Archives for February 2021

From the Pastor – February 28, 2021

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. (Mk. 9:2-3)  Last week Jesus was out in the desert, hungry and thirsty.  And this week, He’s on top of a mountain, transfigured in dazzling white before Peter, James and John.  This transfiguration has traditionally been interpreted as a preliminary revelation of the glory of Jesus given to His closest collaborators so that they might be strengthened in advance of the scandal of the cross. And in this moment of mystical experience, they also hear a voice from heaven:  “Listen to Him.” During Lent, there is something comforting about the transfiguration for us, too.  It reminds … [Read more...]

Lenten Mission – St Stephen Church

Monday, March 1-Wednesday, March 3 The Four Weapons of Spiritual Combat  Monday, March 1, 2021 at 7pm “Distrust of self and confidence in God” Tuesday, March 2 after 6pm Mass “Training through personal discipline for spiritual warfare” Wednesday, March 3 at 7pm followed by Confessions. “Prayer, God's mighty weapon” By Fr. Jeffrey Montz, Head of the Spirituality Department at Notre Dame Seminary. Also, Fr. Luke Buckles, O.P. Prof of Spiritual Theology from the Angelicum in Rome. … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 21, 2021

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,  and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  (Mk. 1-12) I always look forward to Lent.  And this year is no exception.  Now that Lent is here, I’m happy to create my own little desert of calm by the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  It’s the perfect remedy for the last two weeks of noise, feasting and excess. One of the good disciplines of Lent is “giving something up.”  When I was in seminary, I remember my rector publicly acknowledging that he gave up cigars during Lent.  And then one Friday in Lent, I walked by his room and smelled cigar smoke.  The next day I asked him about it, and he said that he decided to do something different that year because he felt like everyone knew he gave up cigars.  … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 14, 2021

Brothers and sisters, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.  (1 Cor. 10:31) It’s too bad that this year we won’t be able to gather in front of our church as we watch parades!  But I’m sure we’ll all figure out some way to celebrate Mardi Gras.  And that’s not a bad thing.  Fat Tuesday is meant to be a time of feasting in preparation for the fasting and austerity of Lent. But that doesn’t mean that Lent is a “holy” season and Mardi Gras is a “pagan” season.  As St. Paul tells us above, everything should be done for the glory of God. A recent article in the Times Picayune had a question asked the question:  “What vices are you giving up for Lent?”  And then it listed a long list of “vices,” including among them “meat” and “alcohol.”  Now … [Read more...]

Lenten and Easter Guidelines

THE LENTEN SEASON A distinction is to be made between Lent and the Easter Triduum. Strictly speaking, Lent ends with the beginning of the Triduum on Holy Thursday. The Ordo notes: “Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive on Holy Thursday.” FASTING AND ABSTINENCE Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound to fast may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to each one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years or older on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and on all Fridays of Lent. The determination of certain days … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 7, 2021

Job spoke, saying: Is not man's life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of hirelings? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me.  (Job 7:4) Most of us know the story of Job.  He was faithful to God, but God let the devil take away all of Job’s possessions, kill all of his children and ruin his health.  And despite his misfortunes, Job does not curse God.  But that doesn’t stop him from bemoaning his situation.  The passage above reflects his poor attitude, but it speaks to a truth.  The world often imposes on us many miseries.  We get tired and frustrated with work.  We get in arguments with family members and friends.  We get sick, we can’t pay the bills, … [Read more...]

Good Stewardship

An article in the Times-Picayune several years ago woke me up a bit.  It said that out of all religious groups in America, the group that gave the smallest percentage of their income to their church were Catholics.  While Mormons generally give the Biblical 10% we call “tithing,” and while the average churchgoer in the United States gives 2.4 %, Catholics give the lowest percentage of every other religion. And I don’t write this because we still haven’t completely funded our Restoration (but we haven’t!) or because we need more money to operate (but we do!), but let me tell you the real reason: giving to charity shows a great reliance on God, and God rewards a cheerful giver.  Ever since I began “tithing,” God has given me more blessings than I can imagine.  And as He gives me more, I … [Read more...]

Our Lady of Lourdes

Next Sunday, February 11, the Church remembers the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous that took place a little over 150 years ago in Lourdes, France.  Since Our Lady of Lourdes Parish down the street on Napoleon Avenue has been closed, and since next Wednesday is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I thought a little “refresher course” on the apparitions of Lourdes might be in order. On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with two girlfriends to collect some firewood to sell in order to be able to buy some bread. As she was wading through a river near the Grotto of Massabielle, she heard the wind but did not see the trees and bushes move. As she looked toward the Grotto, she saw a light and a beautiful lady – “Lovelier than I have ever seen” - dressed in … [Read more...]

The Symbolism of the Pelican

During the years I lived in Rome, I spent a lot of time trying to decipher and understand early Christian symbolism.  It was a hobby of mine as I visited churches and saw so much iconography.  Recently, someone visited St. Stephen Church in New Orleans and asked me about an image that they saw high over the sanctuary of a pelican feeding its young.  They wondered why someone would have painted the “state bird” in church!  The question gave me a good occasion to reflect upon church symbolism. The image of the mother pelican feeding her baby pelicans is rooted in several ancient Roman legends that precede Christianity. One version is that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with her beak to feed her young with her blood. Another version was that the … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 31, 2021

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kindred, and will put my words into the mouth of the prophet; the prophet shall tell them all that I command. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.  (Dt. 18:18-19) In the Acts of the Apostles, both St. Peter (3:22) and, St. Stephen (7:37) quote the above passage as referring to Jesus.  Jesus is the prophet who came to teach us (in word and deed) how to live according to God’s plan and attain the Kingdom of Heaven.  And when the time came, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon His Apostles to guide them and us through the Holy Catholic Church.  But Jesus foretold that some would not listen to His words, and He warned us that we would be persecuted for following … [Read more...]