A Veteran of Two Armies

11-08-2020From Fr. Antony'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.

After being Baptized and getting permission to be discharged from the Roman army, Martin became first a monk and eventually the Bishop of Tours, which is in modern day France. His reputation for holiness drew many young men to the priesthood and religious life, and was an inspiration to his people. That he saw himself as a veteran of two armies is attested by the fact that he often remarked that he had been a soldier of the Emperor, and was now in the army of the King of Kings!

Our parish has many such veterans. People who served our nation honorably, and now serve the King of Kings by living their Catholic Faith each day. Indeed, I’m sure that many of them served in two armies at the same time.

In our troubled world, I find that I appreciate our veterans more and more. Perhaps you do, too. My experience with veterans over the years is that they tend to be level headed and ready to help at a moments notice. I see this in many of the veterans I know in our own parish. For this also I want to thank these fine men and women.

Every November, the diocese asks us to do a ‘Mass count.’ For this reason, you may notice the ushers counting people during Mass. We will also use the information from the Mass sign ups to make sure we have an accurate number. Our diocese uses this information for a number of reasons, such as deciding how many priests a parish needs. It is also a measure of a parish’s vitality.

Thanks to everyone who came to pray for the holy souls on All Souls Day. Please know that we will be remembering the Holy Souls in Purgatory at Mass throughout the month of November, and keeping the All Souls envelopes near the Altar, too. I ask that everyone make a point of saying a prayer for those souls every day during this Month of All Souls.

Please also say a Hail Mary for me each day, too. Let’s also pray for those away from home in the service of our country, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for peace.

Have a great week!

Fr. John