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Feb. 23, 2018 Friday: 1st Week of Lent

Feb. 23, 2018 Friday: 1st Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:31
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the Lord, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Filter It in the First Place
For me, one of the scariest things about aging is the potential onset of dementia. It terrifies me to imagine the weakening of the executive function of the frontal lobe—that vital filter that keeps me from blurting out everything that pops into my head.

Can you imagine if every uncharitable thought we had in the presence of our bosses came rushing out when all we intended to do was summarize a meeting? We have a filter not only because we would never make it in society without one but also because we usually don’t really believe the unkind things we might be thinking.

Unkind words are not easily forgotten, regardless of how much we might assure a contrite friend that all is forgiven. And so for good reason Jesus warns against unchecked anger and insults. The general trajectory of hurtful words is hurt feelings, and it is the rare person who is able to absorb those words without, subconsciously or not, finding a way to settle the score. This is exactly how wars begin. We have a cultural expectation, of course, that if someone asks our forgiveness we must immediately extend it. But hurtful words may take years to get past, and there’s no casual way to say, “Upon review I’ve decided that I unforgive you.”

This Lent, consider fasting from thinking uncharitable things about people in the first place. The less room unkind thoughts take up in our brains, the less likely it is that, dementia or not, they’ll come tumbling out someday.


By Kathy McGovern, a Reflection from www.giveusthisday.org

Feb. 22, 2018: Chair of St. Peter

Feb. 22, 2018: Chair of St. Peter 

The Need for Brotherhood

“People live not only alongside one another, but also in manifold relationships. They live for each other; relating to one another, they are brothers and sisters…” 
-St. John Paul II

Our life begins, ideally, with the free gift of love from a mother and father, then broadens into a band of brothers and sisters (either in the immediate family or through the life of our community). Our brothers and/or male friends, like our fathers, are like mirrors into which we look for the reflection of what masculinity is, and how we live it. Sometimes the reflection is clear and encouraging, sometimes it’s distorted, blurred or broken.

In our hyper-sexualized culture, we hear ridiculous words like “bromance” and “man-crush”, and we may turn away in fear from a man’s fundamental need for friendship with other men. Sadly, for various reasons, we live a more isolated life. The truth is, men need other men from whom we learn the craft of masculinity. We need brothers to journey with to understand the mystery of becoming a man, of our unique work in the world, our vocation and of our call to care for and cultivate life with our sisters.

Being a brother is about sincerity and faithfulness, not bravado or competitiveness. Brothers are attentive to the people around them. For other men, they build up relationships. Brothers are called to inspire, defend and encourage one another. Walls to protect in times of trouble, and to lean against in times of struggle.

Brothers are called to cultivate and care for the shared life of their sisters. There is a powerful attractiveness to a man who is known as a brother to every woman, seeing her as a true sister in a common humanity. Life is our task to promote and protect; for each person is made from the same clay, loved by the same Father and worthy of honor, respect, love. How would it change your view of women (and femininity) if you acted first as their brother, and looked on them first as your sister?  How would it change your view of other men (and masculinity) if you acted first as their brother, instead of a competitor or someone to impress?

Challenge for all:

Jesus is our brother. He could have only been our distant king, but chose also to be a brother “who calls us friends.” And then he went even further. He was a Servant Leader who taught us to wash our brother's feet. So we too must love and serve our brothers in simple ways.

Take time to serve someone today in a hidden way at work, or school, or among your family members or friends. Be sure nobody sees what you’ve done. You could pick up those towels on the floor, put away the cereal boxes, clean up the break room at work. Or even pay anonymously for the car behind you at a drive-through. Serve in sincere love since you too have been served (and saved) by Love.

Reflection from “Rise: 30 Day Challenge for Men”

https://www.menriseup.org

Feb. 19, 2018: 1st Week of Lent

Feb. 19, 2018: 1st Week of Lent

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:31-46)

Love to the Point of Folly

The works of mercy are a wonderful stimulus to our growth in faith as well as in love. Our faith is taxed to the utmost and so grows through this strain put upon it. It is pruned again and again, and springs up bearing much fruit. For anyone starting to live literally the words of the Fathers of the Church, “the bread you retain belongs to the hungry, the dress you lock up is the property of the naked” . . . “Our faith, more precious than gold, must be tried as though by fire.” Here is a letter we received today:

“I took a gentleman seemingly in need of spiritual and temporal guidance into my home on a Sunday afternoon. Let him have a nap on my bed, went through the want ads with him, made coffee and sandwiches for him, and when he left, I found my wallet had gone also.”

I can only say that the Saints would only bow their heads and not try to understand or judge. They received no thanks—well then, God had to repay them. They forbore to judge, and it was as though they took off their cloak besides their coat to give away. This is expecting heroic charity of course. But these things happen for our discouragement, for our testing.

We are sowing the seed of love, and we are not living in the harvest time so that we can expect a crop. We must love to the point of folly, and we are indeed fools, as our Lord Himself was who died for such a one as this. . . . It is agony to go through such bitter experiences, because we all want to love, we desire with a great longing to love our fellows, and our hearts are often crushed at such rejections. But, as a Carmelite nun said to me last week, “It is the crushed heart which is the soft heart, the tender heart.”

- By Dorothy Day (1897-1980), “The Scandal of the Works of Mercy”

Feb. 18, 2018: 1st Sunday of Lent B

Feb. 18, 2018:  1st Sunday of Lent B

If there is one image for me that stands out from this beginning week of Lent, it is that of a photograph of a woman with ashes on her forehead this past Ash Wednesday. The photographer captured the moment when two moms embraced one another with profound sorrow and broken hearts. Two moms were waiting outside the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A scripture verse that in some way captures this photograph is from Prophet Jeremiah, “In Ramah is heard the sound of sobbing, bitter weeping! Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children—they are no more!” This scripture is quoted again in the Gospel of Matthew when innocent children of Bethlehem were slaughtered by King Herod’s soldiers. This stirring photograph was emblazoned all across the world this week as a sober reminder to all of humanity that if we give into Satan’s temptation, we cease to be heralds of the gospel of life.

Satan’s temptation is nothing new. Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, the father of lies has attempted to alienate man from his community and alienate man from God, His Creator. He tempted the Israelites in the desert, and he tempted Jesus when he went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. For 40 years, the Israelites journeyed through the desert under the guidance of Moses. Along the way, they were tempted to grumble, complain, and worship false gods, but they were not left in the desert to wander and die. God appointed Moses as their shepherd, quenched their thirst with water from the rock, heard them from fatal bites of vipers, and fed them with Manna from heaven. Our own journey on this earth mirrors their journey in the desert. God gave us Jesus as our Good Shepherd on our earthly desert journey, quenching our thirst for love with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, healing us through Divine Mercy, and satisfying our spiritual hunger with Eucharist, his very own body and blood.

St. Peter cautioned us to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The goal of Satan in his tempting humanity is simple: steer us to death. The temptations of the evil one are subtle and often sound like our own voice. His temptations are often pleasing, delightful, and always focused on self--selfishness, self-absorption, and self-importance. His tactics are pride, anger, lust, gluttony, envy, sloth, and greed. We need to imitate how Our Lord won victory over the devil in the desert by fasting, prayer, and sacrificial giving. We need to allow our prayers and the Word of God to penetrate and change our hearts so that our actions emulate that of Christ.

If we genuinely want to heal as a nation from this recent tragedy and if we truly want to make this the last mass shooting our nation has to go through, we need to fast, pray, and make difficult sacrifices to do something concrete to counter our culture of death. This means rolling up our sleeves and voicing our concerns to our civil leaders of the need for change. Like St. Joseph the men of our time need to exercise genuine masculinity that is to protect, provide, and lead as spiritual fathers. The women of our time need to emulate Blessed Mother’s virtues of faith, purity, humility, service, patience, and long suffering and walk in her footsteps to share in her glory. She is the model of all Christians, and we need to invite Blessed Mother into our lives through prayer so that she will intercede for us as we model to others our Catholic Christian belief in the sanctity of all life. Children absorb the attitudes and bias of their parents and their culture. Our children need to grow up knowing that obedience and self-control take precedence over self-gratification. They need to grow up having respect for all life--no matter the race, social status, and ethnicity.

As Our Lord proclaimed, this is the time of fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. The reign of evil one is over, and we are to repent and to proclaim the good news with our witness. Are we standing for the Kingdom of God?

Lent and Recent Shooting at Parkland, Florida

Lent and Recent Shooting at Parkland, Florida
Yesterday, I began my day in prayer, focused on the beginning of our holy season of Lent. I was busy throughout the morning making sure everything was in place for the Ash Wednesday masses in hopes that those attending the masses would have a meaningful beginning to their Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
About 900 miles away in south Florida, parents got their children up and off to school, perhaps even going to an early morning mass to receive ashes and begin their Lenten sacrifice. Hours later, their daily routine turned into horror as many parents began receiving texts from their children who were under siege at their high school. The news of the carnage broke through on all the news channels and we learned of, and watched in horror, another mass shooting. We probably all watched in disbelief, thinking that school should be a safe place for children.
I cannot even begin to imagine the fear the children felt as they ran for cover or watched in horror as their classmates were shot. What were their parents feeling as they heard the news, and were miles away and could not be there at that moment to protect their children? The dad of a child who survived the shooting commented, “All I keep thinking about is when I dropped him off this morning. I usually say ‘I love you’ and I didn’t this morning.” From the news reports, we know that teachers and administrators jumped into action and did their best to protect the children -- sacrificing their lives to save the children.
We who have been through Lent many times, know that this season is our ‘dessert’ experience – a time for us to encounter, communicate and enter into a deeper relationship with our God. The desert is a place where we hear the voice of God. Many of us are probably disturbed by the barrenness and silence of the desert. None of us want to pray fervently, only to hear silence at the end of our prayers and wonder if God is there? While it may be difficult, we must remember that God is in the desert with us… whether we hear him or not… the father of mercy is there. We must remember that being in the desert can lead to renewal of spirit.
I cannot help but think that the children and families from that high school shooting in Parkland, Florida are walking through a desert right now wondering where God is in their lives. Many in the world are wondering today, how do we explain evil in the world? We Christians are people of HOPE and we trust in the God who made us. We pray that we trust in Him even in the most horrific times in our lives.
Let us pray for the families in south Florida, especially those grieving the loss of life. Let us pray that we as faithful citizens take a serious look at the gun control laws.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Feb. 15, 2018: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Feb. 15, 2018: Thursday after Ash Wednesday

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.” -Philo of Alexandria

Choose life. - Moses (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Moses had it right. We face choices every day. Every day gives us another opportunity to commit ourselves to the Lord and to find the life that he promises us. Many of us made Lenten resolutions yesterday, and the best way to keep them is by making these choices.

Moses’ words can give us a framework for these daily choices. He tells us that we can choose life by “loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30:20).

• Loving the Lord. This seems easy enough, but we might skip over this one because it can also feel vague. Let’s make it more practical. You can decide to love God by spending time with him in prayer every day. Thank him for his mercy. Tell him that you love him. Ask him for his grace. You can also love God by loving your family. Choose to turn off the TV or to put down your phone so that you can spend time with your family.

• Heeding his voice. The Hebrew Scriptures don’t have a word for “obey.” Instead, they talk about “heeding” the Lord’s voice. They talk about listening carefully to his word, internalizing it, and putting it into practice. How can you do that today? You might try slowly rereading today’s Scripture passages and asking God to give you a personal message through them. Or you might feel him nudging you to contact an old friend or to help out a neighbor. Go ahead and follow through, and see how God blesses that choice.

• Holding fast to him. You might find yourself today feeling lonely or frustrated or wondering if God is with you. That’s the time to cling to the Lord. Remind yourself of his promise to never abandon you. If you’re struggling with temptation, decide to affirm your love for God and his love for you. Choose to stand firm in your commitment to him.

Every day this Lent, try to make a little headway in your choice to follow God. Don’t be surprised, if you do, to find yourself feeling closer to the Lord. Don’t be surprised to feel his life and his love more deeply in your heart.
- Reflection from Word Among Us

Prayer from Creighton Online Ministries

Lord,  
Let everything I do this day and in this season of Lent 
come from you, be inspired by you.

I long to be closer to you. 
Help me to remember that nothing is important in my life 
unless it glorifies you in some way.

It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day of my life and keep saying,
"Tomorrow, I will spend more time in prayer," 
but now my longing meets your love and I want to do it now.  
Help me to rely on you for help.

The prayer asks you that I reach perfection. 
Please, Lord, remind me that "perfection" 
isn't the crazy, "successful" way I try to live my life, 
but a perfection of my most authentic, real self. 
My "perfection" might be holding my many flaws in my open hands, 
asking you to help me accept them.

Heal me, Lord, and help me to find you in the darkness of my life.  
Let me reach out in this darkness and feel your hand and love there to guide me.

May the Lord bless us, 
protect us from all evil 
and bring us to everlasting life. 

Amen.

Feb. 13, 2018: Love is Kind - Divine Mercy Week 2

Feb. 13, 2018: Love is Kind - Divine Mercy Week 2

Have you ever had a stranger who blessed you with an unexpected act of kindness? There is 5-year old girl -- named Alli -- who was so excited about going to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World because she loves the Disney movies about princesses. The day that she and her family went to the Magic Kingdom, Alli dressed up as a princess. Unexpectedly, a security guard approached Alli with a notepad and a pen and asked, “Excuse me Princess, can I have your autograph?” The mom noticed that the book was already filled with scribbles of other children. Alli could not get over the fact that the guard thought she was a real princess. The security guard took the time to compliment a stranger with his act of kindness, and it made the little girl’s day. 

St. Paul wrote that love is kind. Love is more than a mere feeling. Pope Francis said that, “love is ever ready to be of assistance...love benefits and helps others.” There is happiness in giving, spending our time for others without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving. 

Isn’t it true for most of us that we sometimes overlook the needs and desires of others. Our Lord warned us against this in our gospel when he said to his disciples, “Watch out; guard against the leaven of the Pharisees.” (Mk 8:15) Just as only a small amount of yeast can transform a clump of flour into an airy dough, judgmental attitude of Pharisees can transform what is good into something bad. When we are focused on ourselves, spending our time and energy for others seems like a burden that we prefer to avoid. We may heard of the saying, “Charity begins at home.” If we can’t love the people closest to us, it’s nearly impossible to truly love a stranger. Children need to see their parents being kind and loving to each other; children need to see teachers and neighbors perform acts of kindness for others. When we learn to love when we are young, it become natural throughout our lives to love one another. During our holy season of Lent, let us not focus so much on giving up chocolate, Facebook, or TV, but focus on being kind to our family, neighbors, and strangers. 

Mother Teresa often said that, “Love to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.” What is my honest reaction to that idea? Do I  serve others for others, expecting nothing in return? Or are my motives mixed with my own desires for the praise of others? Can we ask the Lord to teach us to love as he loves?


-Fr Paul Yi 

Feb. 14, 2018: Ash Wednesday

Feb. 14, 2018: Ash Wednesday

Daily Meditation from Creighton University Online Ministry

A very special day.
The ashes we use are the burnt palms from last year's celebration of Passion Sunday. 
We begin our Lenten journey aware of where we are going. 
We want to enter into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus for us more fully. 
That is the purpose of our journey.  It is why we mark our heads with his cross. 
It is why we fast today and abstain from meat.

Our Lenten program is not an effort to save ourselves. 
We have been saved by his sacrifice. 
Our self-denial helps us, in the darkness that surrounds us, 
to prepare ourselves to receive his light. 
For this is a journey to the Easter font, 
where we will renew the promises of our Baptism, 
remembering that in dying with him in the waters of Baptism, 
we are re-born with him to everlasting life.

This year's journey begins today.

Yet even now, says the LORD, 
return to me with your whole heart, 
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;

Rend your hearts, not your garments, 
and return to the LORD, your God. 
For gracious and merciful is he, 
slow to anger, rich in kindness, 
and relenting in punishment. 

Prayer by Joseph Tetlow S.J.:

When I go now to my inner room,
God my Father, Creator of my inmost self,
I go with ashes on my forehead and in my soul
for what I have done
and for the little love I return to You.
Is it repentance enough that I accept as mine
the burden laid on all of us by all of us?
May I embrace as my own and offer to You
the sufferings of the world that invade my day—
the child in terror, the man without work,
the woman wrapped in oppression and disdain?
Let me feel the grief that weighed like lead on Jesus’ heart
and know His unyielding love for me.

Amen.

Feb. 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday Mass Schedule

-----Donaldsonville 7AM St. Francis Church 12PM Ascension Church 12PM St. Catherine of Sienna 6PM Ascension Church 6:30PM St. Catherine of Sienna ----Belle Rose / Paincourtville 7AM St. Elizabeth (Paintcourtville) 6PM St. Jules (Belle Rose) ----Napoleonville/Labadieville/Plattenville 12:00pm St. Philomena Church (Labadieville) 12:10pm St Anne Church (Napoleonville) 5:30pm St. Philomena Church (Labadieville) 6:30pm Assumption Church (Plattenville) ----St. James/Vacherie 8AM Our Lady of Peace Church 12PM St. Philip Church 6PM St. James Church 6:30PM Our Lady of Peace Church ----White Castle 9AM Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church ----Plaquemine 7AM St. John the Evangelist Church 8:30AM St. Clement, School Mass 12PM St. John, Liturgy of the Word & Distribution of Ashes 6PM St. John Church

Feb. 11, 2018: 6th Sunday B

Feb. 11, 2018: 6th Sunday B

Have you ever been misjudged or made a hasty judgment without knowing all the facts? I’m sure you can think of an unhappy experience where someone misjudged you or your intentions. Such an experience happened to Vinicio Riva a few years ago when he boarded a public bus. He found an empty seat, but before he could sit down, the man sitting next to the empty seat snapped at him, “Go away! Don’t sit next to me.” Startled, Vinicio wanted to respond back, but he decided to keep quiet like the rest of the passengers who witnessed this indignation yet did nothing. Vinicio had long been accustomed to the unkindness of strangers, for he suffered from a skin disease which left him covered with tumors and sores all over his face and body.  

How would you react to such a person if he attempted to sit next to you on a plane or at a movie theater? Would you move away or be grossed out? Jesus experienced such a person in today’s gospel when a leper approached him for healing. Imagine a person covered with skin lesions with large lumps and bumps and smelling of foul odor. Such a person experiences isolation and desolation from their loved ones and the community. In fact, we probably can’t imagine what a leper looks like (and smells like) because most of us have not seen a person afflicted with leprosy. However, we can understand why such a person would seek healing and seek to rejoin his family and community. Jesus did the unthinkable; he reached out to the man and touched him, defying the social and religious norms and shocking those who were witnessing this unexpected gesture of kindness. Jesus demonstrated to those around him, that the Heavenly Father loved this man and the healing power of the Father can restore a person to wholeness and newness of life. I venture to say that we cannot imagine what that leper felt when he was touched and healed by Jesus. He was so excited by his healing that he went and told everyone about what happened to him. This healing allowed the leper to return to his community. The healing was not only for the leper, but also for his community who judged by appearance and lacked compassion. 

Going back to Vinicio… Vinicio and some of his towns folk traveled to Vatican City for the morning public audience held by Pope Francis. Vinicio sits in a wheelchair because he has difficulty staying on his feet for long. When Pope Francis walked through the aisle greeting people, Vinicio hoped that he could at least shake the Pope’s hand. Then the unthinkable happened. Pope Francis walked straight to Vinicio and embraced him tightly. Vinicio described the incident, “Pope looked at me as if he was digging deep inside, a beautiful look that I would never have expected. He didn’t have any fear of my illness. He embraced me without speaking...I quivered. I felt a great warmth… I felt I was returning home ten years younger, as if a load had been lifted.” 

The Pope’s gesture of compassion moves us to consider our own calling. Pope Francis tweeted, “Lord, teach us to step outside ourselves. Teach us to go out into the streets and manifest your love… True charity requires courage: let us overcome the fear of getting our hands dirty so as to help those in need.”

 As we approach the beginning of Lent, let us ask Our Lord for the grace to open and welcome those of all walks of life, especially the poor, weak, and vulnerable.  How can we ever completely understand each other when we have all walked different roads, with different life experiences? We can’t. Yet we can try. We need to ask Our Lord for spiritual healing so that we can see with his eyes and his compassion, especially those whom we ignore or do not give a second thought to their plight.