Here Comes Lent!

02-23-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent. Masses will be offered in our Church that day at 6:45, 8:00am and at 12:10, 5:00 and 7:00pm. Ashes will be blessed and distributed at all those Masses.

There are several ways of looking at Lent. Some people see it simply as a time of penance. We give up treats we like to show that we are sorry for our sins and want to do better in the future. This is a good way of looking at Lent.

Other people look at Lent as a time to do something extra for God. They go to Daily Mass, or practice extra charity as a way of going the extra mile for God during this holy season. This is also a good way of looking at Lent.

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Fr. John's Column

02-16-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of spending some time with the RELIT group’s movie presentation in Mercy Hall. They, and some other parishioner’s, watched a movie about our Blessed Mother, Mary. For those who may not know, RELIT is a group of parishioner’s dedicated to growing their own faith, and helping others do the same. I appreciate their effort, and encourage everyone to join in some of their events.

Speaking of helping people grow their faith, our parish is blessed by the presence of some very special women who have truly dedicated their lives to this. They are the religious sisters who minister in our community: Sr. Clare, SJH, Sr. Ellen, SJH, and Sr. Michaelita, RSM.

Sr. Ellen and Sr. Clare are members of the Sisters of Jesus, Our Hope. They teach in our parish school and are a great witness to the students and faculty. Their community also hosts our faculty for annual Days of Recollection-which helps all our teachers to deepen and enrich their faith.

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Let your light shine in the darkness!

02-02-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today (Sunday) is one of those special times when an important Feast of the Church falls on a Sunday. The Feast of the Presentation, which we celebrate on February 2nd, marks the 40th day since Christmas. This feast recalls how Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord. While they were there, a holy man named Simeon-who had been promised by God that he would not die until he saw the Savior-and a holy woman named Anna both rejoiced and told all those present the Good News about Jesus.

We celebrate the Feast of the Presentation by blessing candles-and carrying them in procession at the major Masses that day. The candles remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World. We are also reminded that when we live by His teaching, we let His Light shine through us in this world. Our charity towards the poor, forgiveness of enemies, honesty and integrity should all shine against the darkness of sin.

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Treasuring and teaching the Word of God

01-26-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God for the first time. Pope Francis established this new feast day, which will henceforth be observed on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time each year, to remind us of the importance that God’s Word should have in our lives. Family and personal Bibles will be blessed at all the Masses this weekend, to remind us to make good use of them!

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “People whose Bibles are tattered usually have lives that aren’t!” The point is that people who read their Bibles often, and allow the Word they read to guide them, usually have lives that are well directed. Even when such people encounter the troubles and trials that are part of every human life, they find comfort and strength in reading the Word of God.

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The Dignity of Life

01-19-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

“No human being can ever be incompatible with life, not for his age, nor for his health conditions, nor for the quality of his existence.”

Pope Francis spoke those words not long ago. He was speaking of something that we, as Catholics, believe quite deeply – that every human being is sacred, created in the image and likeness of God, and has a God given right to life.

This Wednesday will be the 47th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which effectively legalized abortion on demand in our country. The statistics since then are staggering with well over 53 million abortions since that time. While the number of annual abortions has actually declined in recent years for a number of reason, the lives of nearly a million unborn babies are ended this way in our country each year. Add to that the fact that so many other lives are shattered by violence, hunger, and neglect and it is clear that we have much work to do.

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Baptism of the Lord

01-12-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we finally bring the Christmas Season to a close as we remember the Baptism of Jesus. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since Vatican II – has extended her celebration of Christmas to today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus, who was born as a Child in the manger, chose to be baptized and to make baptism one of His holy sacraments.

Last Saturday evening, many members of my family came to the 4:30 Mass at our Church. Afterward, they visited with me in the rectory. I’ve told you before that my family enjoys coming to Mass at our Church – and I thank each of you for making them feel welcome. Gathering with my family made me think of how, at our own Baptism, we became part of Christ’s family – the Church. This is yet another aspect of today’s Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.

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Epiphany

01-05-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope everyone’s Christmas was as nice as mine! It was wonderful to see so many people at Mass – especially on Christmas Eve. Celebrating the Solemn Mass at Midnight was the highlight of my Christmas – and I want to thank all those who filled the Church for it! I particularly want to thank the choir for lending a great deal of solemnity to that Mass. It was a fitting celebration of our Savior’s birth.

I also want to make a special mention of the Children’s Nativity Pageant that preceded the packed Mass at 4PM on Christmas Eve. They did a great job telling and acting out the story of Jesus’ birth! Thanks also to all those grown-ups who worked behind the scenes to make the pageant so nice!

After Mass on Christmas I went to my sister Christine’s home for dinner. My mother was there – as were some of my nieces and my nephew. We were joined by some of my sisters in - laws and family friends – all of which made for a great time. I hope you had fun with those close to you this Christmas!

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Christmas is more than a day!

12-29-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I had to write this about a week before Christmas, so I can’t tell you how mine went! Instead, I’ll tell you a little bit about the Christmas Season.

As Catholics we believe that some things are so wonderful that it takes a lot more than a day to celebrate them. Christmas is certainly one of those things! That’s why, as Catholics, we celebrate Christmas for a season which began at Mass on Christmas Eve and will continue through the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 12). While the rest of the world often takes down decorations the day after Christmas, we continue celebrating the birth of our Lord for nearly three weeks! Keeping your trees up and homes decorated is one way to celebrate this season of joy.

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Merry Christmas!

12-22-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by thanking all those who took tags and brought gifts for the Giving Tree. Your generosity provided gifts for many children and elderly parishioners and members of our local community. It is a testimony to your charity and faith!

It was great to see our Year of Spiritual Renewal finally culminate in our Consecration to Jesus thru Our Lady of Guadalupe last week. The Mass at the Cathedral, which I had the blessed pleasure to attend, was prayerful and inspiring. As was reciting the Prayer of Consecration with all of you at Holy Mass last weekend.

My prayer is that this consecration will move each one of us to think about how we might truly dedicate ourselves more completely to Jesus and His Blessed Mother. Adoring Him in the Holy Eucharist and serving Him in our poor and suffering neighbors are some ways we can do this for Jesus. Praying the Rosary each day, or perhaps attending and praying the Miraculous Medal Novena on Monday evenings in the chapel, are some ways we can be more dedicated to Our Blessed Mother – and thru her, to Jesus.

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Gaudete Sunday

12-15-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This past Thursday, our Bishop consecrated our diocese to the Lord thru our Blessed Mother, Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This weekend, we will join ourselves to that consecration by saying a special prayer at all our Masses. The prayer is a special consecration to Our Lady.

It is important that, as we move forward, we remember that we are consecrated to our Lord and His holy Mother. To be consecrated means that we belong to Jesus and Mary in a very special – indeed in a sacred – way. We should do our best to live our lives according to Jesus’ teachings and Mary’s example – and help others do the same.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. In the ‘old’ days, this Sunday was called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete basically means ‘be happy’ or ‘rejoice’. On the surface, we are rejoicing because Christmas is almost here.

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Consecration and Confession

12-08-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine! Fr. Wojciech and I watched most of the P’burg – Easton football game on TV together that morning. Then I headed over to my sister Natalie’s home in Hillsborough. Some relatives we don’t see too often, my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Jack, were there along with some cousins from my father’s side of my family. It was great to spend the day with them. My mother was there – of course- and we ate a lot more then we should have!

Next weekend we will consecrate ourselves to our Lord through His Blessed Mother, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We have been preparing for this all year – and I am excited that it is finally here. Our Bishop will consecrate the whole diocese the evening of December 12th, the actual Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He has asked all our parishes to do the same at all our Masses next weekend, which I am happy to do.

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Advent

12-01-2019From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Bulletin deadlines required me to write this column before Thanksgiving, so I can’t tell you how mine went. I can tell you that I was looking forward to it as I wrote these words!

Today we begin the holy season of Advent. While it’s easy to think of Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas, it’s really much more than that. The word Advent means ‘coming’ – and Advent is indeed a time to get ready for the coming of Christ.

As Catholics, Advent makes us think about not just one – but two – of Christ’s comings. While we are certainly getting ready to celebrate His First Coming at Christmas, Advent also reminds us to get ready for His Second Coming on Judgement Day. Indeed, it is that Second Coming that is the main focus of today’s readings. In the Gospel Jesus tells us to be ready for His Second Coming. He reminds us that we don’t know when it will be – so we should be ready for it all the time.

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