EDITORIAL: Turn to faith

Posted August 16, 2019 at 12:00 am

Thirty innocent lives lost.
Numerous others injured.
Two mass shootings the weekend of Aug. 3-4 stunned a nation, a blood-stained trail of immense sorrow and bewilderment left in its wake.

Predictably, the call for greater gun control has been renewed by some, and perhaps the time is ripe to revisit the issue.

Equally as predictable, gun control opponents view such legislation as drastic and counter that any such measures could potentially be the first step toward abolishment of the Second Amendment, although the founding fathers could never have envisioned weapons firing off more than 30 rounds in 40 seconds.

Answers will not be found in statehouses, political shill, the lack of responsibility in accessing social media or even in censoring of video games. It is irrefutable that each of those shoulder some responsibility but one must drill far beneath what has become a thinly-veiled culture of death that has permeated our

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    Carville.pdf

    God is everywhere, if you can see him

    I have been very fortunate for being invited by a group of parishioners from St. John the Evangelist Church in Prairieville to accompany them on a mission trip each summer for 10 or more years to Honduras. There, we work with poor people to help them provide for their elementary needs: safe drinking water, housing, simple school buildings, sewerage, clothing, dental hygiene and medicines. And to make sure they have a little fun in their lives, soccer balls, which in Latin countries are called “futballs.”  

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Divine understanding

    A number of years ago at a symposium on faith and evangelization, one of the speakers made a rather startling statement. She, a Christian activist, ended her presentation with words to this effect: I work for the poor and I do it out of my Christian faith. I’m committed to this because of Jesus, but I can go for three years on the streets without ever mentioning his name because I believe that God is mature enough that he doesn’t demand to be the center of our conscious attention

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    Fanucci, Laura-color.pdf

    Sharpen your pencils for the school of love

    Did you know the family is a school of love? 

    The Second Vatican Council declared this teaching, St. John Paul II deepened it and Pope Francis affirmed it. Our Catechism of the Catholic Church spells it out clearly: The family is “a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (No. 1666). 

    But after a long summer with kids crawling up the walls at home or a challenging season of family

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    Doyle.pdf

    Dipping host into chalice/ Friday abstinence for vegans

    Q Earlier this year, I saw a communicant take the host and proceed to dip it into the consecrated wine before consuming it. Is this acceptable? (I had never seen it before.) (Annandale, Virginia)  

    A No. What you saw is not permissible unless the one receiving Communion happened to be a priest concelebrating the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the church’s “rulebook” on liturgy, does envision “intinction” but limits self-communicating to priest-concelebrants.  

    For others, the

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    EDITORIAL: Humanitarian crisis

    Immigration wears many faces, a fact not lost on more than 300 refugees and immigrants who on a recent sun-splashed summer afternoon gathered to celebrate World Refugee Day at the Goodwood Library in Baton Rouge.

    But even as the atmosphere was festive in Baton Rouge, disturbing images began to surface of a young girl and her father who died in the Rio Grande River fleeing the dangers of their homeland, showing one of the darker faces of immigration.

    These two events have occurred at a time when such catch-phrases as building of walls and separation of

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    What does it mean ‘to be born again?’

    What does it mean to “be born again, to “be born from above?” If you’re an Evangelical or Baptist, you’ve probably already answered that for yourself. However, if you’re a Roman Catholic or a mainline Protestant then the phrase probably isn’t a normal part of your spiritual vocabulary and, indeed, might connote for you a biblical fundamentalism which confuses you.

    What does it mean to “be born again?” The expression appears in John’s Gospel in a conversation Jesus has with a man named

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    Robinson, Brett Guest.pdf

    The search for more

    Summertime used to be about big blockbuster movies. This summer box office receipts are sagging and even the sequels are having a hard time. The “Avengers: Endgame” phenomenon is an exception, but it points to a big shift in our popular culture landscape. 

    The movie industry is playing an endgame of its own as it tries to figure out whether theaters are still viable in an age of cheaper offerings like Netflix. The church should pay attention to this trend as

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    Carville.pdf

    The liturgy, our best theologian

    The last Mass of the Easter Season which we celebrated was for Corpus Christi, the feast of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We are now back in the Masses of “Ordinary Time.” I celebrated Corpus Christi twice, in the Jetson location of Women’s State Prison and again for the Spanish liturgy at Christ the King Church and Catholic Center.  

    In neither place was the special hymn or sequence, “Laud O Sion,” read in its entirety. It is

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    Doyle.pdf

    Mary during ministry of Jesus/ Catholics and prenuptial agreements

    Q I am wondering what Mary did and where she lived during the three years of Jesus’ ministry. Did she travel with the “women who ministered to him? (Wichita, Kansas) 

    A In the Gospels, once the public ministry of Jesus has begun, Mary is mentioned in only a few scenes. We can assume that his mother did not accompany him throughout the course of that 2 1/2-year period but continued to reside at Nazareth.  

    At a general audience

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    Catoir.pdf

    Controlling your thoughts

    Do you suffer from disturbing or obsessive thoughts? If so, relief is available. It will be an uphill battle but with perseverance and the help of God, it’s a battle that’s worthwhile because it can be won.  

    The worst attacks come during the night when you’re trying to go to sleep. Some cases are worse than others. The trick is to divert the troubling thoughts by replacing them with something else. Even if the thought persists, perseverance will one day win the war.  

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    Attention in an age of distraction

    “Behold” is my favorite word in Scripture. Every time it shows up, we’re summoned to snap to attention and take notice. God is about to do something new. Let’s not miss it. 

    But how can we behold what God is doing when we’re caught in a culture of constant distraction at our fingertips? 

    I could cite statistics for you; we’ve all read them. If you’re like me, your stomach sinks whenever you hear how much time

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Needed – Particular kinds of saints

    Simone Weil once commented that it’s not enough today to be merely a saint; rather “we must have the saintliness demanded by the present moment.” 

    She’s surely right on that second premise; we need saints whose virtues speak to the times.

    What kind of saint is needed today? Someone who can show us how we can actually forgive an enemy? Someone who can help us come together across the bitter divide within our communities and churches? Someone who

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    Doyle.pdf

    Holy days of obligation/ Flowers near monstrance

    Q I am puzzled that the Ascension is no longer observed on Thursday (40 days after Easter) as a holy day of obligation, while the feasts of the Assumption and of the Immaculate Conception are considered to be obligatory.  

    The Ascension surely has a scriptural basis, while there are no direct scriptural references to the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception. In fact, to me the Annunciation seems more significant than these other two Marian feasts (since there is a scriptural basis), and yet

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    Carville.pdf

    Are you on familiar terms with God?

    One of my favorite characters in books and in movies was Don Camillo. That’s going back all the way to the 1960s when communists were still major players in Italian politics. I was treasurer of the student body organization at the Gregorian University in Rome. To get the yearbook printed I had to deal with a communist printer. We had great conversations, from the injustice of capitalism (his view) to his little girl’s first Communion. Italian communists were almost all Catholic and practiced their faith, well, modo Italiano.

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    Doyle.pdf

    Existence of purgatory / Seeking correction on Virgin Mary

    Q I am a cradle Catholic and have always believed in purgatory. Now I am hearing from some people (including from some priests) who deny its existence. Can you clarify this for me? (City and state of origin withheld)  

    A The Catholic Church does indeed believe in the existence of purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this: 

    “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after

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    Carville.pdf

    The barber’s ministry

    During Lent I started a series on prayer, writing about prayer in the lives of saints, prayer in Jesus’ life and teachings, and prayer in the liturgy of the Mass, especially in Lent and the sacred triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. I would like now to finish that series with a story about devotional prayer. Catholics have a rich tradition of devotional prayers. We were taught our prayers in Catholic schools and parish schools of religion (formerly CCD classes). We learned the Apostles’ Creed,

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    The loss of heaven and the fear of hell

    Growing up as a Roman Catholic, like the rest of my generation, I was taught a prayer called, The Act of Contrition. Every Catholic back then had to memorize it and say it during or after going to confession. The prayer started this way: Oh, my God, I am truly sorry for having offended thee and I detest all of my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.  

    To dread the loss of heaven and fear the pains of hell

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    Fanucci, Laura-color.pdf

    In praise of dad jokes and divine humor

    My husband is down in the kitchen, cooking eggs for our four boys. From upstairs, I hear him serve up a little extra on the side: a classic dad joke about “makin’ bacon.” As I smirk to myself, I can practically hear our sons roll their eyes.  

    But having been raised by a dad who puns with the best of them, my hunch is that they’re also secretly smiling. Dad jokes are goofy and lovable. A genre all their own.  

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Faith, fear and death

    A common soldier dies without fear; Jesus died afraid. 

    Iris Murdoch wrote those words which, I believe, help expose an over-simplistic notion we have of how faith reacts in the face of death. 

    There’s a popular notion that believes that if we have strong faith we should not suffer any undue fear in the face of death, but rather face it with calm, peace, and even gratitude because we have nothing to fear from God or the afterlife. 

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    Doyle.pdf

    Divorce as grave injustice/ More on crying babies

    Q I read your recent answer concerning divorced Catholics and their standing in the church. You and others fail to remind Catholics that the Catechism (No. 2384-85) calls divorce a grave injustice to the abandoned spouse and the children and also introduces disorder into society. 

    How can you (and, it seems, most spokesmen) say that someone who inflicted this can still receive Communion? In order to be forgiven in the sacrament of confession, don’t people need to repair the damage they have done?

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    Carville.pdf

    How is the Holy Spirit visible?

     

    In the Book of Genesis we read of God creating the sun and the stars, the oceans and the land, the plants, fishes, birds, animals, and finally man and woman, who in some way bear a resemblance to him.  “God created man in his own image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn 1:27).  God is infinite and beyond our human capacity to picture him, yet a mother looking upon her newborn can feel and see a miracle.  God can be imagined as

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    EDITORIAL: Lawmakers deny voters

    Louisiana appeared to be on the precipice of making history but unfortunately has been stymied by state lawmakers.

    Two proposed constitutional amendments, both addressing pro-life issues but coming from entirely opposing angles, were considered during the recent legislative session. One, a proposed amendment to the state constitution that states no woman has the right to an abortion, easily passed legislative muster and will go to the voters in October.

    The second, which would have allowed Louisiana residents the opportunity to vote on abolishing capital punishment, did not fare so well. Rather than affording constituents the opportunity to voice their

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    Doyle.pdf

    Meaning of ‘153 fish’/ Missing Mass while traveling

    Q Recently the Gospel read at Sunday Mass was from the 21st chapter of St. John, where Jesus appears to the apostles after his resurrection and tells them to lower their nets into the sea and they catch 153 fish.  

    Our visiting priest said in his homily that the number 153 related to the number of regional territories in that era. But then I read Bishop Robert Barron’s explanation that 153 was the number of species of fish known at the time. I’m

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    Carville.pdf

    Jesus came to preach God’s mercy, not man’s justice

    Jesus came to preach God’s mercy, not man’s justice 

    In the Old Testament, God is often called “just” when he saves his chosen people from the consequences of their own sinfulness. In other words, the justice of God is really mercy. Justice is not a quid-pro-quo that is owed by God. His chosen people have broken all of God’s commandments and gotten themselves into trouble, yet God forgives them time and again, saving them from the evil they have caused themselves. God’s mercy

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Jean Vanier (1928-2019)

    Our differences are not a threat but a treasure.  

    Jean Vanier, the Founder of L’Arche, who died in Paris on May 7 wrote those words, but their truth is far from self-evident. One might question whether those words are simply a nice-sounding poetics or whether they contain an actual truth.  Our differences, in fact, are often a threat. 

    Moreover, it’s one thing to mouth those words; it’s quite another thing to have the moral authority to speak them. Few have that

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    Fanucci, Laura-color.pdf

    The women who stayed

    The women were the ones who stayed. I regret to say that I missed this for most of my life. 

    I don’t just mean that I missed this in Scripture, although it took me decades to realize that women stayed at the foot of the cross when almost all the men fled – or that women were the first to discover the Resurrection in every Gospel. 

    I mean that I missed it everywhere. The truth that women’s

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    Rolheiser.pdf

    Who goes to hell and who doesn’t?

    Hell is never a nasty surprise waiting for a basically happy person.  Nor is it necessarily a predicable ending for an unhappy, bitter person. Can a happy, warm-hearted person go to hell? Can an unhappy, bitter person go to heaven? That’s all contingent upon how we understand hell and how we read the human heart.  

    A person who is struggling honestly to be happy cannot go to hell since hell is the antithesis of an honest struggle to be happy. Hell, in Pope

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    Catoir.pdf

    Why be Catholic?

    We seldom see the hidden hand of God at work in this world, but God is always active in human history. C.S. Lewis always stressed the fact that, “The Church will outlive the universe, and because of this, the individual person within it will outlive the universe.” I’ve been asked to repeat this column, and here it is with few improvements …  

    Everything that is joined to the immortal head of the Mystical Body of Christ will share his immortality. Lewis insisted, that

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    Carville.pdf

    When did Jesus pray?

    The week ahead looks busy. After two Masses on Sunday morning I will be headed to St. Joseph’s Abbey in Covington for a day and a night with my priest support/prayer group. We have been doing this for years. It is a good thing to do. In the Gospels it appears that Jesus thought so too. He often took his apostles off to quiet places for prayer. This must have impressed them because they asked him to teach them how to pray. In response to their willingness to

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