“The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” ~Luke 3
Dear Parishioners and Friends;
All of us at St. Rita extend our condolences to Fr. Mike and his family on the sudden loss of his brother Stephen earlier this week. The funeral was held here on Saturday morning.
This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord by John the Baptist and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry of preaching and miracles. The Feast of the Baptism also brings to a close our Christmas season.
The request by Jesus to John for his baptism was quite remarkable in the fact that Jesus was always without sin and did not need John's baptism of repentance. But Jesus was baptized to show unity with us as sinners in need of God's salvation, which he himself would bring. Jesus would go on to command his own disciples to baptize so that the sacramental waters would flow over us and we would be restored in our broken relationship with God. We forever become the adopted children of God!
We should never underestimate the importance of Baptism. It is much more than simply a sign of repentance, it is a receiving of the Holy Spirit in both body and soul. Original Sin is washed away. Death is no longer everlasting and permanent because we receive the promise of everlasting life through Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.
January is observed as “Respect Life Month” in our church and is the time when we pray for the grace and mercy of God to bring about a conversion of hearts and minds especially towards the helpless unborn child and the infirm elderly. As Catholics we reject anything that is designed to deliberately terminate human life. Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world through the womb of Blessed Mary. The miracle of Christmas is that God sanctifies our humble human origins and places us adults and especially the innocent child, including within the womb, into the presence of God.
St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta pointed out, there is no justification, circumstance or purpose that warrants the justification of destroying innocent human life. Something in us also "dies" in the process of taking human life. The emotional toll is very real and costly. In a mysterious way, we ourselves are changed by what we do to others, good or evil.
Unfortunately many individuals do carry the burden of the memory of a past abortion. Extreme pressure from friends, even well-meaning school counselors and family are all added to those memories of fear, abandonment, and betrayal.
As your pastor, my personal message to you is... don't lose hope! Don't give up your Faith either! And don't be afraid! God's Love is more powerful than the decision that was made. God's power is greater than our total failures. You are precious in the eyes of God! Forgiveness and healing are possible and real. Don't suffer this burden alone.
Project Rachel is a Catholic initiative that provides support and aid for those suffering because of a past abortion. Their number is 888-972-2435 or [email protected] www.hopeafterabortion.org Healing and reconciliation through God's love are the path that this compassionate and totally confidential support group offers. Coming to terms with those memories in a caring and supportive setting allows one to experience a healing miracle of Jesus and to rediscover that living a joy-filled life in God's presence is possible again.
See the page in today’s bulletin on how you can help show your opposition to a current abortion expansion bill currently in legislation. Hard to believe that we have individuals proudly promoting this as a "signature issue" for NYS.
Please also pray for the safety of all those attending the March for Life at the end of the month.
May God bless you!