Tuesday, July 16th, the Church celebrates Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is the biggest feast of the year for our Carmelite Sisters at Our Lady of Confidence Monastery on Coffee Bluff. Each year they have a Triduum of masses on the evenings of July 14, 15, and 16. Everyone is invited to attend! Since I have been here in Savannah, I have tried to make these masses and celebrate this great feast with them.
Last week all the announcements were made for the new assignments that impact life at St. James the Less. Fr. Jason Adams will be leaving after 5 years and going to St. John the Evangelist parish in Valdosta. Fr. John Paul Heiser, OSB, will be teaching full time at BC. We will be receiving two newly ordained priests, Fr. Patrick May and Fr. Peter Lanshima.
Last week was Trinity Sunday and Father’s Day. This Sunday is Corpus Christi! We celebrate that most precious gift from Our Lord Jesus – His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He gives Himself to us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as food for our journey of faith. He gives Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament to be adored and worshiped.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we celebrate today the Most Holy Trinity! God has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One being, one substance, and three persons. This is the central mystery of faith. We profess it each time we recite the Creed, each time we make the sign of the Cross. These three persons work in us and in the world together and cannot be separated in their action. Though distinctions can be made, they cannot be separated.
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth Your Spirt and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the Earth.”
Celebrating the Solemn Feast of Pentecost brings us back to our Confirmation when we were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit! We have all received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – fear of the Lord, piety, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, understanding, and wisdom. These are given to us so that we can be good disciples of Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into heaven. The earthly life of Jesus ends here, but He is present with us still in the tabernacle, in the Eucharist. His presence is now hidden and only through eyes of faith can we recognize Him. Under the appearance of bread and wine He remains with us. In every tabernacle in every Catholic Church He remains. What a gift!
In late January and early February, after New York enacted a barbaric law enshrining abortion and granting unprecedented access to abortion, I wrote three Pastor’s Corners addressing this. Since we gave such thought and time to such evil, perhaps we should give the same thought and time to great good and light which shines in the darkness. Let’s celebrate life!
This week and throughout this month of May new chapters in many people’s lives begin! Our 8th Graders are moving on to High School. Our High School Seniors are graduating and moving on to jobs or college. Our College Seniors begin their careers or go on to graduate school. Our parents are experiencing this for the first time or the 3rd time or the last time.
Yesterday or today, Saturday, May 4th, depending on which mass you attend, our 2nd graders received their First Communion! What a blessing it is to receive our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity! These young people begin this amazing journey now with Almighty God.
What a beautiful celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord! Everything was magnificent! The choir and the servers were extraordinary! The decorations were gorgeous! Thanks to all who had a hand in it!
I would like to issue an invitation to each of you. Join us as we walk through the Holiest of Weeks celebrating the beautiful mysteries of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Delve deep into the beauty and mystery of the faith with your brothers and sisters of St. James the Less!
Earlier this year, I wrote a series of Pastor’s Corners in response to the murderous legislation passed in New York and proposed in Virginia. The second in this series addressed our personal response to abortion and these horrors being proposed and promoted throughout our country. Well, the rubber hit the road last week on my way to retreat.
I remember opening The Southern Cross and immediately, my chest swelled with pride! Each year, the St. John Vianney Vocations Ministry in Savannah holds the Vocations Essay Contest and receives submissions from all 16 schools throughout the Diocese of Savannah. This year St. James School won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! We swept the medals!
On Thursday, March 21st, forty-six of our young people received the Sacrament of Confirmation! These young men and women are now fully initiated into the Church. They can be lectors, ushers, participate in all our ministries and begin to live a life in the Spirit using the gifts the Lord has given them!
Everything is green and Irish this weekend in Savannah! March 17th, the feast day of St. Patrick, is a day of celebration for all Irish and those of Irish descent and even those Catholics not of Irish descent! Even though the parade was on the 16th of March, we celebrate St. Patrick all weekend. This is a day to celebrate the faith of this man who was a disciple of Jesus Christ and a missionary who evangelized Ireland.
This past Monday, St. Anthony of Padua visited the parish and many people took the opportunity to venerate his relics and ask for his intercession. We believe that as a man or woman grows in holiness, even their body becomes sanctified. We are a united body and soul and both are healthy or sick, joyful or sorrowful, together. Not just our soul is sanctified. Our body is sanctified as well. Many of our parishioners and some of the faithful from other parishes in Savannah or even from the Diocese of Charleston came to pray and attend mass and ask for St. Anthony’s intercession. It was a beautiful morning!
In the midst of all the seriousness going on around us, I came across the Alliance of American Football with my brother. The two of us watched these games and predicted what the plays would be before they happened in real time! I am a Level 10 Captain right now! Sure makes watching football so much more fun! This league can teach the NFL a thing or two with some of the rules, transparency, and interaction with fans that they have in their broadcasts! Anyway, it is a nice change of pace from all the gravity surrounding us!
Last week, we reflected on the personal reaction we should have as Catholics to the assault on life seen in New York and around our country. In this Pastor’s Corner, I will address the question of excommunication and refusing to admit persons to communion and who makes these decisions. How should the Church react as an institution and what would that look like?
As the days go by after the New York abortion law has been passed, how should we Catholics react? How should the Church react? Excommunication? Refusal of communion? These are questions that are going back and forth all over the internet and Catholic publications and talk shows and in conversations between good Catholics. The law passed in New York and the talks of more laws in Virginia and Rhode Island are demonic and barbaric.
My stomach turned and disgust washed over me as I read about the passing and the signing into law of New York State’s Reproductive Health Act, as I watched the Empire State building go pink, and as I watched people dance in the aisles of the legislature of New York and as the governor signed this into law. This is sheer evil. It has taken about a week to get over the shock and the horror of the evil this unleashes. We in the United States already have the most liberal abortion laws in the west. Even the more liberal countries of Northern Europe have more regulated abortion laws than we do. The State of New York just went further.
Continuing to Build a Culture of Life, St. James School is doing its part! This week is Catholic School’s Week! We will be celebrating the beauty of St. James School and Catholic Education this week. Our school is the main ministry of our parish. Parents are the first teachers of their children, especially in the faith. We are here to assist them in their vocation, with their responsibility. We do not replace them, but we assist in providing a Catholic atmosphere and environment, quality education, and strong character and intellectual formation. In everything we do, we seek to glorify God and pass on the faith to our children in all we do, say, and think in the church, the classroom, the gym, or on the playground or sports field.
In building a Culture of Life, we defeat a Culture of Death. Jesus said, “I have come so that you might have life and have it abundantly!”
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 marks the 45th commemoration of the tragic Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade which ushered in the legalized killing of babies in the wombs of their mothers here in the United States of America. Completely ignoring the rights of a human person in utero, the most innocent and vulnerable of the human family, the doorway was opened to this atrocity. Any civilization that allows or promotes the killing of children will not survive long.
On Wednesday, January 9th, the Lord’s grace and forgiveness was flowing at the church! Almost 40 Second Graders experienced the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession for the first time! What a beautiful and magnificent experience! God heals us through this Sacrament and leads us to a deeper experience and understanding of His amazing love for us.
Another year begins and we look forward and run to what our God has in store for us this year! We don’t know what it may bring, but we know there will be joys and sorrows, triumphs and tribulations. We will experience many new things and maintain old things. We will feast and we will fast. Life comes with an array of experiences and events which shape and mold us. Each of these things are guided by Almighty God and are in His eternal plan for our own salvation and the salvation and eternal life for all. We are a part of that plan and are blessed to bring His plan and His design to fruition.
The Sunday within the Octave of Christmas (the eight days we celebrate as if each day is Christmas) is dedicated to the Holy Family. Each year, we go back to Nazareth to the home of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. We don’t know much about Jesus’ early years growing up between Bethlehem and his trip to Jerusalem and then his public ministry. The Gospels are silent. So, it is left up to us to go there in prayer and use our imagination and our knowledge to see what their family life was like.
It is difficult to believe that we are already here. The waiting is nearly over. We have prepared these last three weeks. We have cleansed our souls with the Sacrament of Confession. We have decorated and set up our homes to receive our Lord Jesus. We are ready to welcome Him into our hearts, into our souls, into our lives, into our homes. The 4th Week of Advent is only one day long and then we begin to celebrate the birth of Jesus!
“Be Prepared” is a motto I grew up hearing and a value to which I still strive to adhere. Being an Eagle Scout it was everywhere – on badges, on books, on shirts, on bumper stickers, etc…. It is a value that can never be underestimated and is timeless. Preparation is important in every area of life.
I hope all of you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Holiday! It is always good to spend time with family and friends thanking our Heavenly Father for all he has done for us and given to us and all He is! I was able to spend a few days in Augusta with my family and what a joy that was! One of our traditions we do each year is put a poster board on the wall and write on that paper things we are grateful for.
This past Wednesday and Thursday, Sr. Lisa, Jennifer Cline, and I went to Washington, DC to accept the Blue Ribbon Award from the Department of Education! What a testimony to the learning and the dedication of our students, teachers, staff, and parents! I couldn’t have been prouder. It was quite a wonderful day for our school and parish.
I am sorry that I could not be with you all at the Parish Dinner as we welcomed our new parishioners. The Canon Law Society of America had their annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona and I went out there as a member and for continuing education. It was a fruitful trip. But, it is good to be home and focused again on what is happening here at St. James!
A few Parish happenings to note. We have and will be quite busy!
This past week, the US Department of Education announced that our school, St. James Catholic School, is the recipient of the 2018 Blue Ribbon Award! This award is given for exceptional academic achievement and is only given to 50 non-public schools in the whole country! Congratulations to our IHM Sisters, our teachers and faculty, and our students and parents! Each of you have done so much to deserve this prestigious honor! Good work to each of you!
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the midst of a time of suffering and tribulation, a time of healing and purification in the Catholic Church we love. Here in our own parish old wounds are being torn open again and frustrations are mounting. Massive questions are being raised. Some have answers and others do not as of yet.
This past Friday, I celebrated my 40th Birthday! Another decade gone and another one started. Many thoughts run through my head as I meet this halfway point on the ascent of the mountain journeying towards heaven. I see it not as going over the hill, but getting to that ridge on the mountain where I can see the top, where I need to go.
Welcome back, students, faculty, and staff!
Buckle up! Here we go! This past week and this Monday many of the children and teen agers of the parish have gone back to school. St. James School begins Monday morning bright and early. The parish campus will be a buzz with energy and activity once again!
Last Sunday, an usher came to me with a page from a Winnie the Pooh coloring book and handed it to me. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he began to tell me a story from the previous mass. After the collection was taken up and the gifts already brought forward to the altar, a man brought his sobbing daughter to the back of the church to give something to the usher. She handed him a picture of Tigger that she had colored and wanted to put in the collection basket, but she couldn’t get it out in time to put it in and missed her chance. But, she still wanted to give it away in the collection.
My brothers and sisters, it has been almost a year since I arrived at St. James the Less as your new Pastor. It has been quite an amazing year! I have much more to learn and I am still getting used to being your Pastor. I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed being with you, growing with you, learning with and from you, and accompanying you this past year. Even in the midst of mistakes and missteps, it has been a great year!
July 25, 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae written by Pope Paul VI. In this document we received an affirmation of the rich and consistent teaching of the Church on the beauty and dignity of married love and life. We at St. James will celebrate this anniversary by hosting a dinner and lecture on Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 6:30 PM in the Parish Center (the gym). Fr. John Johnson, S.T.L., a priest of the Diocese of Savannah, who has received his degree from the Pope John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family Life, will be our speaker. All are invited.
In the Church’s Liturgical calendar, we celebrate the Birth of only three people – Jesus (Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, December 25th), Mary (Solemnity of the Nativity of Mary, September 8th), and John the Baptist (Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, June 24th). Usually, the feast days that we celebrate are moments in the lives of Jesus and Mary and then the deaths of the Saints (their birth to eternal life). Today is a patronal feast of the Diocese of Savannah. Which means that we all celebrate it with great festivity and ask his prayers for everyone living in the Diocese of Savannah.
The mid-16th century was a perilous time to be a Catholic in England. On June 22nd, we celebrate the feasts of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. These men were martyred for the faith, giving witness to the truth of marriage and the supremacy of the Pope to lead the Church across national borders. One of their heads replaced the other on the pike on London Bridge as a sign to those who defied the King. They were brothers in arms and in faith. One a layman, the other a Bishop and Cardinal of the Church.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. At each mass we obey his words, “Take and eat…Take and drink…do this in remembrance of me.” As we hear from the lips of our Lord, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink,” we say confidently, “Amen” when the priest or the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion says, “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ.”
St. James the Less Catholic Church
8412 Whitefield Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31406
Office Hours: M–F | 9A – 5P