Independence Day

06-28-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

As most of you know, I made my spiritual retreat a week ago. While it was very different than usual – since we listened to the retreat talks via a zoom meeting – it was better than I expected. If nothing else, I have a better idea of what it’s like for you to watch Mass online!

The speaker, Fr, Charles Connor, was excellent. Many of you may know him from presentations on EWTN and things like that. His words gave me a lot of spiritual ‘food for thought’ and inspired me to increase my time in prayer and spiritual reading!

This is our third week back to public Mass in our Church. So far, it seems to be going well. Please remember to call the parish office to reserve a space–so we can maintain proper distancing. Remember also that our Bishop continues to dispense everyone from the obligation to attend Mass at this time–especially those whose health places them at a higher level of risk. As I’ve said throughout this ordeal, the Spirit’s gift of counsel, which helps us make prudent decisions, is a big help right now.

Even though we’re in the midst of summer, please be thinking ahead to next school year. This is the time to make sure your children (or grandchildren) are registered for CCD (Religious Education) in the fall. Last year’s program ended rather abruptly due to the pandemic–and next years will have some new options.

For the first time, we will offer a completely online at home option for religious education in our parish. This will replace, at least for this year, the Monthly Family CCD Program. We will also have the Traditional Tuesday CCD program as in year’s past–beginning late September (or whenever our parish school returns to normal classes). You can find more information on the parish website (spsj.org) or by calling the Parish Office (908–454-0112).

Confirmation preparation for public school students who will be in 8th grade this September will also have some options. Such students can either attend class during the Traditional Tuesday CCD Program (I am planning to teach this class) or on a series of Sunday mornings. I am also planning to tape a series of Confirmation classes and post them on the parish website as a means of make-up classes for students who need that option. This part is just coming together–but we’ll make it work. For now, just please make sure your kids are registered!

This week we will celebrate Independence Day–better known as the Fourth of July. This is one of my favorite national holidays–and I like to spend it reading books or watching documentaries about the founding of our nation! It is also my niece Catherine’s birthday–so I often see family that day, too.

I have always believed that the Fourth of July is a good day to take stock of our nation. We have so much for which to thank God, even in the midst of this pandemic. As people of faith, we are especially grateful for the freedom of religion–which we enjoy to a degree unheard of in too much of today’s world.

Perhaps these words from the Declaration of Independence could serve as a little Fourth of July meditation for us. “All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights… to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

We are well aware that the men who wrote those words were not perfect. Some of them were slaveholders, which is abhorrent to us today. But the thought behind those words set in motion a process that led to the abolition of slavery, an expanded view of what freedom really means, and the indignation we rightly feel when anyone is unjustly denied it.

We also know that those freedoms have come more slowly to some than others–as the current unrest in our land attests. I pray–and ask you to pray–that people will use peaceful and constructive ways to advance the great ideals on which our nation was first built.

That said, I would suggest that each of us think prayerfully about what those words mean to us, and how we can do our part to make them a reality for everyone – from unborn babies in their mother’s womb, to families struggling to get by, to those suffering from illness or infirmity, to people of every race and color.

As Catholics, our belief in the God given dignity of every human person is a great gift. With that we could convince everyone not only to believe this–but to put that belief into practice by the way they treat all people each day.

Happy Independence Day!

Fr. John

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