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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