From the Pastor – February 18, 2018

very short prayersThe Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. (Mk. 1-12)
I always look forward to Lent. And this year is no exception. Now that Lent is here, I’m happy to create my own little desert of calm by the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It’s the perfect remedy for the last two weeks of noise, feasting and excess.
One of the good disciplines of Lent is “giving something up.” When I was in seminary, I remember my rector publicly acknowledging that he gave up cigars during Lent. And then one Friday in Lent, I walked by his room and smelled cigar smoke. The next day I asked him about it, and he said that he decided to do something different that year because he felt like everyone knew he gave up cigars. He felt like he was doing it for the “crowd” rather than God.
The truth is that I’m not sure that it was necessarily a “bad” thing that people knew about it. Today in the Gospel we hear about the 40 day fast of Jesus. The only way that St. Mark the Evangelist would have known to write about Jesus’ fast is if Jesus had told someone about it! Think about it. No one was there when Christ fasted; He must have opened up his heart to tell them a little about this important moment in His hidden life. Sharing pain can help with healing, sharing joy can bring joy, and sharing penance can give strength. Jesus shared this story to tell us that He was tempted and He overcame. And filled with the same Holy Spirit as Jesus, we can overcome the temptations of the world so as to focus on the reward of heaven.
People often ask me what I’m giving up for Lent. My usual practice is to give up meat and alcohol, which for me is primarily red wine. And I don’t mintelling people, so that it’s not a surprise if they offer me a glass of wine during Lent. But I’m sure that Jesus had some secrets that were between him and His Heavenly Father. They were part of the “Divine Conversation” between them. This year I also decided to do the same – to give up something that’s just between God and me. It’s not a big thing, but it’s part of my intimacy with Him in prayer. I want to empty myself just a little more, so that I can be filled with Him.
short daily prayers
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty
msgr.nalty@gmail.com

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Introduction

 

MARDI GRAS, ASH WEDNESDAY & LENT SCHEDULE CHANGES!

Mardi Gras Day:  Mass at St. Henry at 6:30 a.m.  However, There will not be Adoration or Mass on Tuesday evening.

Ash Wednesday: Mass and the distribution of ashes will take place at 6:30 a.m., 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m. at St. Henry Church. Before the 6:00 p.m. Mass in the church there will be a Holy Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament beginning at 4:45 p.m.

There will be Stations of the Cross and Confession on Fridays of Lent at St. Henry Church 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 9:15-10:15 a.m. on Sundays.

Lenten Guidelines

FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. 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, Good Friday and on all Fridays of Lent. The determination of certain days as obligatory days of penance should not be understood as limiting the occasions for Christian penance.

MAINTAINING THE SPIRIT OF 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 a very important part of our spiritual life.  Individual circumstances must be taken into account, but in general, 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.

Father Ward Lenten Mission

Former pastor of St. Stephen Church, James Ward, C.M., will lead a Lenten Mission which will take place Monday-Wednesday, February 26-28, 2018 at St Henry Church.  The theme for the Mission is “The Wisdom of Pope Francis.”  More information will be provided next weekend, but the schedule is below.

6:00 pm, Mass
6:30-7:15 pm, conference
7:15-8:00pm, questions and answers

Daily topics:
Monday: Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium)
Tuesday: On the Care for the Common Home (Laudato Si’)
Wednesday: On Love in the Family (Amoris Laetitia)

Palm Branches Needed!

Each year the blessed palms from Palm Sunday are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. We will burn them next weekend. Since the palms are blessed, burning is the suitable way to dispose of them.  Please remember to bring them to Mass next weekend and place them in the brass urns in the back of the church. Thank you!

Our Lady of Lourdes

Next Sunday, February 11, the Church remembers the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous that took place a little over 150 years ago in Lourdes, France.  Since Our Lady of Lourdes Parish down the street on Napoleon Avenue has been closed, and since next Wednesday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I thought a little “refresher course” on the apparitions of Lourdes might be in order.

On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with two girlfriends to collect some firewood to sell in order to be able to buy some bread. As she was wading through a river near the Grotto of Massabielle, she heard the wind but did not see the trees and bushes move. As she looked toward the Grotto, she saw a light and a beautiful lady – “Lovelier than I have ever seen” – dressed in white with a blue sash fastened around her waist and two golden yellow roses on each foot. She remained in an ecstatic state contemplating the Lady until called by her friends. Three days later, Bernadette returned to the Grotto with the two other girls, who reportedly became afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. Bernadette remained ecstatic when they returned to the village. On 18 February, she was told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. The Lady said: “I promise to make you happy not in this world but in the next.” In total, there were seventeen apparitions, the last taking place on July 16 of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy during these apparitions, which were witnessed by the hundreds of people, although no one except Bernadette ever saw or heard the apparition.

During one of the apparitions, the Lady told Bernadette to drink of a mysterious spring within the grotto itself, something unknown and unseen. Bernadette scratched at the ground, and water began bubbling up and soon gushed forth. The water was muddy at first, but became increasingly clean. As word of the “miraculous spring” spread, the water was given to medical patients of all kinds, after which numerous miracle cures were reported. The first cure with a “certified miracle” was a women whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. However, several miracles turned out to be short-term improvement or even hoaxes, so Church and government officials became increasingly concerned. Eventually, the government barricaded the Grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the spring. In the process, Lourdes became a national issue in France, resulting in the intervention of emperor Napoleon III to reopen the grotto on 4 October 1858.

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Catholic Schools Week

January 28–February 3, 2018

Sponsored by NCEA, CSW is an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. Schools typically observe the week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to Church, local communities and the nation.

This year’s theme is Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.

Please keep St Stephen Catholic School in your prayers this week!

Safe Haven Sunday: Equipping the Family, Safeguarding Children

The family home is to be a safe haven. But, the inappropriate use of technology in the home deprives it of this role and is the greatest threat to the sanctity of marriages and families today. Pornography and other online threats are often one click away, and parents can feel overwhelmed with not knowing how to best protect their children in our fast-paced digital world.

Next weekend, February 17-18, the First Sunday of Lent, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is taking a bold step to help families by celebrating “Safe Haven Sunday.” This awareness day will provide access to practical resources that any caring adult can use to protect themselves and our precious young people from online risks.

Please join us with your prayers and presence as we prepare for this unique event. To learn more, please contact the Archdiocese of New Orleans Office of Marriage and Family Life at tmccaffery@arch-no.org or visit www.nolacatholic.com.

MINISTRY TO THE POOR REPORT FOR 2017

Our parish is incredibly generous in contributing when we ask for money for the poor.  Recently the Society of Vincent de Paul compiled a list of all of the services that we provided as a parish.  Here is the list:

4          Seminars held on Saturdays each quarter.  Our SVdP volunteers including an attorney, CPA, housing advocate and other volunteers counsel people on how to resolve problems and better their lives.

40        Easter and Christmas Baskets were handed out which provided for a complete holiday meal. We also provided Christmas gifts for families and their children.

144      Bus Tokens – Tokens help people to pay for a bus ride to an interview, job or a doctor’s appointment.  The ride costs $1.25 but we buy for $1.09.

418      Food Bags were given to people who knock on the door and ask for food.  We give them canned items that will help for a few days.  Items that can be heated are best, i.e., red beans, hearty soups, rice, macaroni and cheese, pasta, fruit, and breakfast items including oatmeal, cereal and grits.

$940    Rent – We try to help with a small portion of rent, if possible.  It is very rare for us to pay a full month’s rent.

$1,813   Ozanam Inn – We cook a hot dinner meal monthly from September through May and serve it to approximately 200 grateful people.

2,400 Blessing Bags – Purchased by you at our cost of $.50 to hand to people on the streets asking for a handout.  It contains a bottle of water, energy bar, cheese crackers, a prayer card and a card listing resources on where to get help.

2,962 Snack Packs – These bags help an individual have the equivalent of a lunch meal.  It consists of one sleeve of Saltines, a small can of Vienna sausages, along with a small breakfast bar, health bar, peanut butter crackers, applesauce and/or diced fruit.

74 Utility bills – Many of the poor live in homes that aren’t insulated and are subjected to bills that belie the fact they aren’t using much energy.

30 Rebuild Center meals – Twice monthly a hot lunch is prepared and served to about 225 homeless people.  A hot meal for a homeless person is a real blessing.  When serving the meals, the “clients” always thank you and tell you how much they appreciate it.

976 Vouchers – These people had a bed for the night and didn’t have to sleep on the streets.  There is always a line of people who arrive before 8:00 a.m. on scheduled Tuesday mornings hoping to receive one.

329  pairs of socks, 58 pairs of gloves and over 200 toiletry items were also given out.

REMINDER

Next Sunday the Masses are at 4:00pm (Saturday Vigil), 8:00am and 10:00am (Sunday)

Good Stewardship

Collections in our parish cover less than 50% of our parish expenses. With the costs of insurance, salaries, utilities and upkeep, we have a tough time. Without some generous benefactors donating at year’s end, we would be in bad shape! We’re a parish that is very generous to the poor, but we also need to be good stewards of our church and buildings that have been left to us by past generations.

Consider the following:  If you give less than $5 into the collection each week, perhaps you can raise it to $5.  And if you give more than $5, perhaps you can raise your contribution by 25%.

Thanks for your consideration!

St. Blaise Throat Blessing

Saturday, February 3 after 4:00pm Vigil Masse

Saturday, February 3 is the Feast of St. Blase, Bishop and Martyr, although it is not celebrated because it falls on a Sunday. St. Blaise, the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia was martyred in the year 316. The oldest accounts tell us that Blaise was a physician at Sebaste before he was made bishop. In the 4th century persecution of Licinius, St. Blaise was taken prisoner. After suffering various forms of torture he was beheaded.

The most popular story attributed to St. Blaise occurred while he was in prison, when he cured a young a boy who was in danger of choking to death because of a fishbone in his throat.  That story, and the fact that St. Blaise was a doctor, made the saint very popular for intercessory prayer for throat ailments.

At an early date, the veneration of this Eastern saint was brought into Europe, and Blaise became one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages. Numberless churches and altars were dedicated to him.

On the feast day, the blessing of St. Blaise will be given in St. Henry Church after the 6:30 am Mass. Also, the blessing will be given in St. Stephen Church after the 6:00 pm Mass on Tuesday, February 4. The blessing of the throat is carried out using two white taper candles that were blessed on the previous day, February 2, the Presentation of the Lord (Candlemas Day). The white color of the candles symbolizes purity. A red ribbon draped over the base of the candles symbolizes the martyrdom of St. Blaise. The candles are grasped in an X-shape and held up to the throat of the person receiving the blessing: “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

MARDI GRAS MADNESS!

STEPHEN CATHOLIC SCHOOL

St Stephen Catholic School will be hosting their annual school fundraiser during the Mardi Gras parades.  Please patronize 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!

St. Joseph Altar Cookies!

In preparation for the St. Joseph Altar on Monday, March 19, we will begin collecting ingredients for the traditional Italian cookies and for the meal itself.  We would greatly appreciate donations of the these ingredients on the following dates

1/28      Crisco shortening with butter (no oil!)
2/4       All purpose flour, raisins and dates
2/11      Sugar, pecans and walnuts
2/18      Red wine

Because we know that some parishioners find it difficult to get to St. Stephen Church during Mardi Gras, you are more than welcome to bring food donations on other than the assigned days.  Thank you for your generosity, and we hope you can attend the St Joseph Day meal this year!

For more details, contact Hunter Harris at 417-6066.

Notre Dame Seminary Lay Programs Open House

Notre Dame Seminary Lay Programs is hosting an Open House for all interested students on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, from 6:00-8:00 PM with doors opening up at 5:45 PM. This event will take place in the Pastoral Center on the campus of NDS. Come learn information from faculty, hear stories from students, and network with potential classmates while enjoying delicious food and refreshments. Please click https://nolacatholic.org/documents/2018/1/2-NDS%20Lay%20Program%20Open%20House.pdf to download the flyer.

Christmas Giving Tree

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul needs your help. A Christmas Giving Tree has been set up next to the St. Anthony Statue which has on it ornaments with gift requests from needy families.  If you can, please pick an ornament from the tree then return the gift with the ornament and place under the tree by Sunday, December 17. Monetary donations are also welcome.  Thank you for always being so generous in our efforts to help the needy of our parish!

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