsored Mission Possible, a boys’ adventure weekend for high school students in Dubach, LA June 1-3. The weekend themed “Play Hard. Pray Hard.” included all the adventure of a maze, zipline, ropes course, hiking, earthball and terrific food, alongside events to bring the young men closer to Christ such as Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, Confession and guidance by camp leader Fr. Joe Hirsch. Fr. David Richter and Bishop Michael Duca were also on hand for Mass.

St. Thomas Youth Attended Camp Covecrest

The Catholic senior high youth from ST. THOMAS AQUINAS CATHOLIC CHURCH IN RUSTON traveled to Hiawassee, Georgia for Camp Covecrest where they shared “Radiant Joy” through the Sacraments and exploring the mountains, waterfalls, river and White Water Six Flags in Atlanta.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament VBS

The youth of OUR LADY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH celebrated, “Being Catholic and Proud of It,” in song and dance during the week of Vacation Bible School. During the week the participants discussed some of the ways we are different from other religions. Vacation Bible School was held the week of June 11-15.

Little Flower Church Honors Volunteer

Adrian Fischer, OFM, pastor of LITTLE FLOWER OF JESUS CHURCH IN MONROE presented a plaque of appreciation to Mr. Floyd Green for his beautification of the community around the church.

Cathedral School Performed “Mary” Play

ST. JOHN BERCHMANS Catholic school and parents were treated to a special play for the month of May given by our First Grade students!  It was the children’s idea to have the play, so Mrs. Claudia Park, first grade teacher, and Mrs. Tookie Barr, music teacher, set to work writing it and planning it.  The children told the story of the Annunciation, birth of Jesus, preaching of Jesus about angels and how Mary was finally taken to heaven as our Queen of the Angels. They also told about of the role of angels in Mary’s life and in our lives today as our helpers and guides. The children sang favorite songs of Mary and the angels with the grand finale – “Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above!”  We know Mary must have been smiling on our first graders!