A Different Kind of King

11-25-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Bulletin deadlines caused me to have to write these words before Thanksgiving – so I cannot yet tell you about mine. I certainly hope that your own was great! I do want to say a special thank you to all those who supported the Thanksgiving Food for the Needy Drive that provided hundreds of dinners for poor families. Whether you donated food, wrote a check, spent time packing, or helped out in some other way – thanks for celebrating this Thanksgiving with a spirit of charity and compassion!

Today, Catholics around the world are celebrating the Solemn Feast of Jesus Christ, the King. It is a day to consider the place that Jesus has in our lives. While we often think of Jesus as our Savior and Lord, today's feast reminds us that He is also our King. The Bible calls Jesus the "King of Kings". This means that everyone, including the "kings" of this world, are ultimately accountable to Him. As we say in the Creed – Sunday after Sunday – "His Kingdom will have no end."



11-18-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last week the Church observed the Feast of St. Leo the Great – who was pope between 440 and 461 AD. While he lived a long time ago, his influence on the Church continues right down to our own day. Indeed, he was called "the Great" because of the influence of his homilies and writings, especially about the true nature of Christ.

The Mass is one area where Pope St. Leo's influence touches us quite regularly. He did a number of things to promote the use of good music at Mass, and decreed the singing of the Gloria – which until then was only used at Christmas – at all Sunday Masses except during Advent and Lent. Pope St. Leo did these things to ensure a degree of solemnity at Mass.


Happy Veteran's Day

11-11-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I'd like to start my words today by wishing a very Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans of our parish. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciate the sacrifices you made for our nation. I assure you of my prayers today and each and every day. In our troubled world, I find that I appreciate our veterans more and more. Perhaps you do, too. My experience with veterans over the years is that they tend to be level-headed and ready to help at a moment's notice. I see this in many of the veterans I know in our own parish. For this also I want to thank these fine men and women.


"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

11-04-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). Whenever I hear those words, it takes me back to the days when I realized God was calling me to the priesthood. I was only a boy – maybe 8 years old – the first time the idea came to me. When I told other people – I think they mostly thought it was a cute idea that would fade over time. To be honest, as time went on, other ideas came to my head. But the priesthood was the only one that kept coming back. By age 14, I was convinced that was what God wanted me to do. Looking back, I can say that God was very persistent.

This week is National Vocation Awareness Week. It's a time to make a special effort to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It's also a time to think about what we can do to encourage young people to think about whether God might be calling them – and to say yes if He is!


The Christian Roots of Halloween

10-28-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I read a few years ago that – much to my surprise – Halloween has become the second largest commercial holiday in our society. In other words, people spend more on Halloween than they do on any day other than Christmas! Driving around town and seeing all the ghosts and other decorations, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Halloween today is a far cry from the days when kids of my generation dressed up like baseball players and clowns!

What many people do not know is that Halloween has its roots in our Christian history. As you know, All Saints Day is November 1. At certain times in history, it was customary for Christians to "dress up" as their patron or favorite saints on the eve of All Saints Day – called All Hallows (saints) Eve. From this came the custom of dressing up for Halloween.


It is a Good and Holy Thing to Pray for the Dead

10-21-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a nice time at last Sunday's Roast Beef Dinner at our parish school. The Knights, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be commended for a job well done. I had both lunch and dinner there – and enjoyed both meals! Even better was the time spent with so many good people that day.

As I was looking ahead in my envelope packet, I noticed that it's time to complete our All Souls Envelopes. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time explaining why we do that.

St. Monica was a woman of great faith who lived in the 300's. During her final illness, her sons asked if she wanted them to send her body back to her native land for burial. Her answer to them was classic: "Bury this old body anywhere. Don't trouble yourself over it. I simply ask you to remember me at the Lord's Altar wherever you are."


Matrimony: A Sign of God's Love

10-14-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a great time at my seminary reunion a couple of weeks ago. Not only was it nice to see old friends, it was even nicer to be at the place where my priestly vocation matured in so many ways. I made a point of praying for all of you both at the Tomb of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the National Grotto of Lourdes (a beautiful place of prayer on the mountain behind the seminary). To those of you who gave me special intentions – please know that I made a point of reading each one and mentioning it in my prayers.


St. Francis and Respect for Every Human Person

10-07-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi will take place today (Sunday) at 12:15 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God's blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.


Blessing of Animals

09-30-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This Tuesday morning, October 2, I will head to the seminary for my annual reunion. In addition to reconnecting with many brother priests with whom I studied years ago, I will also concelebrate a number of Holy Masses. I will keep all of you in prayer during each of them.

I will also visit the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is buried in Emmitsburg, MD – the same town in which my seminary is located. As usual, I will be happy to pray for your intentions while there. If you wish, you can write down your intentions on a piece of paper and give it to me by Monday afternoon or first thing Tuesday morning. I always bring these papers to Mother Seton's tomb and mention each one of them in my prayers there.


The Campaign Continues!

09-23-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I want to begin by thanking all the 8th graders (and their parents) who attended one of the Confirmation meetings last week. It looks like we will have a wonderful group of young men and women preparing to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in that sacrament this year. Please keep them in your daily prayers!

If you are an 8th grader (Public or Catholic School or Home School) and did not attend one of the meetings, please call me or Mrs. DePillo (our Confirmation Coordinator) as soon as possible so we can help you get started! High school students who – for whatever reason – have not yet been Confirmed should also call. We will be happy to help you take this important step in your relationship with Jesus!


Our Personal Pentecost

09-16-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It was nice to see so many people at the Communion Breakfast last Sunday morning. While the weather was lousy, a good number of people showed up for breakfast and fellowship. The Knights of Columbus – who did most of the cooking and donated the food – the Columbiettes, and the Legion of Mary all deserve thanks for their efforts.

Although I've been here for almost 10 years, I still meet new families at events like the Communion Breakfast. Sometimes they are new to our parish. Sometimes they are familiar faces that I see all the time, but never had a chance to speak with personally. Getting better acquainted with more and more of the wonderful people in our parish is one of my favorite parts of such events.


A Busy Time of Year

09-09-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend and is ready to get back into the swing of things! Our parish – which is always busy in some way or another – really seems to get busy this time of year. The beginning of school and CCD is a big reason for this, but there is much more happening.

This Sunday morning is our annual Parish Communion Breakfast, following the 9 AM Mass. If you are reading this before then and would like to attend, you are most welcome to do so. The Knights of Columbus always have enough food to go around – and then some! More than that, it will be good to see you there.


Do You Also Want to Leave?

09-02-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

It's nice to be back from my vacation, on which I had a very nice time. As you can imagine, I watched a lot of trains, took some great pictures, and listened to some good books in the car. One, called The Yanks Are Coming, was about American involvement in World War I. The other was about Attila the Hun. (What can I tell you – I like history!)

I also had the pleasure of attending three Appalachian League baseball games. Being a Rookie League, the teams in the Appalachian League are populated by very young ball players. Indeed, there were several players as young as 17 on the field – and the oldest player I saw was 21. They had an energy and enthusiasm that was truly tangible.