St. Jude Parish is hiring a full-time custodian. Scroll down to the news section for more information. To inquire, please contact Deacon James Morrissey in the parish office: 225-766- 2431 or by email at deaconjmorrissey@gmail.com

From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson

How Much Stuff Do You Actually Need?

In his book entitled, “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives,” author Wayne Muller speaks of something called the “gospel of consumption.”  This term is an expression of the behavior, and in some cases the outright, conscious attitude, that says “more is better, and fast is best.”  All of us, in one way or another, have probably fallen victim to this style of living.  In eastern religions the basic philosophy about life and achieving true happiness is to let go of more and more as we grow older, not obtain more and more.  For many in the west, it’s just the opposite.  We live in a society that has, for many years now, taught us to keep moving, keep working, keep obtaining, and to keep up with the Jones’, as the old expression goes.  At the same time, we are all probably aware that this is most definitely not the way to inner peace. 

In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus underscores the necessity of “letting go of things” and trusting that God will provide.  We come upon the scene in which Jesus is about to send the apostles out to do their ministry.  Before they leave, however, Mark tells us that Jesus, ...instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.” (Mk. 6:7-13)  The purpose of this instruction was 2-fold: first, so that they could be as detached as possible from anything that would hinder their ministry; second, so that they could see, yet again, that God would provide for all of their needs.

As priests, one of the realities that most of us think about fairly often is the reality of packing and moving to another parish.  Moving can be a major pain.  There’s sorting, packing, making decisions about what to keep and what to discard, and the actual moving itself.  However, there is also an opportunity with moving.  If we want to, we can down-size.  In fact, down-sizing actually makes the move easier.  When I was assigned here at Saint Jude the first time, back in 1991, our parish Director of Religious Education was Sister Susan Moncla.  Susan had a very basic philosophy about “stuff.”  She once told me, “Trey, if I haven’t used it in a year, then I don’t need it.”  Now, I don’t know if everyone would consider a year to be realistic, but her point was and is well-taken.  We will all be making “the big move” one day, returning home to God.  In the meantime, it would be nice if we could down-size from all that we don’t need, so that we can rely more intently on The One who provides for all of our needs.

Posted in:

Privilege: The KEY Ingredient in Humble Pie

In 1980 the somewhat famous singer, songwriter, Mac Davis, recorded a song entitled, “It’s Hard to Be Humble.” Here are the words to the refrain, “O Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror, ‘cause I get better looking each day. To know me is to love me. I must be a hell of a man. Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can.” (Casablanca Records. 1980.) If you’re like me and ever listened to it, you probably thought 2 things; namely, it’s pretty funny, but there probably are people who actually believe that about themselves.  Hopefully, we’re not one of them.

This weekend, we read from the words of Saint Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians.  Ever since I first read this passage many, many years ago, I have found it to be “very real” for me, very sobering.  Let me offer the specific verse to which I am referring and then share with you my thoughts about it.  He writes, That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10)  There has been a lot of speculation as to what Paul meant.  I’ve heard the phrase, “some sort of addiction” thrown around.  I’ve heard other ideas.  The point, however, isn’t really what “it” was.  The point is, all of us are broken in some way.  We all have our weaknesses. We have our “Achilles heal,” if you will.  At times, these are recurring, they raise their heads more than once in our lives.  This part of the passage is a reminder of the obvious: none of us is perfect.  It’s when  we forget this that the wheels come off the wagon, so to speak. This message, however, is not about our brokenness only.  Paul continues with one of the most comforting and encouraging statements in all of scripture.  He writes, “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.'”  (2 Cor. 12:7-10)  This particular verse inspired the 1975 song written and recorded by a group of priests known as The St. Louis Jesuits, entitled, “Take, Lord, Receive.”  If you’ve never listened to it, I encourage you to do so.  It literally comes close to bringing me to tears every time I hear it. 

Society and the world tell us that strength comes from this source or that, usually some type of worldly gain.  Real strength, however, comes in the ability to surrender to God our weaknesses, our strengths—as much of our lives as we can.  It is most definitely true: there is a certain grace to be uncovered in imperfection.  When we feel weak, as the world, our peers, coworkers, and so on may define weakness, it is then that we are really strong.  We just simply need to embrace this side of ourselves in faith.  The key ingredient to genuine humility is privilege.  I am privileged to be a brother, an uncle, and, of course, a priest.  I am most definitely not worthy.  I am blessed beyond human understanding to be alive after  the experience of cancer.  Despite all of this however, there have been moments in my life when I risked forgetting where I’ve come and what I’ve been through. I do not want to forget.  I want to remember.  That’s the key to remaining genuinely humble—remembering that we are all blessed beyond belief.

Posted in:

Pope Francis: at the Beginning of the Pandemic

Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi Address on Coronavirus and Jesus Calming the Storm

Friday March 27, 2020

Pope Francis gives his extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) in an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. The blessing was livestreamed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ address during the extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing he delivered while praying for an end of the coronavirus.

 

“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.

It is easy to recognize ourselves in this story. What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude. While his disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, he stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first. And what does he do? In spite of the tempest, he sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping. When he wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, he turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities. The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anesthetize us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us. We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

“Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”

 

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us. In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick. Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives. This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial. It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves. In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer. How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realize we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

 

“The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and

revive our Easter faith.”

 

Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

 

 

Posted in: