Hurricane Ida Severely Damages St. Stephen School

We very much need and appreciate your assistance. No amount is too small!

CLICK HERE to see a video describing the damage.

From the Pastor – September 12, 2021

Along the way Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8:27b-29a)

Very few people deny the historical reality that there was a man named Jesus who lived in the first century and died by crucifixion.  However, throughout history men have argued about the identity of Jesus. Jewish people traditionally see Him as “false Messiah.” The Muslims call Him a “prophet.”  Atheists might acknowledge His historical existence and even recognize the beauty of some of His teachings (“Love your neighbor as yourself”), but label Him as simply a delusional inspiration.  Even among some so-called “Christians,” Jesus might be reduced to a “holy man,” or a “great teacher.”

This week, Jesus asks His first followers the most important question they will ever be asked: “Who do you say that I am?”  And Peter responds:  “You are the Christ.”  And as Catholic Christians we follow that confession of Peter.  We are the people who say that Christ is more than just a holy man, more than a great teacher, more than a prophet who announces God’s words, more than an inspiration. We are the people who confess, with Peter, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. This is the faith that brings us together: Jesus is the Son of God, who not only announces the words of God, but is the Word of God.  And that reality is our faith in Christ, which must be more than the confession of our mouth.  It must be something confessed by our lives. In the second reading, St. James makes a distinction between dead faith and living faith: “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  If faith remains a theory that doesn’t affect our hearts, our hands, and our choices, then it is dead and has “no power to save us.”

But the stark reality of the Messiah is lost on Peter.  He thinks the Messiah will come as a great king to free the Jewish people from their Roman oppressors.  And that’s why Jesus has to rebuke Peter.  Jesus has come for something much bigger.  He has come to free mankind from its ancient oppressor, the devil himself.  And the means by which He is to do so is to suffer, die and rise from the dead.  The means of our salvation is the wood of the cross.  One tree in the Garden of Eden got us into the mess we’re in, and the wood of the cross is the means by which we’re saved.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty

Hurricane Storm Damage

It will be obvious when you come to St. Stephen Church on Saturday or Sunday that we were hard hit by Hurricane Ida.  We lost the entirety of the roof to our school gym as well as much of the copper covering our gorgeous steeple.

We are already in the process of mitigating our damages and repairing things so that we can get our children back in school.  The steeple might take a little longer to evaluate.  Notwithstanding the forgoing, we have maintained our Mass schedule since the hurricane hit, although we had to move it around over the last two weeks.  But beginning Monday, September 13, we will resume our normal Mass schedule at St. Stephen and St. Henry Churches.

Due to the storm and the numbers of people who evacuated, we are pushing the start of our fall adult education and our “Lord, Teach Me How to Pray” back one week.  They will both begin next week.

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Lord Teach Me to Pray

Are you interested in a deeper relationship with God?  Do you want to improve your prayer life?  Lord, Teach Me to Pray is a three-part prayer series for men and women based on Ignatian Spirituality.  Beginning early to mid-September, all three parts of the series will be offered in several locations throughout the Archdiocese.  Small groups meet with 2 trained facilitators for 1-2 hours/week to pray and faith share.  In Good Shepherd Parish, My 19th Annotation (Part II) for women will meet in the St. Stephen rectory chapel, Thursdays at 6:00pm beginning Sept 9th.  Contact Dianne Caverly, 504-388-3430 or, for more information or to register.  Additional sessions for men and women are available at other area churches.  Visit the web site, for the full schedule.

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!

Mission to the Holy Spirit – “Making a Difference for the Future”

August 9 – 13, 2021

Each night:
Confessions 6:15 – 6:45pm
Musical performance 6:30pm
Mass at 7:00pm

Click here for Mission flyer and details.

Mission Appeal August 7-8, 2021

Each year our parish takes part in a Mission Appeal.  This year the appeal is by the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI). The CMI is the first indigenous religious congregation of India founded by Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara in 1831. There are more than 2000 CMI members serving in 35 countries in the areas of pastoral care, education, social apostolate, health care, mass media and ecumenism. Currently more than 110 priests are serving in the USA and many more are serving in Africa, Latin America, Australia and Europe. Please welcome Rev. Fr. Joseph Kattekara, CMI, to our parish this weekend to preach about their missionary activities. There will be a second collection and your generous financial support and prayers will be highly appreciated.

Were you married in St. Stephen Church?

If so, would you donate a simple framed photo of your wedding in the church for our collection? (Max size  5”x7”)   We now have a beautiful, antique cabinet from a parishioner’s estate in the room we use for brides and would like to display wedding photos of our brides over the years.  Please deliver to Paige Saleun in the rectory M-F 9-4:30pm.  We’d love photos from the earliest days!

Feast of St. Henry Mass

The Vigil Mass on Saturday, July 17 will be celebrated at St. Henry Church to honor one of our patrons on his feast day.

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. 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.

Mosaic Installation!

The “IHS” monogram is an abbreviation or shortening of the name of Jesus in Greek to the first three letters. Thus ?????? (I?sus or “Jesus”), is shortened to ??? (iota-eta-sigma). It is sometimes transliterated into Latin characters as IHS or ??C. The abbreviation is meant to reflect the Holiness of the Name of Jesus – something to be revered. The mosaic is located in the center of the church porch so as not to interfere with entering the church. Please avoid walking on the mosaic!

St. Januarius September 19

According to various sources, Januarius was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family near Naples, Italy. At a young age of 15, he became a priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was primarily pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples. During the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian in 305 AD, Januarius was arrested and beheaded at the Solfatara crater near Pozzuoli. According to the Roman Martyrology, “the body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh.”

The miracle of the liquification is the chief reason for the notoriety of St Januarius. The relic of blood is kept in a small flagon-shaped flask and resembles a dark and solid mass. On the Feast of St. Januarius (as well as at other times of the year) the reliquary is brought out and held by the celebrant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place. After a short period of time, the solid mass detaches itself from the sides of the glass reliquary and becomes liquid, sometimes even bubbling up. The celebrant then announces “the miracle has happened,“ and Te Deum (“We praise thee, O God”) is sung.  Then the reliquary with the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail so that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the vessel.

Although skeptical scientists have provided a number of explanations for the “liquification,” those explanations have primarily pointed to higher temperature “melting” the solid mass. However, for more than a century, careful observations of the temperature in the presence of the relic have been kept, and it has been demonstrated that there is no direct relation between the temperature, and the time and manner of the liquefaction. While the Catholic Church has always supported the celebrations, it has never formulated an official statement on the phenomenon, and maintains a neutral stance about scientific investigations. Whatever the cause, devotion to St. Januarius is very great in Naples. The blood has failed to liquefy several times, each time coinciding with the outbreak of disease, famine, war or political suppression. It is for this reason that Neapolitans rejoice at each liquification.

The Assumption of Mary

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.”

Feast Days

St. Monica Feast Day – August 27

St Augustine Feast Day – August 28

St. Augustine, a Roman African, was born in 354 in Thagaste (present-day Algeria) to a pagan father named Patricius and a Christian mother named Monica. At the age of 11, Augustine was sent to school at Madaurus, where he became familiar with Latin literature, as well as pagan beliefs and practices. At age 17, he went to Carthage to continue his education in rhetoric. Although raised as a Christian, Augustine left the church to follow the Manichaean religion, much to the despair of his mother. As a youth Augustine lived hedonistic lifestyle and had a longtime affair with a young woman in Carthage from whom was born his son Adeodatus.

Although his mother constantly prayed for him to become a Christian, Augustine’s mind traveled from philosophy to philosophy until meeting Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, who had a great influence on Augustine.

In the summer of 386, after having read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert which greatly inspired him, Augustine underwent a profound personal conversion, which led him to convert to Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, give up any ideas of marriage, and devote himself entirely to serving God and to the practices of priesthood, which included celibacy. A key to this conversion was a childlike voice he heard telling him in a sing-song way, tolle, lege (“take up and read”). As he was contemplating what it meant, he returned to his house and picked up Paul’s Letter to the Romans, from which he read: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, in concupiscence.”

Augustine and his son Adeodatus were baptized by Ambrose at the Easter Vigil in 387 in Milan, and soon returned to Africa, where he sold his patrimony and gave the money to the poor. The only thing that Augustine kept was his house, which he used as a monastery. In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo and devoted himself to preaching. More than 350 of his sermons are preserved.

Marriage and Sexuality

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.

This call to love is to follow Christ himself, who handed himself totally over for his bride, the Church. Spouses imitate him by giving the entirety of themselves to one another, including the gift of their fertility and their openness to new life. Contraception and sterilization, which deliberately suppress fertility, reduce the sexual act so that husband and wife withhold the completeness of their total gift to each other. This changes the meaning of their sexual union so that it no longer expresses the fullness of their love.

God our Father loves us and wants our lives to be full and rich! He has given his Church the task of bringing women and men to the fullness of truth which leads to our happiness in this life and in the life to come. Jesus gives us the power and strength of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Love—so that we, particularly husbands and wives, can truly love one another.

The teaching on the use of contraception and sterilization may seem challenging, but it is to preserve the true, complete self-gift between husband and wife, the kind of love that brings real, lasting joy and peace. If we have failed to live this in the past, we need not be discouraged. Our loving Father is always calling us back through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and wanting to strengthen us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

When we embrace the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage and follow Jesus, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives in a powerful way. When we trust in the Lord’s desire for our happiness, he can transform our love in a way that can transform the world.

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