Tradition with a twist

Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:00 am

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 finally bring some relief and end the famine.

Finally, the skies opened, Mother Nature turned on her much-welcomed spigots and the people, in their exuberance, prepared a table with an assortment of foods they harvested to show their gratitude. Through the years, families

Read Full Story…

    ‘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

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    ‘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

    Read Full Story…

    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.

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    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.

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 bow-to-altar.tif

    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. 

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    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.

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    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,

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 las-posadas-300_7432.tif

    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

    Read Full Story…

    did you know photo.JPG

    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

    Read Full Story…

    ‘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,

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 justo-juez-oracion-para-librar-de-enemigos-malas-lenguas-injusticias-males-S.tif

    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

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 LA-PIEDAD-2PS.tif

    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

    Read Full Story…

    st. john the baptist.jpg

    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.

    Read Full Story…

    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

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 DYK CORPUS-CHRISTI PS.tif

    Celebrating the Eucharist

    The Feast of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated May 29, dates to the Last Supper and the first Eucharist.

    But not until the 13th century was there a distinct feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the origins coming from an unlikely source. Beginning at the age of 16, St. Juliana of Liege (what is modern day Belgium), began having visions of a silver moon with a portion of it obscured while kneeling in prayer.

    Read Full Story…

    The original novena

    The Novena to the Holy Spirit is considered the oldest in the Catholic Church and the only novena prescribed by the church. Also, it is generally believed that this novena established the nine-day precedent for all novenas.

    The Holy Spirit Novena traces to Jesus who, after dining with his Apostles, sent them back to Jerusalem to await the Holy Spirit, which, according to Scripture, was nine days. This first novena was a time of preparation and petition awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate

    Read Full Story…

    Papal documents

    With the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on April 8, one obvious question comes up: What other types of documents can the pope issue?

    Based on the reason or need, the pontiff has many types of documents at his disposal. However, before addressing the various papal documents, it’s important to remember that official church documents can come from four basic areas in the Catholic Church.

    One is from the bishops. These documents, either issued by individual bishops or by

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 DYK.tif

    A scheduling quirk

    The feast of the Annunciation is traditionally celebrated March 25 but because of a strange quirk in the calendar this year, the feast day, or Lady Day as it is also known, is being celebrated April 4. This year, March 25 fell on Good Friday, which, obviously, would not have been an appropriate day to celebrate the announcement of the angel to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus.

    Occasionally, the feast of St. Joseph also

    Read Full Story…

    Commingling dates to Gospel

    Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries at Mass is commingling, when the priest drops a part of the host into the chalice.

    Commingling, which dates to at least the 8th century, is rooted in the Gospel, when Jesus, at the Last Supper, broke the bread and gave it to his apostles.

    Ancient church tradition says the bread used for the Eucharist is unleavened and usually baked into small round forms, call “hosts.” The word host is taken from the Latin word hostia,

    Read Full Story…

    Flying high

    Media reports, such as the ones coming out of Pope Francis’ Latin American visit, will often refer to the aircraft transporting the pontiff as “Shepherd One.”

    Given that the president of the United States traverses the globe in Air Force One, the Shepherd One moniker would appear to have some merit.

    However, “Shepherd One” is more of a creation of the United States media and definitely not an official term. Actually, the papal plane does not have any official name.

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 DYK fastingPS.tif

    Bring on the etouffee!

    For many Catholics, Lent brings on those dreaded Fridays of abstinence, when meat and chicken are not on the menu. Naturally, for those of us fortunate enough to call southeast Louisiana home, Fridays during Lent are eagerly anticipated and a holiday season of its own, with visions of crawfish boils and shrimp po-boys tantalizing one’s appetite.

    Abstinence goes back to the early days of the church and at one time restrictions were considerably more severe, but those have been

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 Pretzel.tif

    Unique Lenten tradition

    Lent is approaching, so naturally palates in southeast Louisiana are yearning for … pretzels?

    The pretzel, the salty little delicacy that goes well with a popular Lenten beverage containing malts and hops, is a traditional Lenten food dating to the fifth century. In fact, there is even a prayer to the pretzel.

    During the church’s early days Lenten restrictions were much more demanding and included abstaining from milk, but

    Read Full Story…

    Page 2 DYK.tif

    Sunday treasure

    Sunday has long been regarded as the day we gather as family and as community to celebrate the Eucharist.

    The origin of celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday dates to apostolic times even though the early Christians, who were converted Jews, continued to observe the Sabbath on Saturday and even celebrated Mass on that day. During those early times, the Mass was celebrated within the frame of a meal (an agape), held on Saturday night after sunset.

    Read Full Story…

Bla