Dear Parishioners: Baptism-of-Jesus-by-Juan-Fernandez-de-NavarreteWe celebrate the Baptism of the Lord this weekend. This is the end of the Christmas Season and on Monday we begin to take down the beautiful decorations. The crèche is to be put away for another year, the trees put in storage and the beautiful poinsettia plants are to find a new home. At first glance, the Baptism of the Lord might seem an odd feast. Since the Church teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, particularly Original Sin, why was Christ baptized? After all, He was born without Original Sin, and He lived His entire life without sinning. Therefore, He had no need of the sacrament, as we do.  However, in submitting Himself humbly to the baptism of St. John the Baptist, Christ provided the example for the rest of us. If even He should be baptized, though He had no need of it, how much more should the rest of us be thankful for this sacrament, which frees us from the darkness of sin and incorporates us into the Church, the life of Christ on earth! His Baptism, therefore, was necessary--not for Him, but for us.

It is a time for us to recall our Baptismal promises to live the faith, to regularly receive the Sacraments of the Church, and to proclaim theStained_glass_window_depicting_Episcopal_baptism Gospel in word and deed. At the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism the parents of the child are asked: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?“ Over the last twenty years I have performed hundreds of baptism and each time the parents answer “Yes”! Sadly many of these parents along with their children drift away from the Church. It always saddens me when that “Yes” proclaimed with such joy, hope, and faith fades away and good people drift away from God and His Church.

Last week while celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on New Year’s Day, Pope Francis spoke about those who seek to live their faith outside the Church. He said the faith "is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ. Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the Church. Pope Francis baptises one of 32 babies during a mass in the Sistine Chapel at the Vaticanit is the Church, which proclaims Him; it is in the Church that Jesus continues to accomplish his acts of grace which are the sacraments. No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ. Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods." Today as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord As and begin this New Year may we commit to praying for those who have drifted from the Church. Let us pray they might return to the fold and once again be part of our community. Let us also invite those we know back, welcome them home and encourage them to keep the faith in the Church!

Father Christopher Murphy, Chaplain at Bishop Hendricken High School and Assistant Vocations Director is to preach at all Masses next weekend. He is anmurphy_preach outstanding young priest and I think you will find him a dynamic preacher. He is to preach to us about his work promoting vocations to the priesthood. We continue to grieve and mourn the tragic death of two of New York City’s finest while our nation continues to grapple with issues of violence, race and justice. So I invite you to join with members of the many diverse faith communities of our state along with the members of state and local police departments for a Prayer Vigil for Peace. Certainly prayer is a positive way for all of us to respond to the violence that continues to plague our nation. The Prayer Vigil is to take place this Tuesday night at 7:00PM at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. God Bless! Go Pats!!!!