Blessing of Animals

09-30-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This Tuesday morning, October 2, I will head to the seminary for my annual reunion. In addition to reconnecting with many brother priests with whom I studied years ago, I will also concelebrate a number of Holy Masses. I will keep all of you in prayer during each of them.

I will also visit the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is buried in Emmitsburg, MD – the same town in which my seminary is located. As usual, I will be happy to pray for your intentions while there. If you wish, you can write down your intentions on a piece of paper and give it to me by Monday afternoon or first thing Tuesday morning. I always bring these papers to Mother Seton's tomb and mention each one of them in my prayers there.

In the past I have told you that Mother Seton is very dear to me. She was a constant source of inspiration while I was in the seminary, and my family has received many favors in answer to her prayers. Chief among these was the healing of one of my cousins who, as a young girl, had a life-threatening illness. My aunt made a pilgrimage to Mother Seton's Shrine to pray, and my cousin recovered beyond all expectations. Being only about 11 or 12 at the time, I had never even heard of Mother Seton – nor did I have any idea that I would one day study in the same town where she lived and did so much good work! Indeed, it was all part of God's plan – and I am truly thankful for that.

October 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. As usual, we will have the traditional blessing of animals in his honor next Sunday, October 7. It will be held in the parking lot adjacent to Mercy Hall at 12:15 PM. The blessing does not last very long – maybe 10 or 15 minutes at most. It consists of prayers, a brief reading from Scripture, and the blessing itself and is a way of thanking God for the gift of animals (pets and otherwise) and asking His blessing upon them. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets to this ceremony.

October 7 is also Respect Life Sunday. As usual, there will be Life Chain along South Main Street that afternoon at 2 PM. I usually pray my Rosary quietly during this event, and invite you to join me. Above all else, take time to consider God's gift of human life that day, and think of those whose lives are so vulnerable and in need of protection. Unborn children, the terminally ill, those confined to their homes by illness or disability, the poor, and those elderly who live alone with limited income or mobility can easily "fly under the radar" and go unnoticed. It's up to us to be aware of their needs and do what we can to serve them. Let's make every effort to be there.

Please pray a Hail Mary for me today and every day! Our prayers are a great gift to each other, and a powerful witness to our Faith in Jesus Christ.

Have a great week!
Fr. John