February 2021

Wednesday, March 3, is the commemoration of Saint Katharine Drexel. She was born in 1858 to a wealthy railroad entrepreneur in Philadelphia, PA. She was raised in a good home that always taught wealth was meant to be shared with those in need. Katharine taught Sunday school classes at home for many years before discerning a call to religious life. While she wanted a quiet contemplative life, it seemed God had other plans.

Katharine became interested in Native Americans and how they were being neglected. In 1887 on a visit to Rome and during an audience with Pope Leo XIII, she asked the Holy Father to send missionaries to care for the Native Americans. As the story goes, he simply looked at her and told her to become the missionary. Once she recovered from the shock, she would get to work. Katharine started by using her family wealth to build schools and provide financial support to the Indian missions. Eventually, she would extend this work to the neglected African-American communities, too.

In 1891, Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to continue her work with minorities. She was instrumental in building a school at Holy Family Parish here in Natchez as well as Xavier University in New Orleans. Mother Drexel died of natural causes on March 3, 1955. Saint Katharine Drexel, pray for us!

– Father Scott Thomas, February 28, 2021

It’s Valentine’s Day (as society likes to call it). Or, more correctly in the Catholic world, it is the Feast of St Valentine, Bishop and Martyr. That’s right—St Valentine was a martyr. He was beaten to death with clubs out of hatred for Jesus Christ. Happy Valentine’s Day? Or maybe this perspective will help a bit more—St Valentine gave his life to the point of death out of witness to his personal love for Jesus Christ. If you’re celebrating St Valentine’s Day as a day of love, then keep that in mind. After all, the love of a husband and wife should mirror Jesus’ love for His Bride, the Church. And just as a martyr witnesses to his/her love for Jesus to the point of death, so too should a husband and wife witness to their love for each other. Which leads us to...

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It’s time to work on our love for God. What is keeping you from loving Jesus enough to be willing to suffer and (maybe even) die for Him? When you think of something, ask yourself if that is something you can give up for Lent. Whatever you give up for Lent should be something you need to give up permanently. Lent is merely a kick in the rear to get started on that purgation. In order to truly love someone else, we first have to die toourselves. Lent is the time to work on dying to ourselves so that we can love Him more. Recall those words of St John the Baptist, I must decrease so that He may increase.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ Crucified is the perfect image of love. And St. Valentine and all the martyrs became an image of that love themselves when they gave their life for Jesus. Let us pray this weekend that all married couples may grow in their love of Jesus to teach society what true love really is. Happy Feast of Saint Valentine!

– Father Scott Thomas, February 14, 2021

By the time you are reading this, I will have (hopefully) begun my retreat. I’ll be at Our Lady of Clear Creek in Oklahoma from February 6-12. That’s five full days of silence and prayer with God. Please keep me in your prayers that I can clear my mind to hear His voice more clearly. Know that you will be on my mind every time I approach our Lord’s Altar.

I’ve never been to this monastery, but it has an amazing reputation. It is a Benedictine monastery following the rule of Saint Benedict. The basis of their day is “ora et labora” (prayer and work). They spend the day working a variety of jobs around the monastery grounds while meeting together at specific times to pray as a community. Everything they do is for the good of their community and pushing each other along in holiness and a deeper union with God.

It is reaffirming to me to know that houses of prayer like this exist throughout the world. At all hours of the day there is someone somewhere in the world praying for you. They may not actually know you or be praying for you by name, but they are still praying for you as a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church. It is also reaffirming to know that there are houses like this that will accept us priests and (in many places) anyone looking for a place to “retreat” from the world and recharge their prayer life.

That is what brought these monasteries into existence—the desire to get away from the busy distractions and temptations of the world to more fully focus one’s entire life on personal union with God. These men, these Benedictine monks, live as Christ the Bridegroom constantly praying and interceding for His Bride, the Church (that’s you). How beautiful of an image that is! And over time these monasteries began opening their doors to those who weren’t called to the monastic life but can still benefit from a few nights under their care. This counter-cultural calling is certainly one that Christ’s Church cannot live without!

– Father Scott Thomas, February 7, 2021