From the Pastor

September 24, 2017

The intention for which the prayers after Mass were offered, have changed over time. They were first introduced by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. The original intention was “for the defense of the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See.” The purpose of the intention was realized when the Lateran Treaty was signed between the Holy See and Italy in 1929. Pope Pius XI then ordered that the prayers be said for the conversion of Russia. In 1965, along with various other liturgical changes, the prayers after Mass were suppressed. However, in many places where the 1962 missal is followed, the custom of saying the prayers after Mass has continued. Since there is no longer an official papal intention for the prayers I would suggest – in keeping with the last given intention and the message of Fatima – that the prayers be offered for “the conversion of the United States and for Russia through the pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary.” May our prayers hasten the triumph of the Immaculate Heart!

September 17, 2017

Following the Second Vatican Council, emphasis in the Church shifted from the sacrificial aspect of the Mass to the meal aspect. The effect of this change was to give to some the impression that the primary reason one goes to Mass is to receive Holy Communion. They reasoned that if it’s not possible to receive Holy Communion, then there’s no reason to go to Mass. This reasoning is false, but it’s not too difficult to see how they arrived at this conclusion. Objectively, the highpoint of the Mass is the consecration – the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. In that moment, the sacrifice Our Lord offered on Calvary becomes present on our altar. The graces that Our Lord won for us on Calvary are then distributed to those present and, to a lesser extent, to the entire world. As good as receiving Holy Communion is, the Church does not oblige us to receive It but once a year (she does, of course, encourage us to receive often, even daily). We are, however, obliged (under penalty of grave sin) to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of the year. Understanding and appreciating the sacrificial aspect of the Mass is key to having a true love for the Mass. Our Lady of the Eucharist, pray for us.

September 10, 2017

This Thursday, Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, will mark the 10th anniversary of the first time I offered the Traditional Mass. I had been offering the Novus Ordo Mass for 23 years previously. In his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI set this day as the start day on which any priest could offer the Traditional Mass (what the Pope referred to as the “Extraordinary Form”) without any special permission. Obviously, I had to study and practice well beforehand so that I would be ready to offer the Mass on “opening day.” The more I learned about the Traditional Mass, the harder I found it to believe that it had ever been given up. I never felt more like a priest than when I was offering the old Mass – the reverence, the prayers, the God-centeredness – all contributed to this feeling. Never had I felt so much a part of the whole history of the Church than when I was offering the “Mass of the ages.” Countless saints had participated in this Mass – with slight variations – at least from the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great, reigning in the 6th century. I consider myself blessed to now be able to offer this Mass daily

July 30, 2017

The following was written by a grateful parishioner who was helped through the St. Bernadette Fund*:

    Dear fellow parishioners,
    I have been a St. Stephen’s parishioner for many years. Due to health issues, the priests of St. Stephen’s have often had to bring me the sacraments. These same health issues have prevented me from working; hence, I’ve had difficulty meeting some of my basic needs. In some dark moments during the last several years, the St. Bernadette Fund has helped my family and me to survive. I realize that it’s due to your generosity, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. I want to assure you that your contributions (large or small) do make a difference in people’s lives. Please be assured of my prayers.
    A Grateful Parishioner

* The St. Bernadette Fund was created here at St. Stephen’s to especially help parishioners in need. If you would like to make a contribution to the St. Bernadette Fund you can do so either on-line or by placing it in an envelope marked “St. Bernadette Fund” and placing it in the collection basket, or dropping it off in the office or book store. 100% of all donations go to those in need.

July 16, 2017

The key to success in the spiritual life (and almost everything else) is perseverance. During this 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, let us persevere in our praying of the Rosary daily. Make up your mind not to let a day go by without praying it – even if you have to kneel beside your bed to keep from falling asleep at night because you forgot to pray it earlier. Pray it for your personal needs (both spiritual and material), pray if for your family, pray it for your country, pray it for the conversion of Russia, pray it for Holy Mother Church. How can we dare complain about the dire situations in our country, the Church, and the world at large if we’re not doing what heaven has requested of us in order to ameliorate these situations? Pray the Rosary daily! Pope Pius XI declared that if he had an army praying the Rosary he could conquer the world. He wasn’t exaggerating. Sufficient numbers of people praying the Rosary can solve any problem, overcome every difficulty. Pray the Rosary daily! You’ll be eternally thankful that you did.

Pray the Rosary Daily!

July 9, 2017

Almost everyone agrees that our country is a very divided one. What is it that most divides us? In my opinion, what most divides us is morality. We are divided between those who embrace traditional Judeo/Christian moral beliefs and those who reject those beliefs. Pope St. John Paul II referred to these two camps as the “culture of life” and the “culture of death.” The culture of life embraces traditional marriage, family, and religious freedom – freedom not just to worship, but freedom to express those beliefs in the public square. The culture of death, on the other hand, undermines marriage with easy divorce laws, “same-sex marriage,” and the acceptance of couples simply living together without benefit of marriage. It destroys the family by promoting contraception, abortion, the homosexual lifestyle, transgenderism, radical feminism, assisted suicide, pornography, “recreational” drugs, etc. The culture of death wants to restrict religious expression to behind closed doors at best. These two camps cannot coexist peacefully for long; one or the other will ultimately triumph. The culture of death seems to have the upper hand in our country at the moment. It came close to victory in the last presidential election. There’s still hope. If we wish the culture of life to succeed, however, we must first and foremost strive to live holy lives ourselves. We must then use every legitimate means to promote the culture of life. The members of the culture of death will hate us. We will not hate them in return, but we will take advantage of every opportunity to oppose their false deadly beliefs and to spread our own true life-giving beliefs.

Mary, help of Christians, pray for us!

June 18, 2017

How to Receive Holy Communion

At the Traditional Mass, Holy Communion is received kneeling at the Communion rail (unless it is difficult to kneel) and only on the tongue. Hands should be no higher than the Communion rail so that the server can easily place the paten beneath the chin of the communicant. “Amen” is not said in response to the priest’s prayer: “May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life. Amen.” As the priest is approaching the mouth should already be open to receive the Host so that he does not have to wait for a reply. The mouth should be opened wide and the tongue extended slightly over the lower lip (it need not be extended farther), so that the priest can easily and securely place the Host on it. It is best to close the eyes just before receiving in order to avoid being distracted; as well as to avoid the temptation to move the head in the direction of the priest’s approaching hand. This often results in touching the priest’s fingers with the tongue. Most important of all, of course, is to receive Our Eucharistic Lord with a pure and loving heart!

June 11, 2017

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Sacred Heart is normally celebrated during this month (the third Friday after Pentecost). This year it will fall on June 23rd. One of the components of the Sacred Heart devotion is the Badge of the Sacred Heart. One website explains: “Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque His wish for her to order a picture made of the image of His Sacred Heart for people specifically to venerate and have in their homes and also small pictures to carry with them. St. Margaret Mary always kept a Sacred Heart badge with her and inspired her novices to do the same. She made many badges and often said this practice was very pleasing to the Sacred Heart.” The badge may be worn, kept in a wallet, or hung up in a vehicle or room. It serves as protection for both body and soul. One priest I know who promotes this practice told me that some people who were struggling with vices found carrying the badge and saying, “Cease, the Heart of Jesus is with me!” every time they were tempted, to be very helpful.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

June 4, 2017

To be good Catholics we must believe and profess all of Christ’s doctrine as taught by the Catholic Church, and must be striving to put that belief into practice in our daily lives. There are, however, some things that we can legitimately disagree about and still be good Catholics. One is not a bad Catholic, for example, if he wants to stop the flow of illegal immigration, does not believe that global warming is manmade, upholds the right to own a gun, or has good reason to support the death penalty. On the other hand, one is a bad Catholic if he supports the practice of abortion and the distribution of contraceptives, or approves of the “gay” lifestyle or “transgenderism.” Let us not be intimidated by those – whether they be inside or outside of the Church – who would have us believe otherwise. Christ never spoke or acted out of “political correctness.” We, His followers, must not either.

May 28, 2017

One of the biggest dangers to our souls today is pornography – both the “soft” and “hard” varieties. We need to do all we can to protect ourselves and our families from it. St. Jacinta Marto (one of the Fatima seers) is quoted as saying that the sins that send most souls to hell are sins of the flesh. They may not be the worst sins that can be committed, but that will be small consolation if we end up in hell because of them. Besides maintaining a strong spiritual life, there are some practical things that we can do to help ourselves (and others): 1) use filters on your computer (you might check out “Covenant Eyes”); 2) keep the computer in a public area of the house; 3) only access the internet when other people are around; 4) anything else you can think of to make temptation as remote as possible. Parents, of course, have a serious obligation to monitor their children’s internet use. Increasingly, cell phones are being used to access pornography. There are filters for cell phones, as well. Another option is to replace your smart phone with a flip-open “dumb” phone. This isn’t a fool proof solution, but it can go a long way to keeping temptation at a distance while still allowing one to make and receive calls as needed.

Mary, Virgin most pure, protect us and our families from the deluge of impurity that threatens to destroy our souls!

April 30, 2017

Tomorrow, Monday, begins the month of May, the month of Mary. It begins with a feast in honor of Mary’s husband, St. Joseph the Worker. Let’s honor him by going to Mass! We will hold our annual procession in honor of Our Lady (including May Crowning and Mass) on Saturday, May 13th – the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima! The procession route and Mass venue will be different this year from previous years. The procession will begin at St. Mary’s cemetery and finish at East Lawn cemetery where Mass will be offered. Mothers’ Day will be on the following day, Sunday, May 14th. On that day – besides our earthly mother – we honor the heavenly mother of us all in the order of grace. No mother loves her children more tenderly than Our Blessed Mother; no mother is more solicitous for their eternal welfare than she. The month concludes with the feast of the Queenship of Mary, on May 31. As queen, she can obtain for us whatever she asks from Our Lord, the King. What great confidence we should have in her intercessory power! Finally, let us be firmly resolved to pray the Rosary every day during this month in order to honor the request Our Lady made at Fatima to pray it daily. How much we, our families, our parish, our poor country, and our entire world are in need of prayer! Heaven has given us the Rosary to help us, it’s up to us to make use of it.

Month of May, month of Mary! Pray the Rosary daily!

April 16, 2017

The Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed! May the thought of Our Lord’s resurrection always serve to remind us of the hope we have in our own resurrection when He comes again in glory.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many who helped to make Holy Week a beautiful one. Thank you, too, for your prayers and gifts.

Wishing all of our parishioners a joy-filled Easter!

Fr. Lyons
Fr. Curtis
Fr. Savoie

April 9, 2017

Holy Week begins today with Palm Sunday. It is the holiest time of the liturgical year. During this week we celebrate the redemptive work of Christ – His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. In order to help you to profit spiritually from this week, find below some suggestions:

1. If you haven’t yet gone to confession this Lent, make the time to do so. Even if you are not conscious of having committed any mortal sins since your last good confession, a well-made confession will better dispose you to receive the graces Our Lord wants to give you at this time.

2. Go to Mass and receive Holy Communion on the days it is possible to do so.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the Masses are at the regularly scheduled times. See elsewhere in the bulletin for the rest of the Holy Week schedule.

3. If you have been negligent in keeping your Lenten resolutions, make an extra effort to keep them this week.

4. Keep electronic entertainment to a minimum – internet, TV, video games, etc.

5. Do a little fasting, and/or abstain from some favorite food. Note: Good Friday is a day of fasting for those between the ages of 18 and the completion of their 59th birthday. Abstinence from meat is obligatory on that day for all of those 14 and older.

6. Do practice religious devotions: make the Stations of the Cross (if you can’t do it in church, do it at home), meditate especially on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, read the story of the Passion of Our Lord from any one of the Gospels, spend some time in private prayer before Our Eucharistic Lord, etc.

7. Practice greater kindness and patience with the people you live with and work with. Good deeds and acts of charity are always in order. Try to be mindful of the poor in some concrete way, e.g., making a donation to your church’s poor program.

    Have a blessed Holy Week!

April 3, 2017

I recently came across the following quote from St. Louise de Marillac. St. Louise was St. Vincent de Paul’s most fervent collaborator. Her words may be a source of consolation to parents who suffer because one or more of their children have fallen away from the faith, or are not living Christian lives. They also may serve as further incentive to pray the Rosary daily.

“The faults of children are not always imputed to the parents, especially when they have instructed them and given good example. Our Lord, in His wondrous Providence, allows children to break the hearts of devout fathers and mothers. Thus the decisions your children have made don’t make you a failure as a parent in God’s eyes. You are entitled to feel sorrow, but not necessarily guilt. Do not cease praying for your children; God’s grace can touch a hardened heart. Commend your children to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When parents pray the Rosary, at the end of each decade they should hold the Rosary aloft and say to her, ‘With these beads bind my children to your Immaculate Heart’, she will attend to their souls.”

March 26, 2017

The practical details for next year’s General Chapter for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter are now being finalized and made available to its members. The General Chapter, a body of elected and de jure representatives from every district and region of the FSSP, convenes every six years. During its brief three week assembly, it shapes the character and vision of the Fraternity according to the received experience and exigencies of all the priests and deacons that belong to it. Amongst other things, the Chapter: elects the superior general to a term of six years, as well as the assistants and counselors that compose his extraordinary general council; proposes revisions to the Constitutions (which must then be ratified by Rome); actually revises the Directories, which are legislative documents subordinate to the Constitutions; erects and suppresses provinces; and regulates the most important spiritual, apostolic, and administrative matters of the Fraternity. Without a doubt, the Chapter is the supreme governing body of the FSSP. The principal responsibility of the superior general is to execute the vision and directives established by the Chapter which elected him.

The approximately one hundred members of the North American District will be responsible for sending somewhere between eight and ten elected representatives to the General Chapter. All of them will meet in early January of 2018 in order to discuss and vote upon these representatives. Please keep your priests and the FSSP as a whole in your prayers during the time leading up to this process.

March 12, 2017

We’re well into Lent now. Hopefully, it’s going well for everyone. Lent is really a time for renewal. First and foremost, spiritual renewal. We want to take a hard look at our spiritual life and take whatever measures are necessary in order to get it into shape – confession, prayer, penance, rosary, Eucharistic adoration, spiritual reading . . . Let’s not be gentle with ourselves; let’s dig up our faults by their roots!

Lent can also be a time for physical renewal. The body does effect the soul, and vice versa. Have we been putting off regular exercise? Now is the time to begin. Do we need to see a doctor or dentist? Make that appointment. Do we need to lose weight? Start a healthy program of both exercise and diet. We are stewards of our bodies, let’s take reasonable care of them.

Lent is also a good time to clean up our local environment (i.e., our homes and work places) by reducing clutter, and throwing out or giving away all unnecessary items. If we haven’t used something for more than a year, it’s probably safe to give it away to someone who can make good use of it. Let’s simplify our lives.

With Mary at the foot of the Cross to help us, let us utilize well the gift of Lent that God has given to us once again this year.

March 5, 2017

I would like to thank everyone for the prayers, cards, and gifts that I received on the occasion of my permanent incorporation into the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) on March 22nd. Thanks also to all those who organized and participated in the reception that followed the Mass and the oath of incorporation. It was very nice. All are remembered in my prayers.

February 26, 2017

A good way to look at Lent is as an opportunity to make a 40 day retreat (with Sundays off). We won’t be going away to a retreat house, but we can still do our best to live a more recollected life; to spend extra time in prayer and spiritual reading (and/or, listening to spiritual conferences); to work on our particular weakness(es); and, to exercise in some way the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. A retreat is always a time of grace if well lived. With God’s grace and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s prayer to help us, let us be determined to live this Lent well.

February 19, 2017

This Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, we celebrate the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, an important feast day for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). It’s an important day for me personally because it was on this day four years ago that I became an incorporated (ad annum) member of the FSSP. That means that I’ve had to renew my incorporation each year since then. This year, however, I will be permanently incorporated. I’m grateful to my superiors, most especially Fr. John Berg (general superior), for accepting me into the Fraternity. I will make my statement of permanent incorporation following the 6:30 p.m. solemn Mass this Wednesday. Fr. James Fryar, FSSP, has been appointed to receive my statement. Hopefully, many of you will be able to share this joyful occasion with me (and pray for me!). Refreshments will be provided afterwards.

February 12, 2017

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that some of the things that Pope Francis has said and written have caused more than a little consternation (not to mention confusion) in the Catholic world. As faithful Catholics, how should we respond to this? Our first response should be to pray all the more for the Holy Father. Some time ago we decided to offer the Rosary that we pray during Eucharistic Exposition following the Friday evening Mass for him. I would now like to ask all of you to add it to your daily Rosary or family prayer:

Prayer for the Holy Father

V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

January 29, 2017

It’s interesting to note that during this year that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima, other notable anniversaries are being celebrated. These include the 500th anniversary of Protestantism, the 300th anniversary of freemasonry, and the 100th anniversary of the communist revolution in Russia. These movements have done untold damage to the Church and the world at large in the past. In one way or another they continue to do harm – especially to souls. We need the powerful intercession of Our Blessed Mother to help protect us from them, and convert those who are involved in them. Hopefully, during this anniversary year of Our Lady of Fatima, many more will become familiar with the message of Fatima, and put it into practice, i.e., stop offending God, pray the Rosary, honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary alongside the Sacred Heart of Jesus. . . Are you familiar with Our Lady’s message? Are you putting it into practice? If you are, you are part of the solution; if you are not, you are part of the problem.

“Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world . . .” (Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 1917)

January 22, 2017

The following three thoughts to help us live more fervent lives are summarized from a book of meditations by an anonymous author:

First thought: During my first waking moments I should reflect on the thought that this day is given to me only to glorify God, thereby ensuring my salvation (and even aid in the salvation of others). Yesterday is no longer mine, tomorrow may never be mine, only today belongs to me. How happy I’ll be if, at the end of the day, I can say I really tried to please God in all I thought, said, and did.

Second thought: God has prepared very many graces to bestow upon me today. Graces to help me grow in the spiritual life. Maybe even some very special grace. If I do not receive these graces it will be because of my own fault – my deliberate sins, the good I leave undone, the little love with which I perform even my good actions. The glory that I might have given God, the help I might have given my neighbor, the merit I might have gained for myself on this day will all be lost for eternity.

Third thought: This day may be my last. Millions of people die daily. Some quite unexpectedly. I may be one of them. If I knew that today was to be my last what would I do? What a good confession I would make. How fervent my prayer would be. How kind I would be to others. How trivial some of my worldly pursuits would appear. If I live every day in this way, death may come suddenly, but it will never be unexpected.

January 15, 2017

January 22nd marks the 44th anniversary of the infamous Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since then more than 50 million unborn babies have been killed surgically in this country alone, and the number grows daily. Talk about a holocaust! How can we as a nation denounce the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and more recently ISIS, and, at the same time, condone the killing of unborn babies in our own country?

The United States Bishops’ Conference has declared that “this day (Jan. 22nd) shall be observed in all dioceses as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.” Since Jan. 22 falls on a Sunday this year, we are asked to make Monday, Jan. 23rd, a day of penance instead.

Suitable penances would include fasting and/or abstinence. Participation at Holy Mass would be the best prayer possible on that day; the praying of the Rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy are also highly recommended – especially outside of abortion sites. Perhaps black armbands could be worn as a sign of mourning for the many babies put to death. When people ask why you’re wearing the armband you could let them know.

Let us hope and pray that this will be the year that Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and the right to life for all humans – born and unborn – is fully restored. During this 100th anniversary celebration of Our Blessed Mother’s appearances at Fatima, let us entrust this intention to her under the title she gave herself – Our Lady of the Rosary!

January 8, 2017

 A Requiem Mass will be offered for Bob O’Kane this Tuesday afternoon at 12:15.

 Please continue to pray the Rosary daily for the new presidential administration about to take office. The 54 Day Rosary novena ends on inauguration day, January 20th. Even if you haven’t participated in the novena so far, please offer a Rosary daily for this intention beginning today. What happens to our country and our world very much depends upon the decisions that will be made by this new administration. Our prayer, of course, can better assure that the right decisions be made.

January 1, 2017
A Happy New Year Means a Holy New Year

Everyone wants to be happy. That’s the way God made us. As a matter of fact, He created us with a desire for infinite happiness. Therefore, only something – or someone – who is infinite can satisfy that desire. Since God is the only infinite being, our desire for happiness can be satisfied only when we possess Him. No matter how hard we may try to satisfy that desire with the good things of this world and its pleasures, we’re never going to be able to do it. It would be easier to fill the Grand Canyon by dropping a grain of sand into it once a year than it would be to satisfy the longing in our souls with anything created. That, however, doesn’t stop most of us from trying – even engaging in seriously sinful behavior at times in our attempts to achieve happiness. We’re like the man in the desert who is dying of thirst. He thinks he sees water, but when he reaches it he finds it’s only more hot, dry sand. As long as we try to find our happiness in anything less than God, we will never find it.

If we wish, then, that the New Year be a truly happy one – for ourselves and others – we must try to make it a holy one. It will be a holy one if we remain in God’s grace, and grow in God’s grace. Only mortal sin can deprive of His grace. To help us to remain in a state of grace let us be sure to do the following:

    1. Go to Holy Mass every Sunday and Holiday of Obligation (more often when possible).
    2. Pray the Rosary daily.
    3. Go to Confession at least once a month.
    4. Avoid all unnecessary serious occasions of sin; that is, people, places, and things that lead us into sin (use the electronic media with the greatest caution!).
    5. Frequently offer up little sacrifices.
    6. Perform acts of mercy as frequently as possible; that is, helping others with their material and spiritual needs.
    7. Do some spiritual reading or listening every day for at least a few minutes.

Obviously, it takes some effort to do these things. But we will be well rewarded. We will be happy with the happiness that only God’s presence can give us both now and in eternity.

Have a truly happy and holy New Year!
December 25, 2016

Wishing everyone a most blessed and joyful Christmas and New Years! Thank you for your prayers and many other signs of support. Be assured of our prayers for all of you.

Fr. John Lyons,
FSSP Fr. Joshua Curtis,
FSSP Fr. Dominic Savoie, FSSP

December 18, 2016

During this last week of Advent let us make extra efforts to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for Christmas. Going to Mass daily during this week (if at all possible) would rank highest on the list. If you haven’t gone to confession yet during this Advent season, this week would be a good time to do so. Praying the Rosary daily, or an extra Rosary, would be beneficial – there’s no one better than Our Lady to help us enter into the true spirit of Christmas. If you haven’t already done so, decide on some specific sacrifice to make each day this week. For example, giving up recreational use of the media, not eating between meals, not eating sweets, etc. – something that would be a penance for you. Try hard to exercise greater patience and kindness to others – especially those with whom you live. The day before Christmas used to be an obligatory fast day. Even though it’s no longer of obligation, all who can, would do well to preserve this tradition. Only those who prepare themselves spiritually, will experience the true joy of Christmas.

December 11, 2016

Thankfully, for most of us, our basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, education, medical assistance – are met. For some people, however, this is not the case; they lack the very basics. What better time of year than Christmas, when God became man for our sake, to be mindful of the needs of our neighbors. There’s nothing wrong with giving small gifts to our family members and friends to show our love for them. But instead of spending a lot of money on gifts for people who aren’t in need, let us spend it on those who are in need. Not only will we have treasure in heaven, but we will be training our children to eschew materialism and develop truly generous hearts.

There are many worthy causes. One of them is our own St. Bernadette Fund. 100% of all that goes into the fund is used to help others – mostly, fellow parishioners. We’ve established a “Giving Tree” this year (located in the church vestibule, near the doors to the hall) to help fund the St. Bernadette Fund. All you need to do is take an envelope from the tree, put in your donation, and drop it off in the office or book store, or put it into the collection basket.

“. . . remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how He said:

It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive.” (Acts 20, 35)

December 4, 2016

Lots of attention is focused on the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Advent Season, and rightly so. This week we will celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8th. Mary was granted the grace to be conceived without original sin in light of the fact that she was to be the Mother of God. Since God was going to take flesh from her, it was unthinkable that her flesh be tainted by sin in even the least way.

On Saturday, Dec. 10th, the Rorate Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 a.m. During this Mass the church is lit only by candle light. Together with Our Lady we await the Light that will soon be coming into the world, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s a beautiful Mass. Even if you’re not an early riser it’s worth the effort to attend at least once.

Finally, on Monday, Dec. 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas will be celebrated. Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego began the conversion of millions of the native peoples. What Mary did then, she can do again; that is, obtain the conversion of millions of our fellow citizens. Come and pray for our country, and all of the Americas, on that day.

November 27, 2016

Now is no time to rest on our laurels! Little good the election results will do us if hoped for changes fail to materialize. We can believe it was the power of prayer – especially the praying of the Rosary – that saved our nation from total disaster on Nov. 8th. This success should convince us of the power of the Rosary, and motivate us to continue to pray it now. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the 54 day Rosary novena for our new president beginning tomorrow, Nov. 28. The novena consists of praying the Rosary for 54 consecutive days – the first 27 days it is offered in petition, and for the following 27 days it is offered in thanksgiving. If you already pray the Rosary daily, you can simply make the novena your special intention. You’re always free, of course, to pray an extra Rosary! If you would like more information about the origin of the novena, or about the 54 day novena itself, simply google 54-Day Rosary Novena.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

November 13, 2016

Many prayers have been offered in the last several months for our country and a successful outcome to the national elections. Those prayers have not been in vain. We want to give public thanks to the Lord for at least affording us hope that our country’s moral descent into total depravity will be stopped, and the work of rebuilding a nation built on Christian principles will begin. This means that we still have a lot more praying to do; a lot more Rosaries to pray. As regards the efficacy of the Rosary, read what Sr. Lucia had to say about it in her last public interview given to Father Augustin Fuentes in 1957:

“Prayers and sacrifice are the two means to save the world. As for the Holy Rosary, Father, in these last times in which we are living, the Blessed Virgin has given a new efficacy to the praying of the Holy Rosary. This in such a way that there is no problem that cannot be resolved by praying the Rosary, no matter how difficult it is—be it temporal or above all spiritual—in the spiritual life of each of us or the lives of our families, be they our families in the world or Religious Communities, or even in the lives of peoples and nations.

“I repeat, there is no problem, as difficult as it may be, that we cannot resolve at this time by praying the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves, sanctify ourselves, console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.

“Then, there is devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our Most Holy Mother, holding her as the seat of mercy, goodness and pardon and the sure door to enter Heaven.”

November 6, 2016

From time to time we make mention from the pulpit of the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence on a particular day or particular occasion. Some may not know, however, that a plenary indulgence can be gained on every day of the year. Four of the most common ways in which plenary indulgences are gained (having fulfilled the usual conditions) are the following:

1) Praying five decades of the rosary in church or with one’s family, or
2) Adoring the Blessed Eucharist for half an hour, or
3) Making the Stations of the Cross, or
4) Reading Sacred Scripture for half an hour.

Besides plenary indulgences, there exist partial indulgences. As the name implies, such indulgences remit part of the penalty due to sins already forgiven. The amount of penalty remitted will depend upon the disposition of the one seeking the indulgence. Unlike plenary indulgences which can be gained only once a day (twice on the day you die), there is no limit to the number of partial indulgences that may be gained in a day. Besides many indulgenced prayers, novenas, etc. there are three ways in which a partial indulgence may always be acquired:

In the midst of one’s duties to raise one’s mind to God and add a pious invocation, e.g., “My God, I love You!”

In a spirit of penance to freely abstain from something.

To perform a charitable deed or the giving of alms.

Not only does the Church hope that many indulgences will be gained, she also hopes that the constant attempt to acquire them will make us grow in holiness. It’s easy to imagine that anyone who strives to gain a plenary indulgence every day will make great strides along the road of sanctity. The Church – good Mother that she is – has placed a vast treasury of merits at our disposal in order to free us and the souls in purgatory from the enormous penalty due to our sins. This is one treasure that must not be kept hidden.

To gain a plenary indulgence – besides the performance of the indulgenced act itself – one must go to confession at least 20 days before or 20 days after the act is performed, Holy Communion must be received (several days before or after, but most fittingly on the day the indulgenced act is completed), prayers must be said for the intentions of the Pope (an Our Father and Hail Mary suffice), all attachment to sin must be absent.

October 30, 2016

The month of November is especially dedicated to remembering and praying for the souls in purgatory. Purgatory is an expression of God’s mercy. If we die in a state of grace but have some unforgiven venial sins on our soul, or if we have not completely expiated the penalty due to sins that have been forgiven us, then God gives us the opportunity to purify ourselves even after death. We can believe that this purification process is not a painless one. In a phrase that has been interpreted as applying to purgatory, Scripture tells us: “it will be as one who has gone through fire.” (1Cor 3, 15)
It should be of comfort to us to know that we can help our loved ones even after they have died. We can help them with our prayers and sacrifices, by having Masses said for them, and by offering the indulgences we gain for them. These holy souls will be eternally grateful. They will not forget to pray for us when they arrive in heaven. It is a common opinion that, even while still in purgatory, the souls there can and do pray for us.
All Souls’ Day comes just once a year – Nov. 2nd. However, there are souls in need of our help every day of the year – the souls of our relatives, friends, and benefactors; the souls of those who have no one to remember them. One of the spiritual works of mercy is to pray for the dead. It is by practicing mercy that we will obtain mercy. Let us not let a day pass without saying some prayers for the holy souls in purgatory. A short prayer that some people add to their thanksgiving after meals is the following: “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

October 23, 2016

Divorce and Remarriage

Jesus said, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if the wife divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery (Mk 10, 11).”

The Catholic Church teaches that there is no power on earth that can dissolve a valid, sacramental, consummated marriage. Unfortunately, it does sometimes happen that for very serious reasons a married couple is no longer able to live together. It may even be necessary for them to obtain a civil divorce in order to protect their rights and those of their children. However, in the eyes of the Church they remain married. Although now living apart they must still comport themselves as befitting any other married person. That means it would be a serious sin for them to begin dating someone else.

Contrary to what some think, divorce per se is not necessarily an impediment to receiving the sacraments. Just like anyone else, the divorced individual must be in a state of grace in order to receive Holy Communion. If he was primarily responsible for the divorce he must try to reconcile with his spouse and make restitution – in as much as it is possible – for the harm he has done. The worthy reception of the sacraments on the part of the divorced will obtain for them the grace to better carry their cross in life.

If the divorced person should remarry outside of the Church, his marriage is considered invalid. Such a situation constitutes a moral disorder; objectively he is living in a state of sin. For that reason he cannot receive the sacraments – neither Holy Communion nor confession. Although such situations are a source of suffering for the Church, she does not abandon these people. She encourages them to go to Mass, to pray, do penance, and to practice charity in order to obtain from God the grace to eventually rectify their situation. In Familiaris Consortio #84, Pope John Paul II states that if such couples have a serious reason for remaining together (for example, the raising of their children), and they are able to live in a “brother-sister” relationship (i.e., not engaging in acts proper to married people), then they might receive the sacraments. There is one other stipulation: they must avoid giving scandal – which might occur if they were to receive Holy Communion in a church where their living situation were known to others. They would be obliged to receive Holy Communion in a church where their living situation is unknown to others. All such couples should speak to a priest.

October 16, 2016

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the harm that pornography has done and is doing both on an individual and societal basis. It harms the souls of those who engage in it, and it harms their relationships with others. It can render young men and women unfit for both religious and married life. It can destroy the religious vocations and marriages of those who have already entered into them. It is straight from hell. We must protect ourselves and our families from this all pervasive evil influence. Parents who allow their children unsupervised access to the internet, television, and other means of secular social communication are seriously negligent. Susceptible adults who take no steps to protect themselves from exposure to pornography when making use of these same electronic media are most imprudent, placing themselves unnecessarily into an occasion of serious sin. Not only must we be on our guard against all “hardcore” pornography, but all so-called “softcore” as well. “Softcore” is found on many television ads and regular TV programming; on billboards; as well as in advertisements on the internet, in newspapers and magazines. It may be as death dealing to the soul as the “hardcore.” Admittedly, it can’t always be avoided. But when it can’t, we want to turn away from it as quickly as possible. In order to do that, however, we must have a strong prayer and sacramental life. Those who have become addicted must avail themselves of all supernatural and natural means to overcome it. One possible place to look for help is the website “Reclaim Sexual Health.” For those seeking protection for themselves and their families when using the internet, the website “Covenant Eyes” is recommended.

October 2, 2016

October 2nd is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. We don’t celebrate it liturgically this year because it falls on a Sunday. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate this feast privately. After God, Himself, and our Blessed Mother, there is no one who knows us better and has done more for us than our Guardian Angel. How sad for someone to be unaware of his presence, to be unaware of all he does for us, to never pray to him. St. Padre Pio, who saw and spoke with his guardian angel, wrote the following to one of his spiritual children regarding the Guardian Angels:
“Have great devotion to this beneficent angel. How consoling it is to know that we have a spirit who, from the womb to the tomb, never leaves us even for an instant, not even when we dare to sin. And this heavenly spirit guides and protects us like a friend, a brother. It is very consoling to know that this angel prays unceasingly for us, and offers God all of our good actions, our thoughts, and our desires, if they are pure. Oh! For goodness’ sake, don’t forget this invisible companion, ever present, ever disposed to listen to us and even more ready to console us. Oh, wonderful intimacy! Oh, blessed companionship! If only we could understand it! Keep him always before your mind’s eye. Remember this angel’s presence often, thank him, pray to him, always keep up a good relationship. Open yourself up to him and confide your suffering to him. Be always afraid of offending the purity of his gaze. Know this, and keep it well present in your mind. He is easily offended, very sensitive. Turn to him in moments of supreme anguish and you will experience his beneficent help. Never say that you are alone in the battle against your enemies; never say that you have no one to whom you can open you heart and confide. It would be a grave injustice to this heavenly messenger.”

September 25, 2016

The following was taken from Fr. Boquet’s article entitled, “Sanctuary Cities Revisited”.

“Those who think the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights still hold in this nation need to face reality. The religious freedom “guaranteed” by the First Amendment is now declared subordinate to the wishes of the powerful cabal of sexual revolutionaries that have power in our government.
Our current president barely pretends to care about any limitation on his executive power, defending and executing laws based not on his responsibilities but on his whims. The Supreme Court continues to find emanations and penumbras floating from the nation’s founding document, upon which they pin the most tenuous tethers of the sexual revolution, giving them the effect of law. The only federal body that holds any representatives who share our values has slowly chosen irrelevance as its powers are taken over by an executive branch that is out of control and a Court that is allowed to create law out of whole cloth.
Yes, the nation is coming apart, and the middle ground is dropping away. The numbers of those who understand the signs of the times are few, but we still have options, and we still have each other. Most importantly, we still worship the God who made heaven and earth, who when He wills it will deliver us from the collapse we see around us. In the meantime, we fight with everything we have to protect our families and the most innocent and vulnerable.
You were born into this time, in this place. God knows well where you are, and is asking you today to use your gifts for His glory. Have courage and strength, my friends. Be awake, and don’t be afraid. God wins, and those who remain faithful, who love and support one another for love of Him, will as well. It is a great time to be a Christian!”
~ Fr. Shenan Boquet, President of Human Life International

September 18, 2016

Please take a moment to review the enclosed end-of-year income statement (the fiscal year ends at the end of June). You’ll notice that both the budgeted and the actual amounts – whether revenue or expense – for the past year are to be found on the far right of the page. This year’s income state- ment, then, is compared with that of the last two years. Spe- cial thanks are due Bill Sheridan and the finance council members for their help in preparing this statement.

July 31, 2016

In a recent interview Pope Francis expressed his agreement with a German bishop on the need of the Catholic Church to apologize to individuals who suffer from same-sex attraction for the way the Church has treated them. In the heat of the interview the pope may have spoken without having given the matter due reflection. If anything, those who suffer from this disorder should be thanking the Church for having spoken the truth to them in love. The truth is (as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity.” Those who engage in such acts risk the loss of their eternal souls. Even in this life they expose themselves to higher incidences of homicide, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and the acquiring of various sexually transmitted diseases – anything but a “gay” lifestyle. While condemning any mistreatment of those who suffer in this way, the Church encourages them to live a chaste lifestyle, and by so doing sanctify themselves, avoid much misery in this life, and some day enter into eternal life. It is those who encourage, or in any way support, the homosexual lifestyle who should be doing the apologizing.

July 24, 2016

Although it’s painful to admit this, much confusion has been sown in the minds of the faithful by various statements made by Pope Francis. Not all of the confusion can be blamed on media spin. For those of us who wish to be supportive of the pope this reality is most especially distressing. What can we do to help our Holy Father? We must pray and sacrifice for him, and encourage everyone else we possibly can to do the same. With this purpose in mind, we will now offer the Rosary we pray before the Blessed Sacrament every Friday after the 6:30 p.m. Mass for Pope Francis.

Pray, pray, pray for Pope Francis!

July 17, 2016

We would like to extend our sympathy to the family members and many friends of Fr. Peter Carota on his recent passing from this life. Fr. Carota, ordained for the Stockton diocese, was a friend and promoter of the Traditional Latin Mass. He touched the lives of many people with his kindness and concern for them. He was a staunch defender of the Catholic faith. Please remember him in your prayers. Requiescat in pace!

July 10, 2016

Beginning Sunday, August 7th, the Sunday schedule of Masses will be slightly different. Masses will be at 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. The main reason for this change is to allow a little more time for the parking lot to clear between Masses. Hopefully, this will alleviate, to some extent, our parking problem. Thank you for your patience if this change should cause you any inconvenience.

July 3, 2016

Tomorrow, July 4, is Independence Day. Unfortunately, our independence, not to mention our freedom of religion, is fading fast. This time, however, it’s not some foreign power that we have to contend with; rather, it’s our own state and federal governments. One of the leading candidates for president of the United States this year – in regard to the widest possible access to abortion – is quoted as saying, “. . . deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” We can believe that this candidate will do everything in her power to make that change a reality if she gets elected. And not only as regards abortion, but every other liberal issue as well, from same sex marriage to assisted suicide. The goal of liberals is the complete secularization of our society; the suppression of religious expression in the public forum – at least, the suppression of the expression of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs.

What can we do? Well, for starters, we can go to Mass tomorrow and pray for the conversion of our country. O Mary, Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States, pray for us!

May 15, 2016

I’m sometimes asked how one should vote if he/she doesn’t think any of the viable candidates are suitable to hold a particular office. In such a case, the voter has several options: he may legitimately choose the candidate he believes will do the least harm; he may choose a third party candidate or write in a name; or, he may simply skip that particular office.
Let us pray hard during this presidential election year for the conversion of our country – its people and its elected officials. Undeserving as we are, may God have mercy on us!
Month of May, Month of Mary Pray the Rosary!

May 8, 2016

A blessed Mothers’ Day to all of you who are mothers! Yours is a beautiful vocation. May the Good Lord reward you for your many sacrifices. You are all remembered in a special way in prayer today.
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Remember that this coming Saturday, May 14, is our annual Marian procession, May crowning, and Solemn High Mass at the Cathedral. We have this great opportunity to publicly proclaim our faith, and to show our love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother. We can be sure that many graces will be obtained because of it – for ourselves, our parish, our diocese, and the entire state of California. Invite as many people as you can to participate.
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MONTH OF MAY, MONTH OF MARY PRAY THE ROSARY!
May 1, 2016

Much interest was expressed in last week’s sermon on the “Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People.” The sermon itself was based on an article written by Fr. C. John McCloskey III. In case you’re having trouble remembering the seven daily habits you’ll find them listed below:

    1. The Morning Offering (and don’t forget the “heroic moment” that precedes it, i.e., getting up on time!)
    2. At least 15 minutes of silent prayer (speaking to the Lord from your heart)
    3. Fifteen minutes of spiritual reading
    4. Participating in Holy Mass and Holy Communion
    5. The Angelus (or, Regina Caeli during the Easter Season) at noon
    6. The Rosary
    7. Brief examination of conscience
April 3, 2016

Most of us have benefited, in one way or another, from the work of the late Mother Angelica (passed away on Easter). With no particular expertise in communications, and no money in her pocket, Mother Angelica succeeded in building the largest Christian communications network in the world. Truly, the finger of God can be seen at work here. Mother Angelica helped to preserve the true faith (and spread it!) at a time when the faith was being severely undermined. Mother was successful because she spoke to the hearts of the faithful – a very different message than was coming from the ecclesiastical elitists. If you would like to read more about the life of Mother Angelica, I would recommend her biography, Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles, by Raymond Arroyo. It’s a delightful book.
Requiescat in pace!

March 27, 2015

Next Sunday, Low Sunday, is also now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Lord has made a marvelous promise to all those who worthily receive Holy Communion on that day, go to Confession (the experts say that having gone anytime during Lent or Easter Week would suffice, since it’s impossible for everyone to go to confession on the same day), and habitually practice some form of mercy (any one of the spiritual or corporal works will do). The promise is that all temporal punishment due to the sins of those who fulfill these relatively easy requirements will be taken away. It they were to die in that state they would go straight to heaven. I look forward ever year to gaining the benefits of this promise.
This promise is not an indulgence granted by the Church. It is a promise by Our Lord, Himself. However, there is also an indulgence attached to this particular day. It is the following: “a plenary indulgence, [is] granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy, or who, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!”). A partial indulgence, [is] granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation.” Admittedly, if one gains a plenary indulgence all of the temporal punishment due to his sins will be taken away, as well. However, the requirement to be completely detached from even venial sin is very subjective. We can never be sure (barring Divine intervention) whether we have gained the indulgence or not. Our Lord’s promise is easier to obtain and doesn’t rely on the subjective condition of detachment from all sin.
Which should we try to obtain? Try to obtain both! The granting of the promise will relieve you of the temporal punishment due to your sins. The indulgence can be applied to a soul in Purgatory – one more merciful deed!

March 20, 2015

Liturgically, Holy Week is the holiest time of the year (which is why we call it “holy”). Hopefully, as many as possible will participate in the Easter Triduum which begins with Mass on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes with vespers on Easter Sunday. For those who are unable to come to church in order to participate on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, it is hoped that they will do so at home by spending some time prayerfully reflecting on Our Lord’s passion and death. Let us all try to live Holy Week in a more recollected manner, as much as possible avoiding the world’s many distractions. Have a holy, Holy Week!

March 13, 2015

Passion Tide focuses our attention more intensely on the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us try hard to live these next two weeks with a greater spirit of prayer and sacrifice. If at all possible come to daily Mass, pray the Rosary daily, make the Stations of the Cross, read books or listen to talks that will nourish your spiritual life, abstain from worldly amusements. Be resolved to abstain from committing the smallest, fully deliberate sin; go to confession. More than ever we need the twin remedies of prayer and sacrifice to preserve ourselves from being contaminated by the immorality of the society in which we live, and to obtain the graces necessary to restore society to a semblance of Christianity. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

February 28, 2016

Lent is passing by quickly! Next Sunday is already Laetare Sunday. This is a good time to renew our Lenten resolutions and strive to be faithful in keeping them. If we haven’t made any resolutions yet, it’s not too late to start. One good way to help us to live a better Lent is to participate in the Parish Mission that will take place this week here at St. Stephen’s. It begins tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 29, and will conclude on Thursday, March 3. There will be a different speaker each evening. Holy Mass will be celebrated each of those evenings at 6:30 p.m. Confessions will be heard before and during the Mass. A talk that will help us to better reflect on the purpose of our lives will then follow. Each evening will conclude with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Please invite family members and friends to participate, as well. Let us pray, that through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, this mission will produce much good fruit for our parish.
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Participation in a Parish Mission is a great way to help stimulate one’s faith, and to better sanctify this holy time of Lent. Please invite others to come with you. The speakers will be:
1. Monday, Feb. 29: Fr. John Lyons, FSSP
2. Tuesday, March 1: Fr. Joseph Illo
3. Wednesday, March 2: Fr. Blaise Berg
4. Thursday, March 3: Fr. Jeremy Leatherby

January 3, 2016

Fr. Perry, Fr. Akers, and I would like to thank the many people in the parish who gave us cards and gifts for Christmas, and offered prayers for us. We are very grateful. We wish to assure you that you are all remembered in our daily prayers, as well.

Speaking of prayer – hopefully, we’re all doing it on a regular basis. It does take time and effort to pray, and we often don’t see immediate results. However, we want to be convinced of the fact that our lives will be very different over time depending on whether or not we pray. And not just our lives here on earth will be different; our eternity will be different as well.

True Christians pray always, in good times and in bad. The more difficulties they encounter, the more they pray, and they always find help. Maybe not the help they’re asking for, but the help that they most need – which may be the grace of perseverance in difficulties; or, the grace to be able to accept some cross. And by means of these trials, the Lord will purify them, and make them saints.
“Pray always, and do not lose heart!” (Lk 18,1)

December 27, 2015
Prince of Peace

One of the titles that the prophet Isiah attributes to the Messiah is “Prince of Peace.” The peace that Our Lord wishes to bring to us, however (in His own words), is not the same as the peace that the world offers us. The world will grant us its peace if we accept its way of thinking; or, at least appear to accept its way of thinking – to not publicly express any contrary views. The peace Our Lord offers comes from knowing the Truth and living our lives accordingly. Not only does the Catholic Church possess the fullness of revealed truth, she also possesses living Truth – the Blessed Eucharist. Catholics, then, should experience the greatest peace of heart. If we do not now experience peace of heart, we would do well to ask ourselves how well we know our faith, how well we are living it, and what relationship we have with the living Truth – Our Eucharistic Lord.

December 20, 2015

Dear Parishioners,

On behalf of Fr. Perry and Fr. Akers, I would like to wish you all a holy and blessed Christmas and New Year!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who help out here – in one way or another – often with little or no recognition. We couldn’t do what we do without you. We are grateful for you, and ask that the Good Lord reward you.

As for ourselves, we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to serve at St. Stephen’s, and to get to know and work with so many wonderful people.

May we remain united in prayer.

Fr. Lyons

November 22, 2015

A priest friend of mine (we were ordained together) has been suffering from a very serious illness for the last few years. He is on a respirator and his condition continues to worsen. Despite this, he is always joyful. A mutual friend visited him recently and told him how much difficulty she was having with accepting the effects of a mild stroke. His advice to her was, “Thank God for your stroke.” Coming from a man who knew a thing or two about suffering, she knew she had to do what he said, as difficult as it was for her. Although she still struggles with acceptance at times, she is much more at peace now about her stroke than she was before.
At Thanksgiving, Christians are accustomed to give thanks to God for the many good things they have received from Him, and rightly so! We often fail, however, to recognize trials and tribulations as being good for us as well, and, therefore, something for which to give thanks. As long as we love God (and we show it by keeping His commandments) then, as Scripture tells us, everything will redound to our good.
How can we best show God our thanks? There’s no better way than by participating in the Eucharist (a word which means ‘thanksgiving’). Hopefully, all who can, will come to Mass this Thanksgiving Day.
Happy Thanksgiving!
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November 8, 2015

For those of you who are interested in learning more about the Confraternity of St. Peter, please read the following – taken from the Confraternity’s website. We would like to see many more from our parish join.

What is the Confraternity of Saint Peter?

It is a society which gathers those who feel close to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and who wish to support its charism through prayers and sacrifices. Thus the Confraternity contributes to the service of the Church, through supporting numerous vocations, the sanctification of priests and their pastoral endeavors.

What does a member of the Confraternity of Saint Peter do?

Every day members commit themselves to pray one decade of the Holy Rosary for the sanctification of our priests and for our priestly vocations, and recite the Prayer of the Confraternity. Once a year they have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for these intentions.

What spiritual benefit do members receive from the Confraternity?

Their commitments place the members among our most faithful benefactors, and as such, among the particular recipients of our priests’ and seminarians’ daily prayers. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered each month for the members of the Confraternity in each area. Recollections and instructions in the faith are also foreseen.

How does one become a member?

1. Request the enrollment form from the parish office or bookstore or go on line to www.fssp.com, fill it out and mail it in.
2. The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter will send to you in return the certificate of membership. The commitments take effect with the reception of the certificate.
3. Members must be at least 14 years old.
4. Membership is purely spiritual and does not confer any rights or duties other than the spiritual support in prayer and charity in accord with the commitments described above.
5. By themselves the commitments do not bind under penalty of sin.
6. Membership and the commitments which follow it are tacitly renewed each year on the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter (February 22), unless expressly determined otherwise.

How does one receive news about the Confraternity?

Our channels of information – bulletins and websites of the districts or of the houses – will provide news about the Confraternity.
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Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

On Monday, Oct. 5, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown signed a physician assisted suicide bill into law. Doctors in California may now prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to assist terminally ill patients in the taking of their own lives.

As Christians we are obliged to respond to the sick, suffering, and dying with compassion. We should do our best to alleviate their suffering. However, we cannot kill them, or help them to kill themselves, in order to achieve that goal. Human life belongs to God; it is ours to care for and protect. It is not ours to take in such cases.

“Assisted suicide” – which is actually a combination of murder and suicide – is forbidden by the fifth commandment: “Thou shall not kill.” This commandment not only prohibits the taking of all innocent human life, but it also requires that that same life be respected. A human being is worthy of respect simply because he is a human being. His dignity stems from the fact that he is made in the image and likeness of God. “Usefulness” to society doesn’t make one any more or less human. A child in the womb is no less human than a doctor; an elderly person suffering from Alzheimer’s is no less human than a college professor.

Although the Christian reverences life, he is aware that the obligation to preserve life has limits. He is bound to use ordinary means to preserve life, but he is not necessarily obliged to use extraordinary means. He is able to accept death when it finally comes, but he does not deliberately hasten it. Suffering and death are not the worst thing for the Christian, sin is. His hope is to die a holy death.

Let us entrust to Mary, the Mother of Life, our cause: the triumph of the culture of life in our state, in our country, and throughout the world!

Valuable Night Prayer

Recently, a couple of people (quite independently of each other) have told me how much they liked the following prayer. It’s a prayer I’ve included in my night prayers since I first came across it many years ago. According to the story that accompanied it at that time, a nun who had passed away appeared to a favored soul and revealed that by saying this prayer daily she had made up for all the temporal punishment due to her sins, and, therefore, had been able to go straight to heaven. For those who may be interested, here it is:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all of It’s love, sufferings, and merits.

First to expiate for all the sins I’ve committed this day and during all of my life. (A “Glory be” is then prayed)

Second, to purify the good I’ve done poorly this day and during all of my life. (Glory be)

Third, to supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and during all of my life. (Glory be)
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The Feast of the Holy Rosary (Wednesday, Oct. 7), as well as the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima (Oct. 13), remind us of the importance of praying the Rosary. It would be of the greatest benefit to our parish – individually, and as a whole – if every member, from First Communion age on up, would pray the Rosary every day. The praying of the Rosary has won great battles, secured peace, and obtained countless individual graces. The Church has repeatedly promoted the praying of the Rosary – the most popular of all Marian devotions. Heaven itself has asked us to pray it. When? Most recently at Fatima – every time Our Lady appeared. I cannot emphasize the importance of the praying of the Rosary enough. It’s hard to imagine that there is someone who is so busy that he doesn’t have time during the day to pray a Rosary (and if he really is that busy, all the more reason to take the time to pray so he can complete all of his work). What prevents us? Spiritual laziness. If you do not now pray the Rosary daily, make an extra effort to do so during this month of October. Ask Our Blessed Mother to grant you the grace to pray the Rosary daily. Join us in helping to save our families, our country, and our world by praying the Rosary every day!
PRAY THE ROSARY!
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Dressing Modestly I would like to take this opportunity to remind the women and girls of the parish to always dress modestly. Low necklines and high hemlines are not modest. What norms should be followed? Those issued by the Vatican in 1928. Those norms have never been changed, because there has been no reason to change them. They are quite sensible:
“We recall that a dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers’ breadth under the pit of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows (due to market conditions, quarter length sleeves were allowed), and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.”
I would add that tight clothing that emphasizes the shape of a woman’s body must also be considered immodest. We are our brother’s keeper. We have the duty to not lead him into sin. If we do, we, too, sin. Always dress in a way that would be pleasing to Our Blessed Mother, and a source of edification to our neighbor.

Categories Latest News | Tags: | Posted on September 24, 2017

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Mass Times & Directions

Weekend Masses

Saturday: 7:00 am, 9:00 am

Sunday High Mass: 10:30 am

Sunday Low Mass: 8:30 am, 1:00 pm

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Monday and Wednesday: 7:00 am, 12:15 pm

Tuesday and Thursday: 7:00 am, 6:30 pm

Friday: 7:00 am, 12:00 pm, 6:30 pm

Please check our bulletin for more information.

5461 44th Street
Sacramento, CA 95820
(916) 455-5114