From the Pastor – January 29, 2023

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:1-3)

Who are the “poor in spirit” to whom Matthew refers in the Gospel today?  The other seven of the eight beatitudes concern people who seem easy to identify (the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and those who are insulted and persecuted because of Jesus).  But what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?

The word “poor” comes from the Aramaic or Hebrew word anawim, which means bent down, afflicted, miserable, or poor.  Although the word can mean the opposite of “rich,” the use of the word in Scripture isn’t confined to a lack of money.  It has more to do with those of low estate: those who are dependent and defenseless.

As the word is used throughout the psalms, it usually refers to those who are seeking God for deliverance.  These anawim are those who are dependent and defenseless, and who acknowledge their need of Divine help.

When we have all of our physical needs met, it is very easy for us to see ourselves as being in control of our destiny.  We make the money, we buy the food, we feed the family and we pay the bills.  And if we are having trouble with the bills, we might seek governmental or charitable assistance.  And that consistency of living in a fairly prosperous world can trick us into removing God from the equation.

Perhaps for us, being poor in spirit doesn’t have anything to do with money.  When we face situations that we can’t control, we might come to the realization that we really need God’s help.  Many people who have suffered from depression, addiction (whether drugs, alcohol or sexual), the loss of a loved one, or simple loneliness, have come to a greater understanding that they need God to deliver them from their situation.  And when brought to that low state from which only God can help, they become anawim.  So if you suffer, look to God in your desperation.  Become an anawim.  Because they are blessed.

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

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Ya’ Mama was Pro-Life, dahlin’!

Americans United for Life released the 2021 LIFE LIST after analyzing progress made legislatively or in litigation in 2020. The Life List takes into account the 50 states’ overall advances since Roe v. Wade toward re-building a culture of life, including events of the last year. This year, the State of Louisiana ranked Number Two.

Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life said, “Working with state leaders and lawmakers to create the Life List this year has been so encouraging because it is clear that Life is winning in our country. There is so much to be thankful for throughout the list this year, but the bipartisan, courageous, life-affirming work accomplished by legislators and pro-life advocates in Louisiana is truly a marvel. The fact that through the efforts of pro-life advocacy in the state of Louisiana, the United States Supreme Court is set to speak to the life issue for the first time in years is to be strongly commended.”

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2023

Some Christians become offended when Catholics refer to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God.   But it’s not a complicated teaching.  If (a) Mary is the mother of Jesus, and (b) if Jesus is God, then, therefore, (c) Mary is the Mother of God.  There is no escaping the logic here.

However, saying Mary is the Mother of God, does not mean that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity.  Rather, Mary is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb the divine person of Jesus Christ, and that her body provided the genetic material for His body.

Although most Christians understand Jesus Christ as both fully God and fully human, the term Mother of God must be understood through its origins. Orthodox Christians and Catholics call Mary Theotokos (“the one who gives birth to God”) because the Council of Ephesus affirmed that title over the title Christotokos (“the one who gives birth to Christ”).  In truth, the significance of Theotokos lies more in what it says about Jesus than any declaration about Mary.

Within the orthodox doctrinal teaching on the economy of salvation, Mary’s identity, role, and status as Theotokos is acknowledged as indispensable, and is for this reason formally defined as official dogma. The only other Mariological teaching defined in this way is Mary’s perpetual virginity.  Both of these teachings have a bearing on the identity of Jesus Christ.

Immaculate Conception

Holy Day of Obligation

Thursday, December 8
6:30 am at St. Henry Church and 9 am and 6pm the Basilica of St. Stephen

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!

Christmas Giving Tree

St. Vincent de Paul Society needs your help. A Christmas Giving Tree has been set up next to the St. Anthony Statue. The ornaments on the tree have names and ages of children along with their Christmas gift wish. We also will be helping the Veterans and needy in our community that frequent our food pantry. 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 15th following the 10:30am Mass.

THANKSGIVING SCHEDULE

Masses on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 will be at 8:00am at St. Henry Church

St. John Bosco – January 31, 2023


Patron Saint of the Youth

John Bosco was only two years old when his father died, leaving the support of three boys to the mother, Margaret Bosco. His early years were spent as a shepherd and he received his first education at the hands of his parish priest. At the age of nine, John had a dream, which influenced and gave great meaning to the rest of his life. In the dream he saw himself amidst a great throng of young people whom he was charged to care for by means of goodness, kindness and love, rather than by means of force and compulsion. Even as a boy he commented to his mother on the fact that the priests he met were cold and distant and never bothered to speak to him. “If I am ever a priest,” he told her, “I won’t be like that. I will devote my life to young people. Children will never see me pass by them looking distant. I will always be the first to speak to them.”

In 1835 he entered the seminary, and in 1841 he was ordained a priest on the eve of Trinity Sunday. In the first year of his priestly ministry, another incident made an indelible mark on his future ministry. On a visit to the prisons of Turin, he came upon children who had been abandoned to the most evil influences, and with little before them but the gallows. In February, 1842, Don Bosco (“Don” being the Italian name given to a parish priest) established an “Oratory” for the shelter of young boys, all of whom had been taken from the streets. He spent the rest of his life dedicated to the youth. The name “Don Bosco” became extraordinarily well known throughout Europe – especially Italy, Spain and France as a result of his prolific activity in such a wide range of civil and ecclesial projects. When he died on January 31, 1888, the order he founded, the Salesian Society, ( the Society of St. Francis de Sales) numbered 773. Today there are in excess of 17,000 Salesian priests and brothers, 18,000 sisters, and tens of thousands of lay people working in every continent and most countries of the world to continue the spirit and mission of Don Bosco amongst the young.

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.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 18 -25

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a history of over 100 years, during which Christians around the world have taken part in an octave of prayer for visible Christian unity.  By annually observing the WPCU, Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper “that they all may be one.”  (cf. John 17:21)

The theme of this year’s WPCU is Abide in my love… You shall bear much fruit” from the Gospel of John, chapter 15, expresses the Grandchamp Community’s vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family.

Here, Jesus reminds his disciples that he is the vine and we are the branches. If we abide in him, in Jesus and the Covenant made in his precious blood, we will be such a healthy branch as to bear much fruit, abundant grapes.

Jesus manifests this in his references to loving one another: “Abide in my love.” This love of Christ figuratively speaking is akin to the healthy sap that nourishes the vine throughout all its branches. Jesus the man is lovingly begotten into human society by the love God has for all human beings, through the cooperation of a human woman, the Virgin Mary. In return, humanity is repeatedly raised from sin to justification by the love of Christ, the only Son of God, one with the Father and the Spirit through all the ages. This resource for abiding in his love is endless.

The image of branches helps believers understand that they are all diverse as individuals, but brought together in the one Vine, who is Christ alive in the Church. It can also point out, in these times of growing ecumenical witness, that the differing expressions of Christian faith are also branches which cannot live on their own and still authentically proclaim the Gospel to all creatures. We preach Christ crucified and risen to a needy world, that the world may have hope. Separately, that “sap” which keeps all the branches healthy, gets stuck in blocked veins of animosity, distrust, bigotry and ignorance. Only open veins will allow the sap to flow. Only then can all the branches bear much fruit.

Therefore, abiding in Christ’s love, let us love one another.

Twelve Days of Christmas

I always loved Christmas when I was growing up. It wasn’t just the gifts, the lights, the holly or the music. It was the magical feeling of awaiting the Birth of Christ. In our house, we always had a creche scene, an Advent calendar and a Christmas tree with a star on top. But every year, December 26th seemed like such a let-down! Sure, we still had the tree and decorations, but the excitement, the sense of joy, and the feasting gave way to empty wrapping paper and leftovers.

One problem is that Christmas has become an isolated feast day, excised from its place in the liturgical year, especially Advent, Epiphany, and the Baptism of Our Lord. Just as we often ignore the hopeful and quietly expectant mood of Advent, we also forget about the feasting and joy of the full Christmas season. But if we pay attention to those “Twelve Days of Christmas” falling between December 25 and Epiphany on January 6 (even though we celebrate Epiphany on January 3 this year!) we can continue to sing the carols, read the Scriptures and experience the joy of the birth of our Lord for the whole season! Instead of one isolated Christmas day, the joy and festive spirit of Christmas can permeate the entire “Twelve Days of Christmas!” That’s the story behind the traditional song and the daily gifts!

During the Twelve Days of Christmas and Christmastide the Church also celebrates other major holy days including those of our patron St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, and the Holy Family. St. Stephen and the Innocents were martyred for the faith, and St. John suffered. The Holy Family was driven from their homeland into Egypt. The Church places these feasts in the midst of the season of Christmas to remind us that the mystery of the Incarnation is more than just the Lord’s Birth: it is also about His suffering and death! As followers of Christ, our celebration of Christmas is more than just trees and presents. It’s about our obligation to lead radical Christian lives that say that we would be willing – like St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents – to give up our lives for Christ!

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