From the Pastor – December 3, 2023

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mt. 13:33)

One might hope that Jesus would announce His Second Coming simultaneously through a text message, Twitter, Facebook, a Google News Alert, PSA’s on all of the broadcast and cable television and radio stations simultaneously! Because if that were the case, He’d be bound to reach 90% of the world population who are immersed in technology through tv, radio, the internet and cell phones.
But I don’t think that’s the “watching” that Jesus is calling us to engage in. In fact, I don’t really think He’s talking about our using our “eyes” at all. Jesus does say “watch!” as the last word in this Sunday’s Gospel. And that word comes from the Greek word ?????????? (gregoreite) really has less to do with “looking” and “seeing” and more to do with “being alert” and “staying awake.” “Staying awake” means being prepared to greet Our Lord when He comes.

So how do we “stay awake”? Over the last several years we’ve heard about the Catholic Church for fighting for “conscience clauses” in healthcare legislation. Basically, what the bishops have been arguing is that Catholic healthcare providers shouldn’t have to engage in medical practices (abortions, sterilizations, prescribing contraception) that are contrary to natural law and the Catholic faith. But some Catholics disagree.

What is this “conscience thing”? When we ignore our conscience, whether for financial gain, political expediency, momentary pleasure, or the lust for power, then we are falling into the trappings of the world, and the trappings of the world are the snares of the devil.
“Staying awake” means being conscious of the state of our immortal soul. It means keeping ourselves in a state of grace. It means confessing mortal sins, repenting for our preoccupation with the darkness of world, and reaching for the light of Heaven.
“Staying awake” means keeping that “conscience thing” alive so that we can strive for everlasting life. We begin Advent this weekend. It’s a time to remember Christ’s first coming and to prepare for His Second. And we do so by remembering to keep that “conscience thing” intact.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty

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Immaculate Conception

Holy Day of Obligation

Friday, December 8, 2023

6:00 pm Vigil Thursday and 9:00 am Friday at the Basilica of St. Stephen

6:30 am Friday at St. Henry Church

An interesting icon representing Jesus on the lap of the Virgin Mary who is herself on the lap of St. Anne, the mother of Mary.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:  The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854: DS 2803).

This doctrine was revealed through the Scriptures (Mary was “the absolute fullness of grace”) and the long Sacred Tradition of the Church.  But it was finally declared as dogma on December 8, 1954, exactly nine months before the celebration of the birth of Mary on September 8.  The doctrine is quite logical.  How could the flesh of the Son of God be formed through the flesh of one who was a slave to sin? Jesus redeemed his mother’s soul before her birth.  As one theologian has stated:  “Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit.”  Or, in English:  “God could, it was appropriate, therefore, He did it.”  O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us!

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe

November 26, 2023

On this Solemnity, “kingship” takes on another dimension, the leader takes on the trials and tribulations for those that follow. In that leadership, all who follow are transformed into His children finding redemption in the forgiveness of our sins. Christ exemplifies this while hanging on the cross, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Are we willing to lead those within our family with such fidelity and trust in God?.

Thanksgiving Baskets

The St. Vincent de Paul Society would like to thank you for your generous support.  With your assistance we were able to make 45 food baskets, each with a $75 dollar gift certificate to Rouses for entrée (no cigarettes or alcohol allowed to be purchased) for our neighbors in need.  Thanks to God for your generosity.

Stewardship – A Way of Living

Good Shepherd Parish needs average weekly collections of $6,500 in order to fund parish operations.  Rarely does our collection exceed $5,000. Thankfully, we often cover our deficit with year-end donations by generous.  I encourage you to take this time to prayerfully consider whether you might increase your donations to our parish.  For those who are able, please consider an additional 10% per week.  Your help will make a big difference in our ability to meet our financial obligations.  One way to make this easy is to use our electronic giving program.  Simply sign up at our web site  Go to the Online Donations tab at the top of the page to set up your online giving account.  You may also use the paper authorization form, available at the Online Donations tab or from Dianne Caverly in the parish office.  Call Dianne if you have difficulties.

Blessing of the Cemeteries


On All Saints Day, Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at noon, Msgr. Nalty will bless the Vincent de Paul Cemeteries on Soniat and Loyola Avenue (behind Newman School). The St Vincent de Paul Cemeteries are the resting places for many longtime parishioners of St. Stephen Church, as well as the Vincentian Priests and Daughters of Charity who served our parish for over 150 years.
On the same day at 12:30pm Msgr. Nalty will bless the St Joseph Cemeteries on Washington Avenue and Loyola, another place where many parishioners are buried. Many people take the occasion of the blessing as a time to beautify these resting places and pray for the souls of their faithfully departed relatives, priests, religious sisters and friends.

The Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is a set of four candles which are lit each Sunday of the Advent Season. Three of the candles are violet-colored, and one is rose-colored. The violet candles symbolize faithful expectation, and the rose candle symbolizes joy and hope. These colors mirror the colors of the priest’s vestments used during the Sundays of Advent. In earlier times, the season of Advent had stronger penitential and ascetic aspects, and a relaxation of disciplines was offered on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for “rejoice”, the first words of the Introit. This turn is reflected in the shift from violet to rose. One violet candle is lit on the first evening of Advent (a Sunday). On successive Sundays, the second violet candle is added, then the rose candle on Gaudete Sunday, and finally, the third violet candle. So enough about the colors, what about the flame? The flame signifies Christ, the “Light of the World.”

Friends of St. Alphonsus Creche Exhibit

The annual St. Alphonsus Cre?che Exhibit will begin on Sunday, Sunday, November 26 to Sunday December 3 at St. Dominic Church in Lakeview

There will be over 100 cre?che’s from around the world. For more information call Blanche Comiskey at 504-235-2931, or the FOSA office at 504-524-8116.

The Proclamation Thanksgiving

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s National day of Thanksgiving, and sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.  Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul – November 18

The Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (photo left), is the second patriarchal church at Rome (after the Basilica of St. John Lateran), and under the main altar lies the precious mortal remains of St. Peter, the “rock” on which Christ built his Church.  St. Peter was martyred during the persecutions of the Emperor Nero from 64-67 B.C.  He was crucified upside down in Nero’s circus (arena) for the enjoyment of the crowds and to cast blame away from Nero after the Great Fire of Rome in July, 64 A.D.  He was originally buried originally in a simple grave on the Vatican Hill.

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the walls (photo right) lies over the remains of St. Paul, who was martyred during the same persecutions.  Since Paul was a Roman citizen (having been born in Tarsus), he could not be killed for sport in the arena.  He was martyred at the normal place for Roman executions on the Ostian Way.  He was decapitated by a sword, and his body was buried where his church now stands.

From the beginning – before the churches were built – Christians showed extraordinary devotion to the tombs of the two “princes” of the Apostles.  In a letter written in 210 A.D. by Caius, an eloquent priest of Rome, explains to Proclus the Montanist (who denied the authority of the Apostles and their Successor Bishops): “I can show you the trophies of the apostles. For, whether you go to the Vatican hill, or to the Ostian road, you will meet with the monuments of them who by their preaching and miracles founded this Church.”

Even during times of persecution, Christians adorned the tombs of the martyrs and the small oratories (places of prayer) which they erected over them, frequently prayed there. After Constantine the Great made Christianity legal in 313 A.D., he built the Lateran Basilica, as well as seven more churches in Rome and many more in other parts of the Roman Empire. The first two of these were the churches of St. Peter on the Vatican hill and that of St. Paul on the Ostian Way.

As St. Augustine so eloquently stated, “We erect churches or appoint priesthoods, sacred rites, and sacrifices to the martyrs; because the God of the martyrs is our God. Who, among the faithful, ever heard a priest standing at the altar which is erected over the body of a martyr to the honor and worship of God say, in praying, We offer up sacrifices to thee, O Peter, or Paul, or Cyprian; when at their memories it is offered to God, who made them both men and martyrs, and has associated them to his angels in heavenly honors…  We build not churches to martyrs as to gods, but memories as to men departed this life, whose souls live with God. Nor do we erect altars to sacrifice on them to the martyrs, but to the God of the martyrs and our God.”

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