Dear St. James Family,
Though only a few weeks in, the year is rushing quickly forward. We are barely out of Christmastide and this past Sunday I had the honor of accepting a number of people as candidates for entry into the Church (see picture above). In just a few days, I will be celebrating five years as a Catholic priest (check out my story below). In two weeks we are going to be celebrating Candlemas, a joyful, Christmas like gathering. Two weeks after that, Lent will be upon us. I also have updates for you on the prospective building that we are looking to secure. I now have a lease in hand, though it is not yet signed (more details below). In preparation to keep up with all of this, be sure to check out the events below and add them to your calendar.
This Sunday: Why It’s Okay to do a Bad Job of Evangelizing
Does the thought of sharing your faith leave you feeling all awkward and weird? You stumble over your words. You are not sure what to say. You do not want to be offensive. So, with all that said, is it best for you not to be involved in evangelization?
Come and be encouraged this Sunday as I share why it is okay to evangelize anyway, even if its done badly. Learn from Jonah the evangelist with the bad attitude, the disciples of little faith, and why even Jesus himself had to learn as a human being, how to evangelize. I am also looking forward to sharing with about the poor start of our own Ordinariate and about Servant of God, Fr. Paul Wattson, an Episcopal priest who himself started out as a bad evangelizer and ended up paving the way for many to enter the Catholic Church. Come and find hope in this high and holy calling of evangelization, even if you are terrible at it.
Dealing with Demon Possession: Planned Homily for January 28, 2024
In the last several years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of reported possessions. Can this be explained away via psychotic episodes or is there something more taking place? As Catholics, we have a long history of dealing with demons beginning with our founder, Jesus Christ, who was known as a healer and a exorcist. Join us on January 28.
Are you interested in getting involved with music and singing, or children and family ministry, or hospitality, or setup and put-away teams, or Catholic initiation, or leading or assisting with Divine Office prayers, or altar boys? Perhaps you would like to start your own ministry: small group, play date, ministry to the poor, park cleanups, men’s outings, nursing home ministry, singles gathering (talk to me I am happy to help)? I am asking individuals from the various St. James ministries to be available on January 28 after both Masses so that you can learn more about finding a good fit for the gifts that the Lord has given to you.
Experience this beautiful celebration recalling the entrance of the infant Jesus into the temple forty days after his birth, where he was proclaimed to be a light to the Gentiles. The Mass will begin in the dark with the blessing, distribution, and lighting of candles followed by an outdoor procession. Back inside the building Holy Mass will continue with Gregorian and Anglican Chant, beautiful traditional hymns, and an encouraging homily. During Mass all may hold lighted candles during the reading of the Gospel and from the beginning of the Canon of the Mass until Communion
Blessing of Candles: Now is the time to purchase and gather your candles for the upcoming year. You are invited to bring these candles to be blessed and then later used for devotional purposes such as the family altar, Advent candles, a candle to be lit after dusk on All Saints’ Day (1 November), during the Sacrament of Anointing, and during storms and times of trouble.
Food and Fellowship: Please RSVP BY January 26, 2024: In honor of this festive occasion you are invited to be our guest and join us after Mass for heavy Hors D’oeuvre. Please RSVP no later than January 26, so that we can assure that there is the appropriate amount of food: CathymMessina@gmail.com or 418-205-9705
Blessing of Throats: Following Mass, two candles will be used for the traditional blessing of throats in honor of St. Blaise, patron of throat diseases, which is especially needed during this winter season. Everyone is invited to come and receive a special throat blessing during the meal that follows Mass
Get the word out! I just finished inviting sixty-seven people on Facebook who I thought might be up for attending Candlemas. Of course, this is just the beginning since I know that personal invites are far better. Would you be up for getting out a few invites as well? You can call, or text, or email someone and/or share the Facebook event or the Candlemas event that we have posted on the parish website.
Participate in the annual blessing of the throats, calling on the intercession of St. Blaise against diseases and ailments. It is a longstanding tradition to use blessed candles from Candlemas placed on each side of the neck while a short blessing is given. This custom is in remembrance of St. Blaise, a fourth century Christian physician, who became known for miraculously clearing the throat of a choking boy. By the sixth century St. Blaise’s intercession was being invoked in the east for illnesses related to the throat. By the ninth century, the saint was revered in Europe and went on to become one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Stop by St. James on February 2, between 6:50 PM and 7:15 PM to receive your throat blessing.
News and Announcements
Thank you to the Generous People who are Assisting on the Parish Council
Last week the council of St. James met for the first time this year. This is a group of some of the most dedicated and hardworking people at St. James that come together every other month. The council helps to make decisions and create structures to assist the people of the community to use their gifts to build up the kingdom of God. This group also helps to manage and be good stewards of the goods of our community, in other words, to make good decisions with our finances. Thank you to John Brown, Nancy and Rex Setzer, Colleen Kelley (serving through January of 2025), Brian Burch, Cathy Messina, Susan Miller (serving through January of 2026), Lori and Paul Adelfio, Michelle and Doug Nesmith (serving through January 2027).
A Glimpse at What was Discussed at the January Council Meeting
Should you be curious about what we went over at the council meeting this past week, I would encourage you to check out the minutes. Thank you to Lori Adelfio for getting these typed up.
Three People Admitted as Candidates for Entrance into the Church
This past Sunday at Mass Haitham Habib, Isabella Myers, and Robert Lee Setzer were accepted as candidates to become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church. They have been working hard to learn about the faith and attending regular classes with me and the John Henry Newman Christian Initiation Guild. If all continues to go well, next month they will be sent to the bishop and designated as the elect. Finally, at Easter, God willing, they will come into the Catholic Church and be confirmed (strengthened by the Holy Spirit) and unite with us in receiving First Holy Communion.
Thank you for praying for and welcoming them. Your welcome is vital to supporting, encouraging, and nourishing Catechumens and Candidates in their Catholic faith journey. Thank you to those who came to celebrate this reverent and inspiring ritual at the mission this past Sunday. Thank you also to those who participated in the reception after Mass to meet the candidates, and warmly welcome them to St. James Catholic Church; and into the candidacy period of the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA).
Building Discernment Update: Lawyers Getting Involved in the Negotiations
Over the past week, with the assistance of our most excellent realtor, Will Messer of Watson Realty, we have been going back and forth with the owner of the property in order to come to terms on a lease agreement. Now that the first part of the negotiations are complete, we have asked that a lease be drawn up so that we can work out all of the specifics and ideally, come to an agreement that works out for both parties. The owner is asking us to agree to a six instead of a five year lease among other other items that are too complicated for me to explain in this newsletter. Today I received the initial lease which is now being reviewed by our legal counsel as required by Bishop Lopes. Until the signatures are on the paper, all of this is up in the air, but, God willing, we will be able to get this worked out. Thank you for your continued prayers.
Learn why hospitality is such a big part of the Catholic identity and how to live this out, even if it is hard and awkward. In this homily you will be given some easy, baby step ways to grow in the Catholic virtue of hospitality. I gave this homily on January 14, 2024
If you have been away from St. James for a while or have yet to join us, get a little taste of the experience and receive some spiritual nourishment by listening to one of the homilies given during Mass. You can listen here or by searching for “Fr. Mayer’s Preaching & Teaching” wherever you get your podcasts.
I’m Celebrating my Fifth Anniversary as a Catholic Priest! Here’s my story.
On January 25, 2019 I was ordained as a Catholic priest by Bishop Lopes at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston. I still remember learning the news of the rescript coming back from the Vatican, giving permission for my ordination, and the grateful tears that I shed that day. I am so grateful to be here in the Catholic Church and to be able to serve in this way.
For those of you who do not know my story, I grew up Pentecostal and was given by this community a love for the Lord and the Bible. At a young age I heard the Lord calling me to be a pastor. During college however, I learned that my denomination was less than a hundred years old, which led to many questions and searchings. My girlfriend (who I later married and with whom I am still head over heels in love with) took me to my first Episcopal Church service and I found myself drawn to the rich liturgical traditions, history, and warmth and went on to be ordained and to serve as a parish priest.
However, all during this time, a few Catholic seeds had been subtly planted and were growing. I had positive experiences with Catholics as a child and young adult. During seminary, I was influenced by the writings of Catholic converts John Henry Newman and Peter Kreeft. During my time in the Episcopal Church I watched as the ecclesial community was badly fracturing, yet the Catholic Church was as solid. My wife and I entered the Catholic Church in 2012 and after some much needed turmoil, humility, and formation, I was given a dispensation by Pope Francis and ordained as a Catholic priest and then asked by Bishop Lopes to move to Jacksonville to be assigned to St. James.
These last five years have been an exciting priestly adventure and the future looks bright. I love being a priest with all of the challenges and opportunities that this has brought. Please continue to pray for me, that I will be a holy priest and a good pastor.
Be Inspired by the Richness of Our Traditions and Patrimony
Did you Hear the Dates of the Upcoming Movable Feasts, Chanted at Mass?
On Sunday, January 7, immediately following the gospel reading at Mass, Jeremy Dobbs chanted what is known as the Epiphany Proclamation. This is an ancient custom that is experiencing a bit of a revival within the Catholic Church. In earlier times, when calendars were not easily accessible, this sharing of important Church dates was vital. During the twentieth century, this optional Epiphany Proclamation unfortunately fell into disuse. However, although calendars and dates are now readily available, our bishops have expressed that “the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year.”
Say Goodbye to the use of the word Alleluia this Sunday, January 21
This Sunday is the last time that the Alleluia will be chanted or spoken during the liturgy at St. James, until Easter. Going back to the regulation of Pope Alexander II in 1073, the alleluia ceases to be used beginning on the first Sunday of Pre-Lent until Easter when it arises once again in a glorious proclamation of Easter joy. So say your goodbye for now: “We part from the Alleluia as from a beloved friend, whom we embrace many times and kiss on mouth, head and hand, before we leave him” (Bishop William Duranti writing in 1296 AD).
The word alleluia, which means “Praise the Lord!” has been used by the Church from apostolic times. Its use has been encouraged in private prayer, sung by pious farmers and tradesmen at their toil, and by mothers who taught their babies to pronounce alleluia before any other word. It was a favorite song of oarsmen and used as a battle cry and war song. Learn more about the glorious history of this proclamation.
Going Purple on Sunday, January 28, 2024: Getting Ready for Lent
One week following this Sunday we enter into what is known as Pre-Lent. This mini season of sorts takes place during the three Sundays prior to Lent when the liturgy takes on a more somber tone of reflection and examination in order to get ready for a good and Holy Lent. This pre-lenten custom is unfamiliar to many Catholics, however it was the norm for most of Church history up until the liturgical revision of 1969. At that time the period of Pre-Lent was eliminated for those who celebrate the Ordinary form of the Mass, but continued to be celebrated in the Extraordinary (Traditional Latin Mass) and now also in the Divine Worship (Ordinariate) form of the Mass. Beginning on this Sunday you will observe purple vestments. You will also notice that there is no Gloria during Pre-Lent and Lent.
Around the Local Diocese
January 29, 2024 – Ministry Formation Program (MFP)
The Diocesan Ministry Formation Program (MFP) is a three-year comprehensive program of study based on the USCCB document on lay ministry, “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.” The program is designed for those seeking to develop pastoral leadership skills for leading others to Christ, increase knowledge of the Catholic faith, and develop more profound personal spirituality. Five information nights are available for those who feel called to lay ministry and those currently in a position that still needs training. The following sessions will be held around the diocese: Jan. 29, Feb. 5, March 3, March 11 and March 18. Download the flyer
Catholic Days at the Capitol
The Florida Bishops invite us to join them in Tallahassee to advocate for the protection of human life and dignity as lawmakers continue the important work of shaping Florida’s laws and future for the common good. Each year during the legislative session, Catholics from across the state gather in Florida’s capitol city to put their faith and civic responsibility into action. There are a few days left to register for Catholic Days at the Capitol which will be held Feb. 6-7. A proposed Florida Constitutional Amendment allowing abortion for the entire pregnancy may be on the November ballot as a particular concern. Please contact Familylife@dosafl.com to register. Click here for a registration form.
From the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops
Below is a statement from the bishops of Florida recognizing the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on Jan. 22. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), no. 373, designates Jan. 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance. The statement is in place of the bishops’ annual Roe v. Wade statement.
Faithfully, your pastor,
St. James Catholic Church
A Community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter
Worship Location: 12447 Mandarin Rd, Jacksonville, FL