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.
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.”
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirt and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the Earth.
Let us pray. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations.”
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus into heaven. He has gone to prepare a place for us and to send the Holy Spirit upon us so that we may be led to all truth. It is on this day that he spoke his last words to us while on this earth. There were many things to tell us, but he gave us at the very end the great commission. He charged us to evangelize all people, make them disciples and teach them his commandments and baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This commission is our task as His disciples. Being a missionary and bringing Jesus to people and people to Jesus is an intrinsic part of being a Christian. It is essential to our Baptismal vocation.
There is rejoicing in heaven and here at St. James! Yesterday, May 5th, we celebrated the First Communion of 59 of our parishioners! 2nd graders from the School and our Parish Religious Education Program and a few others received the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the very first time!
Thursday, May 3rd is the feast day of St. James the Less, our Patron! This is a special day for all members of our St. James family! On this day, we celebrate our Patron and ask him to bless us and pray for us as we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ just as he was!
With the Resurrection of Jesus, Almighty God brings new life to all who seek it! We become new creations when we are baptized and when we go to confession and are reconciled to God! Spring too is a time of new life! There is a newness in the air (see the pollen!). Flowers and new growth in the trees spring forth from the ground and the limbs.
Missionary Disciples is the theme for the 2018 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. We are disciples of Jesus Christ if we call ourselves Christian. Being a disciple automatically means that we are missionaries as well. We bring Christ to others. We radiate Christ to one another and to everyone we meet. We are the Gospel that they encounter. Each of our parishes should be a school of discipleship where we learn how to be a disciple of Jesus.
My first Easter here at St. James was beautiful! The liturgies were moving and prayerful and drew everyone into the mysteries begin celebrated! The choir and the servers were extraordinary! The decorations were gorgeous! Thanks to all who had a hand in it!
Thursday, March 22nd, our Bishop Gregory John Hartmayer confirmed 50 young men and women here at St. James! Congratulations on receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation! As they become more and more involved in the Church, we welcome them. I would like to encourage them to become involved in the ministries in the church as ushers, lectors, altar servers, and the choir. Let’s welcome them into those ministries and assist them in all they need to become involved in our parish community. Congratulations!
Lent is a journey towards Easter, towards the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are closing in on the end of these 6 weeks of spiritual and bodily penances and exercises so that we can strengthen ourselves and have fertile soil in our souls to experience the abundant graces available for us during Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday).
Lent is a time of conversion, repentance, turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel. It is a time when we assist the Lord Jesus in cleaning His house, our souls. Each one of us, each one of our souls is the dwelling place of God, His house. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwell in our souls because of our Baptism. They made their home there at that moment and have dwelt there ever since.
This week we will be halfway through Lent. What a journey! We use this time to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. These days celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through His blood, we are redeemed. His sacrifice gained for us eternal life, happiness, fulfillment of every longing. This is why we celebrate, this is why we fast, increase our prayer, and practice almsgiving and works of charity.
In a few days Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, February 14th (be careful, couples…better celebrate Valentine’s Day another day!). This day begins the season of Lent – 6 weeks of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The Church gives us this time to focus on something that will make us better disciples of Jesus Christ. Individually we can do so many different penances or works of mercy which form us and mold us into better disciples.
In a few weeks, we as a parish will begin our Lenten program, Living the Eucharist, with other parishes around the diocese. For six weeks we will be meeting together in small groups, as families, as friends, as teens, to grow deeper in faith, hope, and love for our Lord Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith. Don’t miss this opportunity. We all need each other to grow and to continue our conversion.
St. James the Less Catholic Church
8412 Whitefield Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31406
Office Hours: M–F | 9A – 5P