John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. (Mt 3:1-3)
The Christmas Season can often be a time of anxiety for us. There’s so much to do, so much to prepare. We have cards to write, homes to decorate, presents to buy, parties to attend, year-end reports to finish, etc. etc. etc. And when it’s all over, we let out a big sigh and enjoy ourselves. Then we clean up. And then we prepare for the next holiday, whether it’s New Year’s, Mardi Gras, or perhaps a SuperBowl party… Sometimes it seems like it never ends.
Surely, we know that we’re called to prepare for Christmas in a “spiritual” way. We hear this call to preparation throughout the readings of Advent. Last week, it was Isaiah asking us to prepare for the “coming.” This week it’s John the Baptist calling for repentance. We’ll hear more from John next week, and they’ll we’ll start hearing from angels!
In the end, holiday preparation is important, but only as regards to whom we are welcoming. It’s nice to welcome our families, our friends, or our neighbors to our homes for a Christmas celebration. We’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves. And it’s even better when we welcome those who are poor or sick or hungry by taking part in charitable activity in our parish or working at a food bank. But the real welcoming during Christmas should be the welcome that we give Jesus in our hearts. We hear the preparations of Advent: conversion, repentance and Confession. The reason is that we should welcome more than each other. We should welcome the Prince of Peace.
I don’t know about you, but Christmas parties, celebrations, dinners and receptions tend to wear me out. But the time I spend in quiet adoration and prayer with Christ in the Eucharist give me the peace that I need to put up with the craziness and commotion of the holidays.
We all know the “reason for the season” is Christ. What do we do to recognize that? Crèche scenes and “religious” greeting cards and “Keep Christ in your Christmas” bumper stickers are great. But Christ primarily wants to be recognized within our own souls. It’s there that He can give us the peace that the world can’t give. It’s there that He calms our soul and converts our hearts. It’s there that He gives us inner joy. And if we have that inner joy, we’re much more able to give it to each other! Consider attending some of the occasions we have for Eucharistic Adoration in our parish. Tuesdays 4:45pm – 5:45p, Thursdays 7:00am – 8:00am. Come spend time with the Prince of Peace.
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty
Saturday Vigil at 4:00pm
Sunday at 8:00am and 10:30am
Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC)
Center of Jesus the Lord
Sunday at 10:30am
Monday – Friday 6:30am St. Henry
Tuesdays 6:00pm St. Stephen
First Fridays 7:00pm OLGC
Extraordinary Form Latin Mass
Last Sunday of month at 12:30pm
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Tuesdays 4:45 – 5:45pm St. Stephen
Thursdays 7:00 – 8:00am St. Henry
First Fridays 8:00 – 9:00pm OLGC
Confession Times at Good Shepherd
Saturdays 3:00 – 3:45pm St. Stephen
Sundays 9:30 – 10:15am St. Stephen
Sundays 10:00 – 10:30am OLGC
First Fridays 6:30 – 7:00pm OLGC
Thursday, December 8
6:30am at St. Henry, 8:30am and 6:00pm at St. Stephen
An interesting icon representing Jesus inside of Mary inside of St. Anne (the mother of Mary). Some months before I went to seminary, I was having dinner with some friends and talking about the Catholic faith. One friend was a Catholic who attended daily Mass and the other was a self-acknowledged agnostic. During the course of our conversation, the agnostic asked me: “what would it do to your faith if it could be proved that Jesus was conceived and born in the normal way? What if the Immaculate Conception never happened?” I told him that he was confusing the Incarnation with the Immaculate Conception, and that the Immaculate Conception was the belief that MARY was conceived in HER mother’s womb without the stain of original sin. My friend, the Catholic, jumped in: “you don’t know what you’re talking about; the Immaculate Conception is the conception of Jesus!” So I asked him if he wanted to bet. He pulled out a hundred dollar bill, and put it down on the table. And I went to my office and pulled out my Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, and opened it to “Immaculate Conception.” The definition is “the conception of the Virgin Mary in which as decreed in Roman Catholic dogma her soul was preserved free from original sin by divine grace.” So I won the bet.
This doctrine was revealed through the Scriptures (Mary was “full of grace”), and the long Tradition of the Church. But it was finally declared as dogma on December 8, 1954, exactly nine months before the celebration of the birth of Mary on September 8. The doctrine is quite logical. How could the flesh of the Son of God be formed through the flesh of one who was a slave to sin? So Jesus redeemed his mother’s soul before her birth. As one theologian has stated: “Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit.” Or, in English: “God could, it was appropriate, therefore, He did it.” O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us!
During Advent, we refrain from singing the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo / Glory to God in the Highest.” Why?
Let’s start with some basic rules of liturgy set down by the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Within the cycle of a year the Church “unfolds” the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of the Lord (no.102). The church is to be particularly directed toward feasts of the Lord that point to salvation (no.108).
In other words, a principle in ritual is to celebrates “feasts” and “fasts” in different ways so as to allow the mysteries of Christ to be made clear by the celebration. The Resurrection of Christ takes pre-eminence and is characterized by 40 days of Lenten penance followed by the Sacred Triduum and 8 full days (the “Octave”) of Easter. In the same way, Advent precedes Christmas as a time of preparation. In a sense, we “fast” in the liturgy to prepare for the “feast” of Christmas! Finally, we remember again where the first words of the Gloria came from: the Angels sang it to the shepherds the very night that Jesus was born! So when we sing the Gloria at Midnight Mass, we are caught up in a tremendous “feast” of Christmas joy!
Congratulations to all of those who helped to prepare and serve the Thanksgiving Lunch at the Rebuild Center on Thursday. Our parish apostolate to the homeless fed 231 people a wonderful meal, of Turkey, Bread Dressing, Gravy, Green Been Casserole, Sweet Potatoes, Green Salad, Craneberry Sauce and Bread. Thanks to all of those who cooked and served the meals, and thanks to those who donate to the St. Anthony Fund to make this possible!
St. Stephen Church is hosting the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima on Tuesday, December 13th beginning at 8:30 A.M. with our School Mass as part of the Fatima Centennial US Tour for Peace, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions.
There will be devotions throughout the day culminating with a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament at 4:45 P.M., Benediction at 5:45 P.M. followed by Mass at 6:00 P.M. The Church will stay open until 8:00 P.M.
Come and experience the presence of Our Lady of Fatima, here in our own Diocese! Bring to her all your sufferings, for she promised, “My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
Many favors and graces, including cures, and countless conversions are associated with the historic Image. Join us for an extraordinary day of graces, healing and prayer with Our Lady. All are welcome!
On All Saints Day, Tuesday, November 1, 2015, at 11:30 am, Msgr. Nalty will bless the St Vincent and St. Joseph Cemeteries on Soniat and Loyola Avenue (behind Newman School). These cemeteries are the resting places for many longtime parishioners of St. Stephen Church, as well as the Vincentian Priests and Daughters of Charity who served our parish for over 150 years. Many people take the occasion of the blessing as a time to beautify these resting places and pray for the souls of their faithfully departed relatives, priests, religious sisters and friends.
October 23, 2016
World Mission Sunday, organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.
Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world” (see Redemptoris Missio 81).
As Pope Francis said in his message for this year’s World Mission Sunday: “All peoples and cultures have the right to receive the message of salvation which is God’s gift to every person. This is all the more necessary when we consider how many injustices, wars, and humanitarian crises still need resolution. Missionaries know from experience that the Gospel of forgiveness and mercy can bring joy and reconciliation, justice and peace. The mandate of the Gospel to ‘go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28:19-20) has not ceased; rather this command commits all of us, in the current landscape with all its challenges, to hear the call to a renewed missionary ‘impulse’, as I noted in my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: ‘Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel.’”
“This Jubilee year marks the 90th anniversary of World Missionary Day, first approved by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and organized by the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith. It is appropriate then to recall the wise instructions of my Predecessors who ordered that to this Society be destined all the offerings collected in every diocese, parish, religious community, association and ecclesial movement throughout the world for the care of Christian communities in need and for supporting the proclamation of the Gospel even to the ends of the earth. Today too we believe in this sign of missionary ecclesial communion. Let us not close our hearts within our own particular concerns, but let us open them to all of humanity.”
The world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima is on an historic 2-year tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, and is coming to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It will be an extraordinary occasion of healing, hope and grace, including the opportunity to hear the story of Fatima and venerate this beautiful statue that set out from Fatima in 1947 to bring the graces of Fatima to all who might not ever be able to make a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. We bring the pilgrimage to you! Hundreds of favors and graces, including cures, and countless conversions are associated with the image. The presence of this special Statue (sculpted according to the description of Sister Lucia, the Fatima seer) is a great gift to our community.
The schedule for the Archdiocese of New Orleans is:
December 12, 8 am to 9 pm – St. Edward the Confessor, 4921 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie
December 13, 8:30 am to 8:30 pm – St. Stephen Catholic Church, 1025 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans
December 14, 8 am to 8 pm – St. Andrew the Apostle Church, 3101 Eton Street, New Orleans (Algiers)
December 15, 9 am to 5 pm – St. Angela Merici Church, 901 Beverly Garden Drive, Metairie
December 16, 8:30 am – 8:15 pm – Most Holy Trinity Church, 501 Holy Trinity Drive, Covington
December 17, 9 am- 7 pm – Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 1908 Short Street, Kenner
December 18, 8:30 am to 7:30 pm – Our Lady of Lourdes, 400 Westchester Blvd., Slidell
Contact Mr. Phillip Bellini at 504-227-3795 for more information. Learn more about the tour and the statue at www.fatimatourforpeace.com.
Sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, a Public Association of the Faithful under the Holy See.
The Advent wreath is a set of four candles which are lit each Sunday of the Advent Season. Three of the candles are violet-colored, and one is rose-colored. The violet candles symbolize faithful expectation, and the rose candle symbolizes joy and hope. These colors mirror the colors of the priest’s vestments used during the Sundays of Advent. In earlier times, the season of Advent had stronger penitential and ascetic aspects, and a relaxation of disciplines was offered on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for “rejoice”, the first words of the Introit. This turn is reflected in the shift from violet to rose. One violet candle is lit on the first evening of Advent (a Sunday). On successive Sundays, the second violet candle is added, then the rose candle on Gaudete Sunday, and finally, the third violet candle. So enough about the colors, what about the flame? The flame signifies Christ, the “Light of the World.”
St. Vincent de Paul Society needs your help. A Christmas Giving Tree has been set up next to the St. Anthony Statue. The ornaments on the tree have names and ages of children along with their Christmas gift wish. We also will be helping the Veterans and needy in our community that frequent our food pantry. If you can, please pick an ornament from the Tree then return the gift with the ornament and place under the tree by Sunday, December 15th following the 10:30 Mass.
Universal: End to Child-SoldiersThat the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.
Please pray for the intentions of the Holy Father!
The annual St. Alphonsus Cre?che Exhibit will begin on Sunday, November 27, 2016, and will be open until Sunday, December 4, 2016. The exhibit is located at 2025 Constance Street, New Orleans, LA (between St. Andrew & Josephine Street). The church will be open from 10:00am-2:00pm (M-F), 10:00am-4:00pm (Sat.) and 12:00-4:00pm (Sun)
There will be over 100 cre?che’s from around the world. For more information call Blanche Comiskey at 504-235-2931, or the FOSA office at 504-524-8116.
William Allen, Clyde Arnoult, Kate Arnoult, Yvonne Arnoult, Claude Baehr, Harold Baquet, Elmo & Joséphine Bourgeois, James M. Brenn, Laura Brenn, Maurice W. Brenn Sr, Elbée & Frank Bynum, Mildred Curlee, Shelly Domingue, Lester & Ethel Heidingsfelder, Earline Johnson, Pauline Johnson, Andriana Kappesser, Mr Jean Lapeyre, Lionel Lopez, Stephen W. Mensingh, Deacon Paul Nalty, Maria Nguyen Thi Voc, Miriam Ogden, Brenda Schmitt, Edwin Sullivan Jr, Shirley Sullivan, Lloyd & Emma Templet, Irma Wetzel, Mary & Edwin Wetzel, Milton & Vivian Wetzel, Clarence “Pete” Wolbrette, the Favor Family, the Klotz Family, the Mercante Family, the Nguyen Family, the Youngblood Family, and the Poor Souls in Purgatory.
We are beginning to organize the 2016 weekly donation envelopes for pick-up in mid-December. If you are not currently using envelopes or would like to donate electronically, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (899-1378) the rectory for details.
Every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. we pray the Rosary at the Woman’s Health Care Center on the corner of General Pershing and Magnolia near Oschner Baptist Hospital. This facility is one of at least three abortion centers in the New Orleans area and just outside of our parish boundaries. Please join us!
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