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From the Pastor – August 9, 2020

short daily prayersPeter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:28-31)

There are three things about the above encounter between Jesus and Peter from today’s Gospel that should make us think.  First, there is the command of Jesus; second, there is the fear of Peter; and, third, there is the reaction of Jesus to Peter’s lack of faith.

First, we have to recognize that Jesus “commands” Peter to go across the water.  If Jesus gives us a command, then He certainly will give us the grace to fulfill it.  This happens in our vocations, and in our lives. “What God has joined, men must not divide,” is the command that Jesus gives to married couples.  And the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage gives married persons sufficient strength to live permanency, fidelity and openness to God’s gift of children in marriage.  But it’s also the command of Christian discipleship:  “Love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.”  If Jesus gives the command, you can bet He’ll help us do it.

Second, Peter becomes frightened and looks at the wind and waves rather than Jesus.  If we start spending more time looking at the terrors of this world (especially sin and death), we will take our eyes off of Jesus.  And that’s when we fail, or fall.

Third, when we start to fail or fall, we need to say what Peter does: “Lord, save me!”  And thankfully, that’s when Jesus will stretch out His hand and save us.

There’s probably no greater indicator of the need for the Sacrament of Penance in any of the other miracles of Jesus.  He has already commanded us.  God did so in the Ten Commandments, and Jesus made them more understandable by compiling them into one commandment to love God and neighbor.  But when we feel insecure or scared or threatened or tired or lazy or inclined to sin, then we take our eyes off of the Lord who called us to be Christians.  And we fall into water or dirt or worse.  And that’s when we have to remember what Peter did.  He called on the Lord to save him.  We should place ourselves in front of the Lord each day and say the same thing.  And He will tell us, “Why did you doubt?  I love you.  Go receive forgiveness for your sins, and you will be saved.” Confessions are in the church at 3:00pm on Saturday and 9:30am on Sunday.  Or whenever you need to be saved from sin.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty

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Holy Spirit Mission at St. Stephen Church Aug. 10-14

A “Mission to the Holy Spirit” will be held in person at St. Stephen Church, 1025 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans, and live-streamed at Aug. 10-14 with Mass at 7 p.m. nightly.

Well-known celebrants and musicians in the local Catholic community will bring hope and strength for those participating in the “Finding Strength and Hope in Today’s World” mission,” Deacon Rich Eason said. Each night begins with 30 minutes of live praise and worship music at 6:30 p.m. followed by Mass. Confessions will be heard nightly from 6:15-6:30 p.m.
“Our world is very challenging now with the continuing threat of the virus, the economic downturn, social unrest and the disruption in all of our lives,” said Deacon Eason. “It is easy to fall into the trap of being overwhelmed by these times. The gifts (wisdom, understanding, courage and knowledge) and fruits (love, peace, patience, faithfulness and self-control) of the Holy Spirit are always there for us to bring joy and happiness into our lives. All we have to do is to allow the Holy Spirit to take over our lives and we can overcome these challenges that we all face.”
The schedule of celebrants and musicians includes:
Aug. 10: Father Tony Rigoli, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with music by Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Choir.
Aug. 11: Msgr. Christopher Nalty, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, with music by Phyllis Treigle.
Aug. 12: Archbishop Gregory Aymond, with soprano Sarah McMahon.
Aug. 13: Jesuit Father Mark Thibodeaux, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus, with music by Lorraine Hess.
Aug. 14: Father Sidney Speaks, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker, with music by Eric McCrary.
“The mission will help us move away from our earthly worries and help restore our souls to a state of divine peace about our future,” Deacon Eason said.
The Sociedad de Hombres Pecadores sponsors the mission. Call Deacon Eason at (504) 319-5214.

Signup online for Mission to the Holy Spirit

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The Assumption of Mary

(Not a Holy Day of Obligation this year)

After the Ascension of Jesus, Mary aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers. In her association with the apostles and several women, we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation. Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: “In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.”

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!

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.

Update on the Restoration

Just to keep you informed about our Building Fund and Restoration, I wanted to give you a few updates.

Many have noticed the black devices on the wall.  They are part of a large-scale analysis of why the plaster is failing.  They are networked to a central server to help the contractor figure out what is causing the failures.  They were installed in February, and they were supposed to have sufficient data by the end of June.  The next step is an analysis of the data and the recommendation of a way forward.  The contractor, the architect, and/or the subcontractor are all on the hook for this.  I was in contact with them this week.

Many have also inquired about the broken kneelers. Our normal handyman, Wilton, doesn’t have the expertise to do this.  But we have hired a carpenter to work on them while he is doing extensive work in the rectory due to water intrusion and termite damage.  We have extra kneelers in the basement of the church, and we are able to cannibalize parts to fix the broken ones.  We hope to get all of the kneelers repaired before the end of the summer.

We have also gone a long way in paying down the parish loan that we took on to fund our $6,800,000 restoration. We now owe only about $100,000 on this loan, thanks to your generosity and the generosity of so many friends of the parish.  But there will always be something to fix in an old church like ours, so thank you in advance for continuing to support the Building Fund!


Confessions will be heard at the normal parish times in the “bride’s room,” which is the room adjacent to the rest room near the front of the church. Monsignor Nalty will be seated with his back facing the door. You can use the kneeler six feet behind him or the chair six feet in front of him. If you use the kneeler, please use a provided sanitary wipe to sanitize the kneeler before you leave.

Saturdays 3:00 – 3:45pm St. Stephen
Sundays 9:30 – 10:15am St. Stephen

Parishioner Spotlight Interview

Corpus Christi Mass and Eucharistic Procession

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Next Sunday we will have our annual Eucharistic Procession to show our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Back to School

St. Stephen Catholic School is getting ready to restart school in the end of August for the youngest students and in early September for the older students. I wish each parishioner could come to at least one school Mass (which will normally be at 9:00 am on Fridays) during the year to see what well-behaved, enthusiastic and attentive students we have at St. Stephen’s. Unfortunately, most of the children that attend St. Stephen Catholic School do not live in the parish and, therefore, attend Mass at their home parish. However, you do know some of our students (and former students) who participate as altar servers at our Saturday 4:00pm Vigil and Sunday 10:30am Mass. Those young men are representative of the quality of the students that we educate here in our parish. If you know someone who is looking for a wonderful Catholic environment in which to educate their children, please have them investigate St. Stephen Catholic School!

Pornography Addiction

The internet has opened up an easy access to pornography which has become a major addiction in our society and a burden to many men. And the Church wants to help.  The Archdiocese of New Orleans has a confidential Catholic 12-step program for men struggling with an addition to pornography called the “My House Men’s Group.”  For more information contact (504) 430-3060 or email

Feast of the Transfiguration – Aug 6

While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” (Lk 9:34-36a)

Most of the Church Fathers saw the Transfiguration as a glimpse of the glory of Christ given to his disciples so that they might be strengthened to witness the scandal of the Cross. And this is certainly true. But three things immediately jump out of the reading.

First, is the number of apostles. Not all of the twelve are present – only Peter, James and John, the same three apostles that would accompany Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane. Even though they were strengthened by their witness to the glory of the Transfiguration, they would still flee at the beginning of the persecution of Christ.

The second point is the encounter between Jesus and Moses and Elijah. Of course, an easy connection can be made to Jesus being the fulfillment of the law (represented by Moses, who received the Ten Commandments) and the prophets (represented by the prototypical prophet Elijah). But it’s important to note what they are discussing on Mt. Tabor. Shrouded in glory, they’re not focused on Heaven’s glory but on the “exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” This exodus meant the passage Jesus would make from the slavery of death to the Promised Land of eternal life, a journey prefigured in the exodus by which Moses led the Jewish people out from the slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. And the means by which Jesus would accomplish this exodus is His suffering and death. Once again, the Transfiguration points to the cross.

And then comes the third, penultimate point of the passage: God the Father speaks. He confirms His Son’s true identity. Jesus wasn’t John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets, as many people believed. He wasn’t simply the long-awaited Messiah. God the Father thundered from heaven, “This is my beloved Son!” Then he gave a command to the three apostles with Jesus on the mountain: “Listen to Him!” The command echoes to us to listen to what Jesus said about his suffering and death, and believe in Him.

The encounter on Mt. Tabor is given for us to remember where we are headed. Is it to the glory of Heaven represented by the transfigured Lord? We hope so. But we can only get there through the Paschal Mystery: the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Calling for volunteers to donate 5 minutes of time to help disinfect the Church after Mass

Duties entail wiping down the missalettes and pews right after Mass. It only takes a few minutes. Gloves, paper towels, and cleaning solution are provided. All you have to do is look for Robert after Mass and he’ll get you set up.

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