From the Pastor – May 15, 2022

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jn 13:33a, 34-35)

The Gospel of John could be called the “Gospel of Love.”  It condenses the stories about Christ into one succinct passage in the third chapter, the verse seen often on signs at football games:  John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  It gives us the reason and purpose of the first coming of Christ.  He came because God loves us, and He came to give us eternal life in His love.

The word “love” that is frequently used in John’s Gospel is “agape.” It’s a word that is rarely found in ancient writings, but it is found extensively in the New Testament and among early Christians writers.  In fact, it was specifically used to describe the love that comes from God rather than simple “friendships” among humans.  When John says that “God is love,” (1 Jn 4:8) he used the word “agape,” which came to mean that love that was revealed on the cross when Christ gave Himself for all humanity. When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, He said, “Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. …  Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37,39)

Since that time, spiritual writers have used “agape” love (generally rendered as “charity” in English) to mean a selfless love that is passionately committed to the good of another.  It is a form of love that is unconditional and voluntary.  And it is a love that has characterized the Catholic Church since Christ established it.  And it perdures to the present day in a myriad of ways.  Most people don’t realize it, but the Catholic Church is the largest charity in the world.  Our Church is made up of people of every race in the world: young and old, rich and poor, sinners and saints.  We run more hospitals, orphanages, relief efforts, schools, clinics than any other charitable organization in the world.  And why?  It’s because of that “agape.”  We love.

You might remember a “schmaltzy” song we sometimes sang at Mass in the 1970’s: “They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love.”  It wasn’t a great song, but the thought dates back to the 2nd century author Tertullian.  He remarked how Christian love attracted pagan converts: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another.’”

Upon the steeple of our church is a large golden cross.  Let us remember the love that it represents, and let us pass that love to all who gather under it – especially those most in need of our love.

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

Read more posts From the Pastor

Newsletter Sign Up

Votive Mass for Peace and Justice His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke

Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Rosary at 4:30 pm, Mass at 5 pm

We invite everyone to a Mass to be celebrated in St. Stephen Church by His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke this coming Tuesday.

Born in 1948 in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Raymond Leo Burke attended seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Rome, where he was ordained a priest by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1975. Ordained a bishop in 1995 by Pope Saint John Paul II, he served for almost nine years as Bishop of La Crosse, where he founded the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and over four years as Archbishop of St. Louis.

He was named a cardinal in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Burke has written and spoken widely on Roman Catholic canon law, the Holy Eucharist, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the sanctity of human life. He is a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

There is no record in the parish archives of a Cardinal ever visiting St. Stephen Church, so this is a great honor for our parish!

Diaconal Ordinations

On Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 10:00 AM at St. Louis Cathedral, we will ordain Da- vid Michael Doyle, Cory Paul Ford, Long Thanh Pham and Kevin Alden Seay to the Transitional Diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. You are cordially invited to attend the ceremony.

Upcoming Celebrations

The Ascension of the Lord
May 29, 2022

Pentecost Sunday
June 5, 2022

The Most Holy Trinity
June 12, 2022

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 19, 2022

Nine Church Walk

Thanks to our volunteers who greeted pilgrims taking part in the Nine Church Walk on Good Friday.  The pilgrims started arriving almost at the completion of our Holy Thursday vigil at 6:00am, and they continued even into the afternoon and evening.  There were many new faces in the church for the Stations of the Cross at 6:00pm.  We had our handy clicker to count numbers, so we know that more than 2,000 people came to visit St. Stephen’s on Friday.  I sat in the confessional from 9:00-11:00 am and Father Doug from 11:00am – 1:00pm, and we were rarely alone.  The line was continuous for the entire time.  Anybody who doubts the vitality of the Catholic Church in New Orleans need only to have seen the busloads of high school groups, CYO groups, and large families taking part in the walk to have their doubts removed.  I was so happy to greet many pilgrims from other parishes where I have served.  It was great to see old friends, but it made me so proud and happy to be able to welcome them to St. Stephen’s.  I heard nothing but good reports from the crowds at St. Henry Church and Our Lady of Good Counsel.  I wish I had been able to make it to St. Henry’s and Our Lady of Good Counsel, but between the Holy Thursday vigil, confessions, the 3:00pm Good Friday service, I didn’t have much time to venture out!  Thanks to everyone!

Alleluia!

Easter Sunday is the day of the “Alleluia!” After forty days of Lenten sacrifice and fasting, we finally arrive at the most important day of our liturgical year, and the only word we have to express our inner joy is “Alleluia!!”

In the old Greek version of the Book of Tobias, in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew psalter, and in the original Greek of the Apocalypse we hear about this most holy word. It is part of the earliest Christian liturgies of which we have record.

It is a word composed of the divinely acclaiming verbal form Allelu and the divine pronoun term Ya (for YHWH or Yahweh). So, preserving its radical sense and sound, and even the mystical suggestiveness of its construction, it may be literally rendered, “All hail to Him Who is!”–taking “All Hail” as equivalent to “Glory in the Highest,” and taking “He Who is” in the sense in which God said to Moses: “Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel; WHO IS hath sent me to you.” The ancient Jewish and Christian tradition all point to the conclusion that the “Alleluia” belonged to the Hebrew liturgy from the beginning as a divinely authorized doxology. As to when it was first formed, much evidence points to it being one of man’s most ancient formulas of monotheistic faith–the true believer’s primitive Credo, primitive doxology, primitive acclamation. That in part would explain remarkable fondness for its liturgical use. As a rule the Church uses it wherever joy is to be emphatically expressed, especially as to triumph or thanksgiving.

The “Alleluia” is a great characteristic of Easter, as it has an important place in all of the liturgies, constantly appearing at the beginning and end, and even in the middle, of psalms, as an instinctive exclamation of ecstatic joy.

The very sound of the words should be held to signify a kind of acclamation and a form of ovation which mere grammarians cannot satisfactorily explain; this is the reason why the translators of the Old Testament have left it untranslated, and the Church has taken it into the formulas of her Liturgy or of the people who use it at any time or place where joy need be expressed for God’s greatness and love! Alleluia! Praise God!

Altar of Repose

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (7:00 PM) sufficient hosts are consecrated for that Mass and for the next day. These consecrated Hosts remain in a ciborium on the corporal in the center of the altar until the end of Mass, after which they are carried in Solemn Procession to the Altar of Repose, with the priest vested in a Cope and Humeral Veil, and covered with a canopy. The Blessed Sacrament remains in the temporary tabernacle at the Altar of Repose, and the Holy Thursday service concludes with the stripping of all altars except the Altar of Repose.

Holy Thursday is a day of exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the repository is the center of the love, prayers and aspirations of the faithful.  After the Good Friday service, the Blessed Sacrament remains available only as viaticum for the dying and for Communion given on Good Friday at the service called The Veneration of the Cross (Good Friday at 3:00 PM). While the Blessed Sacrament remains in this temporary tabernacle at the altar of repose, a lamp or candle is always kept burning.

On Holy Thursday we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 PM, which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist when Jesus washed his Apostle’s feet.  This Mass begins the Sacred Triduum.  This year Adoration at this Altar of Repose will take place all night, from the end of the Holy Thursday Mass until the sun rises on Good Friday at 6:00 AM.

PLEASE SIGN-UP to take an hour or a half-hour of the Vigil!  Sign-up sheets are in the back of church.

Second Collection on Easter Sunday

As most parishioners know, the Archdiocese imposes a “tax” on the total annual collection of each parish to support the work of the Archdiocese.  An exception to this policy is that the Archdiocese allows parishes to take up a second collection at the Easter and Christmas Masses each year, and those collection are not included in the parish “taxable income.”  Please consider giving generously to our second collection next weekend to help our parish budget!

Congratulations to Susan Bourgeois and James Brady!

Archbishop Aymond will present the Order of St. Louis IX Medallion to our parishioners Susan Bourgeois and James Brady on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. at St. Catherine of Sienna Church.  The Order of St. Louis IX award was established more than 40 years ago to honor those members of the laity who have contributed their time and talents to the church.

Even if you don’t know Susan and James, you know of their work!  Susan helps purify our altar linens, and is very involved with our CCD program;  James helps count the collections and is very active with the Knights of Columbus.  “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” (Mt 25:40).

May Crowning of Mary

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to Mary in many cultures, since May is considered the season of the beginning of new life. In ancient Roman culture, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of bloom, of blossoms, and the Romans celebrated ludi florales (floral games) at the end of April, asking the help of Flora for all that blooms since May 1 was considered the beginning of growth. In the same way, the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us the newness of life in the person of Jesus Christ so that we might become new creations born into Eternal Life.

Since medieval times, we begin to see a connection between Mary and the month of May. Among the earliest witnesses are: Alphonsus X, King of Castille, Spain (+1284) with his “Cantigas de Santa Maria.” Here and elsewhere, both Mary and the month of May are greeted, welcomed and celebrated on specific days in May. Later, it became the custon in Italy to devote the whole month of May to Mary. On each day of the month, special devotions to Mary were organized.

Today, May crownings occur in many Catholic parishes and homes with the crowning of a statue of Mary. The ceremony traditionally takes place with young girls dressed in dresses carrying flowers (traditionally hawthorn) to adorn the statue. One of the girls (often the youngest) carries a crown of flowers or an actual golden crown on a cushion for placement by the May Queen (often the oldest girl) on the statue. The flowers are replaced throughout the month to keep them fresh.

Crowning Mary is associated with adding ornamentation to an icon of Mary, sometimes as simple as adding additional gold trim. Perhaps in homage to this, Pope Clement VIII (+1605) added two crowns to the icon of Mary with the Infant Jesus in the Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome. The crowns were eventually lost, but were replaced by Gregory XVI in 1837 in a Rite that was to become the standard practice for crowning.

Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Sunday is dedicated to the devotion to the Divine Mercy promoted by St. Faustina , and is based upon an entry in St. Faustina’s diary stating that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of confession and Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of sins.

According to the notebooks of Saint Faustina, Jesus made the following statements about this day: “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.” (Diary of Saint Faustina, 699)

The devotion was celebrated unofficially in many places for some years. However, on April 30, 2000 (Divine Mercy Sunday of that year), Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina and designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in the General Roman Calendar , with effect from the following year. He also decreed a plenary indulgence associated with this devotion. Pope John Paul II said he felt a closeness to St. Faustina when he was writing his letter Dives in misericordia. He died during the vigil of the Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. Although most of us are unable to fulfill the conditions of receiving Holy Communion and Confession during this time of the COVID19 epidemic, the recent decrees from the Sacred Penitentiary have stated that we only need the will to receive those Sacraments as soon as we are able.

On April 24, 2022, Divine Mercy Sunday, Archbishop Alfred Hughes will celebrate the annual Divine Mercy Sunday Mass at 3:00 PM at St. Joseph Church, 1802 Tulane Ave., New Orleans. Divine Mercy Sunday may be the greatest day of the year because of the immeasurable amount of grace Jesus promised to pour forth on this day.  In the private revelation accepted publicly by the Church, Jesus made a specific promise to Saint Faustina about Divine Mercy Sunday:

“On that day… The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.” (Diary, 699)

How to Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet

Instructions on how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, using as a Rosary

Start at the Crucifix
Make the Sign of the Cross.
“Thou didst expire, Lord Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Thyself out upon us.”

(3 times) “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in Thee!”

1. Pray the Our Father.
2. Pray the Hail Mary.
3. Recite the Apostles’ Creed.

* On the large bead before each of the five decades (set of ten prayers) say:
“Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”

* On each small “Hail Mary” bead:
“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

* After five decades, conclude by saying three times:
“Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

* Concluding prayers:
“Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Thy mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Thy holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.”

More Posts from this Category

Home Middle #3 Widget

This is a widgeted area which is called Home Middle #3. It is using the Genesis - Featured Page widget to display what you see on the Metric child theme demo site. To get started, log into your WordPress dashboard, and then go to the Appearance > Widgets screen. There you can drag the Genesis - Featured Page widget into the Home Middle #3 widget area on the right hand side. To get the image to display, simply upload an image through the media uploader on the edit post screen and publish your page. The Featured Page widget will know to display the post image as long as you select that option in the widget interface.