01-10-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

This weekend we bring the Christmas season to a close with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church, since just after Vatican II, has extended her celebration of Christmas to today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus Who was born as a Child in the manger chose to be baptized and to make baptism one of His holy sacraments.

That Jesus made Baptism one of the seven sacraments speaks to its importance. Indeed, the Church has always held that Baptism, received sacramentally, or by blood or desire, is necessary for salvation. As Jesus said: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

This is why Catholic families have their children Baptized as soon as possible. It’s also why most parishes, including our own, have a Baptismal Preparation program to help parents appreciate the wonderful blessing that Baptism is, and the responsibilities that come with having a child Baptized. It’s also why we run an RCIA program for unbaptized adults who wish to receive this wonderful sacrament.

As a priest, I truly love celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism. It is such a pleasure to confer this sacrament, on children and adults. The Truth that Jesus cleanses them from sin, fills their souls with His Grace, and unites them to His spiritual family in Baptism makes it a truly awesome occasion.

If you, or a family you know has children who need to be Baptized, please direct them to our parish office or one of our priests. We would be happy to help them prepare for and celebrate this wonderful sacrament. The same goes for unbaptized adults. Helping someone be Baptized is one of the best ways you can fulfill Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel.

On Christmas Day I did go to my sister Christine’s home as planned. We had a much smaller crowd than usual, and a wonderful time. I saw my other sister, Natalie, in a small family gathering at her home last Saturday evening. My mother was with us on both occasions, which was great. While different, my Christmas was beautiful, especially the celebration of Holy Mass with so many of you at our Church. Thanks for that!

Last year, Pope Francis decreed that the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time will henceforth be observed as a special Sunday of the Word of God. His hope is that this will remind us of the importance of God’s Word in our lives. Many of you may recall that we blessed people’s Bibles at Mass on this day last year. Anyone who wishes may bring their Bible to be blessed at Mass on the weekend of January 23 – 24. My hope is that this blessing will inspire us to study and live the Word of God more deeply. Also, anyone who does not have a Bible and needs to obtain one can call the Parish Office. We will be happy to get God’s Word into your hands!

Please remember to pray a Hail Mary for me each day, and trust that I pray for you daily. Let’s also pray for the sick and all those in need as this New Year unfolds.

Have a great week!

Fr. John