There's No Vacation From God

06-12-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Last week, I had a nice evening with Fr. Gilbert and the deacons of our parish. We had dinner together to celebrate Deacon John Flynn’s 45th anniversary as a deacon. Many of you know or are even related to Deacon John. He is a fine Christian gentleman.

Even before his ordination, Deacon John was active in this parish. He was the first lay lector to read at Mass here, and the first Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. It should surprise no one that, when the permanent diaconate was restored by the Second Vatican Council (with great encouragement from Pope St. Paul VI), Deacon John was in the first class to be ordained for what was then the Diocese of Trenton.

If you see him at Mass, please congratulate Deacon John and his lovely wife, Florence. They usually attend the 11am Mass these days. Our Church has been greatly blessed by Deacon John and his family. Please also pray that many men from our parish will answer God’s call to the diaconate and priesthood.

Remember that we will have a brief Corpus Christi Procession at the end of the 11am Mass next Sunday. Such processions are a celebration of our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine. The procession will conclude with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, another testimony to our faith in the Real Presence. I hope to see many of you at this traditional and beautiful Catholic devotion.

With the advent of summer, I’d like to say a few words about Mass attendance. When I was a kid, our priest always used to remind us that ‘there’s no vacation from God!’ I know it sounds obvious, but it’s also obvious that Mass attendance does dip a bit during the summer months. In fact, it seems that the dip is starting already!

Some of this is due to people going on vacation. I’m sure that many of them find places to attend Holy Mass while they are away. I know I have become fond of the small parish where I attend Mass the one Sunday that falls during my vacation each August. Indeed, it is pretty easy to google Mass Times and find a place to attend Mass almost anywhere these days!

Wherever you go or whatever you do this summer make sure you get to Mass. God gives us so many blessings and graces, more than we can possibly count or imagine, every time we take part in Holy Mass. The greatest of these, sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ, is something our souls desperately need and cannot get anywhere else! Don’t deprive yourself, let alone your family, of these wonderful graces.

From the earliest days of Christianity, from just after Christ ascended to Heaven, His people have gathered on Sunday to remember and celebrate His resurrection. Indeed, by rising from the dead on a Sunday, Jesus has made Sunday His Holy Day, and we honor it by gathering for Mass. Indeed, coming to Mass has always been the Catholic ‘bare minimum’ for keeping the Lord’s Day holy! It’s also a great way to find some time for prayer and peace and to see the rest of your parish family.

I don’t have to tell you that we live in challenging times – to say the least. Recent shootings and acts of violence tell us that many, many people have become disconnected from God. Coming to Mass not only helps us and our families stay connected, it also gives us an opportunity to pray for those who need it most.

Pope Francis often says that we live in “a world marked by the globalization of indifference.” Indifference means a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. No one who professes love of neighbor, which Jesus’ commanded, can be indifferent to things like violence, war, mass shootings, abortion, or to the problems and issues that lead people to such things. Pray that you will never become jaded by indifference, and that our society will embrace the Gospel message wholeheartedly.

In the meantime, please say that Hail Mary for me each day, and be assured of my prayers for you! Remember that I will be heading to Emmitsburg for my retreat on Monday morning, and will be praying for you all week long. I’ll be back for Masses next weekend.

See you then! Have a great week!

Fr. John