Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Olympics 2010

The Vancouver Winter Olympics of 2010 are now history. From what I've been able to tell from various reports they were well watched in this country. I'd like to see the TV ratings down here in the New Orleans market since this is not winter sports territory.

I for one enjoy the games. I would never sit and watch a ski competition, or figure skating, or snowboarding unless they are associated with the Olympic Games. Never having been an athelete of any type, I love being a fan so I may be one who watches the Olympics from the wrong point of view. Olympics is supposed to be about the individual accomplishments of the atheletes. That's all good, but I do like to cheer on the good old U.S.A.

So with that said, let me do my very amateur and probably opinionated review. I thought the games were kind of a mess. The weather was horrible and did not seem winter like. The day time high temperture in New Orleans was colder than Vancouver on several days. The place was foggy, almost San Francisco like. And that proved problematic for many of the sports venues. Then you had the constant hang ups with various officials making wrong calls like starting the wrong skiers in one important event. Maybe we should have known based simply off the opening day. The unfortunate death of the Georgian athelete was inexcusable on several fronts. How could they have an unprotected metal post near the track? And then the opening ceremonies were a disaster, including a mess up with the torch lighting ceremony.

Our American team has lots to be proud of. The Americans broke a Winter Olympic record with 37 total medals. That is quite an accomplishment. No other country has ever done this. But we should mention here that the American team secured 9 gold medals. That is less than we took home in Salt Lake and the same as Turino. In other words, we increased total medals with no increase in gold. There were some amazing firsts for America; gold medals in nordic sports and a gold in the 4-man bobsled. Overall, it was a great American performance that still has room to improve.

Canada has lots to be proud of too. They won 14 gold medals, 5 more than us, and this too is a new record. And they have lots of national pride since both their mens and womens hockey teams beat the U.S.A. teams. Ouch.

For me the most moving and meaningful moment came in figure skating. Canadian star Joannie Rochette, a possible gold medal favorite, suffers the sudden and unexpected death of her mother in Vancouver just days before she must skate. Facing grief and pain we can only imagine, she persevered, skated lights out, fought back tears and managed to win a bronze medal. And now she faces a new life without her mom and whatever is in store. But her performance, dignity and grace were the inspiration of these games.

So we say goodbye to Vancouver and await the 2012 summer games in London. I wonder what the inspirational story of those games will be.

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, the Transfiguration

The hills are alive with the sound of music. The 1965 movie, the Sound of Music, gave us this beautiful song along with some breathtaking views of the Austrian Alps. The majesty of the mountains was what I remember most about the film although others may say the movie plot itself or the remarkable soundtrack that included Climb Every Mountain, Do Re Mi and These are a Few of My Favorite Things.

The sound of the music of the hills was what Maria referred to as her place of reflection and quiet solitude. The beauty and the majesty of the mountains and the noise of the wind all “sang” to her.

We may have been fortunate in our lives to have a mountaintop experience. Perhaps you have vacationed with your family in the Smoky Mountains or the Rockies. If not, then hopefully we can at least remember our last trip to Monkey Hill in Audubon Park. I’m sure at least mentally, we all have climbed our mountain and experienced our own mountaintop moment.

As people of faith, have we climbed that mountain with the Lord?

Today’s Gospel brings us to a mountain. It is the mountain of the Transfiguration! Jesus climbs Mt. Tabor and brings along Peter, James and John. And they truly have a mountaintop experience. Scripture tells us that Jesus was transfigured before them and he was conversing with Moses and Elijah. And it is not just any conversation. We hear the word exodus today; they are speaking to Jesus about his coming passion and death. When Peter says: “it is good that we are here”, he had no idea.

Jesus knows what will happen here on Mt. Tabor, just as he knows what will happen on the mount known as Calvary. Jesus brings his friends along to have this mountaintop experience of deep prayer, a brief look at the glory of His divinity and to bolster them in faith for what was about to come.

And his friends in a most remarkable way are allowed to come into the presence of the Trinity. In one brief moment that seemed at first frightening, Peter, James and John encounter God the Father as the voice is heard: “this is my chosen Son; listen to him”. And they are with God the Son and they enter into the cloud; God the Holy Spirit.

For Peter, James and John to experience this mountaintop transfiguration they had to walk with Jesus; they had to climb the mountain. It may have been difficult and it may have included some suffering; some pain. But the glory was beyond human description.

For us, we must walk with Jesus and climb the mountain with him. The way up the mountain and the way of the cross, for us, brings us here, not necessarily the mountaintop, but surely the “source and summit” of our Christian faith: the Eucharist. We are drawn to this altar and drawn to our transfigured Lord in Holy Communion. And yes, the walk with Jesus and the climb may be fraught with pain, but the mountaintop experience is beyond human experience.

As we partake of the consecrated Body & Blood of our Lord, we too are transfigured. And we are called to go out and help others climb the mountain. We are called to bring others to Christ so they too can have that mountaintop experience.

In the week ahead, we can reread this beautiful Gospel passage and prepare to take action. In these weeks ahead, in our very own parish, we have 4 candidates on their own climb preparing for entry in the Catholic Church. Pray for them this week. And if called, contact our RCIA director and volunteer to assist with the various events yet to come, leading to the Easter vigil.

Friday night we will pray the Stations of the Cross in a most special way. Being the only “first Friday” of a month in Lent, as you arrive our Eucharistic Lord will be on the altar. In the spirit of climbing that mountain, of making the way of the cross, come for Benediction Friday night and remain to pray the Stations of the Cross.

These are but two examples of ways we can be faithful to our own climb with Jesus. And these are two examples of ways we can invite others to have their own mountaintop experience.

Yes, the hills are alive with the sound of music. And the mountaintop is alive with God’s majesty in our transfigured Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is truly good that we are here!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The little Saints captain passes away

This is a remarkably touching story. Little 6 year old Ben Sarrat died early today of a rare and inoperable brain tumor. Ben suffered from this rare form of cancer that strikes about 200 children annually. Ben's amazing battle against this disease not only caught the eye of family and friends but his school family and the New Orleans Saints as well.

Ben, like all little boys from this area, loves the Saints, thinks Drew Brees is the best QB ever and cheered his football heroes on through this Super Bowl season. In fact, at a game earlier this year, when the Saints played and defeated the New York Jets, Ben was the honorary captain. He walked out on that field with Drew Brees and his dad and led the Saints during the introductions and coin toss.

Ben brought some powerful good luck to the Saints and they have been keeping up with him all season long. While the Saints were Ben's heroes many of the NFL Super Bowl champs have called Ben their hero. And Ben's fellow students at St. Andrew the Apostle School have been too. Inspired by their friend and classmate, these young students raised thousands of dollars on Ben's behalf for cancer research. I can only imagine how much he will be missed at St. Andrew's.

And we certainly want to remember here Ben's mom & dad who stayed by their little boy's side and loved him and cared for him and now miss him terribly as their little boy returns to God.

The family asks that we continue to honor Ben's memory with donations for cancer research to the organization

Please go to the website for more information and two very moving and touching videos.

Kids say the darndest things; even during Lent

My weeklong ministry train roared along tonight to St. Jane Church where I met with 2nd grade CCD students and their parents. These eager, bright young Catholics are preparing for their 1st Holy Communion in a few months. With child and parent together, we talked to them tonight about making this Lenten season an integral part of their preparation to receive Jesus.

In my address to the children we had time for questions and answers and I must say the children did not disappoint. They knew it was Lent and remembered the liturgical color of purple. They also knew that Lent was a preparation for the coming Easter joy. And they knew the crucifixion and the resurrection. I was very impressed.

So we got into their Lenten experience. Of course, they all want to tell me what they are giving up: Coke, chocolate, eating meat, gum and other things along those lines. And one little girl even reminded me that you could do nice things for Lent. So I asked and they responded: help mom with the dishes, feed my dog, be nice to brothers and sisters, do my homework.

The participation and seemingly age appropriate understanding of the Lenten journey was very heart warming. We also talked about using our poor boxes at the Church and dropping food in our food baskets. I hope mom & dad remember to help them participate in this part of their journey.

The kids might not know specifically that we are called to prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent, but somehow they get it. And in many ways I think the evening was as instructional for the parents as it was the children. So as we send them off on this chilly Thursday night we do so with prayers for a family oriented meaningful Lent as they continue on their personal journey to receive Jesus Christ; body, blood, soul and divinity, in 1st Holy Communion.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A week I'm glad to be a Deacon

This is one of those weeks where so much ministry just happens! As an ordained minister it is my desire to be able to respond to needs and fulfill my call. And coming in this first full week of Lent makes it that much more special.

Tonight I am home working on a myriad of tasks related to my prison ministry. Preparing for the big retreat in a few weeks takes lots of time and effort. On Tuesday night I have an opportunity to assist our new Archbishop, Gregory Aymond, at a Mass for the candidates and catechumens preparing for entry into the church at the Easter Vigil. This will be my first opportunity to be on the altar with the new Archbishop. And Wednesday brings me back to the prison for a communion service and fellowship. I truly love this prison ministry entrusted to me by God through my Archdiocese. This visit will come after a morning meeting in front of my deanery where I will speak about the ministry. Then Thursday gives me an opportunity to speak about Lent to the students and parents of our 2nd grade school of religion. Friday I will help my brother Knights of Columbus at the fish fry and then Stations of the Cross. On Saturday I will travel to New Orleans to visit with the candidates and wives of our Deacon Class of 2012.
This is a busy week.

As a Deacon a week like this is actually very fulfilling. With new demands on the job, I miss daily Mass and other ministries I can't always do throughout the week. This helps me feel connected to ministry. And it does help me focus on being a Deacon, ministering to people, everyday, where I am at, in the moment.

I hope that those of you who visit this blog pray for me in ministry, and those who do likewise, and be assured of my prayers for all of you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homily for 1st Sunday of Lent February 21, 2010

The Winter Olympics are with us again and I’ve been watching when I can. I really enjoy the speed skating events; particularly short track. I follow the accomplishments of some of the more familiar names, Apolo Ono and Shani Davis.

I came across another name in U.S. speed skating recently, Kristin Holum. Kristin was but a 17 year old, battling exercised induced asthma, competing in the 3,000 meter race in 1998. In her first Olympics, she placed 6th. Quite an accomplishment for a teenager! The sport world predicted a bright future with plenty of medals. Kristin however was hearing another call. This would not be the call of gold medal ceremonies and singing the national anthem. No Kristin’s calling was much loftier than the Olympics.

Kristi never made it to another Olympic Games. Today she goes by the name Sister Catherine, a Franciscan nun serving as a missionary in England after working with inner city youth in the Bronx. Her superior is impressed with her enthusiasm and dedication as a nun and even says she posses the compassion of an angel.

Sister Catherine talks about the temptations she faced as she continued to discern God’s calling for her. Temptation came from the sports world, from family and friends and from herself as she sought to do God’s will. For her, the temptations and challenges were overcome and now she could not be happier.

We all face many temptations in our lives too. Some of them deal with our physical life or our mental state. Yet we also face temptations in our spiritual life too.

As people of faith, what are those temptations we must overcome to do God’s will in our own lives?

In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, on this first Sunday of Lent, Jesus gives us a model to follow. This model is the many temptations of the devil as Jesus retreats to the desert wilderness. For forty days we read that Jesus ate no food so the devil begins with a temptation to appeal to Jesus’ hunger. When Jesus avoids that temptation of the devil he turns his efforts to worldly power instead of the power of God. Again Jesus avoids this temptation as well. Finally, the devil tempts Jesus with an opportunity to exercise a self-directed display of his own power and deny God completely. Again, Jesus perseveres and cast the temptation aside and remains steadfast in following the will of His Father.

This model that Jesus gives us is one we must come to rely on as we face our temptations. Our temptations during Lent are no different than the temptations we face all year long. Perhaps during Lent we are more aware of our own weaknesses in the face of temptation. Perhaps we are focusing in these early days of Lent on the penitential nature of this season. We may be faithfully pursuing our Lenten pledge to give something up or do extra works of mercy. Hopefully, we are aware of our faithful commitment to abstain from meat on the days prescribed and to fast as well. Perhaps we are making a stronger effort to pray more or attend Mass during the week or Stations of the Cross on Friday nights. And we may respond to the call to be particularly generous to the poor and the weak in these days of Lent.

All these things are good and can strengthen us in warding off our temptations. If done, however, for a mere external show, then temptation will still have a fighting chance. Notice where these temptations of Jesus occurred; they were in the desert; far from town, away from the eyes of the people and the religious leaders. Again, Jesus is giving us a model to follow.

Temptation, and sin for that matter, is most completely defeated within the interior disposition of our lives; of our very souls. Just as the temptation of Jesus ended in glory being given to God, so it may be with our own temptations. Temptation need not be a cause for despair, rather an opportunity to exercise our faith and let our love shine through. But the battle over temptation and sin must be won deep within our hearts and our souls; just as Jesus did in the desert.

Where is our desert? It can be our own home; it may be within the structure of our own family. The desert may creep in at our jobs or at school. Our friendships sometimes may feel like a desert. These are just a few of the possibilities where the devil will tempt us. Can we recall this beautiful Scripture reading today when this occurs? This is our challenge as we leave here tonight and face the week ahead.

Over the next few days, aware of our Lenten journey, join me in being more aware of our personal prayer life. How deep is our prayer? How personal is our prayer? Do we pray daily? Join me in a personal assessment of our desire to do penance faithfully and joyfully. If we have given something up for Lent do we understand why? Is it something that I do with joy for God? Do we call undue attention to ourselves because we are fasting or giving something u? Join me in determining if we are doing what we can in giving alms; in helping the needy and the poor? Do we pass up that poor box at the back of church and if we do, can we make a stronger commitment this week to prayerfully consider our contribution? Can we volunteer at a charity that gives a hand up to those in need? Does our prayer life include sincere prayer for the least among us?

And in the week ahead, can we make a personal commitment to visit Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Temptation will still occur. Sin still will enter in. But we have an example today to take with us into the night; the example of Jesus in the desert. And we have an example too in Sister Catherine; who overcome temptations to serve the Lord in the way he was calling her to do! And for that, she deserves a gold medal and it’s a gold medal we all can claim!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lent journeys to Sunday

A reflection for this 1st Sunday of Lent from the Office of Readings:

He(Jesus) made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ, you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained life for you; he suffered insults in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ's temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.

From St. Augustine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Lenten journey reaches its' first weekend

Reflection for Saturday from the Office of Readings:

God created Adam not because he needed man but because he wanted to have someone on whom to bestow his blessings.

Nor did the Lord need our service. He commanded us to follow him, but his was the gift of salvation. To follow the Savior is to share in salvation; to follow the light is to enjoy the light. Those who are in the light do not illumine the light but are themselves illuminated and enlightened by the light. They add nothing to the light; rather, they are beneficiaries, for they are enlightened by the light.

The same is true of service to God: it adds nothing to God, nor does God need the service of man. Rather, he gives life and immortality and eternal glory to those who follow and serve him. He confers a benefit on his servants in return for their service and on his followers in return for their loyalty, but he receives no benefit from them. He is rich, perfect and in need of nothing.

The reason God requires service from man is this: because he is good and merciful he desires to confer benefits on those who persevere in his service. In proportion to God's need of nothing is man's need for communion with God.

This is the glory of man: to persevere and remain in the service of God. For this reason the Lord told his disciples: You did not choose me but I choose you. He meant that his disciples did not glorify him by following him, but in following the Son of God they were glorified by him. As he said: I wish that where I am they also may be, that they may see my glory.

From a treatise Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus. Written in the early 200's.

Lenten Friday Nights in my home town

The first Friday of Lent was another cool crisp day that turned into a downright chilly evening. We have been quite cool, ok, cold, this winter. But we arrive at Lent and the this first Friday brings a myriad of activity at St. Jane's Parish in Abita Springs.

Starting in 1999, our local Knights of Columbus Council debated the merits of staging fish fry dinners at the parish hall. Never having this tradition before, as the Council was brand new, some argued that it would turn into a social event and not be in the spirit of Lent. Others argued that folks had to eat dinner anyway, and meat is off the menu. Provide the dinner, charge a reasonable price and use any profits for the good works of the Council. And yet another argued that attendance at Stations of the Cross could use a boost. After all, for a family to make it back to town for 7 p.m. and feeding the crew may be a challenge.

After that inaugural year, the KC Lenten Fish Fry has become "all that". Yes, it is an event that draws many to socialize. It is even a community event now as many of the customers are non-Catholic friends and neighbors. And yes, it has indeed made attending Stations of the Cross more manageable for some, hence more folks are participating in this important Lenten devotion.

Many argue too that dining on wonderfully prepared fried catfish and shrimp is not much of a sacrifice. Even if this be true, giving up something for Lent or avoiding foods that delight must truly be an interior thing. Some have joked that being from south Louisiana maybe the Church should make us eat meat since seafood and fish is such a favorite thing to eat down here.

In the end, the fish fry dinners will continue for years to come. We all have our own responsibility to adhere to Lenten regulations and offer ourselves from deep within. And yes, it is most commendable to attend the Stations of the Cross.

So if you are ever in the Abita Springs area, north of the lake from New Orleans, come and stop by and enjoy a good Lenten meal. And make time to stop in at Stations of the Cross.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kennedy Catholicism; still disobedient

I marvel at how this Kennedy descendent continues to get such press simply because she is Catholic but prefers her partisan political views over the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

Of course, I'm giving her play here on my own blog. As we journey through Lent together, I still find this worthy to publish. She couches the argument skillfully to discount the truth taught by the church and safeguarding one particular political parties agenda.

She does not care for balance. I for one say yes, cry from the dome of Catholicism for the poor and needy, the immigrant, and yes, for health care that truly promotes the common good and the life, liberty and dignity of all human beings; from conception to natural death.

Ted, Robert and even John may be gone now. Patrick is even retreating. But good ole' Kathleen lives on by bashing the church she claims to love. Love and a church made and shaped in her own image.

And a little warning to those who blow hard politically from the right; know the fullness of truth as taught by Holy Mother Church too. Not all who waive their religious criticism for all to see come from the left!

Religion and politics: Devout Catholic Kathleen Kennedy Townsend still pushing church buttons
By Matthias Gafni
Contra Costa Times

It didn't take long for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to show Saint Mary's College students the renegade Catholic streak that got her blacklisted from religious speaking engagements and condemned by her parish priest.

"I think if you're in love, you should get married," the eldest daughter of Robert Kennedy said Tuesday when asked for her thoughts on same-sex marriage. "I think that's what Christ preached — love. "... So, Hallelujah for the lucky people in California that got the chance to be married."

The 58-year-old former lieutenant governor of Maryland rarely pulls a punch, particularly when discussing her celebrated Irish Catholic roots and frustration with her church's politics. She spoke to a packed Soda Center audience on the Moraga campus Tuesday night and in an earlier Times interview.

"The churches have failed America because they've narrowed faith to three issues: abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research," Townsend said. "And I thought that my faith tradition was we should care about the least among us. We should care about the poor, health care, immigration."

Townsend is spending the week at Saint Mary's College as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She wrote the 2007 book "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way."

"Every progressive movement in the United States has had a religious underpinning and so it's critically important for
those of the progressive ilk to find their religious roots," she said.

However, she has grown increasingly frustrated with Catholicism's political pillars. She wrote in the Nov. 6 issue of Newsweek about her disappointment with Catholic bishops speaking out against health care reform based on the abortion issue.

"Why are we hearing more about abortion and less about immigrants?" she asked. "That's always the criticism that they seem to be more interested in the unborn rather than the people actually here among us.

"I think that the bishops should be galvanizing support for the health care bill. We have 40 million Americans without health care, we should cover them and that's what the bishops should be fighting for and working for and speaking about. That is in St. Matthew's gospel: caring for the least among us."

The church has struck back, denying her speaking engagements at Catholic schools in her home diocese of Baltimore.

"But that happened a while ago and I just realized they are afraid of women," she said with a chuckle. "And it took them 300 years to realize that Galileo was right."

Although she pushes her church for change, Townsend speaks fondly of her devout upbringing. The oldest of 11 siblings, she grew up in a house with Holy Water fonts and paintings of saints in each room, and a grandmother who prayed for parking spaces through St. Anthony.

"This church has very important teachings and has been a great source of comfort and solace to me and to my family in times of sorrow, and there have been many," she said.

"And I'm not going to let them kick me out. I'm an American and I know that institutions don't always work, but I believe in institutions and I want to make this one work."

Lenten reflection on prayer

Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good; it is a partnership and union with God.

Throughout the whole of our lives we may enjoy the benefit that comes from prayer if we devote a great deal of time to it.

Prayer is the light of the spirit, true knowledge of God, mediating between God and man. The spirit, raised up to heaven by prayer, clings to God with the utmost tenderness; like a child crying tearfully for its mother, it craves the milk that God provides. It seeks the satisfaction of its own desires, and receives gifts outweihing the whole world of nature.

Prayer stands before God as an honored ambassador. It gives joy to the spirit, peace to the heart. I speak of prayer, not words. It is the longing for God, love too deep for words, a gift not given by man but by God's grace.

Practice prayer from the beginning. Paint your house with the colors of modesty and humility. Make it radiant with the light of justice. Decorate it with the finest gold leaf of good deeds. Adorn it with the walls and stones of faith and generosity. Crown it with the pinnacle of prayer. In this way you will make it a perfect dwelling place for the Lord. You will be able to receive him as in a splendid palace, and through his grace you will already possess him, his image enthroned in the temple of your spirit.

From Office of Readings for Friday. A homily by St. John Chrysostom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Lenten journey continues...a reflection

Taken from the Office of Readings for tomorrow, Thursday after Ash Wednesday:

From a sermon by Pope Leo the Great, written approximately 450 A.D.

The whole Church rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. It rejoices in the forgiveness not only of those who are reborn in holy baptism but also of those who are already numbered among God's adopted children.

Initially, men are made new by rebirth of baptism. Yet there is still required a daily renewal to repair the shortcomings of our mortal nature, and whatever degree of progress has been made there is no one who should not be more advanced. All must therefore strive to ensure that on the day of redemption no one may be found in the sins of his former life.

Dear friends, what the Christian should be doing at all times should be done now with greater care and devotion, so that the Lenten fast enjoined by the apostles may be fulfilled, not simply by abstinence from food but above all by the renunciation of sin.

There is no more profitable practice as a companion to holy and spiritual fasting than that of almsgiving. This embraces under the single name of mercy many excellent works of devotion, so that the good intentions of all the faithful may be of equal value, even where their means are not. The love that we owe both God and man is always free from any obstacle that would prevent us from having a good intention.

The works of mercy are innumerable. Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part. Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Lenten journey begins...Isaiah on fasting

This is in the Office of Readings for tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the first day of our Lenten journey together:

Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!

Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: that a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quicly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday;

Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

Isaiah 58: 4-11

May our Lenten journey be prayerful, reflective, penetential, fruitful. Let's pray for each other as we seek God's will, discern our calling and prepare with hopeful anticipation for the Easter glory.

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary Seventh Mystery

The 7th Mystery of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is Jesus is placed in the tomb, based on John 19:41-42.

Mary's life is linked so closely to that of her Son that she must have wondered how she would go on as He is laid in the tomb. At least His suffering is over. Our sorrowful mother, with the help of John and the holy women, devoutly placed Jesus' body in the tomb. She returned home in great pain and tremendous sorrow. She was without Him; her loneliness a new and bitter source of pain. While her heart was dying with His heart no longer beating, Mary was certain that our Savior would soon be resurrected.

Beloved Mary, mother of mercy, mother of Jesus, and mother to us all, we are your children and we place our trust in you. Teach us to see God in all things and all situations, even our sufferings. Help us to understand the importance of suffering and to know the purpose of our suffering as God has intended it.

You accepted suffering and pain with love and insurpassed courage. You stood by your son from the time He was arrested until He died. You suffered alongside Him and felt every pain and torment He did.

Teach us to accept our cross courageously. Teach us to sacrifice for all the sinners in the world. Help us to follow in your Son's footsteps, and even be willing to lay down our lives for others.

Mary, who was conceived without sin and suffered for us, pray for us.

One guy's perspective on Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras Day, Fat Tuesday in the Big Easy. All across New Orleans, in the suburbs, on the Gulf Coast and in the cajun communities between Lafayette and Lake Charles it's the last day of the greatest celebration on Earth.

Mardi Gras holds great memories for me as a child because my family always dressed us up and brought us to venerable old St. Charles Avenue to watch the parades of Rex, Elks and Crescent City. For a child, it was exciting. We loved catching plastic throws from revelers riding on floats and decorated trucks. As I grew older, my wife and I, who dated all through high school, used to chase all the parades in an effort to make them all; about 50 during the entire season. As we married and had our own families, we would bring our own children to the parades. For my son, we took in Mardi Gras on the Westbank and for my daughter it would be in downtown Covington.

Now, the children are gone and I for one am very content to watch Mardi Gras through the eyes of the camera. Almost all of the local TV stations carry live coverage of all the festivities and that's good enough for me. Some of my friends understand, others think I'm already an old paw-paw. Both may be true but I love the simplicity of Mardi Gras Day for me.

Yes, I will watch the parades on TV but not as my main focus. Today, I choose to spend time preparing for my Lenten ministries as a Deacon, including a retreat we are doing next month inside the Rayburn prison. I also will begin preparing for my weekend homily for the 1st Sunday of Lent.

Many people across the country really only know Mardi Gras from news reports that show people in the French Quarter doing outrageous things for beads and trinkets. Others believe Mardi Gras is an excuse to be as drunk in public as possible. Let me be clear; these things do happen. But in balance it is far from the whole story.

Mardi Gras is family. It's friends. It's a wholesome celebration. That's why Mardi Gras is growing like crazy in the suburbs and the Northshore and in other places because the majority of the folks don't want excessive drinking and nudity and all the national media focuses on. Why not show the family celebrations on St. Charles, in Metairie, on the Westbank or in places like Covington, Folsom and Lacombe. Don't buy the hype folks; on balance, Mardi Gras is more about the celebration of faith, family and friends.

Did you say faith? Absolutely. Mardi Gras has a religious overtone as it was designed as a celebration to usher in the penetential season of Lent. Mardi Gras is a farewell to the flesh; meat that is and other fine rich food stuffs. Mardi Gras is a way to put all things aside by Fat Tuesday so that beginning on Ash Wednesday we can focus on prayer, penance and fasting.

No place in the world does Mardi Gras like New Orleans and south Louisiana. So today celebrate. Don't get drunk and please keep your clothes on. Make this a day for family and friends and bring your faith along with you today. Enjoy Mardi Gras day and then we will see you tomorrow as we put the ashes on our forehead and from our hearts begin the Lenten season.

Again, I'm reminded this Mardi Gras of those great verses from Ecclesiastis 3 beginning with verse 1: To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heavens. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance...

Happy Mardi Gras everyone and wishing you a marvelously spiritual Lenten season.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Saints, a Coach and his son and Mary

I received this email from one of our Deacons here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and it is too amazing not to pass on. Deacon Eddy serves at the local parish where head coach Sean Payton and his family worship. This is a beautiful story that contributes to the body of evidence that the Saints have a special Catholic connection; from the relationship between the Saints and Archbishop Aymond and Archbishop Hannan, from the prayers of nuns on the Northshore in cloister, to the weekly masses and prayers offered by chaplain Tony Ricard and now this:

Statue of Blessed Virgin Mary carried to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV

New Orleans Saints’ Head Coach Sean Payton and his wife have two children. The Payton’s are members of our Parish, Mary, Queen of Peace (MQP) in Mandeville , LA. , and the children attend Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic School. The Second Grade Children at MQP have a tradition they practice regarding a statue of Mary, Mother of God. During the school year each Second Grade student has the opportunity to bring the statue home for a week to share with their family.

Prior to leaving for Miami and Super Bowl XLIV Sean Payton’s son, a Third Grade student at MQP, recalling the Second Grade tradition, requested permission to take the Second Grade student’s Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with him and his family as they traveled to the Super Bowl. Once obtaining the permission of the Second Grade Students, Coach Payton’s son obtained the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which Coach Payton placed in the Saints’ Locker Room at Sun Life Stadium during the game.

Earlier in the year, on the Friday before the Monday Night Game (Monday, November 2, 2009) in the Super Dome against the Atlanta Falcons, MQP School held a fundraiser for our Youth Director’s Family. Our Youth Director and her husband have five children, the youngest, at 8-months, had been diagnosed with cancer and had been hospitalized for several months. The fundraiser was a flag football game between the students and faculty. The students had been practicing and were more organized, having their own coaching staff and played together in several games. The faculty was not as organized and lacked the know-how of an experienced coaching staff.

Coach Payton, with the New Orleans Saints six-game winning streak on the line and poised to step onto the national spotlight on Monday night spent Friday afternoon at the MQP Fundraiser coaching the faculty. When the game ended the students had prevailed and Coach Sean Payton’s MQP Faculty Team had lost a closely contested gridiron battle, all in the best interest of giving. Following the Game the faculty and student body at MQP gathered around Coach Payton and let him know that this was the only game he could lose all year!

I hope you enjoyed reading these two stories about the Sean Payton Family as much as I have enjoyed sharing them.

Deacon Eddy Beckendorf

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary 6th Mystery

The sixth mystery of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is Mary receives the dead body of Jesus, based on John 19:38-40.

The friends of Jesus, Jospeh and Nicodemus, took down his body from the cross and placed it in the outstretched arms of the Blessed Virgin. Mary held her son with deep respect and love because she is his mother. She knows he is God incarnate who had taken a human body to become the Savior of the world.

Mary could see all of Jesus' wounds; both from the crucifixion and from his flogging. His body was lacerated with gaping wounds crisscrossing him from head to toe. She was horrified at the thought that her son managed to carry the heavy, splintered cross all the way to Calvary. She saw the circle of blood the crown of thorns had made on his forehead. Looking at her broken boy, the Holy Mother knew that his agonizing death was far worse than the torture reserved for the wickedest of criminals. She must have remembered the first look she had at her newborn baby lying in the manger and now she is holding his lifeless body. She was preparing her son and Lord for burial becoming the true Queen of Martyrs.

Mary prayed for every soul to embrace God's love so her son's torturous death would benefit all humankind and not have been in vain. Mary prayed for the world; she prayed for all of us.

We thank you Beloved Mother for your courage as you stood beneath your dying child to comfort him on the cross. You became a wonderful mother to all of us; you became the Blessed Mother of the world. We thank you for Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, and we thank Jesus for giving you to us. Please pray for us Mother.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary 5th Mystery

I have been posting the mysteries of the Seven Sorrows of Mary over the past week or so and pick it up today with the 5th Sorrowful Mystery: Mary stands at the foot of the Cross, based on John 19:25-27.

The Blessed Virgin Mary climbs the mount to Calvary, following behind her Son. She saw his pain, his falls, witnessed his beatings and insults. Mary deeply felt her son's pain and humiliation. The Blessed Mother felt sick at heart seeing these soldiers crucifying her son, beaten and naked, shaming him in front of the jeering crowd. Her pain was beyond bearing as Jesus was stretched out on the cross. The soldiers approached with hammer and nails and spiked him to the cross. They sat on him so he could not move. Mary felt the blows in her heart as the nails piercing her as they tore into her son's body.

The cross was lifted into place and was deliberately thrust into the hole, causing the force of Jesus' bodily weight to tear through the flesh of his hands and expose bone. Three excruciating hours he suffered on the cross, knowing the agony and heartache suffered bu his Mother.

Beloved Mother, Queen of Martyrs, give us the courage you had in all your sufferings so that we may unite our sufferings with yours and give glory to God.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is there really a Saint Valentine?

Everyone is getting ready for Valentine's Day although down here in New Orleans it is Mardi Gras and Saints celebration week. Every 14th of February we are deluged with images of what we as a people have done to this day. Commercials with all things romantic as the media and the merchants have their way with our emotions and feelings.

The world tells me I really don't love my wife unless I purchase an expensive card, roses that miraculously cost much more today than any other day of the year, and spring for a romantic, and yes, expensive dinner. Oh, she's worth it; but why do I have to be told what day to do it.

In the official Dictionary of Saints, there he is: St. Valentine. He was a Priest in Rome and also a doctor. He was beheaded there under the rule of Claudius on Febraury 14, 269. There are confusing records that also refer to a Bishop Valentine from Terni about 60 miles from Rome. The most likely explanation was that Valentine was indeed a Priest in the Terni region, elevated to the office of Bishop and sentenced to die for his Christian witness. He would have been brought to Rome for the execution.

The custom of sending Valentine greetings on February 14th stems from a medieval belief that birds began to pair on that day.

The Dictionary of Saints also identifies another St. Valentine, a 5th century abbot and missionary Bishop, who died on January 7th.

I have often wondered why I never hear of St. Valentine in the Proper of Saints when reading through the Divine Office and it just seems that St. Valentine shares a feast day with two other prominent Saints, Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

So again, when the rest of the world celebrates Valentines Day the way the world tells them to do so, remember, this is a Catholic Saints feast day.

Homily for 6th Sunday O.T./February 14, 2010

The seeds were planted about this time last year. A decision was made; this year will be different. One by one, the seeds went into the ground: a new defensive coach, a revamped game plan on both offense and defense, the acquisition of new defensive starters, another draft of college players and a work ethic that was evident months before training camp. Seeds planted that produced a bountiful harvest: a team that was coming together in preseason workouts, early success in the exhibition season and then that first win, 3-0, 5-0, 8-0, before we knew it, those seeds produced a crop of 13-0. Yes, there were a few setbacks along the way, but the seeds were fertilized and cultivated and 13-3 led to victory #1 in the playoffs, then #2 and before we knew it; Super Bowl. And the crop was not harvested until the final result was world champions; Super Bowl victory for the New Orleans Saints.

Seeds planted are capable of producing good fruit; a bountiful harvest. The seeds we have planted in our lives have borne good fruit in our jobs, our careers, our family life, even our spiritual life.

As people of faith, are we aware of the seeds planted in our lives by God? Do we strive to grow from these seeds to become that bountiful harvest God wants each of us to be?

The seeds we hear about today in Luke’s Gospel come from what is called the Sermon on the Plain. We may be more familiar with the phrase Sermon on the Mount but that’s from St. Matthew’s Gospel. In Luke’s Gospel today we hear Jesus planting seeds: Blessed are you who are poor, Blessed are you who are hungry, Blessed are you who are weeping, Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude and hate you. These are the seeds Jesus is planting. These are the seeds that will produce a great harvest. Doesn’t sound like it does it?

Jesus gives us His promise in the Sermon on the Plain. The harvest will be: the kingdom of God, satisfaction, laughing, rejoicing, leaping for joy. Why? Because the final harvest is: a reward great in Heaven! He has promised it and He will deliver. For our part, we just need to cooperate and allow these seeds, planted deep within us to grow and prosper.

One of the seeds planted in us is the “poor in Spirit” seed. This has less to do with our particular financial position at any given time but more about our attitude concerning material things. Do we depend on material things too much; do we depend on man for our well being? Or, do we put our hope and trust in God; the One who plants the seed to begin with, who will always be the source of our well being.

The “weeping” seed is not that we be sad or depressed, even when we have reason to be so, it is to be aware of our true sorrow for sin. It is the seed that produces sympathy and empathy with others as opposed to anger and hate. It still may feel like grief, but it will be grief without a sense of condemnation.

The seed for meekness; when we are hated and insulted, that seed invites us to be slow with anger and rich in charity. It invites us to be truly counter-cultural. We need only to follow the example of Jesus to be meek.

That “hungry” seed has little to do with food or drink. This is hungering for righteousness, mercy and purity of heart.

These seeds, if allowed to grow and bear fruit, to produce a bountiful harvest; will be fully known to us when we arrive in Heaven. Through the grace of Jesus Christ and our cooperation with His grace we will see fully that perfect, bountiful harvest.

What seeds already planted deep within us do we need to nurture right now? Today is St. Valentine’s Day, and it is also World Marriage Day. If your vocation is the married state, that seed is to love and care and nurture your spouse. That seed is to be open to the family God wants you to have and love and nurture your children. And that seed is for each of our families to be the domestic church in our own homes.

In the days ahead, we will begin the penitential season of Lent. Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and beginning this Friday, we offer the devotion of the Stations of the Cross here in the Church. Is that seed planted in you calling you to greater devotion in the Lenten season upon us? Is that seed in need of daily Mass, attending the Stations, being open to more frequent confession and deeper personal reflection?

These are just a few opportunities God has placed before us right here, right now. Remember, the seed is planted and the grace of Christ nurtures the seed. It still needs our cooperation.

The seeds were planted last year. A decision was made. The seed was beginning to grow and bear fruit. Cooperation was needed. Each member of the team could help to produce a bountiful harvest or not. We now know the results. We are just one week removed from that Super Bowl victory of our New Orleans Saints; and we remember how oh so good this feels.

The victory waiting for us is so much more important. The victory is eternal happiness among that bountiful harvest.

The seed is planted; the seed is ready to grow.

A decision needs to be made; cooperation is required.

The victory is ours!

Friday, February 12, 2010

C'mon New Orleans; let's forgive Peyton Manning

Much has been made about the end of the Super Bowl and the quick disappearing act by Peyton Manning. The traditional visit near midfield between opposing starting QB's with the big handshake never happened.

Peyton explained a couple of things that just don't wash. He claims the moment was that belonging to the Saints and the set up for the post game celebration was well underway. While both statements are true, the film shows Manning making no effort whatesoever to even glance at the field and find Drew Brees. In fact, locker room reports state that Manning, along with Reggie Wayne, both New Orleanians, were the first to make it inside.

All this being said, Manning made a mistake. Manning exercised poor judgement. But Manning did not wipe away a lifetime of being from New Orleans, a supporter of his hometown and an all around pretty nice guy. As Saints fans, as New Orleanians, as spiritual people, should we not forgive and move on. After all, Drew Brees has, the Saints have and we should too.

Let's move on people. Can't we focus more time on our 1st Super Bowl victory? And should we not take our lead from our conquering heroes themselves?

I would encourage some in the media, not all just some, to lay off. Peyton Manning will have plenty of opportunities to comment on his mistake, if he chooses to. I can't remember if it was Ellen or Oprah where Drew said its a non issue. In fact, he and Peyton have spoken and all is well.

As New Orleanians euphoric with our Saints Super Bowl reality, we want even Peyton, who just led his team in defeat, who threw the game changing interception, to take off his competitors hat, remove his allegiance to his team, the Colts, and belt out a who dat or a geaux Saints. Maybe we are asking too much.

So for now, I hope Peyton will address the situation, let us know how he feels about New Orleans, and we will say forgiven big guy. And then, let's redirect all our focus on the fact that we won the Super Bowl baby. And that's good enough for me!

Meet the cast for the new M*A*S*H

Enjoy Saints fans; this is priceless:
Originally Published: February 9, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV meets "M*A*S*H"Comment Email Print Share By Shane Igo

While some people were surprised by the two-touchdown Saints victory over the Colts on Sunday, many were just as astonished at the game's television rating -- topping the 1983 finale of "M*A*S*H" to become the most-watched program in U.S. television history.

Page 2 believes there is more to this than meets the eye. Upon closer examination of Sunday's theatrics, we think the characters and storylines of Super Bowl XLIV nearly mirror those involved in "M*A*S*H." Thus, Page 2 presents the following "M*A*S*H"-up consisting of Super Bowl XLIV figures cast as iconic "M*A*S*H" characters.

Garrett Hartley as "Radar" O'Reilly
Like O'Reilly, the place-kicker for the Saints seems to have an extra sense about him. Hartley called his dad at 2:15 a.m. the morning before the NFC Championship Game reporting he had a vision of himself kicking the game-winning field goal. Well, we all know how that prediction turned out -- in fact, it was just as good as all three 40-plus-yard field goals Hartley nailed during the Super Bowl.

Father R. Tony Ricard (Saints chaplain)/Father Peter Gallagher (Colts chaplain) as Father Mulcahy
It appears that the man upstairs was partial to Father Ricard and the Saints, but check out this interesting piece on both team chaplains.

Peyton Manning as Frank Burns
Before heading to the battlefield, Burns apparently had a long apprenticeship under his father -- sound familiar? And guess where Burns honed his craft? In Indiana. Like Burns, Manning is a stickler for preparation and protocol, as evidenced by his no-nonsense Super Bowl week routine.

Kim Kardashian as "Hot Lips" Houlihan
Hot Lips' affections were just as hotly contested on "M*A*S*H" as the battle over the 38th Parallel. Kardashian's popularity nearly parallels Houlihan's. And, Kardashian's most notable attribute lies just beyond the "38" mark (her measurements reportedly are 34-26-39).

Drew Brees as "Hawkeye" Pierce
Known for his near-surgical ability to dissect defenses, Brees -- like Pierce -- is one of the best at what he does. Also, just as Pierce was the spiritual leader of the war-torn 4077th, Brees has become the spiritual leader of the city of New Orleans. Brees isn't a Hawkeye, though, as he hails from another Big Ten school, Purdue. But there is a connection there, as Pierce was known to boast his own boilermaker contraption in his tent to make homemade booze.

Sean Payton as Henry Blake
As evidenced by his college sweater, Blake was an Illinois alum. Payton hails from Naperville, Ill., and has University of Illinois ties as well -- he was an assistant QB coach there in 1996. Also, both like to gamble -- Blake was often seen playing poker, and Payton's gambling nature was on display Sunday with his fourth-and-goal and onside-kick calls.

Jeremy Shockey as "Trapper" John
After three seasons, the actor who portrayed Trapper, Wayne Rogers, was growing tired of the fact his character was being treated as a sidekick to Hawkeye. So he aired his grievances and left the show, similar to how Shockey voiced his criticisms of Eli Manning when he was with the Giants and eventually got traded to the Saints. Evidently, Trapper earned his nickname by "trapping" some nurses, and Shockey's behavior didn't dissuade the likes of Tara Reid, Vida Guerra and Joumana Samaha (Jason Kidd's ex-wife).

Mark Brunell as B.J. Hunnicutt
Just as B.J. served as a second-stringer to Hawkeye, Brunell serves as a backup to Brees. Also, both Hunnicutt and Brunell hail from California wine regions (Hunnicutt from Mill Valley, and Brunell from Santa Maria).

Lance Moore as Maxwell Klinger
Both proudly hail from Toledo, Ohio -- Moore was an undrafted free agent out of University of Toledo when the Saints picked him up in 2005. Also, not to accuse Moore of any Klinger-like cross-dressing tendencies, but Moore does sport some rather large, lady-like diamond earrings in his team photo.

Reginald Alfred "Reggie" Bush II as Charles Emerson Winchester III
Winchester was a Harvard-educated surgeon -- Bush was bred at one of the nation's elite football schools, USC. Plus, there's the whole long-names thing.

Hank Baskett as the short-lived guest star appearing on his deathbed
Baskett looked as if a bomb had detonated in his hands after he dropped that onside kick. To add insult to injury, Baskett's bombshell wife, Kendra Wilkinson, ran out of the stadium in tears after the game.

New Orleans' streets post-Super Bowl celebration as the location of "The Swamp"
Home to Hawkeye, Trapper, B.J., Charles and Frank, The Swamp always seemed to be littered with debris -- including various discarded drinking paraphernalia, similar to that of Bourbon Street.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

There is a beautiful stained glass window in my home parish church, St. Jane de Chantal in Abita Springs, La, of St. Bernadette encountering our Lady at Lourdes. In Latin is written her powerful declaration, "I am the Immaculate Conception".

It was 1858 when young Bernadette spotted the lady in the lovely white dress with a bright belt. She was in a cave near the river. a feeling came over Bernadette that made her unable to move her arms but she managed a sign of the cross and began praying the rosary. When she stopped, Mary disappeared.

Mary asked Bernadette to return to the spot every day for 15 days. She was also instructed to tell the priests of the area to build a chapel there. Mary also instructed Bernadette to drink from the stream which she mistook as the river which was evident to her. Mary instead led Bernadette to the tiniest stream of water from which she did indeed drink. It is this flow of water that to this very day are the healing waters of Lourdes.

Mary also asked Bernadette to pray for the conversion of sinners before declaring herself the Immaculate Conception.

Through this humble girl and blessed encounter, Mary calls sinners to conversion and has enkindled in the Church a great zeal for prayer and charity, especially service to the poor and sick.

Hail Mary, full of grace!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Saints celebration

Today the Church gives us the feast in honor of St. Scholastica; the twin sister of St. Benedict. Scholastica was extremely close to her twin brother and followed in his footsteps as a religious. She founded and was abbess of a convent not far from Monte Cassino, the location of Benedict's monastery.

She is considered the first of the Benedictine nuns.

One of the beautiful stories about St. Scholastica comes from the writings of St. Gregory. He reports that one evening Scholastica visits Benedict, who had strict rules for the prayer flow of each day. When he encouraged his twin sister to return to the convent and end their visit, she prayed for a way to stay and talk with her brother through the night. And a fierce thunderstorm erupted, preventing her from leaving her brother til the next day.

Only three days later, she died. Gregory reports that at the moment of her death, Benedict was gazing from a window in the general direction of his sister's convent. Benedict is said to have seen a dove, rising from the convent heavenward.

He praised God in prayer for the life of his sister and sent for her body which he placed in a grave he would come to share with her. She died in the year 543 and her feast day was established as February 10th.

Locally, our Archdiocese honors Scholastica with the name of an all girls high school in Covington, right down the road from where I live. Benedictines still serve there and one of the Priests from St. Jospeh Abbey serves as their chaplain.

St. Scholastica pray for us!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Orleans: you look wonderful tonight!!!

Amazing; absolutely amazing! New Orleans is shining tonight and it just may be her finest hour. The celebration she is hosting right now is more than just a parade or a celebration of the Saints winning their 1st Super Bowl. It is a resounding statement that she is back and her people are strong and no body, and I mean nobody, can celebrate like New Orleans.

The Saints are being honored for their world championship with a Mardi Gras parade that quite frankly is making all past Super Bowl parades look kind of lame. This thing has energy; this thing is fun. But amazingly, there is something more spectacular going on in New Orleans.

Tonight, black and white, Asian and Hispanic, old and young, rich and poor are standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowd that will probably rival any past Mardi Gras celebration and are doing so with joy and pride. A football team, one that we have loved to hate at times in the past, has taught us remarkable lessons about ourselves. Lessons of hope and perseverance and can do and yes, we are winners! New Orleans can learn from our Saints that hard work pays off, never giving up is the way to go and raising your arms as champions is WHO we are!

I believe that this great feeling that comes to us from the Super Bowl championship will last for quite some time. Let's pray that coupled with the recent elections in New Orleans and the continued recovery this Saints victory will give all of us that big extra we need to embrace our championship status.

New Orleans: tonight you look wonderful; this is your finest hour as a city. And so what if it comes from the victory of a truly heroic and decent and wonderful football team we know as the Saints. Four and a half years ago when I, like so many of you, pondered the future of New Orleans; when we doubted its' survivability, I never thought I could say this: you kinda feel sorry tonight for the rest of America; there not in New Orleans tonight.

Thank you New Orleans Saints for the victory and for bringing a city, region and state to this moment of sheer ecstasy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Still celebrating Saints; and she is a marvelous one!

St. Josephine Bakhita - February 8

Today is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita! She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and is the only canonized saint from Sudan. The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869. This African flower, who knew the anguish of kidnapping and slavery, bloomed marvelously in Italy, in response to God's grace, with the Daughters of Charity, where everyone still calls her "Mother Moretta" (our Black Mother").

Bakhita was not the name she received from her parents at birth. The fright and the terrible experience she went through made her forget the name her parents gave her. Bakhita, which means "fortunate", was the name given to her by her kidnappers.

Sold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, she experienced the physical and moral humiliations and sufferings of slavery. In the Sudanese capital, Bakhita was bought by an Italian consul, Callisto Legnani. For the first time since the day she was kidnapped, she realized with pleasant surprise that no one used the lash when giving her orders; instead, she was treated with love and cordiality. In the consul's residence Bakhita experienced peace, warmth and moments of joy, eventhough veiled with nostalgia for her own family whom, perhaps, she had lost forever.

The political situation forced the consul to leave for Italy. Bakhita asked and obtained permission to go with him and a friend of his, a certain Mr. Augusto Michieli. On their arrival in Genoa, Mr. Legnani, at the request of Mr. Michieli's wife, agreed to leave Bakhita with them. She followed the new "family", which settled in Zianigo, near Mirano Veneto.

When their daughter Mimmina was born, Bakhita became her babysitter and friend. The acquisition and management of a large hotel in Suakin on the Red Sea forced Mrs. Michieli to move to Suakin to help her husband. Meanwhile, on the advice of their administrator, Mimmina and Bhakita were entrusted to the Canossian Sisters of the Institute of Catechumens in Venice.

It was there that that Bakhita came to know about God, whom "she had experienced in her heart without knowing who he was" since she was a child. "Seeing the sun, the moon and the stras, I said to myself: who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage...".

After several months in the catechumenate, Bakhita received the sacraments of Christian initiation and was given a new name, Josephine. It was 9 January 1890. She did not know how to express her joy that day. Her big and expressive eyes sparkled, revealing deep emotions. From then on, she was often seen kissing the baptismal font and saying: "Here, I became a daughter of God!".

When Mrs. Michieli returned from Africa to take her daughter and Bakhita, the latter, with unusual firmness and courage, expressed her desire to remain with the Canosian Sisters and to serve that God who had shown her so many proofs of his love. The young African, who by then had come of age, enjoyed the freedom of choice which Italian law garanteed.

Bakhita remained in the catechumenate where she experienced the call to be a religious and to give herself to the Lord in the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa. On 8 December 1896 Josephine Bakhita was consecrated forever to God, whom she called by the sweet name of "the Master!". For the next 50 years this humble Daughter of Charity, a true witness to the love of God, lived in the Schio community, involved in various services: cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door.

When she was on duty at the door, she would gently lay her hands on the heads of the children who daily attended the Canossian schools and caress them. Her amicable voice, which had the infection and rhythm of music of her country, was pleasing to the little ones, comforting to the poor and suffering and encouraging to those who knocked at the institute's door.

Her humility, simplicity and constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. Her sisters in the community esteemed her for her constant sweet nature, exquisite goodness and deep desire to make the Lord known. "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who not know him. What a great grace it is to know God!", she said.

As she grew older she expereinced long, painful years of sicjkness. Mother Bakhita continued to witness to faith, goodness and Christian hope. To those who visited her and asked how she was, she would respond with a smile: "As the Master desires". During her agony, she relived the terrible days of her slavery and more than once begged the nurse who assisted her: "Please, loosen the chains...they are heavy!".

Last Words

It was Blessed Mary who freed her from pain. Her last words were: Our Lady! Our Lady!", and her final smile testified to her encounter with the Lord's Mother.

Mother Bakhita breathed her last on 8 February 1947 at the Canossian convent in Schio, surrounded by the sisters. A crowd quickly gathered at the convent to have a last look at their "Mother Moretta" and ask for her protection from heaven. The fame of her sanctity has spread to all the continents and many receive graces through her intercession.

Josephine Bakhita was beatified on 17 May 1992, and Canonized on 1 October 2000.


Saints not only beat Colts but smash M*A*S*H*

The New Orleans Saints continue to post most impressive victories. After handling the Colts last night to win the Super Bowl, and in convincing fashion, they are now being credited with beating the ever popular MASH TV program for the most watched TV program in the history of television.

Since 1983, the greatest viewed TV show was the finale of MASH, one of the greatest series of all times. I vividly still remember watching that finale. It was brilliant; it was emotional and the end of MASH felt like a great loss for her fans. It is an amazing testament to the staying power of MASH that this record has endured 27 years.

Alan Alda, the star of the show who played the role of Hawkeye Pierce, took notice of the record breaking TV viewership of last night's game and credits the Saints. In other words, 106.5 million viewers were not tuning in to see Indianapolis. Alda believes it was the Saints and the feel good story of a city on the mend that pumped up viewership.

Alda said, "I'm happy for New Orleans and I hope it gives even more to cheer about to a city I love." Notice; he mentions New Orleans and New Orleans alone.

Is it possible we could say, move over Dallas; the real "America's team" is the New Orleans Saints? I think so.

So another record is added to the record breaking year of the NFL Super Bowl World Champions; the New Orleans Saints.

By the way, a big victory parade is tomorrow in the heart of New Orleans. Unlike other bland victory parades across the country, this will be a grand Mardi Gras celebration of floats and throws and bands and a route that stretches about 5 + miles through the C.B.D.

I think I'll get off the computer now and go watch the Super Bowl again. I just love the ending!

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary; the 4th Mystery

The fourth mystery of the seven Sorrows Rosary is Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary, based on Luke 23:27-31.

Mary witnessed Jesus carrying the heavy cross alone-the cross on which he was to be crucified. She was not surprised because she knew about the approaching death of our Lord, her Lord. Noting how her son was already weakened by the numerous hard blows given by the soldiers' clubs, she was filled with anguish at his pain. He fell, exhausted, unable to raise himself. At that moment, Mary's eyes, so full of tender love and compassion, met her son's eyes, which were pained and covered in blood. Their hearts seemed to be sharing the load; every pain he felt, she felt as well. They knew they had to believe and trust in God and dedicate their suffering to Him. All they could do was put everything in God's hands.

Beloved Mother, so stricken with grief, help us to bear our own suffering with courage and love so that we may relieve your sorrowful heart and that of Jesus. In doing so, may we give glory to God who gave you and Jesus to humanity. Grant us the grace of loving God in everything. Have mercy on the sinners of the whole world.

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary; the Third Mystery

The Third Mystery of this beautiful devotion is the loss of Jesus in the Temple; based on Luke 2:41-52.

Jesus is the only begotten son of God but he is also the son of Mary. The Blessed Virgin loved Jesus more than herself because he is her son and her God. When Mary lost Jesus on their way back from Jerusalem, the world became so big and lonely that she believed she couldn't go on living without him, so great was her sorrow.

As the Holy Mother looked anxiously for her beloved boy, deep pain welled in her heart. She blamed herself, asking why she didn't take greater care of him. But it was not her fault; Jesus no longer needed her protection as before. What really hurt Maary was that her son decided to stay behind without her consent. Jesus had pleased her in everything so far; he would never displease his parents. She knew that he always did what was necessary so she never suspected him of being disobedient.

Beloved Mother, teach us to accept all our sufferings because of our sins and to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Persevering in Faith; truly believing! Geaux Saints

You know how big this must be when I can't sleep at 3:45 in the morning. You know how big this must be when I still have not decided if I'm going to work or not. You know how big this must be when I'm thinking about taking off to New Orleans Tuesday to watch the Saints parade.

When the moment came, I was remarkably calm. When it was official I was more emotional and overwhelming content than jumping up and down crazy. I prefered a quiet night watching the game with my wife over all party invitations. And when it was over, I simply wanted to soak up the local TV coverage of the party in New Orleans.

The game itself was pretty damn exciting although after spotting a 10 point lead to the Colts I grew nervous. After a season of knowing the Saints could overcome deficits, I was wary of giving Peyton Manning a big lead. But here they come. FG's by the hero of the NFC championship, Garrett Hartley was straight and true on 3 of 3 attempts. The defense started getting the Colts out of sync and all of a sudden Sean Payton is dialing up the gutsy onsides kick. Pierre Thomas is running wild for a skillful TD and then we have Jeremy Schockey realizing Super Bowl redemption with a TD pass from Drew Brees. And then another gutsy call; a 2 point converion that, after further review, was good thanks to an incredible effort by Lance Moore. And oh by the way; the Saints are sporting a 7 point lead with 5 minutes to go.

Here comes the Colts. But the defense has done it all year and tonight will be no different. The great Peyton Manning fired a bullet but Saint hero Tracey Porter stepped in front, made a clean interception and was off to the races. What made the pick-6 even more sweeter was DL Wil Smith blocking Manning who fell to his knees. With 3 minutes left, it's Saints up by 14. And from there, the Colts could do little but get close but ran out of downs and time allowing the Saints offense to cap the game in the victory formation.

I managed to stay awake until 12:30 a.m. as I watched the coverage of the bedlam in New Orleans. It was a celebration fit for a city and a people who have overcome Katrina, overcome our shortfalls and have remained loyal to their football team. Make no mistake, the Saints are owned by the Benson family, but they belong to the people of New Orleans, the region, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Many fans, no matter what, have been loyal through terrible seasons and terrible coaches. They persevered in faith and always believed. Many of us, who truly love the Saints, have expressed doubts; kind of a defense mechanism to endure lean years. When the Saints lost to Tampa Bay this year; I even declared them overrated for a 13 win team. On that Sunday afternoon, I sincerely believed that. I worried that maybe they were in a year end swoon that might not allow them to advance far in the playoffs. I WAS WRONG.

The Saints crushed the Cardinals and survived the Vikings. And the Super Bowl hype began, with very few NFL experts willing to go against Peyton Manning and the Colts. The betting line never moved toward the Saints. But all of that matters little now. The Saints have won the Super Bowl. For all we have endured, for all that may or may not happen going forward, forever and ever, we can say that the New Orleans Saints are the World Champions of NFL football by virtue of winning the 44th edition of the Super Bowl.

I'm so glad to have witnessed this day for myself but more importantly for those who love the Saints in ways I could never describe to the rest of the world. And for the city who deserves such happiness. And for a team and ownership who found a way to stay here after Katrina and build a winner; a Super Bowl winner.

It may take some time, but we will float back to earth soon. We will continue to tackle all the tough issues that are uniquely ours. We will buckle down at work and school and try hard to move into these months ahead that give us little to no football.

But early this morning, on a dark and cold February 8th, 2010, with little to no hope of any meaningful sleep in the next few hours, I'm so content and happy to just say thank you Saints.

The New Orleans Saints are the best football team in the land; and the City of New Orleans is happy and satisfied and coming back. And we as a people are full of pride tonight in the heroic athletic accomplishments of the Saints.

I hope you share my joy and at least can feel good for the great people of New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Smile on from Heaven Mom, Uncle Tiny, Uncle Jimmy and all you faithful Saints fans who watched the Saints with the Saints from above. We're ecstatic down here as we declare: Super Bowl champs New Orleans Saints!!! Who Dat; We Dat!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Editorial says it all: Thank you Saints

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune
February 07, 2010, 10:15PM
Years from now, when the memories of Sunday begin to fade, New Orleans Saints fans will still remember where they were when cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and returned the ball 70 yards for the decisive touchdown of Super Bowl XLIV.

MICHAEL DeMOCKER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNELarry Rolling of Covington, the sign man, and other Saints fans celebrate Sunday's win. As the score flashed 31-17 and the game clock ticked away, Who Dat chants began to fall like a shower over Sun Life Stadium in Miami and fans across metro New Orleans screamed, hugged and cried -- free at last from 43 years of frustrations.

The Saints, our lovable underdogs, are world champions.

New Orleans native Peyton Manning and the Colts played their hearts out. But they were no match for a squad that through this miraculous season carried the aura of a team of destiny. Fans across our metro area, the state and the nation can't express how proud we are of quarterback Drew Brees, the Super Bowl's most valuable player, and the rest of the team.

But this is especially gratifying for Southeast Louisiana residents. Sunday's game was about much more than Xs and Os for us, because since Hurricane Katrina the Saints are much more than just a football team -- they are a civic cause. The storm transformed our region into a metaphor for despair and tragedy in the eyes of the world, but the Saints gave us reason for optimism. They embodied our resilience and our unity. That's priceless for a region still in recovery.

"For the first time in almost four years, I finally feel whole again," wrote fan Latoya Melancon, speaking for all of us.

Coach Sean Payton said it best as he hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy: "Everybody back in New Orleans gets a piece of this trophy."

Building an NFL championship team is a gargantuan undertaking. It requires vision and resources, the right mix of talent, serendipity and a dedication to be the best. Thirty-two franchises try every year, as the Saints had done unsuccessfully for more than four decades. But those past failures, monumental at times, are forever redeemed by last night's triumph.

Owner Tom Benson, owner/executive vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc, general manager Mickey Loomis, Coach Payton and everyone in the Saints organization deserve congratulations and heartfelt thanks.

Metro residents resolved to rebuild better after the storm and we remain a work in progress. But the Saints' success at reinventing themselves shows we can do it.

"Louisiana . . . and New Orleans is back," Mr. Benson said last night. "And it's showed the whole world."

Yes it has.

Saints getting some national love from WSJ

From the WSJ: the headline says Saints flatten Payton and Colts.

Wait—does the entire country get the day off, or is it just New Orleans? It's everyone, right?

.C'mon! It should be. With Sunday night's epic and joyous 31-17 Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, the New Orleans Saints bandwagon will now stop and pick up the rest of America. Mardi Gras is now a permanent state, and you're all expected on Bourbon Street within the next 72 hours, or you're fired. The Winter Olympics just announced they'd like to delay until June, and they'd like to hold speed skating at the Superdome.

Did you really believe? Are you Faux Geaux, or Who Dat from the womb? Did you ever own a grocery bag that spelled "Saints" with a missing S? Can you correctly pronounce "Bobby Hebert"?

Does it matter? Absolutely not. Once tragically late to New Orleans, a nation wants to move in and establish residency. The Saints are unquestionably America's team. Stand down, Jerry Jones.

"We just believed in ourselves," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who finished with 288 yards passing and two touchdown throws and won the game's MVP award. "We knew we had an entire city and maybe an entire country behind us."

What surely makes this first Super Bowl championship sweet for the Saints is that they knocked out a heavyweight. The Colts were unquestionably the favorite headed into Super Bowl XLIV. Indianapolis had a 16-2 record, a league-MVP quarterback in Peyton Manning, and a ruthless mean streak. They weren't swayed by New Orleans' sentimental story. They were out to win, maybe big.

For a moment, that looked possible. The Colts screamed to a 10-0 lead before most of Who Dat Nation had even gotten its black and gold beads on. We began to worry for New Orleans. It had been a joyous fortnight for the revitalized city, and a shredding by the Colts would have hurt worse than the nastiest Fat Tuesday hangover.

More on Twitter
Follow Jason Gay at
.But the Saints responded forcefully. A pair of field goals narrowed the score to 10-6 at halftime. After The Who played a spirited medley of ancient druid songs at halftime, Saints head coach Sean Payton gambled with an onside kick to open the second half. The Saints recovered, then marched to a touchdown and a 13-10 lead.

The Colts jabbed right back. It was textbook Indy—as if Mr. Manning had seen the Saints fans dancing in their chairs and snarled, "What part of 'My name is Peyton Manning' did you guys not hear?" He shuttled the Colts downfield for a score and a 17-13 lead.

A third field goal by Garrett Hartley of the Saints cut the margin to 17-16. At this point, the defenses of both teams were looking like they may have snuck into Saturday night's Playboy Party on South Beach to see the Black Eyed Peas. Mr. Brees piloted the Saints back down the field, tossing a two-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter. A two-point conversion made it 24-17.

At this point, we half expected to look over on the sideline and see Mr. Manning coolly smoking a cigarette. Fourth-quarter comebacks are his speciality, of course, and on the wall of his home are the heads of NFL head coaches who left him too much time on the clock to mercilessly operate.

But there would be no Manning magic on this night. The Colt mounted a promising drive, but with 3:12 left, a New Orleans cornerback named Tracy Porter—born in Port Allen, La.—leapt in front of a pass from Mr. Manning and skipped 74 yards for a touchdown. Game over. Not even Mr. Manning was going to stop the party.

You know who really stole this year's Super Bowl? Fans. Pro football's extravagant curtain-closer gets flak for being a plutocrat-stuffed, expense-account corporate-fest. But this year, thanks to Who Dat Nation—and yes, Colts Nation—the proceedings throughout South Florida had a populist flair.

And you know what's the craziest part of all? It's Monday after the Super Bowl, and we still have no idea who it is that said they were going to beat those Saints.

Or something like that. Like you, we need to get back down to New Orleans and learn how to say it properly.


Too excited to post but let's declare it for all to hear:



New Orleans Saints playing football on Super Bowl Sunday

From the time I was a young boy until now I have watched almost every Super Bowl. Believe it or not, I missed a few back in the day because when the earliest Super Bowls were in New Orleans, the games were blacked out on TV. Then there was the years that I traveled for the Jaycees and actually missed a Super Bowl or two as I drove home from various locations in north or central Louisiana. Most of the games I watched with passing interest; some I enjoyed immensly; ironically cheering on both Peyton and Eli Manning in 2007 and 2008 back to back.

But today is Super Bowl euphoria! Something that I wondered if I would ever witness is about to come true: New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl!!!

The lovable but laughable New Orleans Saints of the sixties, seventies and early eighties; the dominant defenses of the late eighties and early nineties, the experiment that was Mike Ditka and the excitement of playoff victory #1 under Jim Haslett and then Katrina almost costing us the Saints forever have all culminated to this historic date: February 7, 2010; the day the announcers will declare the NFC champion New Orleans Saints take the field at the 44th Super Bowl.

How big is this? New Orleans just had a mayors election that will change the political landscape for years to come and it is a back page story this morning in New Orleans. Mardi Gras parades are rolling and the crowds are not lined up on the neutral grounds. The LSU Tigers just completed another top 10 recruiting class and it barely made the sports stories. And Catholic Churches across Louisinana, with the proper permissions, have cancelled or rescheduled Masses so the faithful could celebrate the Saints. We Catholics already know how to celebrate Saints!

The French Quarter is bursting at the seems. Every sports bar in the city is already packed with fans, hours before kickoff. Neighborhoods are decorated in black & gold, even cemeteries are covered in Saints ballons and flowers at the gravesites of dearly departed Saints fans. Schools in some areas are closed tomorrow and businesses are bracing for a rush of sick calls early Monday morning.

The Saints have indeed brought such excitement and joy not just to the fans but to the wider community. Why? Because the Saints are as much about New Orleans as gumbo, jazz, Mardi Gras and how's ya momma and dem! It might not be something the rest of the nation can understand but it is our New Orleans reality. And who can not relate to the story of how the New Orleans Saints have been the fabric that has kept New Orleans on the grow in these recovery years after Hurricane Katrina.

Later today we may focus on the X's and O's of the actual game. After all, it is still about playing football and wanting a Saints victory over the Colts. But we are still just celebrating the happiness and joy at watching a sports crazed nation focus on two teams in the Super Bowl and one of them is indeed the New Orleans Saints.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! Enjoy the game. And for all the Saints fans who have waited patiently for this day; Celebrate your team, your city, your region and state because today, Febraury 7, 2010 the Saints are Marching In...all the way to the Super Bowl.

Yes, the Saints are Coming!!! and they have arrived!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Homily 5th Sunday in Ord. Time/February 7, 2010

Based on turnout for the vigil Masses last night and now the morning Masses today, we can make two assumptions: not too many people will be at church this afternoon before kickoff and we will add a new category to Christmas/Easter Catholics; Who Dat Catholics. So let’s all agree: Geaux Saints!

Besides the Saints, one of the great things about living down here in south Louisiana is fishing. We have it all; salt water, fresh water; deep sea water. We catch trout, redfish, catfish, bass, perch, and more. One day while observing fishermen having a bad day on the water, a game warden observed Boudreaux paddling in on a pirogue loaded with fish. For days this continued; no one caught fish but Boudreaux kept paddling in with a mess of fish. The game warden told Boudreaux that he would join him tomorrow on his fishing trip to observe his successful technique.

The two men met up the next day and Boudreaux paddled out to deep water. He lit a stick of dynamite, tossed it into the lake and up floated hundred of dead fish. The game warden is mortified; this is wrong this is illegal! Boudreaux, he exclaimed, you can’t do this. Boudreaux immediately lit another stick of dynamite, handed it to the game warden and said, you gonna shut up or fish?

As people of faith, are we prepared to shut up and fish? And if fishing it will be, are we prepared to put out into deep water?

Our Gospel story gives us Simon, who has yet to be called Peter, pulling his boat into dock after a very unsuccessful night fishing. Jesus climbs into the boat and teaches the growing crowds who pressed in upon him along the shore. As he finished the teachings Jesus instructs Simon to go fish some more with the words: “put out into deep water”. Simon Peter objects at first but obeys Jesus’ command. And the catch of fish is overwhelming.

Jesus then tells Simon Peter that from now on you will be catching men.

The command, put out into the deep, has meaning for us gathered here today. We need to find deep water, to find our catch. We must not fear the deep water.

What is our spiritual deep water? First, it is a place of uncertainty, challenge, risk, and the unknown. But deep water also refers to opportunity, a place of redemption, a place where loss can be turned into gain. The deep water is a stark contrast to the shoreline, a place of comfort, security, the familiar, the ordinary.

Left to our own will, we prefer the shoreline, we prefer shallow water. But it is Jesus who is calling us to deep water. Where exactly is the deep water in our lives?

For the young among us, the deep water in our lives may be the challenges we face in selecting our educational pursuits or our career. It may be will I get married, who will I marry and when will I marry. And it could mean a call to pursue a vocation to be a Priest, a Deacon or the religious life. Don’t laugh. Even Simon Peter thought that putting out in the deep would be useless. When Jesus is calling the shots, all things are possible.

“Putting out in the deep” forces us to face our own realities about our spiritual journey. Do we risk the journey into deep water or do we play it safe close to shore. Do we want to help Jesus fish for and catch more men and women for Christ? How does this look for us in our own parish here today?

The deep water we are being called to may mean joining a ministry here at St. Jane’s, it may mean joining our Bible study program, it may mean placing a few more dollars in those poor boxes in the back of church. It may even mean seeking out opportunities to serve those at the food bank, Habitat, supporting the prison ministry that I’m blessed to lead and direct here on the Northshore. That deep water may be seeking forgiveness in the Sacrament of reconciliation, making an appointment to talk to a Priest or Deacon about reconciling your marriage, stopping by church to worship Jesus in front of the Tabernacle or coming to Adoration or Benediction or preparing for the upcoming Lenten season with a clean heart.

Putting out into the deep is not easy; it requires courage; it demands our complete and total dependence on Jesus Christ. We have seen this in the recent response to the crisis in Haiti, the recovery of our own region after Katrina, the way we responded here locally last weekend to the benefit dinner for one of our own and yes, dare I say the heroic athletic accomplishments of our New Orleans Saints.

So in the week ahead, put out in deep water. Help, by your example and prayer, to catch men and women for Christ. Get in that deep water; and you don’t even need a stick of dynamite.

Geaux Saints!

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary 2nd Mystery

The second mystery of this wonderful devotion is the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, based on the Scriptural text of Matthew 2:13-15.

Mary's heart broke and her mind was greatly troubled when Jospeh revealed to her the words of the angel: they were to wake up quickly and flee to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Jesus. The Blessed Virgin hardly had time to decide what to take or leave behind; she took her child and left everything else.

Because the Blessed Virgin was (and still is and always will be) the mother of Jesus, she loved him more than anyone. Her heart was deeply troubled at the sight of her infant son's discomfort, and she suffered greatly because he was cold and shivering. While she and Joseph were tired, sleepy and hungry during this long travel, Mary's only thought was about the safety and comfort of her child. She feared the soldiers who were ordered to kill Jesus and she knew that in Egypt there would be no friendly faces to greet them.

Beloved Mother, give us your courageous heart. Give us strength so that we can be brave like you and accept with love the suffering God sends our way. Help us to accept all suffering we inflict upon ourselves and the suffering inflicted upon us by others. Heavenly Mother, purify our suffering so that we may give glory to God.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary: 1st Mystery

This special Marian devotion is gaining popularity with the teaching of this beautiful prayer to the seer Marie Claire in Kibeho, Rawanda. This Marian apparition, approved by the Church, is relatively recent so the devotion to the Seven Sorrows Rosary is somewhat new.

In a series of posts over the next few days or weeks I'm going to share each decade with appropriate reflections.

The first mystery of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is the Prophecy of Simeon; found in the Gospel of Luke 2:22-35. This was the basis for our recent celebration of the Feast of the Presentation.

Here is the reflection for this first mystery: The Blessed Virgin Mary took Jesus to the temple as tradition demanded. The temple priest, Simeon, held the baby Jesus in his hands and, filled with the Holy Spirit, realized that Jesus is the Messiah. He thanked God for allowing him to see with his own eyes the promised Messiah. Simeon proclaimed that "let your servant go in peace" and he also declared to Mary, "a sword of sorrow will pierce your heart".

The Blessed Mary must have known that she did indeed give birth to the Savior of the world. Her heart was both thankful but troubled for she knew what awaits the Messiah. She knew he would suffer and thus would suffer greatly too.

We pray then with Mary to teach us to suffer with her help and with love, to accept all suffering. We offer you Mary our suffering so it will matter more and atone for the sins of the world. We ask that you join our sorrows to your own and to those of the Lord Jesus Christ, then offer them to God the Father!

Happy Anniversary!!! 300 and counting!!!

Tonight is the eve of the one year anniversary of launching abitadeacon. I had no idea what this would look like then as I truly thought I might post a few homilies and other random thoughts. This little update, being written on a quiet Friday night (at least at my place), is my 300th published post.

I realize that I will never fully know how often you and others will stop by and read abitadeacon. That's ok as writing this blog is cathartic for me and satisfies my inmost desire to journal and reflect.

I've mentioned before that computer skills would not be listed as a strength in my personal skills set inventory. I still struggle to cut and paste and have had almost no luck lately in posting pictures or videos. For now, I'll be happy with writing my reflections.

A quick glance at my list on the home page here does reveal that homilies are my most frequent contribution. Since the inception of the blog I do try to post a homily every week, even if I am not preaching.

Other favorite topics have been Saints (those in Heaven) and the New Orleans Saints (especially lately) and sacraments and things related to prison ministry at Rayburn prison. I have commented on topical things, stayed mostly away from politics; mostly and have tried to explain the ministry of the Permanent Deacon.

So tonight I'll reflect on my one year as a blogger and place this blog, as I did last year, in God's hands as I pray that something I write or post will help someone grow closer to God and His Church.

And this 300th post will be far from the last as I intend to grow abitadeacon to serve God and one another.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Christian Unity; slowly but surely

This is a beautiful article about a pastoral letter written by an Aglican Bishop as he invites the faithful to embrace Christian unity in the fullness of truth: the Catholic Church. I spotted this article at the facebook group Deacons for Life!

Here Come the Anglicans: Opening Chapter in the Coming Reunion of the Church

By Deacon Keith Fournier Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) – In a beautifully written, theologically astute, historically significant and warmly pastoral letter written to the faithful of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Archbishop John Hepworth invites them to enter into full communion by following the Apostolic Constitution and Norms offered by the Holy See. He concludes his letter (which we reprint in its entirety as a related story below) with this stirring summons:

“I believe with all my heart that this is a work of God and an act of great generosity by Pope Benedict. The Anglican tradition that we treasure will only survive, I believe, across the generations yet to come if it discovers the protection of apostolic authority. It is my cherished wish that each of us can stand at the altar with our fellow Christians and receive the same Eucharistic Christ. That is the ultimate test of unity. In the centuries since the church in the West became fractured there has been no offer such as the one that is now before us.”

When history records this moment, Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion will be a vital part of the story. Men of prophetic stature are never perfect, they are humble and holy. They simply show a willingness to be perfected by the Lord whom they love. They allow the mistakes and difficulties of life to become the tutors of time. They respond in their brokenness to the invitation of history being written by the One who broke into history to transform it from within. Archbishop Hepworth has done that throughout this historic process.

I have followed the formal request of the Traditional Anglican Communion for full communion with the Catholic Church from the very beginning. I persisted in covering it after many news sources, including Catholic ones, dismissed the possibility that it would ever bring a positive response from Rome. We are dedicated to an authentically Catholic vision of ecumenism which recognizes the need for visible unity, with legitimate diversity, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Well, the overture received more than a favorable response; it opened up the front door of the House. Such a welcome surprised many observers. Reading Archbishop Hepworth’s letter provides insights into why the Holy Father, inspired by the Holy Spirit, responded in such an historic manner. The original petition to Rome for full communion has never been released. It has now been made available by the Archbishop. We include the full text as a related article below this story. The petition was a work of the Holy Spirit, an example of humility and an act of love for the Lord and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by these Christians of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

I have closely followed the movement of Anglican Clergy and lay faithful toward the safe harbor that is found in the Bark of Peter. We have grieved along with many of them as their own Christian community was torn asunder by the rejection of both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. It is my conviction that the influx of these Anglican Christians into the full communion of the Catholic Church is a gift to the Catholic Church. The depth of faith, life and worship found within the Catholic Church is sometimes not understood or even fully embraced by many of her own members. As a Deacon, I offer a series entitled “Catholic by Choice” geared toward instructing those who are often called “Cradle Catholics”. The term is inaccurate because no-one is born a Catholic. One is baptized into the Catholic Church and grows in that communion and its implications.

The Church is the Body of Christ, a communion. We live in the Church. The lifelong process of conversion unfolds as we partake of the graces which are mediated through her Sacraments, feed on the Holy Eucharist and receive the Living Word of God which has been entrusted to her. Contrary to some limited understandings of our age, Christianity is not about “Me and Jesus”. The Christian faith is about me and you - and the entire world - IN Jesus.

We now live our lives in a participation in the Trinitarian communion through our life in the communion of the Church. She is God’s great gift. The Church is not simply an organization, not “Some – Thing”, but “Some –One”, the Risen Body of Christ. We are called, in the Archbishops beautiful closing words in his letter to “make our home” within her.

As the Risen Body of Christ we continue the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ our Head. We invite all men and women to come home. The Church, in the inspired words of the Apostolic Constitution which synthesize the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, is “an instrument of communion with God and of unity among all people.” It was never the Lord’s plan that His Body be divided.

Disunity,in the words of the Second Vatican Council which Archbishop Hepworth quotes, “openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature." It is the Lord’s plan that His Church be healed and come back into visible unity. These Anglican Christians have recognized this plan and responded with humility. They call us all to reflect upon our own understanding of our life within the One Church and the duty which our membership entails.

The Anglican Catholics will be a leaven that leavens the whole loaf of the Catholic Church. They will call us to be more faithful to our identity as Catholic Christians. They will help us rediscover the legitimate diversity within the bedrock unity we have in fidelity to the Magisterium, the teaching office, of the Catholic Church. We certainly must embrace orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice). However, we are a Church with many beautiful liturgical expressions and there is room for distinctives.

Many Catholics do not even know of the existence of differing liturgies within the One Catholic Church. As a Deacon, I have the privilege of serving at “Mass” (both Novus Ordo and extraordinary form) of the Western Rite. I also have permission to serve the beautiful “Divine Liturgy” of the Eastern or "Byzantine" Church. I have found in my diaconal ministry that many Catholics do not even know there are “Eastern” or “Byzantine” Catholics. They often do not know of our full recognition of the Orthodox Church or the movement toward the healing between Eastern and Western Christianity currently underway.

The Archbishops’ letter gives an insight into the meaning of the word Catholic for his readers, “I might add, lest there be any confusion, that I use the word Catholic Church as the formal entity headed by the Bishop of Rome, and which consists of a number of Rites, some in the East and some in the West, of which the Roman Rite is the most populous. In common conversation, of course, it is called the Roman Catholic Church in many parts of the world.”

The Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans seeking full communion and the norms which accompany it form a juridic structure which will integrate our brethren into full and visible unity with the One Catholic Church. It will also dramatically affect the ecclesial landscape of our Church going forward. This is the beginning of a new missionary age and the coming reunion of the Church. Breathing with both lungs, East and West, she will lead us into the future.

In the midst of the darkness of this hour the Catholic Church has done what she has done for over two millennia; shine the light of the Truth. The Church is not some optional organizational “extra” which we fashioned; she is the Body of Christ, the new world, the seed of the Kingdom to come, the place where all men and women can find their fulfillment and the path to authentic peace. She is God’s Plan for the whole human race. The prayer of the Son of God “May They Be One” (John 17) echoes. The Anglicans are coming and we should all say “Welcome Home”. This is the first chapter in the coming reunion of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I usually do not participate in the seemingly endless New Years Day efforts to “predict” the future. However, this year, when Deal Hudson and my friends at Inside Catholic invited me to be a part of their “Predictions for 2010 by the InsideCatholic Staff and Friends” I decided to accept. Here is what I wrote:

“The promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus by Pope Benedict XVI is prophetic. The early fathers called the Church the "world reconciled": She is God's plan for the whole human race. The Pope of Christian unity has opened the door for the coming full communion of the Church. 2010 will be a year of amazing progress toward that end. Benedict has offered a Catholic vision for legitimate diversity within authentic orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The entry of these convinced Anglican Christians into full communion will contribute to the authentic renewal of the Catholic Church. It will hasten the accelerating move toward communion between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. This work of the Holy Spirit will change the church -- and the world into which she is called -- in a way in which we have not seen in our lifetime.

We do not need a "conservative revolution" in the United States or in the West. We need a "Christian Revolution." It is from the Church that Western civilization was birthed. It is from the Church -- with her vision for the human person, the family, freedom, and a just society -- that the West will be re-birthed. Stay tuned.”