Epiphany – and more work in the Church!

01-03-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John 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 manger was no ordinary baby. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World.

For us today, the epiphany is an invitation to think prayerfully about a few things. First, we should ask ourselves how we ‘reveal’ our faith each day. Are people able to ‘see’ Jesus in us? Acts of charity, attendance at Holy Mass, if our health permits that at this time, and humility and patience in dealing with others are some ways we can reveal our faith to the world.

Secondly, the Epiphany invites us to see the universal nature of Christ’s mission. The fact that the Magi were foreigners who came from faraway places reminds us that Jesus came for all people. This is one reason why our Catholic Church teaches respect for every human person, from the immigrant to the old friend to the very ill to the unborn child. How well do we live up to this?

Finally, the gifts of the Magi invite us to ask ourselves what gifts we will give Jesus in this New Year. Will we devote ourselves more completely to prayer? Be more generous towards the poor? Strive to grow in patience or break some bad habit? Think about this today!

Some of us are old enough to remember when Epiphany was the end of the Christmas Season. Since the reform of the Church calendar following Vatican II in the 1960’s, the Season extends thru the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which will be celebrated next Sunday. This means that, as Catholics, our Christmas Season still has a week to go.

Try to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home and heart this week. Keep the trees and decorations up, play Christmas music, and, most of all, continue to meditate and reflect on the birth of Jesus. Make the most of the Christmas Season the Church gives us, so that the joy of Christ’s birth may truly touch your heart and be evident in your life throughout this New Year.

I want to close with some important news regarding the celebration of Mass in our parish for the next two months. We will be moving temporarily into Mercy Hall for all of our Daily and Sunday Masses from January 5th – March 5th . This will allow workers to complete the last major project undertaken as part of the Capital Campaign we undertook over the past three years. Many of you will recall that we did this successfully for several weeks some years ago when our pews and floor were being repaired.

Having already completed many projects, including the renovation of our historic pipe organ and the improvement of the lights in our Church, we will now undertake the repair of the plaster in the nave (seating area) of our Church. You can look up and see that it is coming undone in spots, and it looks worse close up! We need to do this project to ensure the safety of everyone.

After the repairs are done, the nave will be repainted, in pretty much the same colors we have now (but a bit lighter, I believe). When all is said and done, it should look great!

We had hoped to do this work last summer, but the diocese thought it prudent not to close the Church just as it was reopening for public Mass at that time, which made perfect sense! We are doing the work at this time because we have period of time when there are no scheduled weddings, etc.

Seats in Mercy Hall will be arranged with proper spacing, six feet between rows in all directions. Reservations will still be needed for the time being, to make sure we have proper seats and space for everyone. For now, and I pray this doesn’t change for the worse any time soon, we can have 150 people safely spaced in Mercy Hall for Holy Mass – about the same as in Church.

Knowing how cooperative and helpful our parishioners always are, I am certain we can make this happen. Indeed, it is the generosity of our people that is making this work happen in the first place, and has gotten us through all the craziness of this pandemic so far. I have no doubt that the same generous and cooperative spirit will carry us through this, too!

Happy New Year!

Fr. John