Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Finding the perfect home.

Perfect kitchen, big closets, two bathrooms, big enough study, hardwood floors, two car garage, 19 outlets in each room, good neighborhood, good school district, big yard, two small trees...the list goes on and on and on.

Finding the perfect home requires tons of research, lots of time searching realtor sites, and lists upon lists of what we NEED to make a house a home. We've been looking on and off at homes in our area for quite some time and it can become daunting. There's always a this one is great...but... It is one of the biggest decisions of our life from the financial aspect to making sure you have enough rooms for the kids you want one day, to making sure the house won't flood (especially if you live in southern Louisiana.) It's almost obsessive the amount of time people, you and me, put into purchasing a home.

But what about a church home? I'll be honest, for most of my adult life, I haven't really felt "at home" in my church parish. When I was a Youth Minister in New Orleans I didn't feel "at home" at the church, when I moved to Baton Rouge it was a little bit better but I still wasn't "at home" and when we moved back to the Houma area, we lived in one of the smaller bayou communities and I taught religion at a small church that just didn't feel alive with the Spirit. We then moved into the city limits and started attending the Cathedral, where we celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage, surely this would be the place we could call home, we even had a special connection to the parish. But after Sunday upon Sunday, month upon month, it still just didn't meet our needs.

That's when we sat down and took some time to think about things. We spend so much time trying to find the perfect home to live in, that no matter if you keep it for all of your life, is only temporary. We spent no time or effort into making sure the Church we attended met our needs. And that's way more important. It is in receiving the sacraments, following and abiding in Christ with our parish "family" and ministering to the young, outcast and downtrodden that we life fully in Christ and gain everlasting life, where we build our eternal home.

Now I'll admit, I am a little stubborn and was (and still am, at least Sacramentally) a firm believer in the fact that every church parish has everything any Catholic needs, because it is not the Priest, the building, the choir, the comfy pew cushion, or the mosiac backsplash to the alter that fulfills our needs, but it is the Body and Blood of Christ that is present and freely available, it is the Confessional that lifts the stain of sin that is in every Catholic church.

But what I didn't realize was, while that does take care of my needs and it does make me grow, it doesnt make me reach my full potential. Because while the music doesn't matter, it does set the tone for my worship. And while who the priest is doesn't matter, he does layout a floor plan through his homily so that I am not building on shifting sand but instead on solid rock.

After talking with my wife and realizing we weren't where God was calling us to be, we listened for the subtle voice of God, and while we never jotted down our list we pretty much had a good idea of what we needed, and we would soon begin that journey. This was almost 3 months ago now and I'm finally getting around to actually writing my list out, just incase I forget.

So here's my list,

I need a home that is welcoming and warm
I need a home where the music moves my soul to worship
I need a home where I can fully understand the floorplan of God
I need a home where I can participate in the plan of Salvation
I need a home where a community gathers to vibrantly celebrate the Sacrifice
I need a home where I can raise my child in the faith while I can fully live the faith
I need a home that is community and family oriented
I need a home that is generous to those in need
I need a home where I am genuinly called to the altar of the Eucharist
I need a home where people are called and encouraged to ministry

And this list goes on and on and on too. So does my wife's list. And we decided, with list in mind to set out on what was sure to be a daunting journey in and out of the numerous Catholic churches in town. The first weekend of our journey we started with a nearby parish, about 6 minutes away from our house (the Cathedral where we were going is only 30 seconds away.)

We entered the church and were promplty greeted. We then found our way to a row of pews nestled on the right side of the church near the Tabernacle and close to the Altar. We got to Mass 30 minutes early which gave us plenty of time to "scope" things out and get a feel for this new church. As people began to trickle into their pews a guitarist started to strum soft hymns. By 5 minutes to Mass the church was packed, very few seats left, this was very much unlike our Cathedral parish that was at best, sparsly attended. A couple of minutes before Mass, the priest, in stole and chasibule, came to the front of the theatre style seated pews and began to welcome visitors, asking them where they were visiting from. He then called us to greet the people sitting around us as he returned to the foyer of the church. The entire Mass was vibrant, respectful, engaging, encouraging, up-lifting and so much more.

Even though we had about five other churches on the list to visit, we decided to try the same parish again the next weekend, and the next weekend, and the next weekend, and within a month and a half we were proud new home-owners, we became registered parishoners at Maria Immacolata Catholic Church. And even though we would have registered at our new parish, no matter where it was, I found it nice that it was encouraged in such a positive way, "to live fully in the sacramental and communal life of the Catholic Church." that was just a little lagniappe! (lagniappe, "lawn-yaap", org. acadian french, v. def. A little something extra.)

I find it amazing that if we just take a minute to listen to what God is saying and then follow his voice that He will give us exactly what we need. In the short three months (+/-) He has done so much to my spiritual life. I feel connected to the church again, in a way that I haven't felt since I left my first parish, I read the daily scriptures and pray the morning prayers everymorning with my Magnificat, my wife and I get excited and enjoy Mass every weekend. It's a good place to be, to listen to God's voice, and then find and live in his grace!

I encourage everyone to make a list and make sure you are getting everything you need in a home. It's a lifelong decision that will have everlasting affects. Take time to find out what your spiritual needs are, and seek out ways to find them. It may be that your parish offers everything you need except one or two things that a neighboring parish can give you in the form of a special group, or something that is offered on the Diocesan level like a Cursillo retreat or a Married Couples Retreat. Whatever it is, find it, go to the table, and feast on God's love.

I know this post was a little legnthy and if you made it through I'd love to hear your comments and even stories of how you found the right home for you and your family. Please don't forget to follow my blog!

In Christ,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Preview of the Mass, 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

This weekend we have some pretty good readings, some that you have undoubtedly heard numerous times before. And all that should have significant meaning in our lives. You can read all of the readings by clicking here, courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

In the first reading, from the second Book of Kings, we hear a  conversation between the prophet Elisha and a man from Baal-Shalishah. In it Elisha tell his servant to take the 20 loaves of bread made from the first-fruits of the harvest to the table to feed 100 people. His servant objects to this, as many of us would because 20 loaves cannot feed 100 people. Elisha said to his servant "Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, They shall eat and there shall be some left over!" his servant then did as instructed, and as prophesied, there was leftover bread.

In the Pslams we hear that the "Hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all of our needs" The poetic verses sway in and out of the way the Lord satisfies those who look with hope to him, and those who call upon him. There is also mention to the timing of the Lord, and that it is always the right season that the Lord pours his blessings upon his people.

The second reading is a short piece from the letters of St. Paul to the Ephesians. It starts out in one of Paul's favorite ways, "Brothers and Sisters" this is already bring flashbacks of Fr. C's homily on Tuesday (see double take, part II.) He speaks to the Church of Ephesus in a very direct way, calling them to live in a manner worthy of the calling in Christ, calling them to live for the Glory of God. He tells them to act humbly, gently, and patiently which reminds me of the Prophet Micah 6:8 where he calls us "Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." he reminds us that we are One body, one spirit, in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism serving one God, the Father of all! Which again connects so well with what Fr. Clyde spoke of in his homily on Tuesday. St. Paul is a wonderful writer, always direct but speaking with charity and genuine love of Christ, if you haven't yet, try digging deeper into all of St. Paul's writing, you wont be disappointed!

John tells us in his account of the Holy Gospel of the story that brings the old testament reading full circle in the life of Christ. At this time in Jesus' ministry word was spreading quickly throughout all the towns (probably much like the rapidness that stories travel throughout the small bayou towns here) of how he was healing the sick and performing miracles. Alot of people were following them and it was near passover. They knew they needed to feed the crowds that gathered, but didn't have enough food. Jesus tested Peter asking him where to find enough food, Peter responded with that even if they had 200 days of wages they wouldn't be able to afford to feed all of the people. Then Jesus, famously, made the the 5 loaves of bread and two fish fill 12 baskets full of food to feed the 5,000 people that had attended.

In both the first reading, the psalm, and the Gospel we here the call to trust in the providence of God. Repeatedly people doubted the works that the Lord could perform, and God delivered on his promises. That is something we can always count on, when God hands us a promise you can "take that to the bank." Often times we don't rely on God for our needs, instead we try to solve our problems. Sunday's readings give us two great examples of how God can and will provide for us if we ask with humble and contrite hearts. Seek the vioce of the Lord, and hear his word and you shall be set free.

"The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs!"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Double take


Today is the feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of Mary and the grandparents of Jesus. As the church celebrates somewhat of the "First family" of christian grandparents, it has called me to take pause and look at what I have had available to me in this section of my life. I am lucky, I knew all four of my great-grandmothers, three of them are still here today and will, god-willing, get to celebrate in the joy of my first child's birth this October. One has gone to her reward, but not before I was able to graduate high school. I knew one of my great-grandfathers, who I was able to share life with until I was in middle school. And as for grandparents, I still have one full set and a grandmother. My Grandfather for my mothers side passed away when I was in eighth grade.

The immense amount of love and care that has been afforded to me by having all of these great people in my life is astounding. The beginnings of my catholic faith came from the devout examples of my grandparents, which they have passed down to their families.

We recently celebrated one of my great grandmothers 92nd birthday. God has blessed her with a good mind that still (despite her lack of good hearing) still remembers the happenings of the family. In November we will celebrate another great-grandmothers 100th birthday, and again, God has seen fit that she be of good mind and spirit, able to keep up with her family and other daily happenings.

As I reflect on the blessings my own grandparents have been in my life, I'd like to imagine that the same can be said of St. Ann and St. Joachim to Jesus. How Jesus may have learned to cast his nets from his grandfather, and how he must have been able to find consolation from his grandmother when facing injury as a young boy.

So today, as we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Ann and Joachim, let us also remember the great example of faith and love our own grandparents have given us, whether they are still with us today or if they have gone on to their reward of eternal life.


On Tuesday I went to daily Mass at Maria Immacolata. And our priests told a brief yet effective story for his homily. I'll admit that after only 2-3 minutes of a homily all I could think about was how short it was, but it has found a way to resonate in my life for the last few days. Way to go, tricky Fr. C!

The homily went something like this...Fr. Clyde went to New Orleans on Monday for a meeting and spent the night, he came back to town early on Tuesday morning, between 6:30-7:00 am. While traveling on a section of interstate known at 310 there were state troopers pulling people over for going faster than the posted speed of 60. Fr. Clyde moved into the "fast" lane to avoid being to close to the troopers as they were issuing their tickets. He has his cruise control set to 65. A woman began to tailgate him following very closely to his bumper without backing off. Fr. Clyde found himself to be perturbed by this and began to become increasingly upset. The woman in the green altima finally speed around Fr. Clyde when she tried to re-enter the lane, nearly side-swiped him. This was his breaking point and he couldn't take her stupidity anymore. He laid on his horn and sped up and began to tailgate the woman in the altima. In the safety of his own car he yelled out "Stupid!" And that's when it hit him. He was stupid. He had done the same thing that irratated him in revenge. He realized he was mistreating his sister in Christ with his anger. He collected himself, cooled down, and offered a "Hail Mary" for the woman.

Many times this week I have found myself beggining to have a negative thought, word, or action towards one of my "brothers and sisters" and all I can hear is Fr. Clyde screaming STUPID! This simple three minute homily has stopped my time and time again in my track to take pause before calling out the body of Christ. When we feel ourselves getting pulled in to thoughts of anger, haste, aggravation, etc. we should pause, think about what we are doing, and instead offer a prayer of thanksgiving for how good our lives really are despite the "aggravations" we find on a daily basis. I hope my sharing of this story helps you to take a moment and reexamine before blowing up.

Have a story about your grandparents or something similar to what we all experience on a daily basis in the second part of the post? I'd love to hear from you, don't forget to leave your comments below!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why Wednesdays


Catholics believe that Jesus himself gave us himself in the eucharist during the last supper. We believe that he did this in the account of the last supper in Matthew 26:26-30 (below), Mark 14:22-24, and Luke 22:19-20
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks,* and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28l for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. * I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."

In St. Paul's letter to the people of Corinth (1 Corintians 11:23-28) he tells them again of the importance of participating in the Eucharist, Paul also says that we should examine ourselves before taking the Eucharist, to prepare ourselves for the entrance of Christ into our bodies. he says in full...
"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup."
This is the biblical references that support our belief that the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ is truely present in the Holy Eucharist. The church has always upheld the belief that the eucharist is indeed the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, and has been celebrated as such since times of the early church when people would congregate in houses and "break bread."

Today the church celebrates the mysteries of the Holy Eucharist on a daily basis. At each Mass celebrated we believe, by the power of the holy spirit, the priest transubstantiates (to change one substance into another i.e. the bread and wine into the body and blood) the hosts into the Eucharist. At each Mass we are privaleged to have Christ himself and all his grace enter our body, santify our soul, and prepare us to meet with him again in the glory of heaven where we will be in a state of constant adoration of the Father, his Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Christ said it best himself in the Gospel of John

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever;... he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and... abides in me, and I in him”

Enter into the grace of this sacrament as often as you can, and recieve Christ who gives life.

Lord I believe, help my disbelief!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Mpaji ni Mungu!

God is the sustainer!

Bishop Steven Dami Mamza
Diocese of Yola, Nigeria

This past Sunday my wife and I went to Mass as usual at our new parish, Maria Imacolata. Our Mass was con-cellebrated by Fr. Stuart King and Bishop Steven Dami Mamza of the Diocese of Yola, Nigeria (hence the swahili/bantu greeting.) Bishop Mamza is one of the youngest Bishops in the world at about 42 years of age.

The Church that he shephards is in a remote part of Africa in Nigeria. He and his flock are constantly under persecution for their belief in God and their adherence to the Catholic Church. Bishop Steven has to have 24 hour a day police protection at both his residence and wherever he travels within his diocese because members of terrorist organisations want his work stopped. It is not uncommon for suicide bombers to attack worshipers at his churches during Sunday Mass, killing innocent people enganging in worship of their God and destroying temples given to the Glory of God. Yet He and his people are very devout and they trust in God with their whole being. Of the Dioceses 200,000 faithful the Bishop states that 99.9% attend Mass faithfully every Sunday. that's 199,800 of the 200,000 people filling churches every Sunday!

Bishop Steven was at our church to make an appeal to us. He recently started a school for the children, especially those who are without their parents because of war or the aids epidemic. The school currently stands at full capacity with no room to house more students. When a student is granted attendence the Bishop is resposible for providing them with not only education but also room and board. This is the only way to keep these children out of the streets, to stop them from being forced into joining terrorist/jihadist organizations like the famed boko haram (which literally means "western education is sinful.)Each of these students cost the Bishop and his diocese $500 a year to educate and board.

He also has a very good problem. Every year his diocese gets about 100 applications from young men aspiring to enter the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ. However, because of financial problems the diocese can only provide for ten seminarians at a time. The cost of each seminarians education is $2,000 a year. That means 90 men that the church desperatly needs both in his diocese and the world over have to be turned down.

 The people of his Diocese need our help. Here's how you can help the Church, our brothers and sisters in need. Pray. Pray for the people being attacked for living their faith in Christ. Pray for the children that lost their parents because of Aids. Pray that schools are built, meals are served, people are clothed, and shelter is made. Pray that the seminarians recieve proper training so they can minister to the people of God. Pray for conversion of heart for the terrorist that claim innocent lives. Give. Contact your local Propagation of the Faith office in your diocese or contact the national office by clicking here. and ask how you can assist Bishop Steven and the Diocese of Yola, Nigeria. Ask your priest to invite Bishop Steven to celebrate Mass in your parish, or to make an appeal on the Bishop's behalf. You can sponsor a child to go to school and be fed for about $40 a month. You can make a one-time donation to assist in the ministry of our Church most in need.

The Church is in need and God is the sustainer!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Religious Freedom

A Message from Bishop William E. Lori...

Dear Friends:

This is just the beginning.

While the Fortnight for Freedom has come to a close, our efforts to save our religious freedom continue.

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your help and support in this critical effort. The Fortnight was a tremendous success, as demonstrated by an outpouring of support from Catholics across the country showing up to pray, study, and take action. And many of you took the time to connect with our efforts by texting FREEDOM to 377377.

On the Fourth of July, I had the pleasure along with Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Chaput to participate in a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in our nation’s capital. The Basilica was completely packed with the faithful from across the country who decided to spend this Fourth of July reflecting on our most cherished freedom – the right to live out our faith. Archbishop Chaput gave a magnificent homily on the importance of religious liberty, and it was an inspiring and hopeful event to close out the Fortnight for Freedom.

At the end of the Mass, I asked folks to get involved by signing up for our nationwide text messaging campaign. You can view my announcement here:


In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to keep you updated about continued threats to religious freedom and offer ways you can help. Only through a sustained and conscientious effort will we be successful.

Many of you have asked to see photos from the Fortnight from around the country, and we have compiled an image gallery here:   http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/fortnight-freedom-images.cfm

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do in this effort.

Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Supreme Chaplian of the Knights of Columbus
Chairman, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

We are lost.

"Our Lady of Prompt Succor
We are lost,
Unless you hasten to help us."

In Louisiana we have this special little lady. She is Mary, Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Winding through the bayous you will undoubtedly stumble upon a church under this patronage or a yard with her statue surrounded by rose bushes. Here's her story.

In 1727 a group of nuns, the Ursuline's, came to New Orleans, Louisiana to establish a convent. Once the convent was established the sisters opened an all girls school Ursuline Academy (the oldest school for girls in America today) to educate European settlers, Native Americans and the local Cajun/Creole population as well as people in slavery. Louisiana switched hands between France and Spain a number of times and during one of these switches some nuns fled to Cuba in fear of persecution. This happened at the same time that the needs of the school grew. The Reverend Mother of the convent sent word to her cousin who was also a nun in France that she needed help and many more sisters to meet the needs of the Academy. Her cousin, Mother St. Michel asked her local Bishop permission to transfer to the Louisiana territory to assist in the ministry of the sisters here, her Bishop told her that only the Pope could give such permission as his own diocese was short of religious sisters from the war.

The Problem? Pope Pius VII was being held as a prisoner of Napoleon. Mother St. Michel knew that the odds of getting a letter to the Pope was near impossible, so she prayed and asked Mary to intercede for her, and said, "O most Holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain for me a prompt and favorable answer to this letter, I promise to have you honored at New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor." She mailed her letter on March 19, 1809. Mother St. Michel received a letter from Pope Pius on April 29, 1809 giving her his blessing on the transfer

She had a statue commissioned of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus. Bishop Fournier, at her request, blessed the statue and her new mission. She arrived at the convent on December 31, 1810 with the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor and a number of postulates to work in the convent. The statue was placed in the chapel of the convent and today is venerated by the people of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, She is the official patroness of Louisiana.

Miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt succor, one being during the fire of 1812 in New Orleans. It was the worst fire in the history of New Orleans to date. Much of the city was caught ablaze by the driving winds that pushed the fire through the buildings. The fire was headed to the convent and an order was given to evacuate the convent. At that moment instead of evacuating, Sr. Anthony placed a statue of OLOPS facing the fire and Mother St. Michel began to pray aloud "Our Lady of Prompt Succor, we are lost unless you hasten to our aid!" Immediately the wind shifted and the fire spared the convent, one of the few buildings left after the fire. The nuns began to exclaim in thanksgiving, "Our Lady of Prompt Succor has saved us!"

Today Our Lady of Prompt Succor is widely asked for intercession during the Hurricane Season, We ask her to intercede that our coast be spared any major hurricanes during the season, below is the prayer that is commonly used...

Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes
Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm.  Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature.  Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen

In Christ,

Monday, July 16, 2012



Thanks for being part of my first blog post! I hope the future of this blog can be both informative and guiding to you as I express my beliefs in God and religion with you all. I'll also be sharing devotionals from time to time here as well along with some random catholic facts (cause I like facts) Heres a bit about me...

The Bayou

The Map

These are my roots, this is where it started. Bayou Petit Caillou in Chauvin, Louisiana. A small cajun town that boasts literally one red light. This is the community I was baptised in, the place my parents pencilled me into the book of life. In this blog I'll also be sharing life in Cajun Country. It's lots of fun and nothing like what TV shows you.

The Church

St. Joseph Catholic Church just a ways up (and across) the bayou from where I grew up. Infact, in the right wind conditions the automated bells could be heard tolling traditional church hymns through the bayou and into my front yard. This is where I was not only baptised, but where I came into my faith as a young teenager and grew into as a young adult. This church and its community gave me the solid Catholic foundation I have today. I'll forever be grateful to Msgr. Brunet, Sr. Dianne and the rest of the community for helping me grow in the rich faith traditions of the church.

 And Today

Today, well technically yesterday, the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, My wife and I officially joined Maria Immaculata Roman Catholic Parish in Houma, LA. It was a long journey to get there, being sometimes discouraged, often times feeling misplaced, and most of the time just not feeling at home at our previous church parish.

We have attended weekend masses for about two months at our new parish before officially joining. In that short time, we celebrated mass with an outgoing priest (Fr. Henry who is off to a new assignment) who was absolutly wonderful and got us back the next weekend for another visit, we celebrated mass with the Pastor (Fr. Clyde) who is engaging, family centered, and community driven, and this past weekend our new associated pastor (Fr.Stuart.)

Our new associate pastor is very unique among Catholic Priests. He's actually a brand new priest, only being ordained a month or two ago, but he's not new to ministry. He is a former priest in the anglican church where he served in many places through his ministry as a military chaplain. He is married and has kids. He entered the catholic seminary at the approval of our Bishop was ordained a priest. He also works full time as a director in Catholic Social Services for our Diocese. I'm looking foward to hear more of his story of conversion and how he found his place in the catholic church.

In the general sense, as in all of my tomorrows. My wife and I will be expecting our first child, a girl, Adeline Marie in October. So the new church home came just at the right time, by the time we are completly settled in and become active members of our new vibrant parish we will be welcoming our little girl into the same catholic church I was welcomed into some 26 years ago and my wife some 25 years ago. We intend to raise her in the tradition of the universal church. And hopefully at our new parish for years to come. (You might even get glimpses inside the nursery as it comes together)

Anyway thats enough for now, See ya'll next time...