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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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!

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

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.

READ MORE

Give People a Chance

09-27-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I write these words on September 21st, the Feast of Saint Matthew. We all know that St. Matthew was a tax collector when Jesus called him to be an Apostle. But it’s hard for us to understand just how hated Matthew was because of his profession.

People in Jesus’ time didn’t despise tax collectors simply because they collected taxes. They knew back then as we do today, that taxes are part of life.

Reasonable people, then as now, tolerated reasonable taxation to pay for things like roads and government.

What made Matthew and the other tax collectors in Israel so hated was that the government for which they collected taxes was a foreign one. The Roman Empire had occupied and oppressed Israel for many years. Thus the money Matthew collected from his own people paid foreign soldiers who kept them in line.

READ MORE

Back up and running!

09-20-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

It’s good to see that some things are getting back up and running in our parish. I have taught a few classes at school, and it’s really great to see the students, both in class and online. Of course, just like at Church, all kinds of precautions are taken for safety, which is simply what has to be done at this time!

By this point, public school children in our parish should be registered for CCD. As you have read here, we are offering a completely online at home option for CCD this year. The other option is to pick up your child’s CCD books to work on at home. Mrs. Scott, our faithful Director of Religious Education, will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have. You can reach her through the Parish Office at 908-454-0112.

READ MORE

St. Peter Claver

09-13-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by congratulating all the children who will be receiving their First Holy Communion in our Church over the next couple of weeks. Some of them received this past Saturday and some will receive on an upcoming Saturday morning. Still others will receive at one of the regular Sunday Masses this or next weekend.

They are all part of ‘last years’ First Communion class. Like so much else, their preparation for this Most Blessed Sacrament was interrupted by the virus. I am so happy that most of them will finally have the joy of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time.

I am also happy to announce that Deacon Enock will be restarting the Prayer Group meetings on Wednesday evenings at 7 PM. They will meet in the Church for prayer and praise – being sure to observe all the necessary protocols (masks, distancing, etc.). Deacon Enock will preach a reflection each week on the readings for the upcoming Sunday – to help people prepare prayerfully for next Sunday’s Mass.

READ MORE

Working for the Lord

09-06-2020From Fr. John's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to start by wishing a Happy Labor Day to all the working people of our parish. Much more than just a holiday marking the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is a time for all of us to reflect on the meaning of human labor. While we often think of work in negative terms-as something we have to do to make a living, the truth is that there is more than that to work.

As Catholics we believe that human work is a way in which God allows us to participate in His work of creation. This is especially apparent in the case of those whose work produces useful things, such as farmers who grow food and those who provide us with clean water-to name just a few. But it is no less true for those whose work helps other people in less obvious ways.

READ MORE