Teaching by Word and Example

01-29-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This Wednesday is the Feast of St. Blaise. As most of you know, Catholics traditionally have their throats blessed on St. Blaise’s Feast Day. Accordingly, throats will be blessed in Mercy Hall at the 6:45am, 8am, and 12:10pm Masses that day, and at a brief Prayer Service at 7pm. Everyone is welcome.

The Blessing of Throats will be slightly different this year, but not much. The priest will say a Prayer of Blessing over the assembled people. Then, those who wish to seek the blessing privately will come forward, as we do for Holy Communion. Rather than touch each person’s throat and neck with the candles, we will hold the candles over each person’s head and pray the Prayer of Blessing. This modification of the Rite was sent to us from the Holy See (Vatican) by way of our diocese.

We have our throats blessed on St. Blaise Day as a sign of our faith in God’s power over illness, an important thing today! Anyone who cannot make it at those scheduled times, but would still like their throat blessed, should call one of our priests to arrange a mutually convenient time. We will be happy to do our best to see that you get your throat blessed.

St. Blaise was a bishop in Armenia around the year 300. He was known for his clear teaching of the faith, and his great charity. Indeed, St. Blaise was so effective at teaching the Gospel, by word and example, that the pagan authorities deemed him a threat and martyred him. Before dying for his faith in Jesus Christ, St. Blaise prayed over a boy who had stopped breathing, most likely due to something in his throat. The boy was healed instantly, making St. Blaise the patron saint of all who suffer from ailments of the throat, and giving rise to the Blessing of Throats on his feast day.

Speaking of teaching the faith, today is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week. It is a time to think about the role our Catholic Schools play in teaching the faith and many other things. The following facts come from Notre Dame University, which does a lot of excellent research about and support work for parish schools like our own:

  • Catholic Schools in America educate about 2 million students-making them the largest non- public school system in the country. By educating that many children, Catholic Schools collectively save US taxpayers about $24 billion, yes, billion annually.

  • Catholic Schools do this with a low teacher to student ration, currently 1:13, and with an emphasis not only on religion, but on strong academics too. For this reason, about 99% of Catholic School students finish and graduate high school with nearly 90% going on to four-year colleges. That they are schooled to be concerned and active about the world in which they live is demonstrated by the fact the several surveys show that graduates of Catholic Schools are much more likely than others to vote in elections when they reach adulthood.

  • Most importantly, Catholic School students not only learn about our Faith in religion classes but spend each school day in an environment permeated by the Gospel. In addition to regular school Masses, students in our own parish school attend Adoration monthly, where they learn the beautiful art of silent prayer. They go to Confession monthly, pray the Stations of the Cross each Friday of Lent, and even attend Benediction throughout the Church year. Doing all this allows them to experience the culture of Catholicism, reinforcing and greatly deepening the Faith their parents first shared with them at home.

Another contribution that our schools make to our society is subtle, but no less important. The existence of our Catholic Schools gives people an alternative choice for their children’s education. History has shown us, time and again, that having a variety of good educational options is a great guardian of democracy and freedom, since it prevents any one person or group from having a monopoly on the formation of the next generation.

You can learn more about our parish school by going to the parish website and hitting the link for the school. You can also call the school office to arrange for a virtual or private tour and to ask any questions you may have. Our principal, Donna Kucinski, and her dedicated team will be happy to speak with you.

I close, as always, by asking you to kindly pray a Hail Mary for me each day. I pray for all of you-especially in my Daily Mass and Rosary, and before the Blessed Sacrament each morning. It is comforting to know that so many of us are praying for each other, undoubtedly obtaining many blessings from our good Lord. Let’s also remember to pray for the sick and for peace.

Have a great week!
Fr. John