From the Pastor – December 30, 2018

Louisiana Mass times“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16 )

The Feast of the Holy Family falls on this Sunday, and I think that this season is a good time to reflect upon our family lives, and to examine whether we’re being good family members.  When we contemplate the Holy Family, we note the fact that when Jesus became man – when the Word became flesh – He became flesh as a little child within a family. That was a divine choice; because Jesus could have chosen any way he wanted to manifest Himself.  He could have arrived on earth as a 33 year old adult or an 80 year old man.

But Jesus was conceived and began his existence in Mary’s womb, and was born as a baby in a family.  Mary became the Mother of God (as we celebrate on Sunday).  It’s not hard to understand what Jesus was doing.  He wanted to redeem all of human life, which meant redeeming the family first.  The family is the cornerstone of society.  As the importance of family disintegrates in the modern world with unmarried people living together and children born outside of wedlock, our society is weakened.  Families need to center their lives around Christ, just as Mary and Joseph did.  If our families are centered around the television, or sports, or work schedules, then we get lost.  Mary and Joseph were poor, but it didn’t matter, because they were centered on Christ. The family centered on Christ will be a family that has placed its priorities in order. As Servant of God, Fr. Patrick Peyton and Blessed Mother Teresa never tired of saying. “The family that prays together stays together.”  It’s not enough for the members of the family to pray individually, they have to pray as a family at every chance they get.

My earliest childhood experiences were of praying at night before I went to sleep, saying grace before each meal, kneeling down in the living room as my Mom and Dad led us in the Rosary, and of attending Mass together as a family. These were formative experiences that helped me to understand the “normalcy” of prayer and the importance of Jesus. And these experiences formed me in what Pope John Paul II called the “first seminary” – the domestic seminary of the family home.

The Octave of Christmas is a time when we naturally come together as a family to celebrate the holy days. Let it also be a time when we recommit ourselves to place Christ at the center of our families by praying together!
shortprayers.us
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty
msgr.nalty@gmail.com

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Holy Days Mass Schedule

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24

4:00pm Vigil Mass (Confessions prior)
12:00am Midnight Mass

Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25

10:30am Mass
(NOTE: NO 8:00am Mass and NO 6:00pm Mass)

Mary, Mother of God, Monday, December 31

4:00pm Vigil Mass

Mary, Mother of God, Tuesday, January 1

10:30am and 6:00pm

(all Masses at St. Stephen Church)

Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

From the Christmas Martyrology
(traditional version read at Midnight Mass)

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens & earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going
forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
he seven hundred & fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed  since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Christmas Giving Tree

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 16th following the 10:30 mass.

Thanksgiving Baskets

Because of the generosity of our parishioners, the St. Vincent de Paul Society did a wonderful job in providing Thanksgiving Baskets for 47 needy families our parish. As always, thank you for your GENEROUS support

Silver Rose Program

Tuesday, October 9th – Thanks to the Knights of Columbus for presenting the Silver Roses at last Tuesday evening’s Mass, as well as the Wednesday morning Mass. Pray that more people will respect life in the womb!

Greater New Orleans Rosary Congress

The Greater New Orleans Rosary Congress has been an annual event for 28 years, and this year will take place at Our Lady of Divine Providence in Metairie. The dates are October 6 thru October 12. It has drawn thousands of people from all over the area and beyond.

The church is open day and night for seven days. That is 168 hours, of continuous prayer and adoration of Jesus. Many spiritual groups, families, and individuals from local and adjoining areas cover the time. Prayer begins hourly, except when other activities are taking place. There is time for Mass, Adoration, Rosaries, processions, spiritual talks, periods of silence, and singing. The beauty and diversity of the Catholic Church is demonstrated in the many activities held during this week.

This year’s theme is the “The Pillars of Victory,” which comes from a dream of St. John Bosco where he saw the Holy Father in a terrible storm moor the Barque of St. Peter (an image of the Church) between two pillars, on top of one was the Eucharistic Host and on top of the other was Our Lady of the Rosary.

There is plenty room for all to come and pray together, here in the New Orleans – Metairie area. Those who come experience the proven power of these prayers.

If you wish to come and be a part of the Greater New Orleans Rosary Congress or be a helper or be a representative from different areas, call Marie at 504-508-7100 for more information.

Twelve Days of Christmas

I always loved Christmas when I was growing up. It wasn’t just the gifts, the lights, the holly or the music. It was the magical feeling of awaiting the Birth of Christ. In our house, we always had a creche scene, an Advent calendar and a Christmas tree with a star on top. But every year, December 26th seemed like such a let-down! Sure, we still had the tree and decorations, but the excitement, the sense of joy, and the feasting gave way to empty wrapping paper and leftovers.

One problem is that Christmas has become an isolated feast day, excised from its place in the liturgical year, especially Advent, Epiphany, and the Baptism of Our Lord. Just as we often ignore the hopeful and quietly expectant mood of Advent, we also forget about the feasting and joy of the full Christmas season. But if we pay attention to those “Twelve Days of Christmas” falling between December 25 and Epiphany on January 6 (even though we celebrate Epiphany on January 3 this year!) we can continue to sing the carols, read the Scriptures and experience the joy of the birth of our Lord for the whole season! Instead of one isolated Christmas day, the joy and festive spirit of Christmas can permeate the entire “Twelve Days of Christmas!” That’s the story behind the traditional song and the daily gifts!

During the Twelve Days of Christmas and Christmastide the Church also celebrates other major holy days including those of our patron St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, and the Holy Family. St. Stephen and the Innocents were martyred for the faith, and St. John suffered. The Holy Family was driven from their homeland into Egypt. The Church places these feasts in the midst of the season of Christmas to remind us that the mystery of the Incarnation is more than just the Lord’s Birth: it is also about His suffering and death! As followers of Christ, our celebration of Christmas is more than just trees and presents. It’s about our obligation to lead radical Christian lives that say that we would be willing – like St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents – to give up our lives for Christ!

Feast of the Holy Family

December 29
Consecration to the Holy Family

O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou protect us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace and concord in Christian love: in order that by living according to the divine pattern of Thy family we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by the kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal needs; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity. Amen.

Say the Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be 3 times.

What are the “O Antiphons?”

The Church has been singing the “O” Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer in the Divine Office from December 17-23, a time called the “Golden Nights.” They are part of a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative “Come!” embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.

The seven “O Antiphons” (also called the “Greater Antiphons” or “Major Antiphons”) are prayers that come from Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the “Golden Nights.”

Each Antiphon begins with “O” and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin “Ero Cras” which means “Tomorrow I will be [there].” Those titles for Christ are:

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with Us)

Immaculate Conception

Holy Day of Obligation

Saturday, December 8
(4:00pm Vigil December 7 and 10:30am on December 8  in St. Stephen Church)

An interesting icon representing Jesus on the lap of the Virgin Mary who is herself on the lap of St. Anne, the mother of Mary.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:  The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854: DS 2803).

This doctrine was revealed through the Scriptures (Mary was “the absolute fullness of grace”) and the long Sacred 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? 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!

The Advent Wreath

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.”

Remember to Pray for the Faithful Departed!

 

Traditionally, the Church dedicates each month of the year to a certain devotion. In November, we remember the Holy Souls in Purgatory – faithful Christians who have died and gone before us but who still must atone for their sins. The time they spend in Purgatory cleanses them so that they may enter Heaven free from all effects of sin.

Praying for the dead, especially for those we have known, is a requirement of Christian charity. Our own prayers and sacrifices can be offered up to relieve their suffering.  The following prayer, among others, can be incorporated into our daily prayers during this month: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is also granted to the faithful who fulfill the following conditions:

  • On any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed (the ‘Eternal rest grant unto them…’ suffices)
  • Offer an Our Father and Hail Mary for the Pope’s Intentions
  • Make a good confession within a week and be free from all attachment to sin
  • Receive Holy Communion that day (or ASAP following if unable that day)

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