From The Font
“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
This little verse of the Bible is seriously challenging… It’s easy to think about giving thanks for extraordinary blessings. Surely we’re thankful for babies and for financial windfalls and for recovery from illness. It’s easy, too, to give thanks for ordinary, daily blessings. We give thanks before meals and when we wake up and before we go to bed. It’s more challenging to give thanks for ordinary trials and challenges which we can see make us better people. We can be thankful for an anoying co-worker who helps us to be more patient or for a ache which helps us to appreciate what good health we have.
It’s manifestly more difficult to be thankful, though, for those extraordinary trials and sufferings. How can we be thankful in the face of a dire illness? How can we be thankful in the face of a loved one oppressed by addiction? How can we be thankful for the ongoing slaughter of the innocent in a local abortion mill? St. Paul wrote this quotation to the Church in Thessalonica. The people of Thessalonica enjoyed persecuting the small Christian community there. The city was a major trade hub and at the center of the now imploding empire of Alexander the Great. Christians in the city were persecuted constantly and brutally. And St. Paul told them in the midst of this to “give thanks!”
In the midst of great trial, St. Paul’s advice isn’t to buckle down or clam up or leave the city. Rather, he says “give thanks!” Why? Because God has something of value to make from this. In his letter to the Romans (who faced a similar situation), St. Paul says that “All things work for the good of those who love the Lord.” And if we realize that every aspect of this life is either drawing us nearer to heaven or farther away - then we can see how everything looks “good” or “bad” depending upon our point of reference.
If we see things in this life in the light of eternity, then we will understand why St. Paul tells the persecuted Christians in Thessalonica to give thanks “in all circumstances.” If we keep our vision limited and grounded in this world, it won’t make any sense.
Thoughts from Fr. Ryan
In 2016, I was traveling in northern Spain and had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of St. John of the Cross whose feast we celebrated this past week (Dec 14). St. John was a mystic who suffered a lot at the hands of his religious brothers. He was badly misunderstood and his brothers were very fearful of his deep connection with the Holy Spirit. John knew and understood things and, in a time when people were fearful of being challenged and exposed as frauds, John was fearless. For nine months, John was imprisioned in his own monastery in a broom closet.
His tomb is in a rural church under the shadow of a medieval castle. Some eighty steep steps have to be climbed before you can enter the Church and the tomb is off to the side where about twenty uncomfortable wood chairs are arranged in something like an old west school house. The Church echos noise and it’s tough to pray in quiet if anyone at all is around. There’s another Church just next door that has a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin and almost no stairs, so most tourists end up there.
I knelt down and didn’t move for about 45 minutes in front of the tomb of this saint who had no fear in a time when everyone was afraid. Pope St. John Paul II - who was in seminary during the Nazi occupation of Poland and was ordinaned a priest and bishop during the Soviet occupation of Poland wrote his doctoral thesis on St. John of the Cross - specifically, St. John’s understanding of Faith. For St. John of the Cross and for Pope St. John Paul, the root of faith, like the root of the plant grows stronger when the plant is tugged and yanked a bit. A plant which has all the nutrients it needs and no predators will grow shallow roots. A plant which has to dig deep for nourishment and which has some shallow roots ripped out or cut will build a root system that is powerful indeed.
St. John’s two most famous writing are both major downers! The Ascent of Mt. Carmel and The Dark Night of the Soul are both profound and mystical writings about trial and suffering and how important and even essential they are for rooted faith. Some saints had Leave It To Beaver lives. They lived in very Christian times and in very Christian places. The sufferings they endured were the ordinary sufferings of losing loved ones and bearing illnesses. St. Terese of Liseux and her parents are good examples. Most Saints, though, endured difficulty and found that when they endured those things - they turned to God and He lifted the weight almost entirely and so their trials became joyful. Like Stephen the Martyr in the book of Acts or Francis bearing his stigmata or John of the Cross being despised by his religious brothers, the saints found that suffering has remarkably little power over the one who loves the Lord. They found that joy isn’t about avoiding suffering, it’s about passing through it.
St. John is a remarkable saint. His story, like his tomb, is unknown to too many Catholics. But he’s in heaven and so I don’t imagine he’s too broken up about it.
Calendar of Events
- Confessions every Wed, Fri & Sat from 5p until Mass at 5:30p and on Sun from 9a until 9:30a Mass
- Pastoral Council meeting monthly on the third Tuesday after the 5:30p Mass
- Altar Society meeting every other month on the second Tuesday after the 5:30p Mass
- Sunday Morning Catechism in the Hall after the 9:30a Mass unless otherwise indicated
- Dec 17 - Birthday Party for Jesus - following 9:30 a.m. Mass - Church Hall
- January 6 - Burning of the Greens -- following 5:30 p. m. Mass -- Church grounds
- January 10 - Wednesday Night Catechism - following 5:30 p Mass
For Your Information:
SUNDAY CATECHISM… will NOT meet this SUNDAY nor next week.
CHRISTMAS FLOWERS...if you would like to donate to the Christmas poinsettias and other Christmas decorations, there are envelopes at the entrance of church which can be used to include your cash or check and name of the person in whose honor the gift is being made.
BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR JESUS… This Sunday, we are having a party for the children of the faith family of St Edward and their friends to celebrate the Birthday of Jesus. The party will be held in the Church Hall following 9:30 a.m. Mass. Please feel free to invite children from infants through the sixth grade. High school youth are invited to join in the festivities, especially to assist our younger parishioners!
CHRISTMAS MASS TIMES… as Christmas falls on Monday this year, Catholics are obliged to attend Mass TWICE between Saturday 5:30 p.m. and Monday 9:30 a.m. It is possible, therefore, that if one usually attends the Sunday 9:30 a.m. Mass and the Christmas Eve Mass at 5:30 p.m., one would be attending Mass two times on Sunday to meet the obligation.
VINTAGE COOKBOOKS...in cleaning out some closets in the Church Hall, a box of 1974 St Edward cookbooks was found. If you would like to have one (or some), they are for sale at $5 each and are located on the table at the entrance of church.
2018 CALENDARS … can be found on the table at the entrance of church. Feel free to take one for home and one for your office as we have sufficient.
Our Return to the Lord
- Weekly Budget FY 2017-18 $1,917
- November Budget $7,668
- November income $8,250
- November Actual Expenses $7,211
- December Budget $9,585
- Collection December 9/10 $1,526
- December Income to Date $3,920
Stewardship All of the people in today’s readings--the prophet Isaiah, the Virgin Mary, St. Paul, St. John the Baptist--seemed to understand clearly and rejoice in what God was calling them to be and to do. Do I? Special Collection Traditionally at all Christmas Masses, a second collection is taken throughout our diocese for the education and formation of our priests. Through the Church Vocations collections, your generosity and prayers allow the church to continue to provide priests, sisters and brothers to serve our spiritual and physical needs. Please be generous. – Bishop David Talley
Mass Intentions for the Coming Week
- Sat 5:30p In memory of Elvina Roussel/Florence
- Sun 9:30a Pro Populo For the Living & Dead members of our Parish Family
- Mon NO MASS
- Tue NO MASS - Fr. Ryan at Penance Service in Lake Providence
- Wed 9:00a In memory of J.E. “Boyzie” Jumonville (birth)/Family Olive Branch
- Thu NO MASS - Fr. Ryan at Clergy Event in Alexandria
- Fri 5:30p In memory of Paul VanderVieren (death on 28th)/family
- Sat 5:30p In memory of Eugene Roussel (death on 26th)/Florence
- Sun 9:30a Pro Populo For the Living & Dead members of our Parish Family
Altar Candles this week are provided by Kathleen Mills
Assistants at Holy Mass
- 12/16 5:30p
- Lector: MA Gilfoil
- EMHCs: P & B Wilks
- 12/17 9:30a
- Servers: C Donham & M Wood
- Lector: Youth
- EMHCs: B Smith & K Collins
- 12/23 5:30p
- Lector: A Farlow
- EMHCs: L Bullard & A Keene
- 12/24 9:30a
- Servers: Volunteers
- Lector: D Ellerbee
- EMHCs: A Keene & Volunteer
- 12/24 5:30p
- Servers: Volunteers
- Lector: C VanderVieren
- EMHCs: P & B Wilks
Let us Rejoice in the Lord!
Happy Birthday Peggy Scurria (Dec 16), Bart Wood (Dec 19), Robbie Kivett (Dec 25)
In Our Daily Prayers…
Our Holy Father Pope Francis and Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI; our Bishop David Talley and Bishop-Emeritus Ronald Herzog. Our President, our Governor, our Mayor and our national, state and local elected representatives, our family and friends
Our parishioners who are sick, shut-in, or otherwise in need of our prayers: Pat Bullard, Connie Copes, Elizabeth Crothers, Susan Gilfoil, Billy Hodge, Bill Kennedy, Becky and Michael Lancaster, Dale and Louise Magoun, Kathleen Mills, Sue Rome, Juanita Storey, Delia Trichell and Margaret Yerger Our parishioners who are under full-time care: Frances Kennedy, Andrew Lombardo, Sue Scurria. Also, Betsy & Jim Farrell and James Speyerer of Vicksburg, Consuelo Marsh of Lake Providence, and Jean Cantrell, Geneva Russell.
Our friends and relatives who need our prayers: Lee Adams (Smith), Ashley Weimer Alexander (Regan), Jenna Faye Allen (Florence), Margaret Baker (Magoun), Marie Farlow Bellard, Ruthie Boudreaux (Storey), Hattie Brown (Lancaster), Jerry Bullard, Colton Bullock (Farlow), Richard Chappuis (Johnson), Jackie Daniels (Lancaster), Carol Dipert (Rome), Reba Duncan, Renee Edwards and parents (VanderVieren), George Eisworth family (Dyer), Joe Farlow, Matt Farlow, Mike Farlow, Betina Finlayson, Madge and Don Finney (Dyer), Tracy Jones Fortenberry (Donham), Thom Gilfoil, Kathy Garley Hanlon (Gilfoil), Cooper Harris (R Wood), Alan Henley (Copes), Rudy Hernandez (Hodge), Bo Holloway, Lou Horath (Hernandez), Diane Johnson (Johnson), Jim Johnson(Dyer), Ben Lenhart (G Marsh), Megan and Jim Lensing (Gilfoil), LaLa Lopez (Hernandez), Will and Michelle (MS) McGuire (Gilfoil), Paul Meeks, Keith Melancon (Regan), Tucker Melancon (Johnson), Julia Moberly, Lindsay Mills, Debbie Mullin (Dyer), Wanda Murphy (Terry), Addison Petracca (S Marsh), Debbie Pettis (Rome), Wayne Pitre (Gilfoil), Dana Rogers (Dyer), Bailey Rome, Lee Rome, Tiffney Rome, Dianne W. Roper (Murphy), Linda Sanchez (Wilks), Andy Sevier, Chon Shiers and Deborah Shiers Stewart (Hall), Beverly Sibile (Gilfoil), Lazette Thomason (Dyer), David Thompson (Wilks), Elaine Trimble (Rome), Teresa Vidrine (Wilks), Conner and Hudson Wood (nephews of Bart) Our collegiates: Ethan Beene, Courtney Ernst, Norman Ernst, Anna Ginn, Matt Hall, Nick Hall, Chris Hall, Kathleen Oliver, Maddie Oliver, Blake Sullivan, Lori Sullivan, Brice Wood
Those Catholics residing at Christian Acres, Louisiana Transitional Center for Women, and our local Detention Centers and for their families and loved ones.
PLEASE LET US KNOW OF ANYONE WHO IS ILL OR HOSPITALIZED OR WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE A VISIT.
PLEASE HELP US TO UP-DATE OUR PRAYER LIST BY ADVISING US OF ANYONE WHO SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE PRAYER LIST.