Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”(Jn. 9:39-41)
The Gospel this Sunday is about the cure of the “man born blind.” Jesus did so by making clay out of dirt and saliva, by putting the clay on the man’s eyes, and then by instructing the man to wash in the Pool at Siloam. The closing words of this Sunday’s Gospel passage sum up the meaning of the cure of the man born blind. It’s not just a miracle cure of a physical illness. It’s about opening the eyes of faith.
Practically speaking, how is our vision supposed to change this Lent? What does it mean to be cured of our spiritual blindness?
How did it unfold for the blind man? Picture him at the pool. The first thing he probably saw was his own image reflected in the water of the pool. Imagine seeing your face for the first time! Now picture him returning from the pool. He had never seen anything before, and now he could see everything! He probably looked up to the sky and saw birds and trees and flowers. And as he walked back he could finally see the faces of his neighbors, and where he was going! But that’s not the only thing. When he returned, he could see the face of Jesus.
Spiritually speaking, we are called to open up our eyes. We are called to see the world in all of its beauty, and realize it’s God’s creation. We’re called to see the faces of our neighbors – even those who you don’t always greet – and recognize that they are children of God. We are called to see our way through the world in the light of the Gospel rather than in the light of “popular” morality. In the end, opening our eyes to God’s work in the world should help us to see ourselves better. We have to open our eyes to the reality that we are God’s beloved sons and daughters. The sense of love that comes from this recognition can fill us with a tremendous joy — the type of joy that God wants to share this Laetare Sunday.
And finally, we have to see the face of Jesus, just as the man born blind finally did. If we could truly see the Mass with the eyes of faith, we would see the face of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We would see the glory of God as Heaven meets earth in our church. We would see all the angels and the saints hovering around the Altar.
With the eyes of faith open to reality of God’s presence, we can say, just as the man did: “I do believe, Lord!”
Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty
Saturday Vigil at 4:00pm
Sunday at 8:00am and 10:30am
Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC)
Center of Jesus the Lord
Sunday at 10:30am
Monday – Friday 6:30am St. Henry
Tuesdays 6:00pm St. Stephen
First Fridays 7:00pm OLGC
Extraordinary Form Latin Mass
Last Sunday of month at 12:30pm
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Tuesdays 4:45 – 5:45pm St. Stephen
Thursdays 7:00 – 8:00am St. Henry
First Fridays 8:00 – 9:00pm OLGC
Confession Times at Good Shepherd
Saturdays 3:00 – 3:45pm St. Stephen
Sundays 9:30 – 10:15am St. Stephen
Sundays 10:00 – 10:30am OLGC
First Fridays 6:30 – 7:00pm OLGC
The parish is very grateful to Hunter Harris and Becky Brocato who organized the beautiful St. Joseph Altar. And Hunter and Becky would be the first to recognize that they couldn’t have done it without your help. And so THANK YOU to the numerous volunteers: the cooks, the servers, the runners, the cleaners and everyone who are playing such a tremendous role today in making the Solemnity of St. Joseph such a great success and a very happy day for all! The weather was perfect, and over 2500 plates were used. We estimate that we served at least 2000 people!! Thanks for a great day!
If any parishioner has access to sago palms (the kind pictured to the right), we would love to get some for decorations in the church, and also to give bless in two weeks on Palm Sunday (April 9, 2017). Please don’t cut your palms until a few days before Palm Sunday so they won’t dry out! Please call the parish office if you can help.
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 next Friday 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 bread crumbs to represent saw dust – since St. Joseph was a carpenter.
The altar will still be up next Sunday, but you really don’t want to miss Wednesday! Last year more than 2000 plates were served over the course of the afternoon!
The parish is very grateful to Hunter Harris and Becky Brocato and the many many parishioners who are organizing the beautiful St. Joseph Altar. Come take part in a wonderful Italian and New Orleans tradition. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
During Lent at St. Henry Church, there will be Stations of the Cross and Confession on Fridays with Confession 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 9:30-10:15 a.m. on Sundays. Beginning March 3, the Stations will be followed by a fish fry in the Blessed Pauline Center, directly behind St. Henry Church.
St Stephen Catholic School will be hosting their annual school fundraiser during the Mardi Gras parades. Please patron the school by purchasing food and drinks through the windows of the school facing Napoleon Avenue. They will also offer bathroom passes for those wishing to avoid the Port-o-Lets. They clean the bathrooms continuously throughout each day. Please support our school that serves some of the neediest members of our community!
Our Lady of Czestochowa
St. Stephen Church – Monday, February 17
Holy Hour of Adoration 4:45pm
Holy Mass 6:00pm
A reproduction of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna, is coming to St. Stephen Church on Monday, February 17.
“From Ocean to Ocean” is sponsored by Human Life International (HLI.org). This worldwide pilgrimage is dedicated to the defense and support of life and family through the intercession of the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The pilgrimage started in 2012 in Vladivostok, Russia, then made its way through 24 countries and more than 400 cities and towns to reach the Atlantic Ocean.
One of its final European stops was on Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 in Fatima, Portugal, where the icon was placed on the site of the Fatima apparitions of Our Lady, which the faithful recall on Oct. 13.
In January 2012, this splendid reproduction of the original icon in the Monastery of Jasna Góra in Poland was blessed by the archbishop of Czestochowa. The the icon was touched to the original icon, which is believed to have been painted by St. Luke.
Father Roman Majewski, prior of Jasna Gora, wrote of the pilgrimage online at FromOceantocean.org: “The pilgrimage of the Czestochowa icon ‘From Ocean to Ocean’ through the world is an unprecedented historical event and has enormous significance.”
Since Aug. 24, when the pilgrimage landed on America’s shores at St. Clement’s Island, Md., the icon has traveled to a number of parishes and places, such as Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
The icon reproduction is also uniting East and West by stopping at Russian Orthodox churches.
The majority of churches the icon traveled to across Russia were Orthodox. It received the support and blessings of Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Catholics and Orthodox have always shared a love and veneration for Our Lady, in particular through this icon.
Father Peter West, Human Life International’s vice president for missions and coordinator for the pilgrimage in America, enumerated several examples from Catholic Tradition of the faithful’s reliance on icons and holy relics, including Marian ones. Among them:
“In the Old Testament, there was a tradition of bringing the Ark of the Covenant into battle,” he said. “At the siege of Jericho, the Israelites marched around seven times, and the city walls fell down. The people of Poland prayed [during their own] ‘siege of Jericho’ [with the Russian occupation in the 20th century]; and at the end of the siege, the Polish government dropped its restrictions, and the Pope [Blessed John Paul II] was able to go to Poland and speak boldly, shortly after which communism was defeated in that country and then in the Soviet Union.”
“The Russians carried the icon of Our Lady of Kazan into battle as they drove Napoleon out of Russia,” added Father West. “The memorial of the Holy Name of Mary [Sept. 12] was instituted in 1683, after John Sobieski won the Battle of Vienna, relieving the city and crushing Moslem domination in Europe for over 300 years. The Polish Hussars wore an emblem of Our Lady of Czestochowa [on their uniforms] as they went into battle, and the king consecrated the kingdom of Poland to Our Lady of Czestochowa.”
Father West makes the connection clear regarding miraculous interventions through Our Lady in modern times: “Now, we are renewing this tradition and bringing the icon into the battle for life. We are calling on Our Lady and bringing the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa into the battle against the culture of death and asking her to help us build a culture of life. We’ve entrusted the civilization of life and love into the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Already, our Blessed Mother is healing souls, saving lives and transforming the culture at stops along the way. During the icon’s visit to a late-term abortion business, three women chose life.
Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us!
Americans United for Life released the 2017 LIFE LIST after analyzing progress made legislatively or in litigation in 2016. The Life List takes into account the 50 states’ overall advances since Roe v. Wade toward re-building a culture of life, including events of the last year. Louisiana comes in at number 3 for the second year in a row (we were number 1 for 6 years before that. But we should never stop working and praying until the government of our country changes the law to protect human life in the womb. Every biological textbook teaches that human life begins at conception,when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg. From that moment on, that unborn child should be protected. Please join us in prayer each Saturday at 11:00am outside of the abortion clinic located at on the corner of General Pershing and Magnolia.
One of the most beautiful and fragrant reminders of Easter morning are Easter lilies. We will be purchasing them for the altar for use over the Easter season. If you would like to donate an Easter lily in the name of a loved one for $25, there are envelopes in the back of church. Please return by April 9, 2017.
Our parish and the St. Vincent De Paul Society are sponsoring Food Baskets for the needy for Easter. Please visit the “Lenten Tree/Cross” by the St. Anthony statue in the back of church fill out a card! We hope to put the baskets together by April 9, 2017. May God bless your generosity!
CChristians around the world are united in a special way during Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Our hearts, minds and prayers are especially in solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land. Once a year, on Good Friday, Catholics through- out the world are called on to support Christians in the Holy Land. Many Christians in the Holy Land depend on this collection for their lives.
It is critical that we continue to support the Christians who are living in the Holy Land. They are surrounded by a majority Jewish and Islamic population. With your support, we ensure Christians living there and future generations of Christians will have a place to live.
It is with the funds from the Good Friday Collection that the Franciscans living in the Holy Land provide presence, care and service to the people who are living in the Holy Land. You can help preserve important shrines critical in the history of the Christian Faith, support pastoral care to the Christian community and provide for the poor through housing development and scholarship opportunities.
As a pontifical collection, requested by the Holy Father, the annual Good Friday collection offers a direct link for all Catholics to be witnesses of peace and to help protect the Holy Places. When you donate on Good Friday you are doing your part to help support Christians who are a minority in the Holy Land. Please help support these brothers and sisters of ours by giving to the special Good Friday Collection on April 14, 2017.
More resources to explain the collection and its work are also available at http://www.myfranciscan.org/good-friday.
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!
THE LENTEN SEASON A distinction is to be made between Lent and the Easter Triduum. Strictly speaking, Lent ends with the beginning of the Triduum on Holy Thursday. The Ordo notes: “Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive on Holy Thursday”.
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age and is observed until their 59th birthday. Those who are bound to fast may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to each one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.
Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years or older on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent. The determination of certain days as obligatory days of penance should not be understood as limiting the occasion for Christian penance. The Spirit of the season of Lent should be maintained throughout the weeks of Lent.
MAINTAINING THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON OF LENT The Spirit of the season of Lent should be maintained throughout the weeks of Lent. The obligation to observe penitential days of the Church is serious. Failure to observe individual days of penance is not necessarily considered serious. No one should be scrupulous in this regard. People should seek to do more rather than less, since fast and abstinence on the days prescribed should be considered a minimal response to the Lord’s call to penance and conversion of life.
Our spiritual work of mercy…
February 8th is the International Day of Awareness and Prayer Against Human Trafficking. On this day we are going Silent on Social Media for 24 hours! Join us as we go silent in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are victims of Human Trafficking. Don’t post…PRAY!
February 9th – 17th is our Archdiocesan novena to end Human Trafficking. To sign up for our archdiocesan daily email reminder for the February 9th-17th novena, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our corporal work of mercy…
This month we are assisting a local safe house, the Free Indeed Home, where girls ages 12-17 who have been sex trafficked can come for healing and restoration. If you or your group would like to participate in the collection of much-needed items, please contact the Respect Life Office to facilitate on this (no drop-offs can be accepted). The following items are needed:
The Archdiocese of New Orleans will offer a writing workshop for persons seeking an annulment in the Catholic Church or for persons responding to an annulment. The workshop will be held in St. Rita Parish’s Msgr. Champagne Complex, 7100 Jefferson Hwy in Harahan. The series will be for five (5) Tuesdays, March 7, 14, 21, 28 and April 4, 2017. Hours are 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The materials for the series cost $25.00. To register or for more information, call Cathy, 504-861-6243.
Elders. That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.
Collaboration in Evangelization. That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity.
Please pray for the intentions of the Holy Father!
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