From the Pastor – April 22, 2018

MassTime.us for Kenner Mass TimesJesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (Jn 10:1-3)

This week is the Fourth Sunday in Easter, and it is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” because of the Gospel reading today in which Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. We’re all familiar with the images: Jesus standing, staff in hand, with the lamb across his shoulders. We have a beautiful stained-glass image of this in the stairway leading up to the choir loft. In fact, it’s the screensaver on my phone!  Or perhaps we think of Jesus sitting under a tree – a little lamb on his lap. These are beautiful images, but they are incomplete.

For thousands of years, the Jewish people have used the Good Shepherd image to refer to God. It goes back to Genesis 49:24, where Joseph was saved “By the power of the mighty one of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, the God of your father…” Such imagery was used by Moses and most of the prophets. And it was used most familiarly by David in the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

So when Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd, he wasn’t singling out the nicest herdsmen in the field.  He was pointing to the prophecies about Himself.  He was revealing Himself as God.  But within this revelation was something new.  Jesus says at Jn 10:11 that “A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”  Now this might seem a bit extreme.  Sure, the shepherd loved the sheep.  Sure he protected, fed and led them.  But most of us would find it strange to give up our life for animals.

And that’s what happened, and that’s what is revealed in Revelations. “the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them.” So the Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God.  And that Lamb of God lays down his life for the other lambs.  The infinite God becomes a lamb, and allows Himself to be led to the slaughter on the altar of the cross.  Behold the Lamb of God, slain on the cross to take away the sins of the world!

During the recent remembrance of Good Friday, I described the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  I tried to imagine why would God allow Himself to be so brutally slaughtered by sinful men.  The theological answer would be that He did it to show how much He loves us.  It’s hard to wrap our minds around a love that strong.  I can’t explain the “why” He would die for us.  But I know that He did.

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

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Groundbreaking

 

Introduction

 

Congratulations to Dotty Forley, Michael & Donna Riess!

On May 6, 2018 at 3:00pm at St Joseph Church, our parishioners Dotty Forley and Michael & Donna Riess will be awarded the Order of St. Louis IX Medallion by Archbishop Aymond at St. Louis Cathedral.  The Order of St. Louis IX award was established more than 40 years ago to honor those members of the laity who have contributed their time and talents to the church.

Even if you don’t know Dotty, Michael and Donna, you surely know of their work! Dotty is extremely active in our ministry to the poor both at the Rebuild Center and here in our ministry to our neighborhood poor. Michael & Donna headed our Restoration Campaign, which is the reason we’re making so much progress in restoring our church.

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!

St. Joseph Pics (click for larger image)

Altar of Repose

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (7:00 p.m.) 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 3:00pm). 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 p.m., 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 a.m.

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

Annual Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land

 

Pope Francis has asked our parish (and every parish throughout the world) to support the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, which helps maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land. Your support helps the Church minister in parishes, provide Catholic schools and other religious education, and preserve the sacred shrines, such as the recent restoration of the Tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The collection helps to support Christians who are the victims of increasing persecution in the midst of broader wars, unrest and instability that threatens to drive them out of the land where Jesus walked. When you contribute to the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, you become an instrument of peace and solidarity with the Christians in the Holy Land. The Archdiocese of New Orleans will take up this collection on Good Friday, March 30, 2018.

2018 World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 22, 2018

Today the Church throughout the world prays for vocations. Will you make a special effort to ask the Lord for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life?

Pray for the priests who have ministered to you throughout your life, both living and dead.

Keep our parish priests in your prayers throughout the week.

Encourage your children, grandchildren, or other young people to consider a vocation as a priest or religious brother or sister.

Pray a rosary for more young men and women in our diocese to respond to God’s call.

Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel

April 18 – 26
(say this prayer every day for the nine days)

Aware of the powerful intercessory prayers of Our Blessed Mother, let us commit to pray this short prayer for the next nine days.

O Holy Virgin, to whose feet we are lead by our anxious uncertainty in our search for and attainment of what is true and good, invoking thee by the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech Thee to come to our assistance, when, along the road of this life, the darkness of error and of evil conspires towards our ruin by leading our minds and our hearts astray. Do Thou, O Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the doubtful and the erring, that they be not seduced by the false appearances of good; render them steadfast in the race of the hostile and corrupting influences of passion and of sin. O Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from Thy Divine Son a great love of virtue, and, in the hour of uncertainty and trial, the strength to embrace the way that leads to our salvation. If Thy hand sustains us, we shall walk unmolested along the path indicated to us by the life and words of Jesus our Redeemer, and having followed freely and securely, even in the midst of this world’s strife, the Sun of Truth and Justice under Thy maternal star, we shall come to the enjoyment of full and eternal peace with Thee in the haven of salvation. Amen.
By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953

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.

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.

St. Joseph Altar THANKS!

Thanks to the decorators, the cooks, the servers, the runners, the cleaners and everyone who played such a tremendous role in making the Solemnity of St. Joseph such a great success and a very happy day for all! This year was even better than last year!  We served over 1600 people.  Thanks for a great day!

Special thanks to our “Century Club” donors:  American Legion Post 307, Jim & Tammy Austin, John Bellini (Bell Foods), Loretta Berning, Becky Brocato, Michel & Marth Butterworth, Mary A. Burke, Kevin Centanni, Greg Ford, Hunter & Barbara Harris, A.J. & Mary Lazaro, Berry & Mel Miller, Grace Novale, Earl & Gail Paddock, Rouses Supermarket, Harold & Dianne Ryan, the Simon Family, Dudley Vandenborre and Mary Youngblood.

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