The joy of color

Posted August 31, 2018 at 12:00 am

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 gold and white, providing an appropriate compliment to the red of the bishops.

The gold and white vestments are festive colors that are used not only on special celebrations, such as installations and ordinations, but also at Christmas, Easter, baptisms, confirmations and weddings.

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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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    Bonfires rooted in Catholicism

    Today, the bonfires are traditionally lit not long after nightfall on Christmas Eve, weather permitting. Each of the more than 100 structures located along a stretch of levee less than four miles long is doused with flammable liquids, and once the fires are roaring, their towering fames create a stunning glow, paving the way for Cajun Santa to find his way to the communities of Paulina, Gramercy Lutcher, Convent Laplace and all points bordering the river.

    Many families maintain

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    ‘Roped’ into marriage

    “Tying the knot” has a become a familiar part of our wedding parlance but in some cultures a rope, or cord, is an important part of the marriage ceremony.

    Known as the wedding lazo, or yugal, the cord is often made in the shape of a loop of rosary beads and traditionally made out of white stain or perhaps silk.

    Before the nuptial blessing, friends or family form the lazo into a figure-eight shape and place it around the neck,

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    The 12 promises of the Sacred Heart

    Many Catholics are familiar with Jesus’ private revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673-1675 to propagate devotion to his Sacred Heart, but did you know our Lord also revealed 12 promises to those who honor him in this way?

    Jesus said: I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life; I will establish peace in their homes; I will comfort them in all their afflictions; I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death; I will bestow abundant

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    Justo Juez

    Jesus is often called on by many of us in times of trials and tribulations, which is what thousands of flood victims are likely doing daily.

    For many, however, Jesus is often called on when facing courtroom battles, which might come in handy at some point during the recovery process.

    In many Spanish-speaking countries, this image of Christ, based on the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John and readings from the Acts

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    Sweet 15?

    Sweet 16.

    The sweetest moment of a young girl’s life, complete with parties, a new dress, lots of friends and a day to be remembered forever as she takes the first step into womanhood.

    In the Hispanic community, that special day arrives a year earlier, and it has strong connections to the Catholic faith. Quinceanera, which means “one who is 15” in Spanish, is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the 15th birthday

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    Via Matris

    The Via Matris, known as “The Way of the Sorrowful Mother,” is one of several devotions that have grown out of the preaching of the Servants of Mary.

    The Via Matris is believed to be based on private revelations reported by the founders of the Servants of Mary in the 13th century, with one study suggesting the devotion existed as early as the 14th century.

    However, others believe it is not of Servite

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    Lessons of St. John the Baptist

    St. John the Baptist is one of the church’s most revered saints, and the story of this great prophet baptizing Christ as well as being beheaded are certainly well known.

    Born of a Jewish priest, Zechariah, and St. Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary, St. John was a fiery preacher of the word of God and is generally regarded as the voice that prepared the world for the coming of Jesus Christ.

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    The Book of Kells

    The Book of Kells, which was once described as “the chief treasure of the western world,” is an illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels written in Latin. The origin of the book remains controversial among scholarly types, but the majority of academia believes it was created in a Columba monastery in Ireland around 800. However, dissenters claim it was created in Northumbria or Pictland in eastern Scotland.

    The book contains 340 folios, with their edges gilded in the course of rebinding in the 19th century. The book is

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