Feast of the Holy Family

12-30-2018From Fr. Antony'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 of the Lord's Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 13). While the rest of the world – especially department stores – start taking 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.

The Christmas Season is filled with holy days that celebrate the various events and people of the Christmas story. Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. It is a day to remember that Jesus chose to enter this world by being born into a human family. In so doing, our Savior showed just how much He thinks of family life. Jesus thinks so highly of families, that He chose to be part of one.

Today is also a day to think about our own family. It's a day to thank God for the people we love, and to think about how we might strengthen our own family life. For some, that might mean spending more time with children. Others might ask how they might be more considerate of their wives or husbands. Still others might think about how they can show appreciation for their parents or grandparents – or how they might assist them in their old age. As part of our celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family, we will have a special blessing for all those babies who were Baptized in our Church this past year. It will be imparted at the 11 AM Mass today (Sunday). Our parish is truly blest to have so many wonderful young families among her members. They bring a lot of joy and vibrancy to our parish life, and we are grateful to God for them.

The Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, is celebrated on New Year's Day. It is a special time to honor Mary, the great woman of the Christmas story. It is also a holy day of obligation, meaning that all Catholics who can have a serious duty to attend Holy Mass that day. Indeed, what better way to start the New Year than by spending time with Jesus and His Holy Mother at Mass? Mass will be offered at 4:30 PM on New Year's Eve and at 7, 9, and 11 AM and at 1 PM (the 1PM will be in Spanish, as it is on Sundays) on New Year's Day. Let's all be sure to start the New Year right with God!

For those who wish, Deacon Enock will lead a Holy Hour on New Year's Eve at 11 PM. It will be a time of prayer and reflection, and Confession will be available for those who wish to receive that healing Sacrament in anticipation of the New Year. Participating in this vigil would likewise be a great way to welcome the New Year and thank God for it. As the New Year begins, let's renew our prayers for each other. I appreciate that so many of you not only say a daily Hail Mary for me, but also pray for our parish, for the sick and poor, for the service men and women of our parish, and for peace.

Happy New Year!
Fr. John

P.S. Next week I'll speak about the next great Feast of the Christmas Season, Epiphany.