St. Francis of Assisi

09-25-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

Many of you have kindly asked about my niece’s wedding, and I am happy to say it was beautiful. It was a great family gathering to celebrate a wonderful event. Thanks to all of you who were praying for my niece, Veronica, and her new husband, Stephen.

One of the things I most enjoyed about the wedding was seeing so many relatives I haven’t seen in a while. Between covid and other things, family gatherings have been more limited for the past year and a half. In fact, the wedding was the first time I saw all of my aunts and uncles at the same place in over two years! God willing, we will see more of each other in the coming months.

Remember that we will celebrate the Blessing of Animals in the parking lot next to Mercy Hall at 12:30pm on Sun, Oct 3. Fr. Pat, who is a Franciscan, will be the celebrant. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to be blessed that day. Doing so is a way to thank God for your pets, and to ask his protection upon them.

We generally celebrate the Blessing of Animals on the Sunday nearest to the actual Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which is Mon, Oct 4. Like most saints, his feast day is celebrated on the day he died, and was born into Eternal Life. The Blessing of Animals celebrates St. Francis’ great love for God’s creation, including animals.

While many people know of St. Francis’ great love of creation, we should not forget his even greater love for God’s people. It was his belief in the God given dignity of every human person that led St. Francis to treat people with such kindness and respect, even when they did not do the same for him! St. Francis truly loved his neighbor, all his neighbors, as himself, just as Christ commanded.

That love also caused St. Francis to be deeply concerned about the salvation of each person’s soul. During the height of the Crusades, he went to the battle ground, hoping to meet and convert the Muslims to Christ. St. Francis was able to meet with the Sultan of Egypt, Muhammed Al– Kamil. The Sultan was deeplyimpressedwiththe sincerity, humility, and obvious holiness of St. Francis, and made sure he got home safely! I have read that the sultan remarked that the world would be a better and more peaceful place if more people were like St. Francis. I’m sure we could all agree with that!

St. Francis respect for every human person is pertinent to us as Respect Life Sunday approaches. The first Sunday in October is designated as Respect Life Sunday to remind us of something St. Francis knew so well, that every human person is sacred in God’s eyes. As such, they are deserving of our respect and protection.

For this reason, there will be a Life Chain along South Main Street next Sunday at 2:00pm. Those who come every year know that this is a peaceful and prayerful event. We stand, or sit in lawn chairs, along the sidewalk. Some hold signs that are provided. I usually just pray my Rosary. Everyone is welcome to come for any or all of the Life Chain. If you need more information, you can speak to me or Colleen Walters, who coordinates our Celebrate Life events.

Whether you join the Life Chain or not, try to do something to celebrate and promote the dignity of all human life. Do something to support those people whose human dignity is threatened by poverty, homelessness, abortion, or prejudice. At the very least, say a prayer asking God to plant deep within every heart a deep and abiding respect for His gift of human life.

Please also remember to say a prayer for me, at least one Hail Mary each day. I will be praying for all of you at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Seton this week, during my seminary reunion, and will see you at Mass next weekend!

Have a great week!
Fr. John