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...]

Our Lady of Lourdes

Saturday, 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, 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 white with a blue sash fastened around her waist and two golden … [Read more...]

Good Stewardship

Collections in our parish cover less than 50% of our parish expenses. With the costs of insurance, salaries, utilities and upkeep, we have a tough time. Without some generous benefactors donating at year’s end, we would be in bad shape! We’re a parish that is very generous to the poor, but we also need to be good stewards of our church and buildings that have been left to us by past generations. Consider the following:  If you give less than $5 into the collection each week, perhaps you can raise it to $5.  And if you give more than $5, perhaps you can raise your contribution by 25%. Thanks for your consideration! … [Read more...]

Ever Wonder about the Pelican High in Our Church above the Altar?

The symbolism of the pelican feeding her young is rooted in a legend preceding Christianity that when food was scarce, the mother pelican would wound her breast with her beak and feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. Given this legend, one can understand why the early Christians adapted it to symbolize our Lord, Jesus Christ. The pelican symbolizes Jesus our Redeemer who gave His life for our redemption and continues to feed us with His body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. The pelican is also part of our liturgical tradition. The image of the pelican is popular artwork for altar frontals, tabernacles and arches.  In the hymn “Adoro te devote,” (written by St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day we celebrate on January 28, and translated into English by Gerard Manley … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

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, … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

The Christmas Proclamation

The twenty-fifth day of December. In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth; the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood; the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham; the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt; the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king; in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome; the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus; the whole world being at peace, in the … [Read more...]

Feast of the Holy Family December 27

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 … [Read more...]

Poinsettias!

Poinsettias in the Sanctuary during Christmas can be purchased in the name of a deceased loved one whose names will be recorded in the bulletin and on the parish website. Thanks for helping us decorate the altar! … [Read more...]