From the Pastor – January 2, 2022

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Lk 3:21-22)

This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. For centuries, Christians have celebrated the season of Christmas as twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany.  The season ends with our celebration of the Lord’s Baptism.

The public life of Jesus begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.  John hesitates, but Jesus insists. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”  Similarly to the visitation of the magi, this is an “epiphany” – a manifestation of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

The Baptism of the Lord is the acceptance and inauguration of Christ’s mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners, and he becomes “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” – a title originally given to Christ by John the Baptist.

Baptism in water and the invocation of the Trinity is a real sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans: “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.  For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.”

Through Baptism a Christian is sacramentally configured to Jesus, who anticipates His death and resurrection in his own baptism. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him.

The story of Christ’s Baptism reminds us that the Holy Spirit comes down upon us from heaven.  The voice of the Father reminds us that we are sons of God.

Theologically speaking, Baptism creates an indelible mark on the soul.  It makes us members of the body of Christ, and renders us able to receive other sacraments. Foremost among the gifts of Baptism is the ability – because we are configured to Christ – to praise and worship the Father in the Holy Spirit, and to be found pleasing to God through such worship.

In the early Church, the baptismal font was placed in the courtyard or near the entrance of the church, and the practice continues in many places today.  We “entered” the Body of Christ at the moment of our Baptism.  As you dip your fingers into the font and make the sign of the cross each time you enter St. Stephen Church, remember it is by the power of your Baptism that you render fitting and pleasing worship to God in your spiritual sacrifice of holiness of life and, most fully, the Eucharistic sacrifice.

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

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Pray for the Unborn

Recently, the group Americans United for Life released their annual “Life List,” a well-respected ranking of the 50 states based on their on-going legal efforts to create and sustain a culture of life. While the “Life List” notes legislative accomplishments from the previous year, it also takes into account each state’s cumulative record in defending and protecting the lives of their citizens – from conception to natural death. THE 2021 LIFE LIST honors the accomplishments of the top most pro-life states: This year Arkansas gained the highly coveted #1 ranking, closely followed by #2, Louisiana.

On one hand, it is very heartening that Louisiana is high on the list in the efforts, but it also gives us a special responsibility to pray that the right to life is granted to those babies in their mothers’ wombs who are in danger. Please join us to pray the Rosary each Saturday at 11:00 AM outside of the abortion clinic located at on the corner of General Pershing and Magnolia.

Christmas Giving Tree

This year your generosity to the Society of St Vincent du Paul meant that 48 families got food baskets for a Christmas meal.  Out of those families, 25 got gifts as well with 72 children receiving their gift requests from our tree.  With you our monetary donations we were able to provide $75 gift cards to each of the 48 families so they can purchase turkey, ham, rolls, etc.

Poinsettias!

Please help us provide poinsettias for the Sanctuary during Christmas in honor of your deceased loved ones! Names will be recorded in the bulletin and on the parish website. Please use the forms in the back of church. Thanks for helping us decorate the altar!

Live Stream Weddings from St. Stephen Catholic Church

With the recent installation of 4 state-of-the-art video cameras for streaming Masses at St. Stephen’s, we now can live-stream weddings as well. Our mounted cameras are omni-directional and can zoom and pan to practically any spot in the church so all special moments can be captured and shared online for family and friends who are not able to attend in-person. Weddings can be live-streamed to Facebook and/or YouTube. Dominic Fayard is our resident live-stream videographer and has live-streamed Sunday Masses for the past year. Dominic is happy to speak with couples prior to their wedding to discuss any particular wishes they may have about streaming their ceremony at St. Stephen. In addition to live-streaming, an MP4 file will also be provided to the newlyweds. For any and all wedding related services at St. Stephen, Our Lady of Good Counsel or St. Henry please contact Ivy Rohr for at 504-899-1378.

Thanksgiving Baskets

The St. Vincent de Paul Society requests your help in providing Thanksgiving Baskets for the needy of our parish.  We appreciate monetary donations or donations of the following: large size canned fruit, large canned yams, canned cranberry sauce, boxed stuffing mix, large boxed instant mashed potatoes, boxed macaroni & cheese, packs of gravy, cake mix and canned icing.  Flyers with more details are available near the church entrances.  We need all food and monetary donations by Sunday, Nov 14, 2021. Thanks for your GENEROUS support!

World Mission Sunday

October 24, 2021

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.

Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world” (see Redemptoris Missio 81).

This year’s theme for World Mission Sunday is “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Every parish in the world can participate, united in this special Eucharistic celebration. Every parishioner is a missionary, sharing our love for Christ’s Gospel with one another, supporting the Church most in need.

The mission of the servants of the Word – bishops, priests, religious and laity – is to allow everyone, without exception, to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. In the full range of the Church’s missionary activity, all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each. A generous response to this universal vocation can be offered by consecrated men and women through an intense life of prayer and union with the Lord and his redeeming sacrifice.

40 Days for Life

Want to help mark the beginning of the end of abortion in New Orleans?

The 2021 40 Days for Life New Orleans campaign began September 22nd. 40 Days for Life is an international inter-denominational campaign focused on saving lives through prayer, vigil, and outreach.

In New Orleans, our 40 Days for Life peaceful and prayerful vigil runs all 40 days from 7 AM – 7 PM at “Women’s Health Care Center,” New Orleans’ only abortion facility located at 2701 General Pershing St. For more information contact sarah@prolifelouisiana.org, call 504-835-6520 or visit 40 Days online at http://prolifelouisiana.org/40daysforlifenola

What is Ordinary Time?

The Christmas Season officially concluded on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord last Sunday, and Monday we began “Ordinary Time” with the colors of the vestments and altar furnishing returning to green from the violet of Advent and the white of Christmas. What’s so “ordinary” about it? Actually, “Ordinary Time” is the English translation of the Latin Tempus Per Annum (“time throughout the year”) and gets its name from the word ordinal, meaning “numbered,” because we begin to count the weeks rather than the seasons. Ordinary Time, depending on the year, runs either 33 or 34 weeks, and makes up the time in the Church calendar that does not fall within the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter.

The Church celebrates two periods as Ordinary Time. We just entered the first period, which runs until the evening of Mardi Gras when Lent begins. The second period begins on the Monday after Pentecost and runs until Advent begins. This period includes Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The use of the term “Ordinary Time” was used before the Second Vatican Council, but it was not until after the council that the term was officially used to designate the period between Epiphany and Lent, and the period between Pentecost and Advent. The older names for those seasons were the “Season After Epiphany” and the “Season After Pentecost.”

Ordinary Time celebrates the mystery of the life of Christ in all its aspects, and contains many important liturgical celebrations, including, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, the Assumption of Mary, he Exaltation of the Holy Cross, All Saints, All Souls and Christ the King. In addition, the Church continues to celebrate other feast days of Mary, feasts of many saints, and the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Feast Day January 4

Elizabeth Bayley Seton was the first native born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church.  Born two years before the American Revolution, Elizabeth grew up immersed in New York society. In spite of her high society background, Elizabeth’s early life was quiet, simple, and often lonely. As she grew a little older, the Bible was to become her continual instruction, support and comfort; she would continue to love the Scriptures for the rest of her life.

In 1794, Elizabeth married the wealthy young William Seton, with whom she was deeply in love. The first years of their marriage were happy and prosperous. Within four years, Will’s father died, leaving the young couple in charge of Will’s seven half brothers and sisters, as well as the family’s importing business. Unfortunately, Will’s business and his health failed. In an attempt to save his life, the Setons sailed for Italy, hoping that the air would be better for his tuberculosis. Unfortunately, he died there.

In Italy, Elizabeth captivated everyone by her own kindness, patience, good sense, wit and courtesy. During this time Elizabeth became interested in the Catholic Faith, and over a period of months, her Italian friends guided her in Catholic instructions.  Elizabeth’s desire for the Bread of Life in the Eucharist was to be the strongest force leading her to reunion with the Catholic Church.  A strong devotee to the Blessed Mother, Elizabeth joined the Church in 1805.

When Elizabeth returned to the United States, she started a school in Baltimore, MD, and began plans for a Sisterhood. She and her original sisters established the first free Catholic school in America. When the young community adopted their rule, they made provisions for Elizabeth to continue raising her children.  On March 25, 1809, Elizabeth Seton pronounced her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. From that time she was called Mother Seton.

Although Mother Seton was afflicted with tuberculosis, she continued to guide her children. The Rule of the Sisterhood was formally ratified in 1812 and was based upon the Rule St. Vincent de Paul had written for his Daughters of Charity in France. By 1818, the sisters had established two orphanages and another school.

For the last three years of her life, Elizabeth felt that God was getting ready to call her, and this gave her joy. Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming a Catholic. She was canonized on September 14, 1975.

Because of the longstanding presence of the Daughters of Charity at St. Stephen, we are blessed to have a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton at the back of our church.

Proclamation of Epiphany Sunday

The Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the year depend on its date.

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value as a reminder of the centrality of the Resurrection of the Lord and the importance of the great mysteries of faith that are celebrated each year.

Dear brothers and sisters, the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of His return. Through the rhythms of times and seasons let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: His Last Supper, His Crucifixion, His burial, and His Rising celebrated between the evening of the 14th of April and the evening of the 16th of April, Easter Sunday being the 17th of April.

Each Easter – as on each Sunday – the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death.

From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the 2nd of March.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the Sunday, the 29th of May. Or Thursday, the 26th day of May.

Pentecost, the joyful conclusion of the season of Easter, will be celebrated on the 5th of June.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the Passover of Christ in the feasts of the Holy Mother of God, in the Feasts of the Apostles and Saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, for ever and ever.    R. Amen.

Feast of the Holy Family December 26

Consecration to the Holy Family

O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou protect us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace and concord in Christian love: in order that by living according to the divine pattern of Thy family we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by the kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal needs; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity. Amen.

Say the Our Father, Hail Mary & Glory Be 3 times.

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