From the Pastor – May 21, 2017

daily short prayersBeloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet. 3:15)

For the last several years our Director of Religious Education, Phillip Bellini, has been running a series of articles in the bulletin on “Apologetics.”  Since the word has the same origin as our word “apology,” often time people think that the word means to “say you’re sorry.”  That’s not the case, but the origins of the words are similar.

Both “apology” and “apologetics” come from the Greek word “apologia” or apologia, but the original meaning of the word has changed in our current use of the word “apology.”

In the classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the “kategoria” which was like “bringing charges,” and the defendant replied with an “apologia.” To deliver an “apologia” then meant making a formal defense speech to reply and rebut the charges against onesself.

That word “apologia” appears in the Greek of the New Testament when St. Paul uses it in his trial speech: “I make my defense” (Acts 26:2).  It’s also used in his Letter to the Philippians as he is “defending the gospel” (1:7 & 17).  And it’s used in the second reading for Mass today (quoted above) where St. Peter tells the early Christians must be ready to give an “explanation” for their faith.

The word “apologia” in Greek is formed by two words: “apo” (apo) meaning “for” and “logos” (logoz) meaning “word.”  In it’s most basic form, one is giving a “word” “for” what one believes.  In a sense, it’s giving a “word” for the Word made Flesh.

Learning to give a good “defense” of one’s faith means learning about Jesus and what He said and did.  But it also means learning how the Holy Spirit has guided the Church over its 2,000 year history.  Jesus didn’t leave us alone.  He sent  the Holy Spirit upon the early Church at Pentecost, and that same Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church.  So even though “apologetics” involves some studying, it must be animated by the Holy Spirit.  It must be done in a spirit of charity and compassion toward those who have not come into a more personal relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus Himself gives us encouragement and peace.  Because He even used the word apology: “When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” (Lk 12:11-12).

I hope a lot of parishioners will think about attending some of our Apologetics classes as we give them from time to time. As St. Peter says, we need to be able to explain the hope that is within us!
masstime.us
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty
msgr.nalty@gmail.com

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Homilies

Restoration Campaign

 

Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center

The Archdiocese of New Orleans Retreat Center invites you to join us for “Are You Kidding? On Becoming Like a Little Child Again”, a silent retreat June 2-4, 2017. Rev. Philip Chircop, SJ, encourages us to explore some habits of the heart intended to educate us into becoming childlike once again. Go to:  nolacatholic.org to download the flyer.

Marriage Retreat Cruise

Msgr. Nalty will be the Spiritual Director on a Marriage Retreat cruise in November, right when it starts to get colder!  Book at https://www.ctscentral.net/booking

Or call Corporate Travel at (313) 565-8888 extension 158.  Prices begin at $999 all-inclusive, and the early bird pricing is still available!

Jazzin on the River

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Presents
Jazzin’ on the River

June 28, 2017

The Steamboat Natchez
6pm-9pm

Come and enjoy an evening of dinner, dancing and drinks with
The Dukes of Dixieland
 Take part in the Silent Auction & Fun Raffles!
All proceeds will benefit the SVdP
Adult Learning Center and Community Pharmacy

Admission: $100.00 all inclusive

For ticket information, contact the SVdP Central Office at
940-5031, ext. 10, or svdpps@bellsouth.net

If you can’t attend please consider a contribution. Please send checks to:
St Vincent DePaul
P.O. Box 792880-2880
New Orleans, La 70179

And if you can’t attend, please buy a $25.00 raffle ticket for the Grand Prize, which is 10 separate $100 gift certificates from ten different restaurants!

May Crowning of Mary

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to Mary in many cultures, since May is considered the season of the beginning of new life. In ancient Roman culture, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of bloom, of blossoms, and the Romans celebrated ludi florales (floral games) at the end of April, asking the help of Flora for all that blooms since May 1 was considered the beginning of growth. In the same way, the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us the newness of life in the person of Jesus Christ so that we might become new creations born into Eternal Life.

Since medieval times, we begin to see a connection between Mary and the month of May. Among the earliest witnesses are: Alphonsus X, King of Castille, Spain (+1284) with his “Cantigas de Santa Maria.” Here and elsewhere, both Mary and the month of May are greeted, welcomed and celebrated on specific days in May. Later, it became the custon in Italy to devote the whole month of May to Mary. On each day of the month, special devotions to Mary were organized.

Today, May crownings occur in many Catholic parishes and homes with the crowning of a statue of Mary. The ceremony traditionally takes place with young girls dressed in dresses carrying flowers (traditionally hawthorn) to adorn the statue. One of the girls (often the youngest) carries a crown of flowers or an actual golden crown on a cushion for placement by the May Queen (often the oldest girl) on the statue. The flowers are replaced throughout the month to keep them fresh.

Crowning Mary is associated with adding ornamentation to an icon of Mary, sometimes as simple as adding additional gold trim. Perhaps in homage to this, Pope Clement VIII (+1605) added two crowns to the icon of Mary with the Infant Jesus in the Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome. The crowns were eventually lost, but were replaced by Gregory XVI in 1837 in a Rite that was to become the standard practice for crowning.

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!

The Good Friday Collection

 

Pictured is the Jerusalem Cross. If you have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land you will see this cross displayed everywhere. The meaning behind the Jerusalem Cross can be explained in many ways. The most famous are its representation of the Five Wounds of Jesus Christ. Another is the large cross representing the Person of Jesus, with the smaller four crosses representing the Four Gospels spread to the Four Corners of the Earth started in the Upper Room, in Jerusalem, more than 2000 years ago on Pentecost. We are blessed with rich and marvelous tradition! The Good Friday collection is taken up once a year and provides the necessary basic financial resources to sustain the Catholic institutions in the Holy Land. It is our collective privilege and duty to preserve our tangible heritage in our Christian Holy Land. Please give generously!

Novena to the Holy Spirit

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts
(to be prayed beginning May 25)

The novena in honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Our Lord Himself when He sent His apostles back to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. Addressed to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the light and strength and love so sorely needed by every Christian.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT AND PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS
On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, “Speak Lord for Your servant is listening.” Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Eucharistic Miracles of the World


Catalogue of the Vatican International Exhibition

With an extensive assortment of photographs and historical descriptions, the exhibition presents some of the principal Eucharistic Miracles that have taken place over the centuries and throughout the world. Most Eucharistic miracles involve incidences in which the Host has “turned into human flesh and blood.” Certainly, the Church teaches (and we believe) that the consecrated Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. Through Eucharistic miracles, Christ manifests His Presence in a more tangible and visible way. Interestingly, many Eucharistic miracles have occurred during times of weakened Faith. For example, a number of Eucharist miracles have taken place as a result of someone, often the priest himself, doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Included in the exhibit are descriptions of many of the most famous miracles, including those of Lanciano, Orvieto and Siena. Each of them has received full approval by the Church. By means of the exhibit, one can “virtually visit” the places where the miracles occurred.

It is important for us to remember that while Eucharistic Miracles can help us more fully understand and live our faith (with Christ the Eucharist as its source and summit), these Miracles are only useful as long as they are closely focused on Jesus Christ. They cannot become autonomous. Miracles can strengthen the faith of believers and even non-believers, but they are valuable only if they direct us to the Eucharist instituted by Christ and present at each celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They must serve the faith. They must not and cannot add anything to the one and only, definitive gift of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. They are a humble reminder of the Real Presence and can impart a more fruitful and deeper knowledge of it. Join us and see the different ways that Christ has manifested His Real Presence to increase our faith!

Congratulations to Patrick Guise and Cindy Gainsburgh!

st_louis_medalArchbishop Aymond will present the Order of St. Louis Medallion to 256 members of the laity in ceremonies this Sunday at 3:00 PM in the St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Ave. Our parishioners, Patrick Guise and Cindy Gainsburgh, will be among those honored.

Pro-Life Activities


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!

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions

May 2017

That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

Please pray for the intentions of the Holy Father!

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 at least 3,000 people came to visit St. Stephen’s on Friday. I sat in the confessional from 9:00am – noon, and I was 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. I wish I had been able to make it to St. Henry’s and Our Lady of Good Counsel, but between the Holy Thursday vigil, confessions, the 3:00pm Good Friday service, I didn’t have much time to venture out!  Thanks to everyone who came to pray, and those who greeted them!

The Story of the Palms

It was a common custom in many lands of the ancient Middle East to cover in some way the path of someone thought worthy of the highest honor. In 2 Kings 9:13 Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, was treated to this honor. Each of the four Gospels report that the people of Jerusalem gave Jesus the honor of walking on a covered path. However, in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) we hear that the people lay their garments and cut rushes to place on the street. Only the Gospel of John specifically mentions palms.

So what is the significance of the palm? The palm branch was a symbol of triumph and of victory in Jewish tradition, and is treated as such in other parts of the Bible (e.g. Leviticus 23:40 and Revelation 7:9). Based on this significance, the scene of the crowd greeting Jesus by waving palms and carpeting his path has given the Christian celebration its name. It shows the freedom desired by the Jews, and their desperation to have political freedom. In fact, they were welcoming their “Messiah,” whom they expected to be a great king who would free them from the oppression of foreign rulers. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem included chants from Psalm 118 and 148:1. The Hebrew hoshiiah na’ (I beseech you, save now) was changed in Greek to hosanna, which became a famous Christian term, and had a huge Messianic significance.

The palm is a symbol of victory for us as Christians. Since we recognize that Jesus is the Messiah (a word which we normally use in the Greek translation – “Christ”), we recognize that He has already achieved a victory for us. But the victory is not over earthly rulers. It’s much bigger. It’s victory over Satan. It’s a victory over sin and death. It’s a victory that gives us Eternal Life.

Nine Church Walk

An old New Orleans devotion will take place on Good Friday next week. The “nine church walk” calls for pilgrims to walk from church to church, stopping briefly in each to pray and meditate on the passion of Christ.  Many pilgrims will begin the nine church walk at St. Stephen Church as early as 7:00 am.  They will arrive in family groups, parish communities and CYO groups.

In other parts of the world, particularly in cities like Rome where churches are densely congregated, Catholics visit nine churches on Holy Thursday, rather than Good Friday.  Traditionally, nine signifies the nine days of a novena.  A wonderful novena to begin on Good Friday is the Novena for Divine Mercy, which continues until Divine Mercy Sunday.

This year St. Stephen Church and St. Henry Church will be open from 7:00 am until 1:00 pm on Good Friday.  Unfortunately, work is being done in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, and it is not possible for visitors to enter. If you can help greet pilgrims and distribute water at either St. Stephen, St. Henry or Our Lady of Good Counsel churches, please contact the parish office or sign-up in the back of church.!

The April Respect Life Focus is on Fertility/Infertility/Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Our spiritual work of mercy-Prayer for those struggling with Infertility:

Mother of Christ, you were graced by God with the privilege of bearing our Divine Savior. You experienced the joys and challenges of being a parent. Your life was blessed with seeing Jesus grow from infancy and childhood, into his adult years of teaching a ministry. With St. Joseph, you created a home for your family to love and share together. Please intercede before the God of all life, that those struggling with infertility may conceive a baby and raise healthy children, with whom they can share the Lord’s good gifts. May their children honor them and You by lives of virtue and caring for others. May their home be holy and their family be blessed with health, happiness and abiding love. And for those for whom conceiving a child is not possible may their love for each other be fruitful. Help them not to become bitter when they encounter others who devalue life. May those who cannot give birth to a child see other ways in which they can give life to others. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (source: http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=261283.0)

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