Merry Christmas!

12-22-2019From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

I want to begin by thanking all those who took tags and brought gifts for the Giving Tree. Your generosity provided gifts for many children and elderly parishioners and members of our local community. It is a testimony to your charity and faith!

It was great to see our Year of Spiritual Renewal finally culminate in our Consecration to Jesus thru Our Lady of Guadalupe last week. The Mass at the Cathedral, which I had the blessed pleasure to attend, was prayerful and inspiring. As was reciting the Prayer of Consecration with all of you at Holy Mass last weekend.

My prayer is that this consecration will move each one of us to think about how we might truly dedicate ourselves more completely to Jesus and His Blessed Mother. Adoring Him in the Holy Eucharist and serving Him in our poor and suffering neighbors are some ways we can do this for Jesus. Praying the Rosary each day, or perhaps attending and praying the Miraculous Medal Novena on Monday evenings in the chapel, are some ways we can be more dedicated to Our Blessed Mother – and thru her, to Jesus.

Last Friday I had a great time at our Parish School’s Nativity Pageant. The students told the story of Christ’s birth – with lots of beautiful singing. They also acted our scenes like the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, and Epiphany – to name a few. It was a wonderful, joy filled telling of the holy story of Christmas! Thanks to all who were involved!

Over the years my celebration of Christmas has changed in some ways – and stayed the same in others. As a child, I used to wake my younger sisters early in the morning, before dawn. We would race to see what Santa had brought, and were never disappointed. My poor parents, who probably hadn’t been in bed very long, would come down to join us as we opened presents and played with new toys.

We would go to Mass that morning (remember, the only Christmas Eve Mass back then was Midnight Mass). After that we’d have an early dinner – my mother always made something delicious! Then we’d pile in the car and head to New York to visit my grandparents. Somehow, Santa would stop there, too, and leave some presents. We would see all our aunts and uncles and cousins, and often stop at the homes of some great aunts and uncles too. It was a long day – filled with family, friends, and of course, faith.

Today my Christmas is filled with celebrations of Holy Mass. This is my 33rd Christmas as a priest, and I am still awed to offer Holy Massespecially on days like Christmas. It’s a gift I wouldn’t trade for all the world. My excitement these days comes from seeing all of you at Holy Mass, and from praying and celebrating with you. The Solemn Mass at Midnight-that I was too young to attend as a child-has become the very center of my Christmas celebration! I hope that many of you will join me at Midnight Mass.

After all the Masses are over on Christmas Day, I visit family. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed! Instead of visiting grandparents, I usually wind up at the home of my sister Christine on Christmas. My mom is always there, enjoying her family the way her parents enjoyed their family years ago. After a wonderful meal I head back to Phillipsburg, filled with the joy of another Christmas.

I hope your Christmas is filled with family, friends, and the joy that Christ’s birth once brought to Mary, Joseph, and the Shepherds! Let’s pray for each other on Christmas and always!

Merry Christmas!

Fr. John