From the Pastor – April 11, 2021

Mass times in the United StatesOn the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19-21a)

How do we define peace?  Politically, it can defined  as an “absence of conflict.”  If we are busy at work, it might mean “no interruptions.”  Some parents might equate peace with their kids being asleep or at their grandparents for the night.  Peace happens to some people when their cell phone finally runs out of batteries or when a power outage knocks out the internet and the television.  Oftentimes we actually “seek” peace in different ways.  We can seek it by going to a quiet room, finding a secluded tree in the park, or going on a vacation to the mountains or a quiet island.

So why does Jesus say that He gives us peace “not as the world gives.”  What does He mean?  I guess the obvious thing is that He doesn’t mean it in the ways I’ve described above.  Generally, when Jesus says that something is not “of the world,” then He’s saying it’s from somewhere “out of the world”:  from Heaven.  So what is it about this Heavenly peace?  What makes it different from worldly peace?  The answer can be found in places where earthly peace meets Heavenly peace.  Many of us have gone on spiritual retreats.  We know that this time can be important by allowing us to remove ourselves from the world of distractions and concentrate on the most important things.  But we don’t just retreat from noise into quiet.  We retreat from the temporal world to seek eternity.  The peace of Christ isn’t found by an absence of conflict, interruptions, noise or technology.  The peace of Christ is a gift given to those who seek Christ.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  The peace of Christ comes from Christ.  And if we want His peace, it’s there waiting for us in the quiet contemplation of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  On Tuesdays from 4:45pm – 5:45pm and on Thursdays from 7:00am – 8:00am Christ is visible in the monstrance for Adoration in St Henry Church.  Before Mass, we can spend some time to experience His peace.  After Mass, we can linger and spend some time to experience His peace.  Over at Holy Name Parish, Christ is present 24/7/365 in the Adoration Chapel on the corner of Palmer and LaSalle Place.

After you’ve tried all the other ways to peace, seek the peace that the world can’t give.  It’s the peace of eternity.  And it’s found in Christ.  And not only is it the peace the world can’t give;  it’s the peace the world can’t take away.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty
msgr.nalty@gmail.com

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Divine Mercy Sunday

 

A Mass in honor of Divine Mercy Sunday will be celebrated by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond on April 11, 2021 at 3:00 p.m at St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans.

Palm Branches Needed!

If any parishioner has access to sago palms (the kind pictured here), we would love to get some for decorations in the church, and for the procession on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021. Please cut palms and bring them to the church this Thursday or Friday!  Please call the office if you can help.

Altar of Repose

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (7:00 PM) sufficient hosts are consecrated for that Mass and for the next day. These consecrated Hosts remain in a ciborium on the corporal in the center of the altar until the end of Mass, after which they are carried in Solemn Procession to the Altar of Repose, with the priest vested in a Cope and Humeral Veil, and covered with a canopy. The Blessed Sacrament remains in the temporary tabernacle at the Altar of Repose, and the Holy Thursday service concludes with the stripping of all altars except the Altar of Repose.

Holy Thursday is a day of exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the repository is the center of the love, prayers and aspirations of the faithful.  After the Good Friday service, the Blessed Sacrament remains available only as viaticum for the dying and for Communion given on Good Friday at the service called The Veneration of the Cross (Good Friday at 3:00 PM). While the Blessed Sacrament remains in this temporary tabernacle at the altar of repose, a lamp or candle is always kept burning.

On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 PM, which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist when Jesus washed his Apostle’s feet.  This Mass begins the Sacred Triduum.  This year Adoration at this Altar of Repose will take place all night, from the end of the Holy Thursday Mass until the sun rises on Good Friday at 6:00 AM.

PLEASE SIGN-UP to take an hour or a half-hour of the Vigil!  Sign-up sheets are in the back of church.

Tradition of the St. Joseph Altar

The tradition of a St. Joseph Day altar came to New Orleans from the Italian people of Sicily.  During the middle ages, Sicily faced a severe drought, and the people were reduced to eating fava beans, which were usually given to the animals. They prayed for the intercession of St. Joseph, and their prayers were answered: the rains came! In thanksgiving, the people of Sicily developed a tradition to decorate the St. Joseph Altar on the right side of most of their churches (or to make a small private altar at home) with flowers, fruit, candles, wine, fava beans, specially prepared cakes, breads, fish and cookies. Since the Feast of Joseph (March 19) almost always occurs during Lent, no meat is allowed on the altar.

The custom of preparing an altar as a symbol of devotion to St. Joseph is rooted in the thanksgiving for his intercession years ago, but it also points to thanksgiving for a personal favor granted, for healing of the sick, or for success in business. Further, it’s an opportunity for the prosperous to share with those who are less fortunate.

As you will see in our church next Friday, the altar is in the shape of a cross, and has three tiers, to represent the Holy Trinity. Breads and cakes on the altar take the form of common Catholic symbols. There is the Monstrance which holds the Holy Eucharist during Adoration (every Tuesday from 4:45pm 5:45pm in St Stephen, and Thursday from 7:00am 8:00am in St Henry).  There is a Chalice which holds the Precious Blood. And you can also note the Holy Cross, the dove (Holy Spirit), lamb (Jesus as the Lamb of God), hearts (Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary) and fish (“I will make you fishers of men”).  A crown of thorns and a ladder refer to the crucifixion of Christ, and the palms testify to His victory over sin and death.

Besides the bread images, there are wine bottles representing the miracle of Cana, and whole fish representing the miracle of the loaves and the fishes.  Other items specific to Sicily include grapes, olives and figs reminiscent of the orchards and vineyards one finds there. Another food is the pignolatti: fried pastry balls joined together by caramel in the shape of a pine cone representing the pine cones Jesus played with as a child.

Probably the best known of the customs associated with the St. Joseph’s Day altar is the fava bean.  Since it thrived while other crops failed, it became the sustaining food of farmers and their families. The dried bean is commonly called a “lucky bean,” and legend has it that the person who carries a “lucky bean” will never be without coins.

The food to be served on Thursday will be wonderful Italian food, including pasta with red gravy, eggplant, artichokes, fried vegetables, fried fish and wonderful salads.  Additionally, foods will be served with a garnish of breadcrumbs to represent saw dust – since St. Joseph was a carpenter.  Last year more than 2000 plates were served over the course of the afternoon!

Stations of the Cross

During Lent there will be Stations of the Cross and Confession on Fridays at St. Stephen Church.  Confession begins at 5:30pm and the Stations at 6:00pm.

Remember that Msgr. Nalty is also in the Confessional from 3:00-3:45pm on Saturdays and 9:15-10:15 a.m. on Sundays.

Lenten Mission – St Stephen Church

Monday, March 1-Wednesday, March 3

The Four Weapons of Spiritual Combat 

Monday, March 1, 2021 at 7pm
“Distrust of self and confidence in God”

Tuesday, March 2 after 6pm Mass
“Training through personal discipline for spiritual warfare”

Wednesday, March 3 at 7pm followed by Confessions.
“Prayer, God’s mighty weapon”

By Fr. Jeffrey Montz, Head of the Spirituality Department at Notre Dame Seminary.
Also, Fr. Luke Buckles, O.P. Prof of Spiritual Theology from the Angelicum in Rome.

St. Blaise Throat Blessing

Tuesday, February 2, after the 6:00pm Mass
Wednesday, February 3, after the 6:30am Mass

Wednesday, February 3 is the Feast of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr.  St Blaise was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia who was martyred in the year 316 A.D. The oldest accounts tell us that Blaise was a physician at Sebaste before he was made bishop.  In the 4th century persecution of Licinius, St. Blaise was taken prisoner. After suffering various forms of torture, he was beheaded.

The most popular story attributed to St. Blaise occurred while he was in prison, when he cured a young a boy who was in danger of choking to death because of a fishbone in his throat.  That story, and the fact that St. Blaise was a doctor, made the saint very popular for intercessory prayer for throat ailments. At an early date, the veneration of this Eastern saint was brought into Europe, and Blaise became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages.  Numberless churches and altars were dedicated to him.

On the feast day, the blessing of St. Blaise will be given in St. Henry Church after the 6:30 am Mass.  Also, the blessing will be given in St. Stephen Church after the 6:00 pm Mass on Tuesday, February 2.

The blessing of the throat is carried out using two white taper candles that were blessed on the previous day, February 2, the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas Day). The white color of the candles symbolizes purity.  A red ribbon draped over the base of the candles symbolizes the martyrdom of St. Blaise.  The candles are grasped in an X-shape and held up to the throat of the person receiving the blessing:  “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Nine Church Walk

Thanks to our volunteers who greeted pilgrims taking part in the Nine Church Walk on Good Friday.  The pilgrims started arriving almost at the completion of our Holy Thursday vigil at 6:00am, and they continued even into the afternoon and evening.  We had our handy clicker to count numbers, so we know that close to 3,000 people came to visit St. Stephen’s on Friday.  I sat in the confessional from 9:00-11:00 am, and Father Doug from 11:00am-12:30pm, and we were rarely alone.  The line was continuous for the entire time.  Anybody who doubts the vitality of the Catholic Church in New Orleans need only to have seen the busloads of high school groups, CYO groups, and large families taking part in the walk to have their doubts removed.  I was so happy to greet many pilgrims from other parishes where I have served.  It was great to see old friends, but it made me so proud and happy to be able to welcome them to St. Stephen’s.  I heard nothing but good reports from the crowds at St. Henry Church and Our Lady of Good Counsel. Thanks to everyone.

Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday is dedicated to the devotion to the Divine Mercy promoted by St. Faustina , and is based upon an entry in St. Faustina’s diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of confession and Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of sins.

According to the notebooks of Saint Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day: “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.” (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)

The devotion was celebrated unofficially in many places for some years. However, on April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday of that year), Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar , with effect from the following year. He also decreed a plenary indulgence associated with this devotion. Pope John Paul II said he felt a closeness to St. Faustina when he was writing his letter Dives in misericordia. He died during the vigil of the Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. Although most of us are unable to fulfill the conditions of receiving Holy Communion and Confession during this time of the COVID19 epidemic, the recent decrees from the Sacred Penitentiary have stated that we only need the will to receive those Sacraments as soon as we are able.

The Precepts of the Church

“Now when they heard [Peter’s preaching] they were cut to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

When the people heard Peter and the apostles preaching about Christ, they instinctively asked, “What shall we do?” Over the centuries, the Church has given answers to this question, adapting the unchangeable elements of the Christian vocation to the pastoral requirements of each age. In our times, the responses to this question are summed up in what have come to be known as “The Precepts of the Church,” which are derived from Catholicism’s moral and doctrinal foundations. The Cathechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2041-2043, lists five precepts of the Church, listed and briefly discussed below.

Attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation, and rest from servile labor.
Weekly Sunday Mass is obligatory for all Catholics. There are very few factors that might excuse Sunday Mass attendance, such as personal illness or serious infirmity, the need to attend to someone suffering from the same, significant travel, or certain jobs affecting public safety or welfare.

Confess your sins at least once a year.
Catholics above the age of discretion (about seven years of age) are required to confess their grave sins to a priest at least once per year, at any time during the year.

Receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
This reception of the Eucharist can take place any time in the Easter season, from the First Sunday of Lent to Trinity Sunday (after Pentecost).

Observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
On Fridays in Lent Catholics, aged 14 and older, are bound to abstain from meat. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics aged 18 to 59 inclusive, are also bound to fast, by taking only one full meal and two smaller meals (together not to equal the one full meal), with no snacking between the meals.

Help provide for the needs of the Church.
The Church leaves to individual Catholics the right to determine precisely when and how they will assist with the temporal needs of the Church. However, the lack of specificity in Church law should not be taken as a sign that it may be ignored. Sunday collections, annual appeals, spontaneous offerings, bequests and wills, and so on are all ways that Catholics have to satisfy this precept of support.

Alleluia!

Easter Sunday is the day of the “Alleluia!” After forty days of Lenten sacrifice and fasting, we finally arrive at the most important day of our liturgical year, and the only word we have to express our inner joy is “Alleluia!!”

In the old Greek version of the Book of Tobias, in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew psalter, and in the original Greek of the Apocalypse we hear about this most holy word. It is part of the earliest Christian liturgies of which we have record.

It is a word composed of the divinely acclaiming verbal form Allelu and the divine pronoun term Ya (for YHWH or Yahweh). So, preserving its radical sense and sound, and even the mystical suggestiveness of its construction, it may be literally rendered, “All hail to Him Who is!”–taking “All Hail” as equivalent to “Glory in the Highest,” and taking “He Who is” in the sense in which God said to Moses: “Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel; WHO IS hath sent me to you.” The ancient Jewish and Christian tradition all point to the conclusion that the “Alleluia” belonged to the Hebrew liturgy from the beginning as a divinely authorized doxology. As to when it was first formed, much evidence points to it being one of man’s most ancient formulas of monotheistic faith–the true believer’s primitive Credo, primitive doxology, primitive acclamation. That in part would explain remarkable fondness for its liturgical use. As a rule the Church uses it wherever joy is to be emphatically expressed, especially as to triumph or thanksgiving.

The “Alleluia” is a great characteristic of Easter, as it has an important place in all of the liturgies, constantly appearing at the beginning and end, and even in the middle, of psalms, as an instinctive exclamation of ecstatic joy.

The very sound of the words should be held to signify a kind of acclamation and a form of ovation which mere grammarians cannot satisfactorily explain; this is the reason why the translators of the Old Testament have left it untranslated, and the Church has taken it into the formulas of her Liturgy or of the people who use it at any time or place where joy need be expressed for God’s greatness and love! Alleluia! Praise God!

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