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Letters from a Pastor to His People

Letters from a Pastor to His People


Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 24, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

Have you ever had an epiphany about one of your behaviors?  I know the feast of the Epiphany was last month, but the theme of revelation or epiphany is pertinent, I think, to the readings today.  The town of Nineveh has a 'wake-up call' with Jonah's preaching and they change.  Jonah reveals to the people just how destructive their behaviors are, and they repent.  Jesus too speaks of repentance.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John receive a sort of revelation when Jesus calls them: they leave their old way of life and convert.

So, back to the question.  Have you ever read something or seen something that has made you realize, Wow, that's me or Yikes, I'm doing that, and tried to change?  Or maybe had someone reveal something to you?  I had a recent example.

As I mentioned in a homily a few weeks ago, some priest-friends and I are reading Glittering Vices by Rebecca DeYoung.  It's a book on the Seven Deadly Sins.  The chapter on gluttony opened my eyes.

OK, I'll make a public confession: I commit the sin of gluttony.  You might be surprised, thinking I'm pretty thin.  Sure, I talk a lot about Malnati's, but it doesn't appear like I overindulge. 


Spiritual Direction

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 17, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

As you may have noticed, I was away the first week of January.  I was asked to serve as a spiritual director on a retreat for seminarians from around the country.  It was an emotionally-tiring experience, but very fulfilling.  I'm grateful to the Lord for calling me to this ministry of spiritual direction.  It is a blessing in my life. 

Before I continue about spiritual direction, I want to thank Father Emanuel and the staff for handling the parish so well while I was away.  Of course we had an influx of funerals that week while I was gone (and Father Roger had also left for Florida—he'll be away for several months, FYI, in case you noticing him missing), but Father Emanuel did a great job, rising to the challenge!  I owe him a bottle of tequila.

At any rate, there are four icons of spiritual directors in our readings: Eli, Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus.


Christ's Baptism in the Jordan River

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 10, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

Christ's baptism in the Jordan was a significant event in his life.  One could even make the argument it was "life-changing."  (As I write, I can almost see the seminarians getting out their red pens and licking their chops to circle the heresies in this letter...settle down, boys.)

Christ's baptism was deeply touching for him.  It can be too for us.  Remember, as Columba Marmion says, "Christ's mysteries are our mysteries."

To me, when Jesus is baptized, he becomes fully aware of just how much the human race needs him as a savior.  Yes, he receives the Father's love as he hears the voice from Heaven speak, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).  But Jesus already knew and received that love.  He already "felt" that love poured out to him in the Trinity from all eternity.  So, that's not really "life changing."


The Feast of the Epiphany

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 3, 2021

Dear Parishioners,

On my 30-Day Retreat last July, I spent a fair amount of time in prayer with the Adoration of the Three Magi.  Saint Ignatius of Loyola would have us put ourselves in the particular scene of Scripture.  Here with the Holy Family and Three Kings we imagine ourselves present and assisting as a "poor little unworthy slave." Allow me to describe part of my imaginative prayer from that scene...

After presenting the three gifts, the three Persian visitors made ready to leave, but Joseph insisted that they sit and stay a while.  They accepted the offer.  I laid out some food and Joseph boiled some tea while Mary held the sleeping child. One of the kings remarked as I handed a date to him, "What a privilege it must be serve the King of Kings!"  I merely nodded in assent.


Consecration to Saint Joseph

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 27, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

My close group of priest friends and I over the past 33 days have done "The Consecration to Joseph."  This is a somewhat new exercise, and it is from the 2019 book by Father Donald Calloway.  Like the Consecration to Mary that we've done here at the parish at the past, this is a practice that goes on for over a month.  There is a set of short readings and prayers to do each day, and the whole things concludes on the 33rd day with an act of consecration.  We arranged it so our consecration to Saint Joseph would be today, Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family.


Christmas Wishes From a Pastor to His People

Christmas Wishes from a Pastor to His People - December 24, 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Juliana,
A blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones.  Christ has come anew into our hearts, anew into our church, and anew into our world.  It's been a tough year, but we can put all our worries and troubles aside this day and rejoice that God is with us.  God is alive in you and he is truly all you need! May we surrender to him this day and receive the gifts he desires to give us.  Have a safe and holy Christmas and New Year.  
Fr. James Wallace
Pastor, Saint Juliana Parish


The House of God

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 20, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I am going to call 2020 the "Year of the House."  All of us have probably spent more time in our houses this year than any previous year.  We've worked from home, attended school from home, exercised at home, prayed at home, watched movies at home, and celebrated holidays at home. 

“Here I am living in a house of cedar," says King David, "while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” (2 Samuel 7:1).  (It must have been nice to be King of Israel and live in a walk-in humidor.)

David recognized something very significant.  The year 1010 BC was a "Year of the House" for man, but not for God.  Yahweh did not have a home in which to dwell.  The king set about remedying this.


I Rejoice Heartily in the Lord

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 13, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I've noticed since being here at Saint Juliana that there are certain times of the year when the Saint Vincent de Paul clothing bins in the alley by the parish center become full.  Right now is one of those times.  In fact, the bins are overflowing.  Perhaps people are clearing out their closets and drawers to make space for new clothes they will receive from Santa.  Perhaps people respond specifically to our own SVDP's annual coat drive.  Perhaps after Thanksgiving and the stress-eating during Bears games we give away those pants that don't quite fit anymore. 


A Hidden Life

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 6, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Well, this was an interesting past fourteen days.  God-willing by the time you are reading this letter this weekend, we are out of quarantine.  Our first Masses back at the parish will be this Sunday, December 6th: 7:30am, 9:30am, and 11am.  There will be no Saturday 5pm Mass on December 5th.  We will resume our regular daily Mass schedule at 8:30am Monday through Saturday.  We will also resume tomorrow, Monday, December 7th, our Monday Evening of Prayer, with Eucharistic Adoration from 6-8pm, Confessions from 6:30-7:30pm, and a talk on The Spiritual Exercises at 7:30pm. 


Why do you let us wander, O LORD?

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I don't know about you, but I close my eyes a lot when I pray.  This is a personal preference.  I feel when my eyes are closed I am able to more easily clear away distractions and descend to the depths of my soul to be simply with the Lord.  Closing my eyes puts me in a posture of receptivity.  Not that I sunbathe a lot, but I think of people soaking in the rays on the beach.  Their eyes are closed as they relax to just be in the moment.


Happy Thanksgiving

Letters from a Pastor to His People - November 26, 2020

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Juliana,

Thanksgiving is a great and unique American holiday.  Countries have independence days, memorial days, and labor days, but not every country has a day totally dedicated to giving thanks.  We stop and force ourselves, in a way, to be grateful.  We break out of Ourselves and look beyond to an Other who is good and who has blessed us.  This fills us with consolation, peace, and hope.  Yes, Thanksgiving is a good day. 


Christ the King Solemnity

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners,      

I've always enjoyed the Solemnity of Christ the King, which we celebrate this weekend—the last weekend in Ordinary Time.  But the feast took on greater significance for me on my 30-Day Retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola that I did this past July.

Ignatius begins the Second Week of the Exercises with a meditation titled, "The Call of the King." This profound meditation is like the ostinato of a symphony—a motif or melody that repeats throughout the entire piece.  The graces and insights from the meditation with Jesus the King will repeat not only throughout the next three weeks of the Exercises, but throughout one's life.