Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

Words of the Master haunt us daily

10th September 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

Exiting Interstate 12 at Highway 434 and proceeding south, one has the illusion of plunging into a primeval forest of large, dense pines, hardwoods and undergrowth. That feeling increases as the omnipresent green swallows up the traveler at Highway 190.

Bayou LaCombe is comparable in beauty to any similar body of water in the world. Its nearly clear, moving water looks tempting to fishermen and those who enjoy boating and water sports. Intense green layers of grass, shrubs and trees festoon both sides of the bayou, laying out an arresting backdrop of the best nature has to offer.

The sight took me back two score years when I officiated at the wedding of a Xavier University alumna on a multi-acred stretch of land bordering picturesque Bayou LaCombe. That occurred before the Archdiocese turned sour on outdoor weddings.

No wonder that some Choctaw Indians, seeing thousands die during the infamous “Trail Of Tears” 1831 forced banishment/march from their native lands to Oklahoma, stole away to the friendly confines of the Bayou LaCombe area filled with magnolia, live oak, black gum, cypress and palmetto, with vast quantities of Spanish moss hanging from many trees. One unbroken stretch of longleaf pine forest reaches for many miles.

Even to this day, large numbers of deer, otter, mink, possums, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, ducks, quail, and wild turkeys are in evidence. Those are the abundant reasons why some First Americans settled there. Their cultural, agricultural, culinary and crafts workmanship have left their distinct stamp on many Creole/In­dian/Black descendants.

It was in this idyllic setting that Audry John Batiste, Sr., was born on March 13, 1949, the ninth of ten children born to Louis Batiste, Sr. and Mary Wright-Batiste. He and his wife Marie Zenon parented Tamecia, Audry and Chauncey in the relative peace of home until the Master called him on August 19, 2012. His short life was full of smiles.

Bearing with me the prayers, best wishes and love of our Faith
Community here in Fort Worth, I wended my way to Sacred Heart Church in LaCombe to concelebrate the Mass of Resurrection of Audry, the brother of Mary Ann DuCre, a faithful member of Our Mother of Mercy Church. The family’s beaming faces were reward enough for me.

Part of the east wall of the dug grave had collapsed against the retaining plywood, causing a narrowing of the passage. The spectacle of the belt-held coffin being squeezed past the buckled plywood was the exclamation point to our plight as humans, suffering a final indignity even as a fallen Christian soldier was being lowered for the last time.

Eleven days earlier, former parishioner Cathy Martin joined her sister Shirley and niece Nia in celebrating the homegoing of their sister Beatrice in New Orleans. After the death of their dear parents, Milton and Eliza Martin, they had already endured the deaths of their brothers, Milton Martin, Jr., Henry and Leroy Martin, over the past 18 years.

Having married Glynn Bartho­lomew, Sr., and birthed Nia, Beatrice stood tall with her sisters in suffering the early passing of their brothers. I was a sorrowing witness to the disintegration of their family. For unfortunate reasons, I was unable to be with Cathy, Shirley, Nia and Glynn for the Mass of Resurrection celebrating Beatrice’s life.

It is at times like these that the words of Jesus haunt us in a comforting way. When the Jews began to leave Jesus because he invited them to eat his body and drink his blood in order to live forever, Jesus asked his apostles whether they, too, would leave him. As usual, Peter jumped forward and responded in the name of all in John 6:68-69.

“Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God!”

The genius of Jesus in offering himself to us as food and drink lies in the reality of “we are what we eat.” Jesus assures us that, by consuming him, we will assimilate him into ourselves and thereby be transformed into him. Once we are transformed into him, our bodies become immortal because he is immortal. Therefore, we shall live forever.

Don’t we want to “consume,” to be as close as possible to those we love? We even call each other “honey.” That is what Jesus invites us to do in order to be with him forever. Paul assures us in Galatians 2:20, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me!”

This article was originally published in the September 10, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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