Indexing your life – a spiritual excercise

Kneading Faith
By Fran Lavelle
I watched a webinar sponsored by Ave Maria Press given by Jonathan Montaldo on “The Spiritual Exercises of Thomas Merton” a few weeks ago. Montaldo was the director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. He also served a term as President of the International Thomas Merton Society. I was struck by the unpretentious manner in which Montaldo spoke of Merton. It was evident that Montaldo appreciated the very human, very ordinary Merton. He went so far as to caution against elevating Merton to some kind of guru status. He also reminded the viewer that Merton did not advocate a particular spiritual practice; rather, Merton was calling others to find their own authentic path to a greater intimacy with God. In the spirit of Dom John Chapman, OSB, Merton would have us pray as we can, not as we can’t.
Pointing to the simplicity of Merton’s message, Montaldo shared an entry from one of Merton’s notebooks from the time period he was novice master. In it Merton instructed the novices:
Enter deeply into the school of life itself. Your life is a school of wisdom. Ruminate on the text of your life as a spiritual exercise to excavate God’s loving-kindness to you through your life’s thicket of relationships. Receive every event and learning as a secret instruction from God. Reflect on the action and Grace and detect the innumerable movements of divine Love in your life.
The term “school of life” deeply resonated with me. As Catholic Christians we are called to lifelong conversion. We are called to continue to journey deeper into the mystery of God’s love. Reflecting on our own school of life should not become overly scrupulous or self-centered. We should heed the directive to “receive every event as a secret instruction from God.” Filtering one’s life experience through the lens of what lessons we learn is powerful. Given the correct context, what would ruminating on the text of your life reveal? In journeying back through time ask yourself, who taught you to pray? Who in your church community taught you how to live a life of faith? Who loved you into the “now” of your life?
Merton’s editor compiled an index for his autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain. The index detailed the myriad of people who contributed to Merton’s faith journey. It served as an alphabetical listing of who’s who over the decades of his life. Reportedly the index was Merton’s most prized part of the book.
What would the index of your life look like? What people, places and situations over the course of your life have made you who you are today? Who are the people you owe your life to because of their love for you? Who are the people who have caused you to suffer? Who are the people who have given you wounds that have turned into blessings? What are the places and events that shaped and formed you?
Making an index is a spiritual exercise that can lead to greater gratitude. A thankful heart inevitably leads us into greater intimacy with God.
During our recent ice and snowstorm, I was talking to a friend about the powerful events that seem to continue to drive us indoors. In addition to the ice and snow we are still in the middle of the pandemic that has drastically curbed our exterior lives. As I sat in prayer on Ash Wednesday morning, I reflected on the previous few days of being sheltered in place. I began seeing this situation as a gift rather than a limitation. With our mobility restricted and literally restrained indoors, I wondered what the next few days would look like if I allowed myself to shelter in place in my interior life as well. What would it look like if I invited God in to the icy, slushy, and messy places in my heart?
I thought about the Merton webinar and replayed it. I am working on an index of my life. It is something I plan on working on throughout Lent adding a few names, places, and events every day. So far, each remembrance has reinforced my gratitude for the gift of my journey. Merton believed that each person in his index was an essential part of his salvation story because he was able to see it all as a gift from God.
I am reminded that some of my best teachers taught me by their example of who I did not want to be. In the same way I recognize the giants whose shoulders I am privileged to stand on. And, not just people, but places and events. I am reminded that my maternal heart was first stirred by a calf I received for my seventh birthday. I wrote Hubert letters and signed them “Love, Your Mother.” Hubert is named in my index.
Many people have asked what does one give up for Lent in the middle of a devastating pandemic when we have already given so much up. It is a legitimate question. Maybe this year instead of giving up we can add up. Yes, add up all the lessons from our school of life and offer them back to God in the form of thanksgiving. And to the extent we are able to, give others a reason to be included in their index by loving and living authentically as Jesus calls us to.

(Fran Lavelle is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson.)

Fasting – not just a health trend

THINGS OLD AND NEW
By Ruth Powers
It seems that the secular world has recently discovered a practice that his been part of religious disciplines for millennia. Magazine articles, health and wellness blogs and social media feeds are full of material touting the latest diet and health trend — periodic or intermittent fasting. While modern proponents focus on the benefits of fasting for everything from weight loss to energy levels, followers of several religious traditions have known of its spiritual benefits for much, much longer.
The roots of fasting in our tradition go far back into the Hebrew Scriptures, where fasting was an important part of Jewish religious observance. It was practiced for a wide variety of reasons.

Ruth Powers

One purpose of a fast was to purify oneself in preparation for an important spiritual event. Moses fasted for 40 days while preparing the tablets of the Law (Exodus 34:28) to present to the Hebrew people. Elijah fasted for 40 days as he travelled through the desert to Mount Horeb to meet God after he fled from Jezebel’s threats on his life (1 Kings 9:8).
Fasting was also seen as a way to avert calamity or punishment by eliciting God’s compassion. Individuals like David fasted in hopes of saving his child from death (1 Samuel 12: 22-23), and Ahab’s punishment was mitigated because he fasted and humbled himself (1 Kings 21:27-29). Sometimes the whole community fasted in times of war (Jeremiah 36:3), natural disaster (Joel 1:14), or foreign oppression (Nehemiah 9:1). These cases imply that fasting is basically an act of penance: a ritual expression of remorse, submission, or supplication.
Although community fasts may have been proclaimed as needed before the Babylonian Exile, there is evidence from post-exilic writings like Zechariah that regular fast days did not enter the calendar until after the return to Israel. Fasting as a pious act of self-discipline seems to have developed later, possibly in the Maccabean period.
Fasting as preparation, penance, and pious practice also appears in the New Testament. Anna the Prophetess fasts in supplication for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:37). Jesus fasts for forty days in the desert in preparation for the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11), and he warns his disciples not to fast for pious show “as the hypocrites do” (Matthew 6:16-18).
The practice of regular fasting continued into the early Christian church. The Didache, written sometime between 70 and 140 A.D. speaks of fasting twice a week (on Wednesday and Friday as being an important part of Christian discipline, and many of the early Church Fathers also spoke of the importance of regular fasting.
Perhaps the most well-known fast in Christianity is the Lenten fast. In the ancient church originally it was the catechumens, those preparing for Baptism at Easter, who participated in a fast. It is thought that this fast was originally for the six days before Easter (which became Holy Week) but was lengthened to a period of 40 days to commemorate the forty days Jesus spend in the desert praying and fasting. It became a common practice for other members of the community to participate in the fast as well, but this was apparently not a universal practice.
The Council of Nicea in 325 spoke of a church-wide 40-day fast in preparation for Easter, but how this was observed still varied from place to place until Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) regularized it. Fasting would begin 46 days before Easter with a ceremony of Ash. Sundays were not to be counted in the 40-day observance since they remained a day of celebration of the Resurrection. The fast was strict, with only one meal a day after 3 p.m. with no meat, fish or dairy.
We continue the practice of fasting today for many reasons. The forty day fast is meant to direct our thoughts toward the coming celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter and so prepare for it. It is an expression of sorrow and repentance for our sins as we remember that it was for our sins that Christ died.
Finally, it is a form of self-discipline where we give up something good (food) in order to turn our minds to a greater good – union with God. The obligation to fast today applies only to those under 60 years of age on only 2 days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. However, the common practice of “giving up” something pleasurable is also a form of fasting, and becomes more meaningful when it is consciously connected to the purposes of preparation, penance and spiritual discipline.

(Ruth Powers is the Program Coordinator for St. Mary Basilica Parish in Natchez.)

Intro to diocese intercultural ministry team

By Father Clement “Clem” Olukunle Oyafemi
JACKSON – Beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, it is my pleasure to introduce myself to you once again. I am deeply grateful to Fran Lavalle and Bishop Joseph Kopacz for inviting me to this diocese. I joined the Office of Intercultural Ministry last October and if not for COVID I would have toured all the parishes of the diocese by now.

Father Clem and Daisey Martinez of the Office of Intercultural Ministry. (Photo by Abbey Schuhmann)

The philosophy behind intercultural ministry is that it is not enough to just know that people from other cultures exist among us; we need to dialogue with them. Interculturalism, therefore, involves moving beyond mere passive acceptance of a many cultures in a community. The beauty lies in the many cultures effectively existing in society to the level of promoting mutual respect and dialogue. I believe that intercultural ministry is a genuine fruit that must grow out of authentic multicultural ministry.
People cannot just exist side by side in the church for several decades without engaging with one another in fruitful and respectful dialogue. Intercultural philosophy/theology challenges the idea of legitimizing segregated communities, leaving them in isolation from each other. Why? Because isolation leads to death. That explains why most of the national churches in our big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., died out.
From pastoral experience, effective multicultural offices in Catholic dioceses should after some years grow into one intercultural office. That is why the people serving in multicultural offices cannot just be proficient in various human languages but must also be fluent in reading and speaking the language of the heart – love. It is only when we are converted and transformed that we can make ourselves available as instruments of transformation.
Today’s church is not just talking about tolerance or collaboration, but we are talking about being in profoundly genuine communion with God and with one another.
Daisey Martinez is the associate for this office. She is also fluent in Spanish and English and also in the language of the heart – her smile. We are here for everyone. Our plan is to visit every parish to introduce ourselves. That is done right now by invitation for obvious reasons. Some parishes would prefer to see us only when the pandemic is completely over, and we don’t have to mask up like a masquerade ball – LOL. We have a few parishes lined up for the months of February and March.
We hope to also visit schools, (public and private), hospitals, youth groups, and so on, building bridges and encouraging people to see diversity as a gift to be celebrated and not a problem to be solved.
During our visit to parishes, especially for workshops, we will dwell heavily on “Open Wide our Hearts,” a pastoral letter the USCCB published in 2018. We will build on the workshop that Bishop Shelton Fabre of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, presented to the clergy of the Diocese of Jackson in the month of January.
Post COVID, we hope to have a big celebration in which all the different ethnic groups in the diocese will gather with the bishop to celebrate our diversity.
As we begin this Lenten season, let us continue to pray for one another that the true spirit of Repentance may be experienced by all.

(Father Clem Oyafemi is the coordinator for the Office of Intercultural Ministry of the Diocese of Jackson.)

Missionary, Father Mullaly retires after 50 years of service

By Mary Margaret Edney
GREENVILLE – As a seminarian, Father Thomas Mullaly wrote a letter to his superior general of the Society of the Divine Word who resides in Rome, detailing where he’d would like to end up as a priest. In the letter, he asked to go south, which is where he’s been ever since.

Father Mullaly

Mullaly, a native of Emmett, Michigan, has retired from administering of parishes after 50 years of service as a Divine Word Missionary priest.
“It went by very fast,” Mullally said with a laugh, reflecting on his decades spent in the priesthood. “If you are open to people, if you are compassionate and merciful, the laity will respond. They enjoy a priest who can laugh and cry with them and minister to them.”
And that’s exactly what Mullally did.
“I’m not a cook, so I ate with a lot of families,” he explained. “One of the great joys I had was sitting down and having a wonderful meal with parishioners. People love to have their priests come to their home and have a meal with them.”
But being a parish priest in the deep south wasn’t originally what Mullally had in mind. While he was a junior in high school, he talked to his guidance counselor about going overseas to work in foreign service. His counselor suggested priesthood, and he imagined he would end up being a missionary in a foreign country after his ordination on Dec. 19 1970, in Techny, Illinois. However, Mullally wasn’t a linguist, and his health at the time wasn’t ideal for international travel, so he decided to stick with the southern United States.
“I was very happy; I definitely made the right decision,” he said, when reflecting back on his decades of priesthood. “I have no complaints, I love my ministry.”
Though his vocation didn’t take him to foreign countries, it did bring foreign countries to him. Since 1996, Mullally has mentored young missionaries of his religious order, the Society of the Divine Word, which pastor in many of Mississippi’s African-American Catholic and multi-cultural churches. From Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Brazil, Ghana and Benin — he’s had the chance to mentor young priests from all over the world.
“I tell them that to learn about the black community or any community, you have to walk in the streets and get to know them,” he said. “To minister, you must visit their homes, visit the sick and listen to their stories.”
From St. Martinville and Jeanerette, Louisiana, to Pine Bluff, Arkansas and finally to Mississippi’s Sacred Heart in Greenville, St. Francis in Shaw and Sacred Heart in Rosedale, Mullally always made it a goal to become entrenched in the local community he serves. By spending quality time with his parishioners outside of Sunday Mass, he really got to know them, and they got to know him.
“I really enjoyed working with the youth, I’d go to basketball and football games,” he said, adding that when he left St. Martinville in 1975, he was given a team letter jacket. “It’s 45 years old, and I still wear it. I wore it yesterday, and I’ll wear it tomorrow.”
Now, as a retired priest, Mullally’s responsibilities have shifted, and he still plans to fill in for priests who need a substitute. But, one thing that won’t change with his retirement is his commitment to knowing his community.
“I always evangelize, especially with young people,” he said. “I just walked recently even though was cold in a park in Greenville, and I talk to group of young teenagers and — ask them how they’re doing, how school is coming along. Even in Kroger, I talk to the young cashiers and asked them if them know where Sacred Heart church is located, and if they do not, I tell them where the church is.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience to know African-American people and understand their side of their side of the story of life,” Mullally said. “The relationships I’ve made are incredible. I’m a missionary, that’s me.”

Our Lady of Victories celebrates renovations with rededication

CLEVELAND – Over seven years ago Our Lady of Victories Church, Cleveland, started having discussions about replacing worn out flooring and refinishing pews. The discussion was broadened to include a vision of the parish’s needs and hopes. This finally resulted in the just completed renovation of and addition to the church, which included re-staining the pews, replacing flooring, redoing all of the wall finishes, installing a new ceiling and lighting system, renewing the stations of the cross, and purchasing a new crucifix, tabernacle, St. Joseph statue, ambo and presider’s chair.

The new addition includes a spacious and welcoming narthex, two multipurpose rooms, and bathrooms. Parishioners have been very pleased with the finished project. It retains what was most liked about the church while giving it an even more sacred and grand yet intimate feeling, along with new space for fellowship.
The project was designed by JH&H Architects of Flowood and constructed by KT Builder of Greenwood. To make this dream possible, many parishioners donated their time, creativity and financial gifts, under the leadership of the OLV Renovation Committee — Brenda Aguzzi, Michael Aguzzi, Frances Janoush, Mary Helen Waller, Gloria Norquist and Ron Koehler.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz blessed the completed renovation and addition on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Lourdes: Sacraments of healing and my memory of shrines

Theology at the movies
By James Tomek, Ph.D
Jessica Housner’s 2009 Lourdes, recently on the Turner Classic Movie channel, is a beautiful, yet complex study of the Lourdes phenomenon that gives insight on the powers of the healing sacraments of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. The story concerns a group of pilgrims in different stages of suffering who visit Lourdes to experience the healing waters of Saint Bernadette’s village. Christine, the major character, suffers from multiple sclerosis and is paralyzed from the neck down. Her roommate, an older woman, Frau Hartl, has some kind of facial paralysis. The leader of the group is Cecile, a rather tough talking nun who leads the pilgrims in their tour that includes the grotto, baths and confessions. Many of the scenes are of actual pilgrims. The film also shows the tourist aspects of the town, but is very ambiguous about condemning it, as it also puts us solemnly right in the middle of all the devotions with the beautiful music and chanting of the prayers. Silvie Testud, the popular French actress who plays Christine, accepted the part only on condition that the film not bash Lourdes. Two ladies, who serve like the Greek chorus, comment on miracles and why a God would help some and refuse others. After taking you on a “pilgrimage” through the film Lourdes, I will share some memories of sacred trips to our closer Canadian Shrines.

Empty pews are seen at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in early April during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS photo/Thibaud Moritz, JMP/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters)

We see Christine first wheeled into the large cafeteria by Maria, a nurse’s aid dressed like a nun. Soon she is put to bed by the leader, Cecile, and Maria who kneel afterwards in night prayer. Cecile leads the group through their itinerary of visiting the grotto, receiving the general solemn “monstrance” blessing, along with the baths, confession, the Stations of the Cross and final picnic. Christine is not a devout pilgrim. She explains that it is only the wish to leave her assisted living place to have varied cultural experiences. In her confession, she admits not having sympathy for her fellow sufferers. She is jealous when her nurse Maria flirts with Kuno, a military helper, at the shrine from the order of Malta. When she is later cured, the two “chorus” ladies doubt her merit. Christine’s roommate, an older lady with facial paralysis, is in direct opposition to Christine devotion-wise. She takes care of Christine when Maria neglects her duties. She is sincere as we witness her praying in front of the primary statue of Mary.
Is the film somewhat critical of the tourist attitude? I am not sure. When the older lady prays in front of the statue, we see a souvenir sign to the left. However, if we look closer, the souvenir shop is in a mirror reflection and well behind the holy area. The head of the group Cecile seems cold at first. She scolds Christine for excessive pride when her roommate wheels her closer to the priest giving the solemn blessing. However, Cecile also devoutly prays for her after she has put Christine to bed. In the end, she faints, and we see that she is suffering from a cancer as her head reflects the ravishes of chemotherapy. I am reminded of the 1943 film, The Song of Bernadette, when an older nun, who had been criticizing Bernadette, changes her view when she sees the condition of her legs. I change my mind and see Cecile as a saint who leads hurting people to places of prayer and possible healings.
How do we look at this movie with respect to miracles? There is one young girl who regains a little consciousness, but then falls back into a state of non-being. Christine is cured and dances at the farewell dinner, but falls and needs a wheelchair as the film ends. Is the cure only temporary? Is the place a tourist trap? Why does God help some and not others?
The two chorus ladies pose questions of Divine Justice worthy of Job. The consulting priests assuage the sufferers in that they are all “cured” on some level, if they can accept their condition. I pray that this is true. On one level, I would advise believers to read someone like John Haught, who takes on why a powerful God would allow such misfortune, in his God After Darwin. There are beautiful adult explanations on why we should have faith in a “weak” God.
On another level, this film takes me back to pilgrimage trips that I took with my parents to the Canadian shrines of Saint Anne in Quebec, the Blessed Mother in the Cap de la Madeleine in Three Rivers, and Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. I remember processions and services and also souvenir shops. However, most people were there to pray. Real pilgrims. Some left their crutches, but all were there in devout prayer. I went five times with my parents, who in the last time, bribed me by letting me drive. Two later trips were done on my will power. I took my mother to the shrines the Summer after my father died — a beautiful trip where we reminisced about dad and our religion. The second — a trip through the shrines with my spouse Yvonne. We had a controlled naivete as we visited the shrines, observing the major ceremonies at each place. There were tourists, yes, but the majority of the experiencers were people who prayed and were looking for meaning in life. Sometimes the pilgrimage effect can help you pray when a local church service might become too repetitious. The two trips helped me remember my family and religion.
The film Lourdes is so beautifully presented, with real pilgrims, that it creates the atmosphere of prayer and music, even if one questions at times the commercial aspect. It is a prayer.

(James Tomek is a retired language and literature professor at Delta State University who is currently a Lay Ecclesial Minister at Sacred Heart in Rosedale and also active in RCIA at Our Lady of Victories in Cleveland.)

New books demonstrate majesty, power of Vatican through the years

By Timothy Walch
VATICAN (CNS) – “Vatican Secret Archives: Unknown Pages of Church History” by Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2020). 370 pp., $34.95.
“The Church and the Modern Era (1846-2005): Pius IX, World Wars and the Second Vatican Council” by David M. Wagner. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2020). 192 pp., $17.95.
“Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity” by Russell Shaw. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2020). 152 pp., $15.95.
“Rome has spoken; the matter is settled.” Attributed to St. Augustine in the fifth century, this maxim underscored the authority of the pope and the Vatican for more than 1,500 years.

These are the covers of “Vatican Secret Archives: Unknown Pages of Church History” by Grzegorz Gorny and Janusz Rosikon; “The Church and the Modern Era (1846-2005): Pius IX, World Wars and the Second Vatican Council” by David M. Wagner; “Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity” by Russell Shaw. They are reviewed by Timothy Walch. (CNS composite/courtesy Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, Ignatius Press)

These three books embellish and enhance our understanding of how that power has evolved, particularly in recent times.
Foremost among the three is “The Vatican Secret Archives.” The word “secret” refers to restrictions on use, not on the content of the collections. In 2019, therefore, Pope Francis changed the formal name to the Vatican Apostolic Archives. As the authors note, the Vatican’s archival collections have been used by historians for more than a century.
“The Vatican Secret Archives” is an overview of the history of the church as shown in its documentary collections. The book is handsome, both well-written and well-illustrated. It will be an excellent addition to any church or parish library.
After an initial chapter that explains the structure and content of the Vatican’s 650 collections, the authors focus on eight distinct historical events. These include the trial of the Knights Templar, the Crusades, the paradoxes of the Inquisition, the conquest of the Americas, the trial of Galileo, the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the papacy of Pope Pius XII during World War II.
The stories are compelling and intended for a general audience. Value can be found in the design of each page and the images of documents and other antiquities are exquisite. Also of note are vignettes on curiosities such as the oldest book in the collection, the use of secret codes and the discovery of missing manuscripts.
The majesty of the Vatican came at a price, however. The books by David M. Wagner and Russell Shaw articulate the struggle that popes have had with evolving modernity. Both Wagner’s “The Church in the Modern Era” and Shaw’s “Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity” highlight the enormous changes that have taken place in the church and society since the installation of Pope Pius IX in 1846.
There’s been a fundamental tension between church doctrine and the societal changes brought on by industrialism, world wars, sexuality, technology and so much more. Both authors take on these challenges and provide clear overviews of how individual popes have responded to world events.
Wagner’s book is the final installment in the seven-volume series “Reclaiming Catholic History.” The series strives “to communicate history in a way that’s accessible, even entertaining,” notes Mike Aquilina, the series editor. “They see history as stories well told.” And that is a goal that Wagner meets with aplomb.
He’s produced a readable, 10-chapter volume that traces the evolution of the church from 1846 to 2005. Each chapter includes a vignette of a saint of that era as well as a question for readers that focuses on the special challenge of that time.
Wagner also includes substantial notes, an index and a guide to further reading. Together these elements combine to make a thought-provoking book for the general reader.
Shaw is an author who needs little introduction to most readers of Catholic literature. In fact, he’s been writing extensively on church history and related issues for decades. It’s no surprise, therefore, that his most recent book is a lively, well-reasoned overview of 20th century popes from St. Pius X to St. John Paul II.
The book is built on a series of brief biographical essays that Shaw first published in Our Sunday Visitor. In book form, Shaw expands his treatments and includes extensive excerpts from the writing of these popes that gives readers a better understanding of the values and philosophies of each man.
Shaw also includes a separate chapter on the Second Vatican Council and its central role in the history of the church.
Together these three books remind all readers – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – of the central role of the church in the evolution of moral and social values over two millennium.
It’s an extraordinary institution that has been the guardian of knowledge, culture and the moral values that are the foundation of Western civilization. Rome speaks through these books.

(Walch is an historian of American Catholicism and the author of many books including “Parish School” (2016)).

Calendar of events

STATIONS OF THE CROSS
FLOWOOD St. Paul, Stations each Friday at 6 p.m. during Lent. The responses will be displayed on the monitors. All are welcome. (Stations will also be livestreamed.)
HERNANDO Holy Spirit, Penance Service, Wednesday, March 3 at 7 p.m.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Rosary at 6 p.m. followed by Stations at 6:30 p.m.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick, Stations on Fridays – March 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 6 p.m.

LENTEN DINNERS
FLOWOOD St. Paul, Fish Dinners to Go, Knights of Columbus will be frying fish and serving it to go with a drive thru. Sign up each week on the website to reserve your dinners. Donations will be accepted. Pick up will be a drive thru at 6:30 p.m. Fridays during Lent. Delivery within a 10-mile radius of the church is available. Be sure to complete the address and phone number section if you need your dinners to be delivered. Details: church office (601) 992-9547.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, the Knights of Columbus annual Lenten Fish Fry each Friday of Lent. The Fish Fry will be drive thru only at the Family Life Center from 5-7 p.m. Cost: Catfish dinners $10; Shrimp dinners $11 and Combo dinners $12. Dinners include: fries, hush puppies and coleslaw. For grilled catfish, please call 30 minutes ahead: Darren (601) 597-2890 or Joe (601) 431-7744.
SOUTHAVEN Christ the King, Knights of Columbus Council 7120 will be serving Lenten Fish Dinners on Fridays, March 5 and March 19. In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, dinners will be carry out only. Funds raised from Knights of Columbus fish fries are used to support ministries such as the Pregnancy Care Center. Details: church office (662) 342-1073.

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT
NEW ORLEANS Our Lady of the Cenacle Retreat Center, Women’s Retreat – “The Infinite Tenderness of God,” Feb. 19-21. Presenter: Father Jacob DuMont, LC. God is infinite love and out of that love, he created and redeemed us. Father DuMont currently serves as the local superior and chaplain for Lumen Institute, as well as a spiritual director for the seminarians at Notre Dame Seminary. Capacity is limited – registration on first come first serve basis. Non-refundable deposit is required. Details: to register, contact the retreat office at (504) 267-9604 or https://www.neworleansretreats.org/retreats.
JACKSON 40 Days for Life Feb. 17 – March 28. Protect mothers and children by joining this worldwide mobilization. Vigil Location: on the sidewalk outside Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2903 North State Street, Jackson) Vigil Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Details: 601 956-8636 or plm@prolifemississippi.org or www.40daysforlife.com/Jackson

PARISH AND SCHOOL EVENTS
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis, Knights of Columbus Blood Drive, Sunday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Details: call the church office to schedule your appointment (601) 833-1799.
McCOMB St. Alphonsus, Men’s retreat “Rise Up O Men of God The Truth Will Set You Free” – Saturday, March 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Alphonsus Liguori Hall, 104 South 5th Street. The retreat will focus on the truth of God’s Love, Salvation in Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit and Christian warfare. Speakers: Al Mansfield and Father Bill Henry. Al has served the Catholic Church for 50 years. He holds a master’s degree in theology from Notre Dame Seminary. He recently retired as Director of CCRNO. He and his wife, Patti, were awarded the Papal Medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 2000 by St. John Paul II. Father Bill Henry retired last year after serving the diocese for 36 years. He previously pastored at St. Joseph Greenville; St. Alphonsus McComb and St. Therese Jackson. He has given many retreats and spoken at conferences throughout the United States. Cost: no charge, but registration is required. Lunch will be served. Masks and social distancing are required. Donations will be accepted. Details: (601) 276-5954 or mail name, address and phone number to: Mike Brown, 1053 Riverview Drive, Summit, MS 39666.
MERIDIAN Catholic Community of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” led by Father Augustine on Wednesdays that PSR is in session beginning Feb. 24 at 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center. All adults are welcomed. Details: Mary Billups at the church office (601) 693-1321 Ext 5.
NATCHEZ St. Mary Basilica, Oremus Study Program for Lent is an eight-week study program for parishioners who wish to deepen their prayer life. The Oremus program is from Ascension Press, led by Reverend Mark Toups of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and teaches you the essentials of an effective and fruitful prayer life. In order to arrange for proper distancing and materials, you will need to sign up for one of the following options: In person – Mondays at 6 p.m. in the Youth Wing of the Family Life Center beginning Feb. 15 or Virtual – Watch the video presentation online anytime at your convenience and discuss via Zoom Sundays at 6:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 21. Participants in the virtual sessions will receive an email with instructions regarding purchasing online access at a cost of $13.95. Details: church office (601) 445-5616 or email Ruth Powers at ruthprocoordinator@cableone.net to sign up for your preferred format.

YOUTH BRIEFS
FLOWOOD St. Paul, Big Deal meets Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Join us! Parents and Students, please connect to the Big Deal Reminder app for messages sent from Cory Head. Text @bigdeal to 81010. Also, each class has their own Remind app. Get connected to stay informed! Details: youth@spaulcc.org or the church office (601) 992-9547.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi, Confirmation Mini-Retreat led by Father Nick Adam for all 11th grade candidates, Sunday, March 7 from 3 – 7:30 p.m. All 10th grade Pre-Confirmation candidates will join the 6 – 7:30 p.m. segment. Details: church office (601) 856-5556.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick School, Registration for St. Patrick families & parishioners began on Feb. 9. School tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Details: call the school office (601) 482 6044 or visit www.stpatrickcatholicschool.org.

Importancia de La Sagrada Familia: centro de MFCC

Por Susana y Edward Flórez
JACKSON – En la Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol, sus fieles del Movimiento Familiar Cristiano Católico (MFCC) de la Federación de Jackson, MS estuvieron presentes en Misa celebrada por obispo Joseph Kopacz, en conmemoración a la Sagrada Familia el pasado jueves 21 de enero a las 7 p.m.
El equipo de bienvenida del MFCC se encargó de recibir y acomodar en el recinto a todas las familias asistentes cumpliendo todas las recomendaciones en estos tiempos de pandemia. A esta distinguida ceremonia asistieron los nuevos presidentes del MFCC, Irma y Ernesto Sánchez, los vice-presidentes Natividad y Damián Román, al lado de su renovado cuerpo directivo y los delegados federales, Francisco e Isabel Mazy.

JACKSON – Matrimonios de las diferentes etapas del MFCC Federación de Jackson, MS, participaron de la Misa de la Sagrada Familia, mcelebrada por el Obispo Joseph Kopacz en la Catedral San Pedro Apóstol, jueves ene. 21. (Foto de Nereida y Miguel Solano, líderes del Ministerio de Oración del MFCC – Federación de Jackson, MS)

Así mismo, estuvieron presentes los reverendos Padres Gustavo Amell, ST, Alexis Zúñiga, ST y Odel Medina, ST; éste último sirve como asesor espiritual del MFCC y fue quien solemnizó la homilía.
Durante la celebración de la Misa a la Sagrada Familia, se reverenció a la Sra. Adelicia Velázquez quien falleció en diciembre del 2020 y quien en vida fue una madre dedicada, fiel sierva de Dios y su prójimo, además de ser muy activa y querida por el MFCC y nuestra iglesia.
Por su bondad, carisma, sencillez, voz melodiosa y fervorosa en el coro Hispano de la iglesia, y su infinito amor por su comunidad, la señora Velázquez siempre será recordada.
A pesar de las restricciones debido a las dificultades sanitarias y climáticas que se vienen enfrentando, el MFCC continúa desplegando esfuerzos orientados al fortalecimiento del amor incondicional, de la complicidad, de la unión, del compromiso, del sacrificio y de la ayuda mutua que son algunas de las virtudes que toda familia necesita cultivar día a día.
Por ello, el MFCC realza la importancia de la Familia, promueve que los momentos en familia sean valorizados e incentiva la importancia de la educación familiar para vivir en sociedad tal como nos lo indica el Papa Francisco en este extracto de su oración a la Sagrada Familia:
“Sagrada Familia de Nazaret, despierta en nuestra sociedad la conciencia del carácter sagrado e inviolable de la familia, invaluable e insustituible. Que cada familia sea un hogar acogedor de bondad y paz para niños y ancianos, para los que están enfermos y solos, para los pobres y necesitados.”
Recordemos que no existe ningún éxito en el mundo que compense el fracaso de una familia por lo que después de Dios nuestras familias deben estar siempre en primer lugar.
Que la oración continúe siendo nuestro principal instrumento para silenciar las tempestades de las palabras que busquen ofuscar el equilibrio de la paz en nuestro hogar y que el diálogo nos ayude a recuperar la serenidad y nos mantenga unidos en el amor para que viviendo en armonía seamos para el mundo imagen verdadera de la Sagrada Familia de Nazaret.
¡AMÉN!

(Edward y Susana Flórez fueron bendecidos con el sacramento del matrimonio hace 4 años. Edward es doctor en Ingeniería Biomédica y Susana es doctora en Odontología Restauradora con especialización en implantes. Miembros del MFCC desde 2016 y responsables de publicaciones. Viven en Mississippi desde 2014 y tienen dos niños, André, 8 y Luke, 1 año.)