The Synod – a call to pray, listen, and participate.

01-23-2022From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last week I told you that I would use this week’s column to explain the Synod which has been convoked by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. A synod is not something new. There have been many synods throughout Church history, some diocesan or regional, others involving the universal Church. The earliest synods were gatherings of Bishops, priests, and lay people to prayerfully discuss how the Church might best live the Gospel at that place and time in history.

Our own Diocese of Metuchen held a synod back in 2008– 2009, just before I came to this parish. Parishes around the diocese were asked to schedule times for prayer. People were asked to attend Listening Sessions in parishes. The results of those listening sessions were forwarded first to deanery then diocesan level sessions where representatives of the priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and lay people of the diocese prayerfully discussed them.

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Pope Francis, the Synod, and the Dignity of Human Life

01-16-2022From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. 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 coming Sat, Jan 22, will be 49th 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 54 million abortions since that time. While the number of annual abortions has actually declined in recent years for a number of reasons, the lives of some three quarters of 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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The Baptism of the Lord

01-09-2022From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This weekend we bring the Christmas season to a close with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since just after 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.

That Jesus made Baptism one of the seven sacraments speaks to its importance. Indeed, the Church has always held that Baptism, received sacramentally, or by blood or desire, is necessary for salvation. As Jesus said: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

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Epiphany

01-02-2022From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last week I told you that Christmas is so important that we celebrate it not just for a day but for a whole season. This season is filled with feasts (holy days) that help us celebrate and understand the meaning of Christmas more completely. We have already celebrated Christ’s birth on Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family last Sunday, and the Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God on New Year’s Day.

Today we celebrate another great Feast of the Christmas Season, the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means to ‘reveal or make known something which was hidden.’ We call this feast Epiphany because the star revealed to the Magi, or Wise Men, that the baby lying in the manager was no ordinary baby. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World.

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Christmas is More Than a Day!

12-25-2021From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. 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 ofthe Lord’s Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 9). 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!

12-19-2021From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. 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. Thanks also to the Boy Scouts who helped us with carrying and moving the gifts. Like always, things work best when everybody works together, putting their faith into action!

It was great to see so many people at last Saturday’s special Mass for the protection of Human Life. After Mass we processed from the Church to the Life Choices Medical Clinic beyond the black bridge on South Main Street. Deacon Enock led us in the Rosary as we walked, while I carried the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance. Fr. Gilbert guided the altar server leading the procession, and it all went very well.

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Gaudete Sunday

12-12-2021From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

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

On a deeper level, we are rejoicing because Jesus, Who came as our Savior long ago, is coming again to bring us to the fullness of His Kingdom. In spite of all the troubles in our world, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom of Peace and Justice.

The brightly colored rose candle we light today, like the rose-colored vestments the priest wears today, are a reflection of this joy. They are also a reminder that, as we wait for Christ and the joy of His Kingdom, we should bring joy to others by our works of charity and compassion. I want to thank all who did so by bringing gifts for the Giving Tree!

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A Busy Advent

12-05-2021From Fr. John's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine! After watching the P’burg – Easton football game on TV, I headed over to my sister Natalie’s home in Hillsborough. My mother was there, along with some relatives we don’t see too often, my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Jack, and some cousins from my father’s side of my family. After dinner, my cousin Catherine came over for dessert with some of her family. It was great to spend the day with them.

Next Sunday we will have special devotions to our Blessed Mother, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the 11:00am and 1:00pm Masses. Everyone is invited to bring a rose (or other flower) for our Blessed Mother. These will be presented during Mass, after which we will pray the Litany of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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