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‘Hot cross buns’

Posted March 13, 2020 at 12:00 am

Just three weeks into Lent and some Catholics might be rethinking what they gave up. While the journey may be tough, the end result is well worth the sacrifice. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms and to practice self-control through fasting.” 

Father Daniel Merz the Secretariat of Divine Wisdom for USCCB wrote there are several reasons for fasting in the Christian tradition including “saving resources to give to the poor,” self-discipline and showing our dependence on God and not worldly things. When Jesus was fasting in the desert for 40 days and Satan tempted him to make bread from stones, Jesus said, “It is written: ‘One does

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    Epiphany

    With the final needles of the now parched Christmas tree ready to fall to their grave on the den floor, the liturgical season transitions from Christmas to Epiphany. 

    Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6, is the traditional day to once again haul out the boxes from the attic and refill them with the Christmas decorations and outdoor lightings that have been brightening the homestead since shortly after Santa paraded past Macy’s on Thanksgiving Day. Christmas is officially over, minus the less enjoyable tradition of opening

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    Advent wreath

    Advent is approaching, and in many households and all Catholic churches the traditional wreath celebrating the season will be prominently displayed. 

    The Advent wreath, which is a European tradition, can be an evangelization tool to teach children about the real meaning of the Christmas season. Advent is not only a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus but also a time to prepare our hearts to receive him.

    The wreath, which holds four candles,

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    An angel in the trenches

    As Veterans Day approaches, our country, cities and even churches honor those who have gone into harm’s way or paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom.   

    Perhaps we should also include St. Therese of Lisieux during our Veterans Day celebration. St. Therese, also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus,” is believed to have played significant roles in protecting soldiers on both sides during World War I and World War II.   

    When World War I broke

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    Guardian angels

    Who has never prayed to their guardian angel, whether it’s help to pass a test, perform well in a job interview or help us get through the difficulties of life?

    Guardian angels were even once featured in one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time.

    So exactly who is our guardian angel and does everyone actually have a heavenly protector?

    According to The Catechism of

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    Steps to the priesthood

    On Sept. 15, at Sacred Heart Church in Baton Rouge, seminarians Matthew Dunn and Danny Roussel were admitted to candidacy for the priesthood for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Both Dunn and Roussel are third year theology students at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. According to Father Matt Lorrain, director of seminarians for the Baton Rouge diocese, the simple ceremony is an important step in the discernment process for those considering a vocation. 

    “When you’re descerning a vocation,

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    Faith on the water

    On an early spring day more than 80 years ago, a modest but unique boat first navigated the murky swamp waters of the Atchafalaya Basin.  

    Only this was no ordinary maiden voyage as on April 21, 1936, Mary, Star of the Sea brought faith to the water. For the next five years the chapel boat was a fixture in places such as Belle River and Bayou Pigeon, ultimately covering three civil parishes and some 900 square miles. 

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    The joy of color

    St. Joseph Cathedral was resplendent with color during the installation Mass of Bishop Michael G. Duca on Aug. 24.

    And that was just the colors of the clergy members’ vestments.

    The nearly 20 bishops in attendance, including Bishop Duca and Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans as well as Bishop Robert W. Muench, were wearing their bright red vestments, certainly fitting for such a joyous occasion.

    The priests and deacons were in

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    Laying on of hands

    The imposition, or laying on of hands, is a common practice in the Catholic faith, used in the administration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and holy orders, as well as other rites, including exorcism. 

    The history of the imposition of hands dates to the patriarchs in the Old Testament to convey power, blessing or consecration. It was used in blessing children, consecrating priests and in sacrifice. 

    The imposition first appears in a religious sense in the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. Prior to sacrificing animals, the priests

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    Turn to St. Anne when seeking a spouse

    By Richard Meek

    The Catholic Commentator

    Navigating the shark-filled waters of the modern dating pool might make for a tony Jaws sequel, but could it be singles really are looking for love in all of the wrong places?  

    As internet dating sites and their lofty fees become the standard, tradition says single men and women need only look to the mother of Mary to answer their prayers.   

    A catchy, although not particularly spiritually

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    Silent time with God

    Today’s frenetic lifestyle undoubtedly extracts a toll on one’s physical being and psyche, as Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy work/personal balance.

    Mental health experts constantly stress the need to, in modern parlance, “unplug,” a reference to the torrent of modern gadgets consuming our daily lives.

    Often lost in this dialogue is the spiritual health of our own souls, and how that can be nurtured, allowing for the fanatical pace we all try to maintain.

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    Nativity of St. John

    The fact that the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is celebrated only days after the summer solstice is no coincidence. 

    From his birthday on June 24, three days after what is traditionally considered the longest day of the year, the sun will gradually begin it annual descent and the days become shorter. 

    Three days after the winter solstice is Christmas Day, when days start to become longer and when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. The timing of these

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    Saint with a buzz

    The story of St. Rita of Cascia never fails to create a buzz.

    A holy Italian mystic who was born in 1381, St. Rita is often associated with bees. The day after her baptism, when she was five years old, a swarm of white bees reportedly swarmed around her mouth and even alighted on her lips. They were seen to enter and leave her partially open mouth but amazingly she was not harmed nor did she utter a whimper.

    Witnesses believed the event to be a mystery, although they could not explain it.

    Bees would

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    Kateri Indian rosary

    The Kateri Indian rosary is a chaplet associated with St. Kateri Tekakwith, known as the “Lilly of the Mohawks,” and is promoted by the Tekakwitha League.

    The chaplet is traditionally used as a private devotion and made in two patterns, the first being a cross and the other with a medal of St. Kateri and three beads. The cross is made of staurolite, which is a mineral naturally formed in the shape of a cross.

    According to Indian legend, on

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    The Spirit of Pentecost

    As Catholics, we relished in the anticipation of Advent, sacrificed during Lent and were joyful in the resurrection of Easter  

    We will soon celebrate Pentecost, the most spiritually enriching feast of the liturgical year but perhaps the most difficult to understand. The Nativity brought the birth of Jesus, Lent the crucifixion, and, of course, three days later the resurrection.  

    Pentecost, which comes from the Greek word for 50th, since Pentecost is 50 days after Easter, is rooted in the Old Testament and was referred

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    St. Winifred’s Well

    Perhaps one of the more unusual shrines, albeit certainly one where thousands of people make annual pilgrimages, is that of St. Winifred in Wales. 

    According to legend, in 660 Caradoc, the son of a local prince, severed the head of St. Winifred after she refused his advances. Legend says a spring rose from the spot where her head fell. 

    St. Winifred was later restored to life by her uncle St. Beuno, a well-known seventh century Welsh Abbot who is credited for

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    Paschal candle

    Shortly before the start of the Easter Vigil Mass, the faithful gather outside, in front of the church, to celebrate what is one of the most sacred moments of the Easter season.

    It is then the priest lights the paschal candle outside in a metal bowl called a brazier. During this time, the eucharistic prayer, “Praeconium Paschale,” is chanted by the deacon, who then carries the candle into the dark church during the opening procession.

    Those few moments are rich

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    Tradition with a twist

    Italian cookie cravings?

    Fancying fava beans?

    Then you’re in luck as Catholic families and church parishes are putting the final touches on their annual St. Joseph’s Day altars, carrying out an old tradition dating to the parched soil of Italy during an extended drought.

    Poor farmers viewed their barren fields with dismay, their wheat cracking beneath their every step. The Sicilians directed their prayers to St. Joseph, their patron saint, petitioning him to

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    ‘Dust you shall return’

    Red is the new black; at least it was for one day.

    This year, by virtue of an unusual confluence of events, St. Valentine’s Day happened to coincide with Ash Wednesday, a day when Catholics and Christians worldwide have ashes placed on their forehead. So the combination of black ashes and red sartorial statements made for an unusual fashion duet on Ash Wednesday, which is one of the holiest days of the liturgical year.

    Although officially not a holy day

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    Throat blessing

    Throat a bit sore lately?

    Hoarseness setting in?

    No wonder, considering the wacky weather that has included snow and ice on two occasions since the calendar flipped to a new year.

    Which makes the feast day of St. Blaise on Feb. 3, more commonly known as the blessing of the throats, perfect timing in an area where nary a family or workplace has escaped the ravages of the highly contagious strain of flu

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    ‘When in Rome’

    One of the more ubiquitous and let’s face it, annoying phrases that has taken on several delineations through the years is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”

    The phrase “When in Rome” actually has Catholic origins, dating to 387 with St. Ambrose. According to a proverb attributed to St. Ambrose, he vocalized the phrase in a recommendation to follow the cultures and ways of a region where one is either living or visiting.

    As tradition tells it, St. Monica

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    Did You Know?

    The zaniness of the holidays is silenced, normalcy just around the corner, and gifts unwrapped although January’s reality that comes with the credit card bill might dim the sparkle a of the Christmas glow.

    One might also think it’s time to address that pesky, burgeoning waistline, fueled by the past month of a steady diet of over indulgence of fine dining and spirits. But as we in south Louisiana are blissfully aware, the culmination of the Christmas season is merely a segue into another culinary feast.

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    Baptism of bells

    Church bells are commonplace today, but for the first 400 years of the church there was only silence. Paulinus of Nola first introduced the bells at a church in the year 400. In 604 Pope Sabinianus officially sanctioned the usage of bells, and by early in the Middle Ages ringing could be heard throughout northern Europe.

    Although the primary purpose of the bells has traditionally been to alert Catholics in a particular area that Mass time is nearing, they can be heard throughout the day at many

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    Incorruptible bodies

    Science tries but fails.

    Theories abound but fall short.

    The incorruptible bodies of saints remain one of the mysteries, and treasures, of the Catholic Church.

    By definition an incorruptible body is one, traditionally a saint but not always, that has miraculously preserved after death, defying the normal process of decomposition. Incorruptible bodies were initially discovered in the centuries after the death of Christ, with St. Cecilia believed to be the first known saint to be incorrupt.

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    Take a bow

    Bowing in church is commonplace, but there is also a protocol for when and how a priest, minister, lector and the person sitting in the pew should bow.

    For example, in some churches the lector bows twice before proceeding to the ambo to read the day’s readings. According to individual local custom, the lector enters the sanctuary and bows first to the altar, and then to the celebrant before proceeding to the ambo. 

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    Burning question

    Throughout the liturgical year, the church’s most solemn Masses feature insightful Scripture readings and breathtaking music, along with the use of incense, a longtime Catholic tradition.

    Save for a few sneezes and an occasional cough from the congregation, depending on the celebrant’s own usage, incense provides an aromatic sidebar to an already beautiful ceremony.

    So what exactly is incense, loved by so many but a fragrance that also sends others scrambling for tissue? Basically, is it a granulated or powdered

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    The art of building a church

    A new church can often serve as a spiritual resurgence for parishioners, as well as a  recommitment to not only their own faith lives but also to the parish in which they belong.

    After a drought of no new church construction, the Diocese of Baton Rouge is experiencing a renaissance this spring with two new buildings coming online. The first was March 26 when Bishop Robert W. Muench blessed a palatial new house of worship at St. George in Baton Rouge.

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    A Catholic tradition

    Amid the zaniness so often associated with Mardi Gras, it’s easy to forget that the Carnival season is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.

    The roots of Mardi Gras run as deep as the pagan Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a February holiday that honored the Roman god of fertility and included feasting and drinking (two Mardi Gras staples).

    As the Catholic Church began its rise in ancient Rome, Christian morality and teachings began to spread, creating a need to blend ancient

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    The gift of suffering

    Suffering is an inescapable fact of life, from which no one is immune.

    Whether it’s the agony of the annual dental visit or much deeper mental and physical anguish caused by life events, suffering is inevitable.

    For Catholics, however, suffering is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Redemptive suffering, defined as any physical or mental tribulation, is an important tenet of the Catholic faith. Catholics, as well as Christians, believe that human suffering,

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    Las Posadas

    For most, Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration.

    In the Hispanic community, however, the celebration begins more than a week earlier with the Las Posadas novena. Celebrated mainly in Mexico and the United States, Las Posadas begins Dec. 16 and ends Dec. 24.

    This Catholic tradition dates back 400 years and helps the faithful prepare for Christmas by reliving the days Mary and St. Joseph experienced during the journey to

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