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BIshop’s Reflection: Do You Accept?

by Bishop Michael G. Duca On June 10th, as I pulled into my garage after having just ordained Father Duane Trombetta as a priest for the Diocese of Shreveport in a beautiful More »

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A Decade with Bishop Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor, The Catholic Connection In December 2007, newly married and stepping into a budding career as a graphic designer and journalist, I was hired as the editor of The More »

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The Priest and the Bishop

by Father Rothell Price, Moderator of the Curia When I first saw Msgr. Michael Duca, he struck me as an affable fellow. He brought to mind this passage from ‘Twas the Night More »

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Remembering Bishop’s “Study Tour” to India

by Fr. Philip Pazhayakari, CMI, Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Rayville & St. Theresa Church, Delhi While planning a visit to India, our bishop clearly mentioned to me that his intention was not More »

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Bishop Michael Duca Announced as Bishop-designate of Baton Rouge

by Bonny Van, The Catholic Commentator The sixth bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge was greeted with applause, smiles and hugs as he approached the podium for his introduction to the More »

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So Many Gifts to Share

by Deacon Mike Whitehead In his letter to parishioners on his new appointment in Baton Rouge, Bishop Duca said, “I am not clear about, ‘why me?’ I have to admit that I More »

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Mary’s House: Helping Mothers, Saving Lives

by L’Anne Sciba, Executive Director and Founder, Mary’s House  “I hope they… [people of the Shreveport Diocese] felt respected, I hope they feel they had a voice when they spoke with me, More »

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Catholic Charities of North Louisiana: A Bishop’s Legacy

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana  When Bishop Michael G. Duca arrived in 2008 as the second bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, he was surprised to see that there More »

Following his ordination to the priesthood, Fr. Long blesses Bishop Duca.

Bishop Duca Altered My Priesthood Forever

by Father Matthew Long, Pastor, St. Joseph Parish On April 1, 2008, I arose to news that would alter my priesthood forever. A seminarian at that time, it was John Mark Willcox, More »

Documents of Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium

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Photos: The presidents of the Second Vatican Council are pictured during a council meeting inside St. Peter’s Basilica. (CNS file photo)

Constitutions on the Sacred Liturgy

by Dianne Rachal

Introduction to Vatican II
On January 25, 1959, only three months after his election as pope, John XXIII announced his plans for an ecumenical council, the 21st general council in the history of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council formally began on October 11, 1962 and during the next four years over 2,500 bishops and theologians gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica to debate the future of Catholicism.

Vatican II was a time of spiritual renewal, a “new Pentecost” that invigorated the Church for its mission in the world. According to John XXIII, the church needed aggiornamento—“updating”—not because the Church felt threatened, as was the case with previous councils, but because the Church desired to share Christ with all people. The second movement of the Council was ressourcement, “return to the sources,” which included the study by historical theologians in the areas of Scripture, liturgy and theologians of the past.

The work of the bishops at Vatican II revolved around drafting, debating, amending and approving documents.  Before Vatican II convened, preparatory commissions drafted more than 70 papers that were presented to the bishops at the beginning of Vatican II, but these papers were defensive, textbook-like, and aimed at maintaining the status quo. The first order of business for the bishops was approval of a proposal to delay the electing of candidates to the various council committees so that bishops could draw up their own list of candidates instead of rubber-stamping the list given to them.  Since there was nothing else on the agenda, the first meeting of the Second Vatican Council was adjourned after only 15 minutes! With broader representation on the Council commissions, almost all of the prepared drafts were either rejected, completely rewritten or revised. In the end, 16 documents were produced that reflected a new vision for the Church in the modern world.

The 16 documents of Vatican II are divided into four constitutions, nine decrees and three declarations. The constitutions treat doctrinal issues that pertain to the very nature of the Church:  liturgy, revelation and the Church in the modern world.  Decrees and declarations take up more practical questions or specific areas of pastoral concern.  Every document passed with overwhelming majorities—more than half passed with fewer than 10 dissenting votes.

Sacrosanctum Concilium
Liturgy was the first topic debated at Vatican II, and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the first document to be ratified.  Of all the draft documents prepared in advance of the Council, the one on the liturgy was in the best shape.  This draft was the result of decades of liturgical historical study and renewal.  Fr. Annibale Bugnini, architect of the document, was secretary for the Preparatory Liturgical Commission and a strong proponent of the liturgical movement.

During the 15 days of debate on the liturgy the topics that generated the most intense debate were:

1. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy. 2. Whether priests should be allowed to concelebrate Mass. 3. If the laity should be allowed to receive consecrated wine along with the bread. 4. What the role of bishops’ conferences should be in allowing for local adaption.

Discussion on these topics revealed a split among the bishops between a majority open to reform and a minority opposed to change.  While the minority was very vocal during the debate, it was not clear just how large the minority opposition was until Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani’s speech ran over the allotted time and his microphone was turned off. Most of the bishops responded with resounding applause giving a clear sign that they did not agree with the minority position. The first vote on the draft of the liturgy document indicated 2,169 in favor and only 46 opposed.  The Constitution the Sacred Liturgy was promulgated on December 4, 1963 by an overwhelming majority of 2,147 to 4.  The first line of the constitution states the four goals of the “sacred council”:  1) to energize Catholics, 2) to update church institutions, 3) to encourage the unity of all Christians and 4) to reach out to the whole world.  In order to achieve these goals the liturgy had to be reformed and promoted.

The guiding concern was to promote the active participation of all the faithful.  The reform of the liturgy resulted in the most impactful changes of Vatican II:

1. Vernacular language; 2. Communion under both species; 3. Standing for the reception of Communion and receiving in the hand;  4. Concelebration by multiple priests; 5. Altar moved to the center of the sanctuary allowing the priest to face the people; 6. Expanded three-year Sunday Lectionary and two-year weekday Lectionary; 7. Prayer of the Faithful;  8. Sign of Peace;  9. Restored emphasis on the homily; 10. Lay readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy also addressed restoration of the catechumenate for adults, revision of the rite of confirmation, renaming “Extreme Unction” as “Anointing of the Sick”, encouragement of the laity to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, reform of the liturgical year and emphasis on music and art in support of the active participation of the faithful.

“The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed, it is also the source from which all its power flows.”  (SC, 10)
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stands at the head of all the work of the Second Vatican Council—not only chronologically, but also as sign and symbol of the values and priorities of that council.  The text for the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy is available online at: www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm.

The Year of Faith

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Celebrating Evangelization, Catechesis & 50 Years of Vatican II

by Dianne Rachal

On October 17, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, announcing a Year of Faith for the Church.  “Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.”  Porta Fidei n. 2.  The Year of Faith will begin on October 11, 2012—the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Thus the catechetical focus for the Year of Faith will be the study of the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Year of Faith will conclude on November 24, 2013—the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King.  The last Year of Faith was 1967—the nineteenth century anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

The New Evangelization
The Church exists in order to evangelize.  Pope John Paul II recognized the “need for a great relaunching of evangelization in the present life of the Church, to proclaim Christ to all peoples.”  While the message remains the same: salvation offered to all through Jesus Christ, the New Evangelization calls for new ardor, new methods and new expression of that message adapted to the people of our day.

Evangelization is not just the responsibility of missionaries; all Christians, all dioceses, parishes, Church institutions and associations are charged with living out our belief in and our relationship with Jesus Christ. The context for the New Evangelization is the context of our Christian lives: in our family, our parish, our workplace, our social life, our charitable works and in the world.

The New Evangelization is not about bringing the good news to countries and continents that have never heard of Jesus Christ.  Today there is a profound crisis of faith within large swathes of cultures evangelized centuries ago.  People who have already received the Gospel message of Jesus are the object of the New Evangelization.  In his address at the 25th Anniversary of the diocese, Bishop Michael Duca emphasized that evangelization begins with each person—“We must first evangelize ourselves and have the courage and willingness to go out and proclaim the good news.  Then we evangelize our community, our parish and diocese . . . and the world today.”  Pope Benedict XVI echoes this sentiment:  “We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope.”  Porta Fidei.

Challenges in the World Today
The Church is facing social and cultural changes that profoundly affect a person’s perception of self and the world, and ultimately a person’s way of believing in God.  Several challenges are identified in the working document, Instrumentum Laboris, for the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.  These challenges include a weakening of faith of individual believers, a decline in the ability to bear witness to the Gospel, and a detachment, disorientation and distrust of things passed down. People today consider faith a private matter and so they separate their faith from life and culture. Many no longer feel the need to continue to grow in the faith, thus rejecting the principle that faith is a process of life-long conversion.  In reality we are a pilgrim people—we are always on the journey of faith.

Year of Faith
The Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world.  We have an opportunity to know our Catholic faith better through study of the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II.  Knowledge of the faith enables us to articulate our faith experience to others—to be evangelizers.  Following Jesus through a personal relationship with him draws us into the fullness of God, the Trinity, and calls us to live for the Kingdom by becoming disciples for the New Evangelization.

In an effort to help the people of the Diocese of Shreveport better understand their Catholic faith, we will be running a series of articles over the next 11 months, including monthly columns on Vatican II documents, monthly Year of Faith saints and “Navigating the Faith,” which will focus on teaching matters of faith to adults of all ages.

The Diocese of Shreveport has several events planned for the celebration of the Year of Faith.  An inaugural Mass for the Year of Faith is scheduled for October 11 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport.  Throughout the year nationally recognized speakers will give presentations in our diocese:  September 29—Mr. Nick Wagner, March 16, 2013—Msgr. Richard Hilgartner, and November 9, 2013—
Dr. Richard Gaillardetz.

Practicing Faithful Citizenship

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Photo: CNS photo/Jessica Rinaldi, Reuters

by Fr. Phil Michiels

As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan has accepted to offer prayer at both the Republican and Democratic conventions.  By so doing, the Cardinal is showing us that as Catholics, we are to rise above partisanship and actively engage in the American political process.

As usual, there is much drama on the contemporary political scene, and the American bishops continue to urge Catholics to exercise “faithful citizenship.”  In so doing, the bishops are not telling Catholics how to vote.  Rather they are urging each of us to enter the voting booth with a conscience actively steeped in a spirit of charity and in the knowledge of Scripture and Church teaching.

The official document presented by our bishops is called: “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” (usccb.org).  It is a re-issue of the 2007 document of the same name, with a new introduction.

In this new introduction, the bishops mention several important issues, some of which involve opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions: 1) continuing destruction of human life and “other threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick or unwanted; 2) renewed efforts to force Catholic ministries –in health care, education, and social services–to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need; 3) intensifying efforts to redefine marriage; 4) an economic crisis, increasing unemployment, poverty, and hunger; 5) the failure to repair a broken immigration system; 6) serious moral questions raised by war, terror and violence, especially in the Middle East.”

Within “Faithful Citizenship” are principles that have underlined Catholic social teaching from the beginning.  The first is the principle of “subsidiarity,” which locates responsibility at the lowest feasible level of society, such as the right of the individual family to provide for the needs of its own members.  Thus every human has a right to life, religious freedom, food, shelter, education, employment, health care and housing.  The bishops go on to say “Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.”
The second principle is that of “solidarity,” which compels us to be concerned with the “common good” wherein groups within society or government at the appropriate local, state or national levels provide for needs of people that they themselves alone cannot responsibly provide, such as school boards and states providing educational systems for citizens.

The bishops point out that some acts are intrinsically evil, which must be rejected and not supported.  They point out that, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters…Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

The bishops go on to say, “Opposition to intrinsically evil acts also prompts us to recognize our positive duty to contribute to the common good and act in solidarity with those in need.  Both opposing evil and doing good are essential…Difficult political decisions require the exercise of a well formed conscience aided by prudence…When morally flawed laws already exist, prudential judgment is needed to determine how to do what is possible to restore justice—even if partially or gradually—without ever abandoning a moral commitment to full protection for all human life…Prudential judgment is also needed to determine the best way to promote the common good in areas such as housing, health care, and immigration…While the common good embraces all, those who are in greatest need deserve preferential concern—the unborn, those dealing with disabilities to terminal illness, the poor and marginalized.”

In the end, our involvement in the political process is one way of building the Kingdom of God.  As our bishops indicate, it calls us to focus more on moral principles than the latest polls, more on the needs of the weak than the influence of the strong, more on the common good than the temptations of the self interest.  Indeed, we can make a difference if we answer the call to Faithful Citizenship.

Prayer for an Election:
Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community. We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty. We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender. We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ordinary Food for Ordinary Time

I have made a conscious effort in the past few years to refrain from using the phrase “I love” for things that I simply enjoy. I don’t really “love” cable television, my cell phone or spider solitaire. In that exercise of intentionality I find that what I really love is surfacing.

God gives us all things, or as our parish priest reminds us, God is good, all the time. I see cooking as more than fuel for our bodies, although I do regard that part of it as holy, sacramental and something I love! My mother was a good cook, not gourmet, but what I call kitchen alchemy. On a budget of modest means she was able to transform ordinary and seemingly unrelated bits and pieces into lovely pots of delicious supper that not only nourished our bodies, but also served to remind us that while our fare may not have been fancy all was very well. I am sure at times my mother prayed as she approached the cupboard and wondered what we would eat; I think this was my first lesson in thanking God for whatever we had, believing it would be enough.

It is this time of the year when the heat begins to wane, that I haul out my stew pot. I forage through the fridge to see what I have on hand. Assembling onions, bell peppers, garlic and a hodgepodge of seemingly unconnected vegetables I begin my favorite part of the ritual, the chopping.
This is Monday night, family night at our house, the one night a week we are all here, including my sons’ girlfriends, to sit down and put away the cares of the day, and be really present to one another. Sometimes when we are eating and no one is saying anything, I hear my father’s voice in my head telling me not to worry, that’s how you know your cooking is good!  So it is into this afternoon in Ordinary Time that I am preparing an ordinary dish, pot roast chicken. It’s one of those “recipes” that is really a technique in that it works for any type of meat and with any combination of vegetables. I brown the chicken pieces and then throw the vegetables with a bit of broth into my pot. I place the lid on and move to other things as I prepare for the rest of the meal.

My mind turns with gratitude for this exercise in intentional use of language, this gift of letting the things I truly love surface. There is a sound outside and I realize everyone is home; our kitchen is full in so many ways.

Benefitting Catechesis

by John Mark Willcox

For over 20 years, your Annual Appeal has helped sponsor Catechetical ministry for the people of our diocese.  Catholics working in parish-based religious education have received consultation and education in this critical Church ministry, and this Appeal outreach which has taken on a new significance as our diocese joins with Catholics universally in initiating the Year of Faith for our region, celebrating the mission and call of the Second Vatican Council.

Another continuing Appeal benefit is the furnishing of audio-visual and written aids to assist parish and school religious educators. Not all of our Catholic children receive the benefits of a Catholic School education, making the ministry and efforts of those serving within our various Parish Schools of Religion critical to the passing on of our faith tradition to new generations.

Your Appeal donations also help sponsor catechetical conferences featuring expert presenters on current topics.  These conferences also provide our catechists the opportunity to network and share in best practices, while they strive to enrich our youth with the beauty of our faith.  The opportunity for our Catechetical workers to come together for fellowship and learning opportunities is invaluable, and your Appeal donation helps make that possible.

Raising our young Catholic believers with confident knowledge of the precepts of our faith remains a steadfast goal of our unified faith community, and Appeal donors can rest with confidence in the knowledge that their generosity helps make this goal possible throughout the diocese.
John Mark Willcox is the diocesan Director of Stewardship and Development. To give to the annual Diocesan Stewardship Appeal that supports ministries like these, visit www.dioshpt.org/stewardship/stewardship.html.

A Month Long Celebration of the Holy Rosary

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by Katie Sciba

October brings an exciting month-long celebration of the Holy Rosary among the Catholic Church. October 7th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than through sincere recitation of the very prayer she gave the world.

The Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to St. Dominic as a weapon against heretics in the late 1100s and since then has made promises of God’s grace to those who recite it. Indeed, praying the Rosary as a family carries with it a plenary indulgence.

The Rosary is both a Marian and Christo-centric prayer: the Our Father is a prayer from Christ Himself and the Hail Mary reiterates the words the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary at the Annunciation as well as St. Elizabeth’s words at the Visitation. On a more basic level, while repeating Hail Marys over 50 times, you’re also reflecting on highlights from the life of Christ within each mystery. It’s through this way that a person is drawn more closely to Christ and His Mother. Additionally, the Rosary is structurally ideal for humans to pray; we are body and soul – physical and spiritual. The two methods of prayer within the Rosary are vocal and mental and they go hand in hand with our nature perfectly. During vocal prayer, the devout meditate on the designated mystery, reflecting on the virtues within each one and on the particular story from the New Testament. That’s where the mental aspect comes in. A friend of mine described the steady rhythm of the Hail Marys as “beautiful background music” to meditation. They help keep a person physically present in prayer.

I’ve known many people, myself included, who set the Rosary aside because it feels too long, but it doesn’t have to. When I’m not faithfully praying the Rosary, my mind drudges and groans about the time it takes to “get through it”; 20-30 minutes of devoted prayer time is a small portion of my day and yet it seems like an eternity when I’m dragging my spiritual feet. There have been periods of my life, however, when I recited the Rosary eagerly and daily; and, because I was practiced, I was more able to focus on the mysteries. The time flew and the sense of burden dissolved. My sister-in-law, Erin, has noted several times that on the days when she prays the Rosary, she feels spirited and ready for whatever comes her way because of the support that Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin offer. This simple witness gives testimony to even the smallest of graces Christ offers through what He calls “My Mother’s Rosary.”

Each day offers several opportunities for prayer – a lunch break, a work out, a baby’s naptime, or after dinner and before the kids’ bedtime. Take the opportunity to pause and pray by yourself or with your family. The Rosary is an awesome prayer, bottomless in meaning. If you have questions about how to pray or meditate on it, ask your priest. Considering the graces, how it draws a person to a more intimate relationship with Christ and His Mother, and its holy origin, the Holy Rosary is the ideal devotion for every Catholic.

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

Where Mary Said “Yes”

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Photo: Fr. Matthew Long in front of the Basilica  of the Annunciation

by Fr. Matthew Long

I was privileged to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past spring.  As the date of departure approached I was filled with excitement that soon I would be journeying in the land where our Savior carried out His ministry and ultimately redeemed and saved us.  It was a beautiful place but as the days passed I was disappointed because I didn’t feel anything. I saw the sights of Caesarea Philippi. I went to Cana and Tiberius, but not once did I feel that burning within my heart. Then we made the journey to Nazareth. The bus ride from the Mount of Beatitudes to Nazareth was one of great expectation for me.  I recalled the words of Pope Paul VI from his homily at Nazareth that “all of us need to return to Nazareth, to contemplate ever anew the silence and love of the Holy Family.” It was with these words in my mind that I approached the city where our Blessed Lord grew into a man.

When we reached this ancient city we went at once to the Basilica of the Annunciation. There was nothing on its exterior that could prepare me for what I would encounter upon entering this holy place.  From the moment my foot crossed the threshold of this Church I was overwhelmed by the sense of the sacred that permeates her very stones.  I knew at once that it was in this place that one of the most important moments in human history occurred.  I was overcome by emotion and my heart burned within me because of the love that existed there.  As I approached the grotto where our Blessed Mother said “yes” to the request of an Angel my eyes filled with tears.  I had a desire to never leave this place.  I prayed the Hail Mary as I gazed at the little room where the words of this prayer were first spoken.  As I mounted the stairs to ascend to the upper Church the Salve Regina flowed from my lips.

Inside the Basilica of the Annunciation. (CNS photo/Gil Cohen Magen, Reuters)

I was overwhelmed by my senses, both natural and supernatural; because it was here that the first fiat of our salvation and redemption was spoken.  It was here that a young Jewish girl would answer the call of God and in so doing would forever banish the “no” Eve spoke in the Garden.  I could feel it in every fiber of my being that I was standing on Holy Ground. As we prepared to depart I prayed the Angelus and when I genuflected as I prayed “And the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.” I could not keep praying.  Emotion had overwhelmed me and I finally had that moment I sought.  With sadness I departed from this Holy place knowing that I was filled with grace because of the “yes” Mary spoke in this place so many years ago. “O Mary conceived without sin. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

Fr. Matthew Long is the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Shreveport.

Second Collections: World Mission Sunday

by Fr. Rothell Price

Collection Dates: Oct. 20 & 21
Announcement Dates: Oct. 7 & 8

The door to the “Year of Faith” is ready to swing open, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Vatican II Council. This World Mission Sunday collection is a fitting start to this “Year of Faith.” In the final paragraph of Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus commissions and spiritually equips the disciples to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News. This World Mission Sunday collection is one of the ways we ordinary Catholics fulfill this Gospel mandate. Each and every one of us is a missionary by our baptism into Christ and reinforced in the sacrament of Confirmation by the grace-filled words and holy anointing, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was baptized and immediately driven by the Spirit into action, so are we who are baptized into Christ.

We may not personally go out on mission, yet our contribution to this special collection makes it possible for men and women to take the Good News of life in Jesus Christ, in our name and on our behalf, to those who have never heard it and to those whose faith needs to be reignited.

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. Every year the needs of the Missions grow. Do remember our diocese is a “mission” diocese. We receive a large grant from this collection. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics locally and nationally is so urgently needed. Please give generously in the spirit of this Year of Faith for the good of our mission diocese and for all the mission fields of the world.

Allow me to offer a preview about the special collection for November. “If you want to feed a person for a day, then give her or him a fish.  If you want to feed that person for life, then teach her or him to fish.”  The mission, nature and purpose of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is to develop the human person so that he or she can provide their own material necessities for life.

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

It’s a Great Day When…

by Mike Van Vranken

I crawled into the donor chair to give yet another pint of blood.  In deep concentration as she prepared my arm, the nurse attempted to engage in small talk, asking:  “how are you?”  I smiled and answered:  “It’s just a great day!”  She immediately stopped what she was doing, looked into my eyes, and with a grin much wider than the sky itself, responded:  “Every day is a great day when you know the Lord!”  I gave her a big “Amen” and settled in for the next 15 minutes or so meditating on her declaration of faith.

If her statement is true, and I believe it is, do I live every day with the total awareness that each and every day is a great day?  If not, what am I missing?  Could it be I don’t really know the Lord as much as I could or even should?

Has anyone ever asked if you know a particular person and you respond with something like:  “Oh I’ve met her, but I really don’t know her.”?  Could that describe our relationship with Jesus?  St. Jerome said:  “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  I like to say:  “To know scripture is to know Jesus.”  If we really want to know the Lord it will take more effort than the 15 or 20 minutes we spend in the Word each week on Sunday.  And, because He is the infinite God, our ability to know him is infinite as well.  In other words, every effort to know Him better will produce a closer relationship with Him.

Action Plan:
• Commit to at least 15 minutes per day of devoted scripture study
•  Commit to more intimate conversations with Jesus on a very frequent basis
•  Make the effort to see Jesus in every one you see each day.

Do you want to eliminate bad days?  Do you want to make every day filled with joy and abundance?  Remember the profound words of my friend at the blood bank:  “Every day is a great day when you know the Lord!”

Mike started a teaching ministry after graduating from the University of Dallas’ School of Ministry in 2006 (www.mikevanvrankenministries.org). He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Diocese of Shreveport’s Greco Institute.

Un Compromiso más Profundo con Cristo

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

(CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Ya para el mes de octubre estamos bien adentrados en la rutina del otoño. La escuela ya está en camino y el recomienzo de organizaciones y responsabilidades está ya en nuestro pasado además de que el verano es ya un recuerdo distante. Cuando yo era el rector del seminario anticipaba la rutina del año escolar. La rutina nos da una estructura para ordenar una vida ocupada, asegura que nuestras responsabilidades vocacionales básicas son cumplidas y que nuestros valores de fe formen nuestra vida de cierta forma con cada tarea diaria. Aun nuestra vida de oración en la Iglesia esta ordenada con el tiempo Litúrgico y nuestra misa dominical reconfirma nuestra conexión con el Cuerpo de Cristo y nos da testimonio a la centralidad de nuestra fe en la vida diaria.

Pero nuestra rutina diaria, y especialmente nuestra rutina espiritual, se puede hacer anquilosada o pesada por su dificultad o por nuestros deseos egoístas. De vez en cuando los santos nos recuerdan de romper la rutina, por medio de un retiro por ejemplo, para examinar la rutina y las opciones en nuestras vidas y para que podamos limpiar lo que es pecaminoso y comprometernos de nuevo a cumplir el mensaje del Evangelio de Jesus y las enseñanzas de Su Iglesia.

Nuestro Santo Padre, el Papa Benedicto XVI ha proclamado el Año de la Fe comenzando el 11 de octubre del 2012 para marcar el 50 Aniversario del Concilio Vaticano II y el 20 Aniversario de la publicación del Nuevo Catecismo. Voy a abrir el Año de la Fe para la Diócesis con una Misa el 11 de octubre del 2012 en la Catedral de San Juan Berchmans a las 6:00 p.m. Este es un año de retiro para la Iglesia. Durante este Año de Fe todos deberíamos considerar alguna acción u opción que rompa nuestra rutina diaria de una manera que nos rete a un compromiso más profundo con Cristo y a reflexionar nuestra fe como católicos en las opciones y acciones de nuestra vida diaria.

Mi compromiso este año será visitar cada parroquia en la diócesis y tener una tarde de oración con cada comunidad eclesial. Nos reuniremos para la Liturgia de la Palabra. Será un tiempo de oración y reflexión sobre nuestra fe en Jesucristo y Su Iglesia. Los animo a invitar a sus amigos no-católicos a unirse con nosotros. Esta también será una oportunidad para que yo considere, en mi quinto año como su Obispo, como ser un mejor servidor y cómo podemos crecer juntos en la fe y la respuesta de fe, la Caridad.

En esta carta Porta Fidei, traducida “puerta de fe,” (Hechos 14:27) el Santo Padre nos da una reflexión maravillosa, un tipo de letanía, de como la fe que tanto estimamos ha formado y continua formando la Iglesia y asegura la proclamación del Evangelio.

“Por la fe María aceptó la palabra del Ángel y creyó el mensaje que iba a ser la madre de Dios por la obediencia y su devoción (cf. Lucas1:38).”
Por la fe, los apóstoles dejaron todo para seguir a su Maestro (cf. Marcos 10:28).

Por la fe, los discípulos formaron la primera comunidad, reunidos con las enseñanzas de los apóstoles, en oración, en celebración de la Eucaristía, unían sus bienes en común y los repartían según las necesidades de cada uno. (cf. Hechos 2:42-47).

Por la fe, los mártires dieron sus vidas, siendo testigos de la verdad del Evangelio que los había transformado e hizo capaces de obtener el regalo más grande de amor: el perdón de sus perseguidores.

Por la fe, hombres y mujeres han consagrado sus vidas a Cristo, dejando todo atrás para vivir en obediencia, pobreza y castidad con la simplicidad del Evangelio, señales concretas de la esperanza que el Señor viene sin tardanza.

Por la fe, innumerables Cristianos han promovido la acción por la justicia para poner en práctica la palabra del Señor, que vino a proclamar libertad a los oprimidos y un año favorable para todos (cf. Lucas 4:18-19).

Por la fe, a través de los siglos, hombres y mujeres de todas las edades, y cuyos nombres están escritos en el Libro de la Vida (cf. Ap. 7:9, 13:8), han confesado las maravillas de seguir al Señor Jesus por doquier y fueron llamados a ser testigos del hecho de ser Cristianos: en la familia, en el lugar de trabajo, en vida pública, en el ejercicio de los carismas y ministerios a los que han sido llamados.” Porta Fidei #13 Benedicto XVI.

Durante este Año de Fe pido a Dios que nuestros corazones se llenen de fuego y creamos más profundamente y gustosamente “confesemos la maravilla de seguir al Señor Jesus.” Rezo para que seamos testigos de esta fe en la familia, en el lugar de trabajo, en la vida pública y en la práctica de nuestros carismas y ministerios a los que hemos sido llamados.

Hay un artículo en la página 12 de esta revista Catholic Connection por Dianne Rachal con más información sobre el Año de la Fe y algunas celebraciones en nuestra diócesis durante este Año.