From the Pastor – August 2, 2015

masstime.usWhen the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (Jn 6:24-29)

Beginning last weekend on the 17th Sunday of the Ordinary Time and ending on the 21st Sunday (August 23) we will hear the entirety of the 6th Chapter of John’s Gospel. It’s called the “bread of life discourse,” and it is the theological basis for our Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Last week, Jesus fills the people with earthly food: bread and fish. This weekend we read verses 24-35 of the same 6th Chapter. We hear that the people who had been fed have searched and found Jesus again. And the first thing he gives them is a rebuke: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” It’s an almost shocking statement, isn’t it? Since we know that Jesus loved those people, it sounds harsh that He would chastise them for coming to see Him again. And that’s when we realize that Jesus has a deeper message He wants to impart. And He adds that in the next sentence: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” The point that He is making is that He didn’t come simply to provide an easy permanent earthly source of life (i.e. bread and fish). In other words, He didn’t come to comfort us here. The reason Jesus came is to lift us up to the Father in Heaven. He came for the express purpose of bringing us into an Eternal Banquet with the Communion of Saints in Heaven. And since Heaven is the goal, and Jesus is the means, this important chapter of John’s Gospel helps us to understand how we are called to respond. And the first way to respond is to believe in Him.

Oftentimes, we can look to the Lord and the Church as disappointing in that we don’t get what we want. We didn’t like the homily, or we didn’t like the teaching with which we disagreed, or we didn’t like the ministries that the parish offers. And that can be natural. We might keep coming to see what we can do to make it better. But we should always remember that Jesus came, and established a Church, so that we could continue to grow in our knowledge of Heaven – our Eternal Home.

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

Read more posts From the Pastor

Symbols of the Eucharist (2 of 5)

The “IHS” monogram is an abbreviation or shortening of the name of Jesus in Greek to the first three letters. It is sometimes transliterated into Latin characters as IHS. The abbreviation is meant to reflect the Holiness of the Name of Jesus – something to be revered. Oftentimes this symbol is present on the large host that the priest consecrates at Mass to remind the priest that – after the Consecration – he is holding Jesus. The particular symbol above is also the symbol for the Society of Jesus founded by St Ignatius Loyola, whose feast was July 31.

Symbols of the Eucharist (1 of 5)

The pelican is an ancient symbol of the Eucharist because of the Roman belief that pelicans fed their young with their own flesh in times of famine.  Since Jesus feeds us with His Body and Blood, He is the “holy pelican” as St. Thomas Aquinas called Him in the great Eucharistic hymn “Adore Te Devote.” The same image is on the flag of the State of Louisiana.

Archbishop Aymond responds to the recent Marriage ruling by the United State Supreme Court

As Catholic Christians, we believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. This belief is rooted in Sacred Scripture, Natural Law and 2000 years of Christian Tradition. To change and redefine marriage will have ramifications for families now and in the future. I stand with the Catholic bishops of the United States as we had hoped there would have been another means of moving forward in society without redefining marriage and family life.

While we stand firm in this belief, as Christians we must extend respect to all and treat all of God’s children with dignity even in disagreement. We cannot be disrespectful but always loving in witnessing our faith. Disrespect and hatred can never be condoned.

This is an historical moment in the United States. It gives us as Catholic Christians an opportunity to uphold the Sacrament of Marriage and the importance of family life.

The Catholic Church Explained

The Catholic Church is the distinctive name of this holy Church which is the mother of us all. She is the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God (for Scripture says: Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her). She is the type and she bears the image of the Jerusalem above that is free and is the mother of us all, that Jerusalem which once was barren but now has many children.

The first assembly, that is, the assembly of Israel, was rejected, and now in the second, that is, in the Catholic Church, God has appointed first, apostles, second, prophets, third, teachers then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators and speakers in various tongues, as Paul says; and together with these is found every sort of virtue—wisdom and understanding, self-control and justice, mercy and kindness, and invincible patience in persecution. This Church in earlier days, when persecution and afflictions abounded, crowned her holy martyrs with the varied and many-flowered wreaths of endurance. But now when God has favored us with times of peace, she receives her due honor from kings and men of high station, and from every condition and race of mankind. And while the rulers of the different nations have limits to their sovereignty, the holy Catholic Church alone has a power without boundaries throughout the entire world. For Scripture says: God has made peace her border.

Instructed in this holy Catholic Church and bearing ourselves honorably, we shall gain the kingdom of heaven and inherit eternal life. For the sake of enjoying this at the Lord’s hands, we endure all things. The goal set before us is no trifling one; we are striving for eternal life. In the Creed, therefore, after professing our faith “in the resurrection of the body,” that is, of the dead, which I have already discussed, we are taught to believe “in life everlasting,” and for this as Christians we are struggling.

Now real and true life is none other than the Father, who is the fountain of life and who pours forth his heavenly gifts on all creatures through the Son in the Holy Spirit, and the good things of eternal life are faithfully promised to us men also, because of his love for us.

Does this sound like a decent explanation of today’s Catholic Church?  It was written by St. Cyril of Jerusalem in 347 A.D.

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions

July 2015

Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.

Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

Please pray for the intentions of the Holy Father!

Feast of St. Henry – July 13

St. Henry (6 May 973 – 13 July 1024) was the fifth and last Holy Roman Emperor of the Ottonian dynasty, from his coronation in Rome in 1014 until his death a decade later.  He was crowned King of Germany in 1002 and King of Italy in 1004. He is the only German king to have been canonized.

Henry was the son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria. As his father was in rebellion against two previous emperors, he was often in exile. This led the younger Henry to turn to the Church at an early age, first finding refuge with the Bishop of Freising, and later being educated at the cathedral school of Hildesheim. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995 as Henry IV.  Henry’s most significant contributions as emperor came in the realm of church-state relations and ecclesiastic administration within the Empire. He supported the bishops against the monastic clergy and aided them in establishing their temporal rule over broad territories. He strongly enforced clerical celibacy in order that the public land and offices he granted the church would not be passed on to heirs. This ensured that the bishops remained loyal to him, from whom they received their power, and provided a powerful bulwark against rebellious nobles and ambitious family members. Henry founded the Diocese of Bamberg, which quickly became a center of scholarship and art.

Henry had been working with the pope to call a Church Council to confirm his new system of politico-ecclesiastical control when he died suddenly in 1024, leaving this work unfinished.  Henry was canonized in July, 1147 by Pope Clement II; and his wife, Cunigunde, was canonized in the year 1200, by Pope Innocent III. His relics were carried on campaigns against heretics in the 1160s.  He is buried in Bamberg Cathedral.  Because as king he supported the Church, Henry is usually portrayed wearing a crown and holding a small model of a church.

Fortnight for Freedom

The Catholic Bishops of the United States are asking Catholics and all people of faith to join in prayer for our nation in thanksgiving for our freedom and for ongoing protections of conscience rights and religious liberty from Sunday, June 21st – Saturday, July 4th, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the “freedom to bear witness” to the truth of the Gospel.

“Keeping the spirit of the Gospel means that Catholic institutions are to bear witness in love to the full truth about the human person by providing social, charitable, and educational services in a manner that fully reflects the God-given dignity of the human person.” – Archbishop William E. Lori, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, on the “Freedom to Bear Witness”

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Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, brining the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength if mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; Give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters Gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome-for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us – this great land will always be “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Signing with Courage

Signing with Courage – Charles Carroll of Carrollton

The legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a committee with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams’ prediction was correct, but he was two days off! From the beginning, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress. And the Declaration itself wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776.

Divorced People Are Not “Outside” the Church

[What follows is a clarification from the Holy Father that you might consider handing along to any of your Catholic friends who are divorced and remarried]

We sometimes hear from our friends who are divorced and remarried:  “I’m excommunicated.”  That’s not true at all.  During the World Meeting of Families held in 2012 in Milan, a Brazilian family raised the issue of divorced couples who have remarried and cannot avail themselves of the Sacraments. Pope Benedict XVI affirmed that “this is one of the great causes of suffering for the Church today, and we do not have simple solutions. Naturally, one very important factor is prevention. This means ensuring that, from the beginning, the act of falling in love is transformed in a more profound and mature decision. Another factor is that of accompanying people during marriage, to ensure that families are never alone but find authentic company on their journey. We must tell people in this situation that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love.” Parishes and other Catholic communities “must do everything possible so that such people feel loved and accepted, that they are not “outsiders” even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist. They must see that they too live fully within the Church. The Eucharist is real and shared if people truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the “corporeal” assumption of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ.” It is important for divorced couples “to have the chance to live a life of faith, to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, because they also help others to defend the stability of love, of Marriage; theirs is a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith.”

As a canon lawyer, I do a great deal of ministry with divorced and remarried Catholics, especially in helping guide their cases through the Metropolitan Tribunal.  If you need my help, call me.  That’s what I’m here for!

Questions Welcomed

Lately, the Church’s teaching on marriage, sexuality and contraception has been getting a good deal of public attention in the media. This has naturally led to people asking questions, especially if this teaching is news to them. Even as Catholics, we may be struggling with questions of our own.

It’s good and helpful for us to acknowledge and explore our questions. And it’s healthy for us to grapple with God the Father’s desire for our happiness. He understands our human nature—his Son became one of us (Jesus is true God and true man)!  Jesus, through his Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, can handle the questions, struggles, or anxieties we bring to him (see Matthew 11:28).

Pope St. John Paul II, quoting the words of Christ, would often encourage us: “Do not be afraid!” We should never be afraid to pursue the truth. Maybe you’ve had some of the following questions, yourself:

What does the Church teach about married love?

What does this have to do with contraception?

Does saying “yes” to children at the altar mean never using contraception?

Are couples expected to leave their family size entirely to chance?

What if a couple has a serious reason to avoid having a child?

Is there really a difference between using contraception and practicing natural family planning?

Can some methods of birth control cause an abortion? What does any of this have to do with my marriage?

Consider that in marriage, spouses love not only through words, but also through the actions and gestures of their bodies. In particular, the sexual act in marriage speaks of a total commitment to a future together—a future open to welcoming the gift of a child if so blessed and open to fruitful love and service to others. The Church’s teaching on marital sexuality is an invitation for husband and wife to enter more fully into communion with each other and with the blessed Trinity, the fount of life and love.

The questions above, and others like them, are answered on a helpful new web page, www.usccb.org/love-and-sexuality.

Are we willing to consider the questions that live in our hearts? When the teachings of Christ are understood, embraced and practiced, they can radically change our lives for the better. Christ wants us to have life to the fullest. There is nothing like walking with him. No joy can be compared when we choose to follow him and live in his joy (see John 15:11).

St. John Vianney Feast Day August 4

Patron Saint of Parish Priests

Jean-Baptist-Marie Vianney was born on May 8, 1786, in the French town of Dardilly, the fourth child of Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze.

His life was impacted at a young age by the French Revolution, which forced many loyal priests to hide from the government in order to celebrate the Sacraments. Since priests daily risked their lives because of the religious persecution, Vianney’s early life as a Catholic was hidden, having received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation is secret ceremonies in private homes.

When the Catholic Church was re-established in France 1802, John’s father allowed him to begin studies for the priesthood in the neighboring village of Ecully at a school run by Father M. Balley. Although John’s studies were interrupted when he was drafted into Napoleon’s armies in 1809 (he never served), he was eventually ordained a priest on August 12, 1815 in the Couvent des Minimes de Grenoble, saying his first Mass the next day. He was appointed to Ecully as assistant to Msgr. Balley, his priest-hero because Balley had remained faithful during the Revolution.

As a parish priest, Vianney realized that the destruction of the Catholic Church during the French Revolution had led to great religious ignorance and indifference. He began to zealously catechize his parishioners, courageously condemn errors and lax moral practices and tirelessly call sinners to repentance, especially through Confession. St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Feast Day August 1) once said, “A priest needs to be a lion at the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.” Vianney fit the bill.

After being appointed as the Cure of Ars (a small city near Ecully) Vianney came to be known internationally, and people from distant places began traveling to make their Confession to him. By 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached 20,000 a year. During the last ten years of his life, he spent sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional.

On 4 August 1859, Vianney died at age 73. His bishop presided over his funeral with 300 priests and over 6,000 people in attendance. In 1925 he was canonized by Pope Pius XI.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Vianney’s death, Pope Benedict XVI declared a year for priests in 2009.

One Flesh

The desire to love and be loved is the deepest need of our being.  We long to be known, accepted, and cherished by another. Yet, the ability to fully give or receive this love is unattainable on our own. As Catholics we believe Jesus Christ has entered our broken world to conquer sin and restore us to new life. Throughout every age he continues to invite all women and men to follow him through his Church, to whom he has entrusted his teaching authority, so that all can know and follow him.

Only God can give us the unconditional love and acceptance that we desire. Yet, he has created marriage, a holy union, to mirror this supreme love on earth. At the heart of their married love is the total gift of self that husband and wife freely offer to each other. Because of their sexual difference, husband and wife can truly become “one flesh.” Through the language of their bodies, their sexual union recalls their vows: giving themselves to one another in love that is total, faithful, and life-giving. [Read More…]

Adult Education

lectio

Beginning on Thursday, September 3rd we will begin our new adult Bible study course on

Lectio: Eucharist

Discover the relevant truth of Scripture and the Tradition of the Catholic Church with Lectio, a brand new video-based study series from the trusted presenters at the Augustine Institute. Learn More >

Good Church Etiquette

An instructive reminder

Remember to keep your Eucharistic fast by abstaining from food and beverages (water excluded) for an hour before Mass.

Always dress modestly and appropriately. Arrive early to allow for personal prayer and/or read the readings of the day.

Turn off all mobile devices while still in the vestibule. This is your time with God and His people.

Use the restroom before or after Mass. Men remove hats or caps before the Lord.

Deposit all water bottles in the waste receptacles.

Make the sign of the cross with Holy Water upon entering.

Genuflect with great reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle before entering your pew. If unable to genuflect, a profound bow is respectful.

Refrain from chit-chat which distracts others who are connecting with God through prayer before Mass.

Join the singing. St. Anselm said that “singing is praying twice.”  Singing with others gives great praise to God, which is really why we are gathered here.

Listen to the readings. God is speaking directly to you.

Receive Communion with laser-like attention. We receive Communion, we do not take it. If choosing to receive the Body of Christ in the hand, place the hand you write with under the hand you will receive, in a way, creating a throne for the Lord. A simple bow of the head to the Eucharist is appropriate as a sign of reverence to Christ before receiving.

Don’t forget to make a prayer of thanksgiving after receiving Communion. “There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion.” (St. Alfonsus Liguori)

Remember that the point of being at Mass is not to see what we can get out of it, but what you can do to praise and worship the Almighty.

And finally, leave church only after the procession has left the altar. Only one person left the Last Supper early”

Christmas in July!

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 the names of gifts and a dollar amount.  This summer we are focusing on the poorer students who attend St. Stephen Catholic School. There is no need to buy a present and wrap it; all you have to do is pick an ornament with the name of a gift, and place it in an envelope with the requested donation.  The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will do the rest!  God’s blessing to all of you!

What do we mean by religious liberty?

Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Libery

Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1). We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,  the foundation of human rights, justice and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect  and promote our liberties. By your grace may we have the courage to defend them,  for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,  and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,  in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign,  one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

“Dead Theologians Society” comes to Good Shepherd Parish and New Orleans

We will begin DTS the third week of July. For more information on how to join please contact our Director of Religious Education, Mr. Phillip Bellini, at 899-1378, or email him at pbellini@arch-no.org. We will have special presentations and guest speakers at some of our meetings. Meetings will only be twice a month. There is no fee to join DTS. God bless you.

Learn more >

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