Blessed Christmas!

12-20-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to thank everyone who sent in donations for this year’s Giving Tree. Like everything else this year, the Giving Tree was done quite differently than usual. I mean, how different can you get than having a Giving Tree without an actual tree?

But, as usual, the generosity of the people of this parish was clear by the many checks and cash gifts that came in. These were used to purchase gift cards for the children and families whose information is usually found on the tags of the tree!

Such generosity is always a wonderful testimony to our faith in Jesus Christ. It is even a reflection of the generosity God showed in giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, on that very first Christmas. Jesus is clearly the best Christmas present any of us ever received, or ever will receive. Our gifts to each other, and to the poor, are a reflection of God’s generosity to us.

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Gaudete Sunday

12-13-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend the Church honors our Blessed Mother by celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You may recall that, on this day last year, our Bishop re-consecrated our diocese to the Lord thru our Blessed Mother, Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This weekend, we will join Bishop Checchio in renewing that consecration by saying a special prayer at all our Masses.

It is important that each of us remember that we are indeed 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.

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John the Baptist, Confession, and Perfect Contrition

12-06-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine. Mine was a bit quieter than normal, since we had far fewer people than usual. But it was still a wonderful day. We enjoyed a great meal with some close family.

Having fewer people meant that I actually had more time than usual to talk with those who were there, including my mother. Sometimes, at big family gatherings, there are so many people and conversations going on that it’s hard to really talk with one or two people. The small crowd made it easier to spend some time with the few people who were there, and that was good.

Ever since I was a boy, I have been captivated by John the Baptist. After Jesus, he is my favorite Biblical character. I was probably about six years old when I first learned his story, and I took a liking to him right away. His odd clothes and unusual food, as well as the fact the he was Jesus’ cousin, all made me take a liking to him right away.

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Advent

11-29-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! As often happens this time of year, 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, even though it will be a smaller gathering than usual this year.

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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The King of Charity

11-22-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this Thursday? Time really does fly these days.

Thanksgiving is a good time for us to take stock of the blessings God has given us, and be sure to thank Him. This, of course, is something we should do in our prayers each and every day. We should also remember that we thank God by remembering those who may not enjoy all the blessings that we do, and practicing Christian Charity towards them.

Today (Sunday) is the Solemn Feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! It is a day to remember that–in addition to everything else He is for us–Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16). Christ the King Sunday is also a good time to remember that Jesus in very different from the Kings of this world.

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Doing Good Differently.

11-15-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of joining some of my family to celebrate my mother’s birthday. As you might imagine, it was not nearly as big a gathering as it would usually be. But both of my sisters and brothers in law were there, with three of my nieces and a few other family members. We were at the home of my sister Christine, who has lots of room and a spacious yard and patio. God blessed us with a beautiful day, and lots of time was spent outdoors. Like so many things these days, it was good but different.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I’d like to talk about a few good things we will do a bit differently this year. The first is the annual Thanksgiving Food for the Needy Food Drive. While social distancing makes it impossible for us to collect and sort all the food we usually do in Mercy Hall, we can still do some good things for those in need. Donations of food, cash, or grocery gift cards can be dropped off directly at Catholic Charities located at 387 South Main Street. TURKEYS are always a big need, and this year is no different. Please drop them off at Catholic Charities back door (on Sitgreaves Street – marked 387). It will be a big help!

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A Veteran of Two Armies

11-08-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John 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.

It always strikes me as appropriate that November 11, Veteran’s Day, is also the Feast of St. Martin of Tours (d. 379 AD). One of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages, St. Martin could well be called a veteran of two armies. He was a Roman Soldier who converted to Christianity as a young man.

There is a wonderful story from his days as a catechumen, someone studying the faith and preparing for Baptism. A beggar in very shabby clothing approached him for help. Moved by compassion, Martin cut his long red military cloak in two and gave half to the beggar as a blanket. That night, the future saint had a dream in which he saw a man using the makeshift blanket he’d given him, and realized the man had the face of Jesus.

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Imitation is the highest form of flattery!

11-01-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

It’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. That old saying, which many of us have heard over the years, makes a lot of sense. If we really think highly of someone, we tend to want to follow their example. While we know we have to live our own life–we are well aware that we can learn a lot from many good people.

The saints are just such people. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a holy monk who was one of the best preachers of the 12th century, said that ‘the honor we show the saints does nothing for them, but inspires us to follow their good example.’ On All Saints Day, let’s remember that the best way to honor the saints is to do what they did.

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All Hallows Eve

10-25-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

As I drive around town these days, I can’t help noticing all the decorations for Halloween. Some of them are quite elaborate, much like we usually see at Christmas time. Seeing all this made me think about just how much Halloween has changed over the years.

As Catholics we should remember that Halloween has its roots in Christian history. As you know, All Saints Day is November 1st. 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.

I know this is probably asking a lot – but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could reclaim the Christian nature of Halloween? Over the years I’ve known families whose children do indeed dress like saints for this holiday. It shouldn’t be that hard to do. If it’s too late for this year, start thinking ahead to next.

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World Mission Sunday

10-18-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we observe World Mission Sunday. It is a day to pray and support the work of missionaries around the world. Since our Lord first commanded His disciples to ‘teach all nations’, the Church has endeavored to do just that.

Among other things, there is a special collection on World Mission Sunday. Unlike the Mission Co-op Appeal which was held a few months ago to help support a specific mission, the collection on World Mission Sunday is used to support the missionary work of the universal Church. Many of you have no doubt already submitted the Mission Sunday envelope in your packet. If not, you may send it this week and we will add it to the overall offering. It is a wonderful way to support the priests and deacons, religious sisters and brothers, and dedicated lay persons working to spread the Gospel around the world.

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The Rosary and Public Prayer

10-11-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Last Sunday was a busy one in our parish. The Blessing of Animals at 12:30 was one of the best attended I’ve ever seen. Fr. Pat prepared 48 programs–and used them all! Of course it was nice that it was outside, in good weather, both of which were helpful in our current circumstances.

Later that afternoon a smaller group of about 25 people gathered along the sidewalk in front of our Church for the Life Chain. While not a chain per se, it is a line of people, most of whom hold signs about the dignity of human life as they quietly pray the Rosary. Again, being outside in good weather was a big help.

These events got me thinking about public prayer. While we are accustomed to praying in Church, both the Blessing of Animals and the Life Chain were opportunities for us to pray in public. It was interesting, especially during the Blessing of Animals, to note the curiosity of passersby. I hope they were inspired by our faith.

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St. Francis, Human Life, and Conscience Formation

10-04-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today (Sunday) is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Accordingly, Fr. Pat Boyle, OFM, will lead The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis today (Sunday) at 12:30 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.

The love that St. Francis of Assisi had for animals grew out of his love and respect for all of God’s creation and creatures. St. Francis showed that love most especially by the way he treated all the people he met. He freely associated with the poor, and did what he could to alleviate their sufferings. He bathed, fed, and nursed lepers. St. Francis believed that each human person was a child of God who deserved the respect, love, and protection of every other person.

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