Letters from a Pastor to His People

Letters from a Pastor to His People

The Saints Are Cheering Us On

The Men's Club Golf Outing is next Saturday, August 24th. 

Golf is followed by an after-party in the parish courtyard. 

Thanks to all who organized the event!  

 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 18, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Christ set the world on fire 2,000 years ago and it has been burning ever since.  The fire has been kept alive by the holy women and women who have lived the faith, in particular the saints.  And so it is the communion of saints that I want to focus on in this letter.

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," says the Letter to the Hebrews, "let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:10). 

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We Are All Kings and Queens

Fr. James speaking to young adults at Theology on Tap

Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 11, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

In response to Peter's question our Lord asks, "Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?" (Luke 12:32-48). Jesus doesn't give an answer, but continues on with his exhortation to be vigilant. 

So, who has been put in charge?  Each one of us!  We have been put in charge.  We know this because of what Jesus says at the beginning of the Gospel: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom." We have been given the kingdom.  We are kings and queens. 

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Everything You Do Has Purpose In God's Eyes

Fr. James just married this couple at St. Juliana Parish

Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 4, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

In most of my political science and philosophy courses from college and seminary Plato's The Republic was discussed.  The part that received the most attention was the allegory of the cave.  I won't go into detail, but the gist of the "cave" (and platonic philosophy in general) is that there are forms above.  That is, everything on this earth is but a shadow of something higher, in the supernatural or metaphysical realm.  There is a deeper or higher meaning to what we see in existence.  For Plato and Socrates, living well means living with these higher forms in mind; not narrowing our vision only to things before us.  

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Ask and you shall receive

Father James with his two nephews: Luke (age 4) and Sebastian (age 2) 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 28, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I have mentioned my nephews and niece in homilies before.  They are ages four, two, and one.  In addition to simply the joy I receive spending time with them, there is always some lesson or message I also take away by our encounters. 

Swimming with them is one of those insightful experiences.  My nephews, Sebastian and Luke, in particular love going in the water.  When it is time for them to go out of the pool and dry off they cry, yearning to get back in.  They stand on the deck and hold their arms out, indicating for me to grab them and pull them in.

Now, I'm not their father (I guess I'm their uncle-father?), but our interaction made me think of my relationship with God, whom Jesus tells us to call our Father and to ask him for things. 

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Contemplative prayer

Father James with his five friends from seminary: Fr. Pat (Mobile). Fr. Adam (Kansas City), Fr. Victor (Mobile), Fr. Alex (Scranton), Fr. Anthony (Harrisburg).

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 21, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

A wise person once told me that true love doesn't consist in saying 'I love you'.  Think about when you're with your spouse, or your brother or sister, or your best friend.  When you're watching TV together, or fishing together, or having dinner, you may be sitting in silence, but love is being expressed.  Love is a reception of the other person's presence.  That is the ultimate goal for prayer.  That is what we call contemplation, and that's the point I want to make from the Martha-Mary Gospel.

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Preoccupation

Father James with an employee of Wrigley Field after he said Mass for the Chicago Cubs

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 14, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Preoccupation.  That, to me, is one of the themes of the parable of the Good Samaritan from today's Gospel.

The priest passes by the victim because the priest is on his way to the temple to worship. The priest will be delayed and, furthermore, if he comes into contact with a potential non-Jew (remember, the man has been beaten and stripped, so there's no way to identify him as a Jew or Gentile), the priest will be impure and have to go through ritual washings, delaying him even more.  The priest is too preoccupied.  He needs to serve God by getting to the temple.  He passes the beaten man by.

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Rejoice because your names are written in heaven...

Fathers. Derek, James, Connor, and Tom will be looking to win the priest golf outing this year

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 7, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

"Rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). In baseball, a defining moment is before the game even starts when the manager writes up in the dugout on a piece of paper the starting lineup.  If you're an everyday player, it's not that big of a deal, but if you're a player who plays sometimes, it is significant.  If your name is written on the lineup card, you're focused, you loosen up, pay attention to the pitcher throwing warm-up pitches.  If you're out of the lineup, you relax, pop some more sunflower seeds, and are somewhat disengaged.  There's a difference.

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God is Our Inheritance

Father James baptized the children of some recent SJS alumni. Congratulations!

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 30, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

In the Old Testament, each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel were given parcels of land throughout Israel, following the Exodus and return to the Holy Land.   That is, all of the tribes except the tribe of Levi.  The Levites were set apart as priests for Israel.  This was determined by Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai with the Law.  The Levites would not farm, goat and sheep herd.  They would not have to worry about land disputes.  Their whole task was to care for the Temple in Jerusalem.  How would they be sustained?  From where would their livelihood come?  One word answer: God.

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The Feast of Corpus Christi

Father James with a recent SJS graduate

Dear Parishioners,

We celebrate Corpus Christi today.  The Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ our Savior, which means the Eucharist is powerful.  It has a real effect on us.  There are three things the Eucharist does, each corresponding with one of the readings. 

1) The Eucharist gives us strength to perform our duties and obligations in life.  Abram had just defeated several tribes in the Palestine region to establish his position.  Soon after, a priest named Melchizedek brings an offering of bread and wine (cf. Gen 14:18-20).  In turn, Abram gives the priest a tenth of his spoils.  The bread and wine offered by this priest Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist.  It not only celebrated Abram's success, it gave Abram strength to be both King and father of the Israelite people.  When we go to Mass or pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, we are given strength to be the best spouse, parent, sibling, student, worker, priest that we are called to be.

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Feast of the Holy Trinity

Father James attempts to explain the Holy Trinity to a group of kindergartners. The Trinity doesn't get any easier to comprehend with age, kids!

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 16, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

"I will give you what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:15).  Growing up, my parents used to refer to possessions in the first person plural: our house, our backyard, our car.  It impressed me because my siblings and I did nothing to earn these things.  We were not entitled to them. But that is how generous my parents were.  They took what was rightfully theirs and declared it to us.  I'm sure many of you parents do the same.  What love, what generosity!

We celebrate the Holy Trinity today which affirms for us, among other things, God's generosity and love.  The fact that God is relational from all eternity tells us that God is not alone.  If God was one and not three, he would be alone, which means he would need to create the world for relationship.  This means he would need our love, our worship, our holiness; and if he needed it, he would be angry if he didn't receive it.  But the Trinity tells us God is perfect in himself.  He is totally dependent and not in need of us.  He created us to allow us to share in the beauty and love that God is.  What God has, he declared to us.  That is what the Trinity tells us. 

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Holy Spirit, Giver Of Life

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 9, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

In the Nicene Creed at Mass, we say the following:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

 The giver of life.  What a great sobriquet of the Holy Spirit! 

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Take the High Ground with Prayer

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 2, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

There are many hills in the Holy Land, and when a figure from the Scriptures ascends one, we should pay attention.  Abraham goes up Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac.  The angel stays Abraham's slaughtering hand, Abraham is established as the father of Israel, and Moriah will become the site of the temple mount in Jerusalem.  About 1,000 years later King David will ascend that very same hill to recreate the nation of Israel.  His son, Solomon, will construct the temple on that mount. 

Noah's ark lands on Mount Ararat.  Moses ascends Mount Sinai, is literally wrapped in a cloud of divinity, and comes down with the Ten Commandments.  And Elijah defeats the pagan priests atop Mount Carmel. 

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