From The Font
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.”
The modern obsession with non-Christians trying to prove that Jesus wasn’t born in late December in Bethlehem to a virgin is almost comical. The Egyptian goddess Isis wasn’t a virgin and, yes, the Roman feast of Saturnalia happened at about the same time blah blah blah. The beginning of Luke’s Gospel tells us, though, that this isn’t new or fresh. Luke was a nerd who went out of his way to make everything as historically accurate as he could. Luke didn’t just say that Jesus was born on a Wednesday in December… Luke tells us the exact measure of that time by the common calculating tools of the day - what year of what king. Most historical figures are dated by one king. But here, Luke gives us Tiberius Caesar - the Roman Emperor and King Herod and the governor of Abilene and the high priests and then he also ties the whole thing to Jewish census. That’s incredibly - almost painfully - specific. It’s not vague. It’s not even very easy for Luke to have known all that data. He would have had to be there and spend time with people who were fluent in the Roman culture and with people who were fluent in the local Greek and Jewish cultures and with broader governance of the region as well. That’s not very many people. The sheer fact that Luke has all of this data together and that he publishes it in the mid-60s alongside the letters of St. Paul is incredibly powerful historical evidence.
Basically all of the arguments about Jesus not being an historical person flow from a deep bias and a conscious - even a malicious - ignorance of historical modes of writing and keeping records. The biblical and the extrabiblical evidence for Jesus is some of the most compelling in the ancient world. Few figures are as historically certain - even from a non-believer’s point of view - as Jesus. Of course, that’s not going to change the silliness on the TV - but it’s good to know all the same.
Thoughts from Fr. Ryan
Last Sunday, I challenged us each to set aside 15 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes in each day for prayer. Specifically, I said we should 1) ask for wisdom in our daily life and decisions, 2) give thanks to God for specific things that have happened and 3) ask God to bless and prosper my family, my friends and those against whom I hold a grudge.
So… How is it going so far? If you’ve been doing the challenge - how are you feeling? Are you finding that God is making good on your prayers for wisdom in your decisions and in loving people around - even those who are harder to love? If not, why not? What is keeping you from setting aside the time? Is it not so much the time as the specific intentions?
The thing about specificity is that it proves to be a powerful antidote to excuses. It’s incredibly easy to say “I want to have a better relationship with God.” It’s surprisingly difficult to do the work of daily prayer, regular fasting, little works of mercy and a regular confession which guarantees that improvement. It’s not hard work, but it’s the only way to get it done. When someone asks if we pray every day, we can easily say yes because almost all of us will utter some prayer every day, even if it is just “St. Anthony, help me find my keys!” But when someone asks how long we pray every day and what that prayer looks like, it’s like a whole different question.
Not everyone needs to be a planner or to have a wallchart defining how they spend their days. Some people do. But everyone who wants to accomplish a goal, needs specificity. Everyone who says they want to improve or be better at life needs concrete, specific plans to accomplish that. If I want to be a better writer, I have to write more or read more or both. If I want to be a better athlete, I have to practice or hire a coach or study videos of great athletes or all three. But just hoping that I’ll get better isn’t going to work for anyone, no matter what their personality is like.
Of course, we have to leave room for the Holy Spirit to redirect those plans. We have to be open to what the Lord may send us. It’s no good mastering the skill of contemplative prayer if you don’t make a regular confession or if the Lord is pulling your heart toward the poor.
Still, specificity and concrete efforts are an essential part of what we’re doing here. God has given us all the tools we need to attain eternal life and He is always ready to give us a bump of His Grace to help - but we are still on the hook to work out our salvation because loving the Lord means remaining in the Lord and keeping His commands.
In the past, I’ve kept many of my sermons loose so as to allow each of us to take what we need and not feel like Father’s words are only addressed to this group or to this personality. This Advent, though, specificity seems to be the order of the day. All of us can gain from setting aside fifteen minutes (not eight or twelve) and 1) to asking the Lord for wisdom in our daily life and decisions, 2) to giving thanks to God for specific things that have happened and 3) to asking God to bless and prosper my family, my friends and those against whom I hold a grudge.
Calendar of Events
- Confessions every 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
- December 16 Birthday Party for Jesus
- December 17 & 18 Advent Mission at 6 p.m. by Deacon Greg
- December 18 NO Pastoral Council meeting in December
For Your Information:
ANGEL TREE...Our 45 Angels have all been “claimed” and the shopping has begun. If you did not get an “Angel” but would like to assist with the program, we will be making food purchases so your monetary gifts could be used for that. Our “Angel” leader, Dana Dukes, suggests that all gifts be at the Church Hall by December 16 when we have the Birthday Party for Jesus. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Dana or Father Ryan.
ADVENT MISSION…Deacon Greg Ollick, Atlanta, GA, will be giving leadership to our Advent Mission,”Bringing the Kingdom Home This Christmas”. Our sessions will be on Monday, December 17, and Tuesday, December 18 at 6 p.m. in our church. We will take our spiritual vital signs and learn how they can help us develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with the God who loves us the way we are, but refuses to leave us there. He wants more for us; he wants us to become just like Jesus!
RETIREMENT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS...Aging religious need your help. Senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests ministered for years for little to no pay. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities withou adequate retirement savings. Your gift to today’s second collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious helps to provide medications, nursing care, and more for tens of thousands of elderly religious. Please give to this week’s second collection.
Our Return to the Lord
- Weekly Budget FY 2018-19 $1,917
- Nov Budget $7,668
- Nov income $8,758
- Dec Budget $9,585
- Collection Dec 1/2 $2,233
- Dec Income to Date $2,244
Stewardship ”Good stewards believe that God, who has begun this good work in them, will carry it through to completion. In words and deeds, they can sing with the Psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy!”
Special Collection This weekend’s second collection is for Retirement Fund for Religious.
Mass Schedule & Intentions for the Coming Week
- Sat 5:30p In memory of Marie Phillips Michele/Weaver
- Sun 9:30a Pro Populo for the Living & Dead members of our Parish
- Mon No Mass
- Tue 5:30p For Father Ryan’s Special Intention
- Wed 5:30p In memory of Joseph and Louise Testa/Magoun
- Thurs 9:00a In memory of May DiTomasso Olive Branch
- Fri 5:30p In memory of John and Marie Johnson
- Sat 5:30p In memory of Joe Scurria/Harris
- Sun 9:30a Pro Populo for the Living & Dead members of our Parish Family
ALTAR CANDLES this week are burning in memory of Terry Murphy’s mother, Wanda.
Assistants at Holy Mass
- 12/8 5:30p
- Lector: M Rome
- EMHCs: MA Gilfoil & A Farlow
- 12/9 9:30a
- Servers: W Sullivan & C Wood
- Lector: D Ellerbee
- EMHCs: N & M Ernst
- 12/15 5:30p
- Lector: P Wilks
- EMHCs: B Wilks & C VanderVieren
- 12/16 9:30a
- Servers: EL & C Marsh
- Lector: Carter & Chandler
- EMHCs: B Smith & K Collins
- 12/22 5:30p
- Lector: A Farlow
- EMHCs: M Rome & MA Gilfoil
- 12/23 9:30a
- Servers: P Collins & H Ellerbee
- Lector: A Oliver
- EMHCs: N & M Ernt
Let us Rejoice in the Lord!
Happy Birthday Norman Ernst (Dec 12), Katherine Ernst Bedgood (Dec 14), Madeline Oliver (Dec 14), Johnny Gilfoil (Dec 15), Peggy Scurria (Dec 16)
Happy Anniversary Nap and MaryKathryn Book (Dec 14)
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, Matt Hall (military), Josephine Hodge, Bill Kennedy, Becky and Michael Lancaster, Dale and Louise Magoun, Kathleen Mills, Sue and Mike Rome, and Delia Trichell
Those under full-time care: Billy Hodge, Frances Kennedy, Andrew Lombardo, Sue Scurria. Jim Farrell of Vicksburg, Sharon Hansen of Gonzales, Consuelo Marsh of Lake Providence, Jean Cantrell, Marie Cedotal, 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, Hattie Brown (Lancaster), Jerry Bullard, Colton Bullock (Farlow), Tommy and Gail Byrd, Richard Chappuis (Johnson), Kay Collins, Karen Cobb, Jackie Daniels (Lancaster), Carol Dipert (Rome), Carole Ducote (Lancaster), Joe Farlow, Mike Farlow, JoAnn Phillips Finn (Hodge), Thom Gilfoil, Kathy Garley Hanlon (Gilfoil), Cooper Harris (R Wood), Bo Holloway, Diane Johnson (Johnson), Jeannie Kivett, Ben Lenhart (G Marsh), LaLa Lopez (Hernandez), Michelle McGuire (Gilfoil), Mathieu family in Delhi (Wilks), Tobie McKowen (Wilks), Keith Melancon (Regan), Tucker Melancon (Johnson), Lindsay Mills, Debbie Pettis (Rome), Sam and Betty Phillips (Hodge), Wayne Pitre (Gilfoil), Lee, Tiffney & Bailey Rome, Dianne W. Roper (Murphy), Linda Sanchez (Wilks), Walter Scott, Andy Sevier, Spencer and Mary Sevier, Beverly Sibile (Gilfoil), Theresa Thom (Rome), Elaine and James Trimble (Rome), Adam Triplett (Reynolds), Teresa Vidrine (Wilks), Conner and Hudson Wood (nephews of Bart)
Our collegiates: Norman Ernst, Anna Ginn, Josh 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.