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Leading a Foodie Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

I don’t really talk about food much on the blog, although it is a regular part of my daily conversation. I love food. I love to eat, and I love to cook. Neither of which have found themselves in my writing. I do often blog about my faith (I am a priest), and it has been a faith-life-long dream to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and see where the mysteries of our Redemption took place.

A friend of mine, Jeff Young, of Catholic Foodie fame, approached me about being chaplain for a pilgrimage he was leading to the Holy Land, only it wasn’t the normal sort of pilgrimage. Instead of food merely being involved as culinary adventurism into foreign territory, it would be co-headliner to the pilgrimage sites themselves. He described a trip filled with the sites of Christ while learning the cooking and foods unique to the Middle East, from Middle Eastern, Israeli chefs. A Foodie Pilgrimage.

My calendar, being free of weddings, allowed me to sign on as chaplain of such a wonderful and extraordinary trip.

DOWNLOAD THE BROCHURE HERE

Photo is St. Peter Fish by Etan Tal

 

New Leaf

If we haven’t lost whatever regular reader base we have through, well not giving them things to read, I am grateful. I can speak only for myself and not for Daniel, but knowing him well enough, he had a similar story to tell, in different words and style, but with the same resounding ring.

I haven’t written because frankly I haven’t sat down to write. At times that has been because I didn’t want to write, other times because I wanted to but didn’t have the time, or still other times when I had the time and had nothing to write. It seems difficult that a non-fiction writer could run into writer’s block with there being a vast number of things I could have possibly commented on in the past six months. But here I sit, acknowledging to you a weakness I have felt in myself.

At this point, you might be wonder (or I might be overstating my own self-importance), that I might be signing off for good from the blog-o-sphere. Indeed, that thought had passed my mind, because it is the easy way out. However, I picked up this particular venture not just for my own growth as a writer, or merely as a means to find reflection for the thoughts in my head (when they came), but also as a means to evangelize, however small my reach is.

Part of my difficulty is my lack of natural organizational skills which often leave me doing lots of things in no particular order and without direction. That is one of my daily crosses (a nod to this past weekend’s Gospel) because it prevents me endeavoring on such things as writing, journaling, and other things that are enjoyable to me and fruitful to my mind. But me aside (because that’s what St. John the Baptist has called me today on the feast of his nativity), I realize that this space can be a vehicle for the New Evangelization, and this is where my greatest sorrow in not writing lies. Here I have a vehicle to proclaim Christ, in a means instantly attainable, and yet I am absent.

So it is time to turn over a new leaf to replant the tree of creativity letting the words flow like the might Mississippi that rolls unimpeded two blocks from here. I invite your encouragement on the regular social media rounds (twitter: @colonel4God) because I know that I will need it.

Of Resignation and Self Gift

“Mr. Lacourrege, can the Pope retire?” This was the question posed to me last Tuesday during my C period class. Its a group of about 30 freshmen, and Konnor Gaubert is one of the more curious of the bunch.

“Yes, Konnor, the Pope can retire, if he wants. Historically, its happened a couple of times before.”

“Do you think it will happen again, Mr. Lacourrege?”

“Well, certainly it could, but for the last six centuries or so, the attitude of the Popes has been to die with their boots on. You know, to keep the job until they pass away?”

“But do you think it could happen today, Mr. Lacourrege.”

“Probably not, Konnor. I mean, in today’s world, its highly unlikely that the Pope would ‘retire.’ Especially the current Pope. He’s a work-a-holic German.”

“So you really don’t think it could happen.”

“No, Konnor, I don’t. Now lets move on.”

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahhahahaha.

Heaven has the most vengeful sense of humor, especially when dealing with proud and impatient men such as myself. It is a great comfort to know that the Pope is neither proud nor impatient. It is my supreme hope that the next Pope follows in Benedict’s footsteps in this regard. Really, though, I woke up this morning feeling more proud to be a Catholic than I have ever felt in my life. The media has, as usual, put a completely wrong spin on the thing. They say he is stepping down because of political pressure (which is certainly not true). They say that the butler scandal has taken a toll on him (which may be true). Of course, fact is always stranger than fiction;

“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the ship of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”

This short statement might be one of the most profound things the Pope has ever written on vocation. I say this well aware of the many profound things that he has already written on vocation. Yet in so simple a statement, with words that qualify his action, the Pope explains that he feels no longer capable of praying and suffering and acting and speaking for the Flock of Christ. He cites age, not politics. He cites weakness, not scandal. In short, he says that he is unable to make a full gift of self, and that is why he is stepping down.
The sheer sanity of the Catholic faith can be missed by those who are not looking for it. Our Papa has just admitted that he is too old to sail the Ship. Its as simple a statement as could have been made by an 84 year old shrimper on Bayou St. John. Heck, it could have been made by St. John the fishermen! It could have been made by St. Peter the fishermen. That’s the whole point of this event. Sometimes, a teacher gives the wrong answer to a question. Sometimes a Pope runs out of strength. And when we do, the Holy Spirit is cool with it. He’s totally ready for it. He knows better than anyone that we hold this treasure in earthen vessels. Because the Church is more earthy than the world, the world misunderstands Her. The world assumes that a man only relinquishes power when power is wrestled from him. The Church, on the other hand, knows the natural law: when a man can no longer give, his giving up is not defeat, but victory for those to whom he gives. Pope Benedict XVI has not died physically, but his resignation represents a spiritual death that will bear fruit for us, his children. Now, excuse me: I must prepare a lesson plan in which I die to self, apologize and reward the curiosity of Konnor Gaubert.

Welcome to Our New Digs

The Crew

Daniel is on the right, Fr. Kyle is on the left

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to our brand spanking new blogsite. For a while I’ve played around with the idea of moving over the blog its own domain name with a new look that is uniquely ours and that can be operated by us. I must say I love this new design. We went for simple and focused. Less to look at and more to read. Less to distract and more to focus. We will no longer be posting on the Blogger site; however, we won’t take it down completely because we’ve been there for five years (yup that’s how long I’ve been at this!). People know we’re there (at least that’s what I tell myself).

Let everyone know about our new digs. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook. Tell your friends and tell your wife.

Daniel and I will be setting something up soon to where there will, hopefully, be regular posting instead of the sporadic globs that we have now. That will be both a challenge to us as writers but also to be more faithful to you our reader. Over the past year, our readership has jumped almost by 125%. We must be doing something write and readable (the misspelling is intended, for all the grammarphiles who noticed).

Lastly, I can’t help but make a plug. Jeff Young, whom most know as the Catholic Foodie, made this switch possible. He is known as the cook/podcaster/blogger extraordinaire, but he also daylights as a website designer and operator. I first worked with him to redesign our school and parish website. Then, during Advent, he made a sale offer I couldn’t refuse, minus the head of our parish feline, Rita (there will soon be a post about her), to which all the school children are grateful.

NaNoWriMo

So I haven’t been writing a whole lot in this space as of late. Although there are many excuses I can and will give, I personally accept none of them. I took up this blog as part of my mission as a Christian. Now that I am a priest, it has taken a while for me to reorganize and refocus this particular part of my mission. Priesthood, like parenthood, has many demands on its time. I am continually inspired by parents of many children who still are able to be prolific in their writing.

Being that I have been out of the habit of writing (other than with homilies) I felt I needed a jump start, a way I could get a little rocket boost to propel me back into the writing which I so enjoy, where I find rest (the biggest attraction), and that can also be a means for evangelization (which is always on my heart). I have heard over the past few years from different corners of the info feed that is my time on the internet of something called NaNoWriMo. This immediately conjured for me images of rhinos listening to tiny iPods and had little other importance other than an inside joke with myself. Needless to say I didn’t pay much attention to it. As November moved closer to being actualized, I began to see small snippets about NaNoWriMo in the days before, well, today. Now normally I don’t shave during the Man Month of November, which really means I don’t trim my beard as often. I decided due to the aforementioned desires NaNoWriMo would be the little rocket boost to propel me back into creativity.

For those who are still thinking of rhino’s and iPod’s NaNoWriMo means National Novel Writing Month, or sometimes called November. People from all around the country decide that in one month they will write a rough draft on a novel that has been floating around in their overstimulated underused brains. The goal: write 50,000 words in 30 days towards the completion of a rough draft of a novel.

Now being that I’m Catholic. I decided the rules didn’t apply to me. I don’t have a novel idea, or rather, an idea for a novel. What I do have is a blog (thank you for reading), a promise to write for another blog (I’m super excited about fulfilling that promise), a new parish website that goes live next week in which I will be writing on the documents of the Second Vatican Council for the Year of Faith, and an unfinished short story in the vein of Father Brown and Sherlock Holmes with an American, New Orleans variant. Amongst those I will have ample opportunity to write 50,000 words. The novel will have to wait and I will not ‘win’ per se because there will be little cohesion to the topics about which I will be writing.

I’m also glad that I am not alone in this endeavor. I have connected with a local group of NaNoWriMo’s here in New Orleans, two of which are serendipitously parishioners. I will also be supporting and getting support from two friends, Erica who writes for Writers Read and Readers Write and Emmy who writes for Journey of a Catholic Nerd Writer.

I will take all the support I can get from you. Feel free to drop me an encouraging tweet @colonel4God or even an email at reverencedreading@hotmail.com

Catholic Bloggers Summer Reading Extravaganza

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are starting something new (well I don’t think it’s been done before but if you know link it in the comments). After speaking with some fellow bloggers who like to read, we decided to do a blogger summer reading club. I’ve done reading clubs before where we read a book and talk about it. We attempted here on the blog, a few years ago, a summer reading thing which turned out to be a monologue (mine, sorry) for way too long (3 months of posts).

After learning from those mistakes, we taken up again the goal of a collaborative and communional reading and writing on a book. We have chosen the book: The Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien.

My sister has raved about his writing for the last few years and I was given some of his books, as an ordination gift, by some friends of mine. Despite that, I felt drawn to this story of a father who had lost his son, having recently become a father (of souls). This novel is no 200 page detective yarn (to which I’m naturally drawn) but rather a 1,200 page tale.

Joining me on this libraventure (I just made it up but I’m thinking of coining it) is:

Angelica Quinonez from Through a Glass Onion

Claudio Mora from Greater Love Has No One Than This

Emmy Cecilia from Journeys from a Catholic Nerd Writer

Jeff Young from Catholic Foodie

Lisa Schmidt from The Practicing Catholic

Sarah Reinhard from Snoring Scholar and New Evangelizers

Sarah Vabulas from Catholic Drinkie

We will be posting bi-weekly thoughts on the book and (hopefully) responding to each other. Start following each of the blogs and get to see this in action. We will be posting things on Twitter as well. If you want to pick up the book and follow along with us go here. Feel free to chime in as you read the book or if you’ve already read the book share your thoughts.
Here’s the reading plan:
There are four sections in the book. We will be taking each section in bi-weekly increments so you will definitely see posts on:

Section 1 – July 23
Section 2 – August 6
Section 3 – August 20
Section 4 – September 3

There will be sporadic posts here and there about it but you can expect writing at those times. You will also see links to the other posts on each of the blogs bring things full circle. Then at the end, I hope to gather some thoughts from each of the readings for a sort of meta-review.

Aquinas and More

If you look over to the side you’ll see a few things different on the sidebar. There is a badge that says Tiber River. I have become an official Tiber River reviewer of books. I am very excited about this. I love the resource that Tiber River provides. They pool together book reviews on thousands of books. All the reviews are from a Catholic perspective. They even have an orthodoxy meter. Which is pretty sweet.

Tiber River was designed by Ian Rutherford, the owner and operator of AquinasAndMore.com. I was first turned on to them when I went looking for the insert for the newer feast for the breviary. They were the only ones that had that in stock. From then on I would return to purchase things. I am so confident in their selection of Catholic goods and customer service that I have joined their affiliate program. You might notice me referring to them a lot more in my posts. I did this for two reasons.

1) To practice what I preach. I’m constantly telling people to support local businesses here in New Orleans. The same applies for online shopping. I want to support Ian, his family, and those who work with him when it is at all possible.

2) Whatever money does come my way will be what I use to purchase more books to talk about on the blog.

Abby Johnson, Catholic Convert

I try to write outside of space and time, i.e. I don’t normally cover news stories. I let other much more qualified people cover such, but I just read something I must share you.

If you remember at the beginning of the year I posted two reviews of Abby Johnson’s book Unplanned. You can find them here and here.

I saw on Facebook today that on December 4, 2011, the Second Week of Advent, the second week of the implementation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal, Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood director turned Pro-Life Advocate, will be accepted into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. She will be confirmed and receive her first communion.

Praise be Jesus Christ!

I was so moved by Abby’s human conversion, her trial with her faith as a pro-choice woman, how she encountered Christ in the tender love of the sidewalk counselors at her Planned Parenthood facility. Here she is preparing this Sunday to experience the full sacramental life of the Church. I cannot but give glory to God.

There is a painful caveat. Her friend and Catholic spiritual mentor, Fr. Frank Pavone, will not be able to give her her first communion. This indeed must be difficult for her. No matter your stance on his situation prayers should go up for her. I’m sure it feels like her father is not there. Let her know that you are praying for her and rejoicing with her this Sunday December 4th.

Catholic Media Promotion Day

Today is Catholic Media Promotion Day.  Being that, in some small way, this blog is Catholic media.  We are participating.  I speak for myself and not my colleagues with regard to the following picks:

Three Favorite Catholic Blogs:



The Sacred Page, which is co-author by Dr.’s Michael Barber, John Bergsma, and my own Scripture professor Brant Pitre, has been the blog that I have followed the longest.  As a man studying for the priesthood, their Scriptural insights help in reflection and will help in preparation for preaching.


Matthew Warner’s Blog hosted by National Catholic Register provides me with constant reflections on Catholic media and how to be Catholic in the digital age.  Matthew always has great insights and garners many comments, which provide for great conversation.


Quiet, Dignity, and Grace is probably not a well know Catholic blog having just got off the ground 4 months ago, but I love its content.  It’s written by a friend of mine, Luke Arredondo, who’s a Catholic high school religion teacher and masters of theology student.  Luke gives great insights on theological topics. 

Three Favorite Podcasts:
All of which can be downloaded for free from iTunes

The Catholic Underground is the Catholic Media anything that I have followed the longest.  I had the pleasure of being on a show back in 2007.  Fr. Chris Decker, Fr. Ryan Humphries, Joshua LeBlanc, and Daniel Kedinger talk tech and talk all things Catholic.  They always have interesting conversations, and lately they have streamed them live to allow for chatroom interaction from the listeners.  

The SaintCast has been inspirational, helpful, and a downright enjoyable listen.  Dr. Paul Camarata, a medical doctor and surgeon, talks saints.  He introduces the English speaking world to the world of the saints.  I have learned many great things from his podcast.  

The Catholic Foodie brings together the two best things about New Orleans, food and the Catholic faith.  Jeff Young brings much more to the table than merely recipes and reviews. The show highlights how food – good food – can be a sign to us of God’s love and care for each of us and our families. The tagline, “where food meets faith,” speaks volumes about the importance of family, which is so often developed around the kitchen table. 

Three Random Catholic Media:

I would be remiss if in a discussion of Catholic media I didn’t mention the first national Catholic media presence, EWTN.  This television station pioneered Catholic media in the United States.  Mother Angelica’s tiring efforts paved the way for many others to attempt authentically Catholic media.  EWTN has now branched out onto the internet with a great database of Catholic writings, Catholic news, and Catholic film.  

In this, I feel the need to mention my favorite Catholic book publisher, Ignatius Press.  This San Francisco company is not only the pope’s American publisher, but has republished classic Catholic works from the early twentieth century.  They always have great books, fiction, non-fiction, theology, and philosophy.  They also have built up a small but solid group of films about saints.  Along with all of this, their blog Insight Scoop provides excerpts from the books it publishes as well as very as sundry things from the mind of Carl Olsen.  

Three Catholic Apps:

iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta is by far one of best apps on the market for Catholics.  I provides daily updates of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayers and readings for each daily liturgy, it has all of the rites used by a priest, as well as some of the blessings from the book of blessings.  It is one the most used apps on my iPhone.  

iPieta , though, tops even iBreviary.  Not only does it have the full Douay-Rhiems translation of scripture, but all the daily readings (in the D-R translation, not NAB).  It also has the full host of prayers you would find in the Pieta prayer book.  It has most prayers that you would ever need, including the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.  These things alone would make it a great app, but its developers didn’t stop there.  It also contains a library of the great works of Catholic spirituality from St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John Vianney, St. Therese of Liseux, St. Louis de Monfort, and many others.  And that would enough for app, but why stop there.  It also contains the full texts of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, his collection of commentaries on the gospels by the fathers named the Catena Aurae, the 21 Ecumenical Councils, the Haydock Bible Commentary Series from Genesis to Revelation, Encyclicals from Gregory XVI (1835) to Benedict XVI, and writings from many of the Church Fathers.  

Here I have to support the work my diocese has done in Catholic media.  They have created an app, iFaith, that allows anyone in the area to access info about mass times and confession times.  It uses the GPS of the phone to locate where the person is and recommends the closest churches.  It also provides news, an events section for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, a connection to Archbishop Gregory Aymond’s v-logs, and a connection to the Archdiocese’s Twitter feed.  

MacJournal

I decided to go a different direction for my blog creations. I want to spend less time on the internet in general. Writing in web browser on the blogspot site means I could easily click to another tab to be distracted or such. It inhibited writing and growth in virtue.

I shopped around for a blog creation program for Mac. I looked through many things, but I was most impressed by a program I already had, but didn’t realize it’s full capability. I had downloaded a trial version of MacJournal, not soon after I got my Macbook in 2007, from the beautiful site, MacFreeware.  MacJournal allowed for journaling and the funneling of ideas into one space. Over the past four years, it came into disuse because, well, I like writing with a pen as opposed to typing. As I was searching for blog writers, I came across an updated version of this wonderful piece of software that offered so much more than the small trial version that I had. So I bought it.  It works with many different blog sites.  I am so excited with all the possibilities it holds​.

Check out the program and others here.

Do you use something different?