March 25, 2020
Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord
My Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. James the Less,
Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Today we celebrate the Annunciation! Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a son and the child will be the Son of God! We celebrate the Incarnation, the moment when Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary! That young woman did not know what was happening or what would happen. Yet, she gave her “Yes” to whatever God’s will was and whatever it meant and wherever it might lead her. She is a model for us every day and, especially, at this time of uncertainty and unrest.
Mary’s words, “Let it be done, O Lord, according to your will," echoed in my soul as tears filled my eyes last night at midnight as I locked the church in compliance with Mayor Van Johnson’s “Shelter at Home” decree. The coronavirus pandemic has everyone and everything tilted and on edge. It is eerie, strange, and just wrong! It is difficult to write and I know it is difficult to read that the Church will be locked beginning today, March 25th, through April 8th. Confessions will no longer be offered. Masses will continue to be streamed Monday through Friday at 8:30 AM and Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 AM on our Facebook page.
We are doing this out of an abundance of caution to slow the spread of the virus and out of charity for our fellow parishioners and brothers and sisters in the community. Our actions are not done out of fear or because we lack faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We do this to play our part in this fight and because we are part of this community.
Limited personnel will be at the office and office hours will now be Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. We can all be contacted via email and phone. We will be receiving the mail and checking the office phone for messages.
Many people have asked about confessions during this time. Over the next two weeks, we will not be offering sacramental confession. It pains me to write that because it is through the forgiveness of sins that people come to know the salvation of our God! Since it is impossible to receive sacramental absolution, your sins can still be forgiven! The Church reminds us in our Catechism paragraph 1451 that “Contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.’” In paragraph 1452 we read, “When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.” See how the mercy of God operates beyond our norms!
Although masses are closed to the public, priests are offering mass daily for you and your intentions. Each Sunday we say in the Creed, “I believe in…the Communion of Saints.” This means that you benefit from every single mass celebrated all around the world even if you are not physically present. What a beautiful mystery and truth of our faith!
During this time, please take care of your families, loved ones, and neighbors. Let us know if you know of anyone in need of assistance. They are your first priority. We are praying for each of you.
We are still in good financial shape and can pay our employees and our bills thanks to your generosity through the years. The offertories during these non-public masses on Sundays are incredibly low. If you can continue your weekly offering during this time, please do so. You can give online. You can also send your envelope in the mail. All of that being said, please take care of your family first! If you cannot give to the Church at this time, we understand!
Be not afraid. Our Lord Jesus has us in the palm of His Hand. Our Blessed Mother is spreading her mantle of protection over us. We will continue to use this time to work on our relationship with Jesus and our prayer life individually and as families. Perhaps at this time when we can’t celebrate public masses, we are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who do not have access to the weekly celebration of Sunday mass. There are people today even here in the United States who cannot have mass every Sunday because the priest can’t make it each week. We join our pain to theirs and we come to know a little more of their experience.
Continued prayers for all those infected with the virus and all those who are working on the frontlines in the healthcare profession at every level.
St. Corona, patroness of pandemics, pray for us!
St. James the Less, pray for us!
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
May the Lord Jesus bless you and keep you safe. With prayers for each of you, I am
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Fr. Daniel F. Firmin
St. James the Less Catholic Church
8412 Whitefield Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31406
Office Hours: M–F | 9A – 5P