Included in the order of Baptism for children is a ritual called "Ephphata". It is usually at the discretion of the celebrant to perform or skip it. I usually include it in baptisms because of its special symbolic value. This ritual act, similar to what Jesus did to a deaf man with speech impediment brought to him while he was in the district of Decapolis as we read from Mark 7: 31-37 involves the celebrant touching the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb as he says, “May the Lord Jesus, who made the deaf to hear and the mute to speak, grant that you may soon receive his word with your ears and profess faith with your lips, to the glory and praise of God the Father.”It is important for our spiritual growth and life of faith to listen and speak. We need to be opened in this regard. Are our ears opened to the word of life who speaks to us in the Scriptures and prayers? Do we speak words of life to people we encounter daily? We should be opened to this act.
There are a couple of ways we can make ourselves opened to God’s word. First, we have to admit that our ears are not always opened. Second, we have to be disposed to opening our ears to words of knowledge and light. We should pray daily to the Holy Spirit to open our ears to God who speaks to us every day in the Bible and in prayers. In addition, we should make efforts to listen frequently to others who have been gifted to speak words of encouragement and words that build to us. We should find time to go on retreats and attend conferences where words of inspiration can open our ears and loosen our tongues to speak of God’s love and mercy to others. This is contemplation and evangelization.
In this regard, I ask you to open up to the invitation to attend the Stewardship 21 conference at The Historic Star Barn Village from September 15-16. I attended previous conferences and was richly blessed. The theme this year is “All In: Love your Lord Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength.” I urge active participation of all of us at this conference that includes spiritual activities like Inspirational talks, Daily Mass, Adoration, and Stations of the Cross.
Let’s be opened to the voice of the Spirit that will be heard at this conference.
I want to say Thank You once again to the Council of Catholic Women and Men’s Club and all volunteers at the last Elizabethtown Fair. It was a successful witness to the joyful spirit of St. Peter Catholic Church to the larger E-Town community. I had a great time helping with selling funnel cakes and fries at the parish pavilions. Our parishioners are just lovely and joyful people, and I love them all. I encourage you to join these groups as they need new members to continue to do the great work they are doing for our church. Be open to the possibility.
In Him who Opens,
Fr. Bernard, OP