Dear St. James Family,
Greetings on this memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.
Happy Adventide! Bishop Lopes will be arriving in a couple of days. I’m looking forward to meeting with him to get his thoughts on our future as a community. We have the fundraising dinner this Saturday evening to assist in obtaining the funds needed for a building for our community. On Sunday there will be ten confirmations (two of these will also be receiving their first communion) at the first Mass and a gentleman officially coming into the Church at the second Mass. The following Sunday, December 17, is Guadete Sunday or rejoice Sunday when we will be lighting the rose candle in the Advent Wreath. The last Sunday of Advent, December 24, will conclude the season with an opportunity for “Last Chance Confessions” which you can click on below to learn more in the upcoming dates. Advent is a favorite season of the year for many. Be sure to check out the various things coming up below.
Also, quick reminder that tomorrow, December 8 is a holy day of obligation in remembrance of the Immaculate Conception. I’ll be celebrating Mass at St. James at 5:30 PM, though if you are an early bird, you can instead come to Assumption Catholic Church at 6:30 AM. I will also be celebrating that Mass. Either way, make sure you find a place to fulfill your priestly duty tomorrow.
Grow and Be Challenged in your Faith: Listen to a Homily
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.
Signs that the End is Near, from Scripture and the Church Fathers
Jesus said to take heed and watch. Be guided by St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church and expert in Scripture, Church Fathers, and History, so that you can read the signs taking place and be ready for Jesus’ return.
The Hauntingly Simple Criteria on Judgement Day: Care for the Poor
Curious to find out why Jesus identified himself so closely with the “least of these, my brethren,” so much so that disregarding them can place you in eternal peril? Learn the answer to this question and be inspired to greatness. Discover from the poor more fully who God is and who you are, and your purpose.
Do you have a good size flatscreen TV that I can use at the dinner? I am bringing a 43” but if I could find something a bit bigger, people could see better some of the pictures that I’ll be showing. There will be a little over seventy people in attendance.
Also, I thought it might be helpful for you to have the full schedule for this fun evening at the Southbank hotel:
Limited Confession Time this Sunday: Available from about 9:30 – 10 AM
I am unable to provide the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to the 8:00 AM Mass this Sunday because of all of the required preparations of those receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at that Mass. However, Fr. Ernie Davis has generously agreed to hear confessions prior to our primary (10:15 AM) Mass. You can expect to find him waiting for you in the concessional from about 9:30 AM until 10:00 AM around which time he will be going to get vested for Mass.
Give Yourself Extra Commute Time for Mass on December 10, 2023 due to Marathon
I would recommend leaving your house a good twenty minutes earlier than you normally do if you are planning to join us for the Bishop’s talk at 9:30 AM or Mass at 10:15 AM. There will be a large number of runners on Mandarin Road and Brady Road participating in a marathon. This will greatly slow traffic and add extra time to your commute. Please plan accordingly.
Learn how to Give your Christmas Tree a Special Blessing on December 17, 2023
Our Cathedral has assembled a little booklet that you can use on the Blessing of the Family Christmas tree. On December 17, 2023 you can pick up your own copy of this booklet and pray the blessings as a family over your tree on Christmas Eve, as is traditional or at another time near Christmas that works for your family.
A great way to make this Christmas tree blessing special is to delay adding Christmas ornaments to your tree until Christmas eve. During Adventide, keep it simple. Some idea would be to use white lights only or perhaps decorate the tree with purple ornaments. Then on Christmas eve, add the colored lights and Christmas decorations, use the family blessing and ceremonially light the tree! What a great way to enter Christmastide and make this time special for your family.
This is a great opportunity to bring the Lord’s blessing into your house and family during this special season.
Make your Christmas Mass Plans
Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2023, 4:30 PM: Experience hope, joy, and wonder. Beautiful traditional music including choir, organist, and violinist, a message of hope, the Last Gospel, and the cherished tradition of singing Silent Night together at the end of the Mass. This Mass will not have incense.
Christmas Day, Monday, December 25, 2023 10:15 AM: Celebrate the Lord on the day of his birth, and avoid the crowds. Beautiful reflective Mass, Christmas hymns led by song leader and organist, a message of hope, service concludes with the Last Gospel, and singing Joy to the World. There will be incense at this Mass.
Does the Christmas Eve Mass on December 24, 2023 Fulfill my Sunday Obligation?
Well, um, no. The Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas) falls on Monday this year. This means that any Masses on Sunday evening are that of Christmas Eve Vigil and not the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Even though on a Monday, Christmas remains a Holy Day of Obligation, and due to the obligatory character of both the Sunday and Monday, attendance is required. That means that after getting to Mass on Sunday morning, your Christmas obligation can be fulfilled at St. James either at the Christmas eve 4:30 PM Mass or on Christmas day at 10:15 AM. Thanks for faithfulness in fulfilling your priestly duty through your prayers at Mass :-).
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Happy Advent! Five Ways to Use this Season Well
Adventide is the four week season leading up to the birth of Christ. Advent comes from the Latin word for “coming” or “arrival” and it is a season of preparation to rightly celebrate Christ’s first coming as a babe in Bethlehem, and a season of anticipating Christ’s promised return and preparing our hearts for the day when we meet him, either at our death or at his Second Coming. Each week we light another of the four Advent candles, we sing Advent and carols, and we look for ways to take His light into the world.
This is a season for growing in your faith. I would like to encourage you to deepen your faith during this season of preparation. Here are five ways to do just that:
Need an Advent Wreath?
One of our parishioners, Michelle Geraci, has crafted a couple of advent wreaths that she would like to gift to any parishioners of St. James who might have need. If that is you, please contact email@example.com.
Last Sunday, we held our second collection for the Retirement Fund for Priests. If you still wish to make a contribution, please pick up a donation card and pre-addressed envelope this Sunday from the back table or give online. Thanks for participating in the long-term care for our priests by making a gift to this important campaign!
If evangelization is important to you, St. James is a great place to invest for the kingdom. Over fifty percent of our community is made up of converts. Last year, those who took our initiation class and became Catholic made up twenty five percent of our Sunday attendance! I have yet to learn about any other parish with these numbers. The Holy Spirit is at work and the evangelical charism of our patron, St. James the Great, is evident! If effective evangelization through reverent liturgy, helpful teaching, and welcoming community is important to you, join us with your support.
Quick update on the building that we are considering leasing. This morning I met with the realtor and an HVAC contractor at the building. It is looking like the landlord will be installing all new AC and ductwork and I wanted to have a say in how this will be laid out. We are currently working on bringing together a lease proposal for the landlord so that negotiations can begin. Because the space will require a buildout to arrange the walls to our needs as well as electrical and a small amount of plumbing, the proposal requires a good amount of research and preparations. I’m currently awaiting a quote from a general contractor on the overall project for the work that we are not able to do ourselves. The good news is that because we are looking to improve the value of the space, we should be able to negotiate a decent tenant improvement allowance. This is an exciting time for us as a community! If you would like to have input on any of this, please reach out to me. Should we decide to move forward, this project will require many hands.
By Inspired by the Richness of Our Patrimony
Advent Ember Days
Yesterday, December 6 and Saturday, December 9, are both Ember Days on the Ordinariate calendar. These are special days of prayer, fasting, and penance through which we ask the Lord to bless the winter season. Friday, December 8, would normally also be an Ember day with the requirement to abstain from meat, but this year the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception falls on this Friday and thus supersedes the Ember Day. Instead of fasting, this is a day of celebration in honor of this unique way that the Lord redeemed his Blessed Mother, by creating her without the stain of original sin. However, you are still invited to offer special prayers on Ember Wednesday and Saturday. You can find them listed here.
Sapientiatide: Mini Season of the O Antiphons leading up to Christmas
While the traditional reckoning of the Advent Embers is in the Third Week of Advent (nearest St. Lucy’s day), the Ordinariate was given permission to shift them to the First Week of Advent. This was done to safeguard the full observation of the O Antiphons (Sapientiatide), from 17-24 December in the Ordinariate calendar.
Sapientiatide, is so named after the first of the seven traditional O Antiphons – O Sapientia – which are part of Vespers, in the Roman Divine Office. To these seven, the Sarum tradition adds O Virgo virginum on Christmas Eve, forming an octave of preparation leading to Christmas day. The O Antiphons are, perhaps, most widely from the verses of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; however, they have been the inspiration for many pieces of Advent poetry and prose over the centuries.
Guéranger remarks that the antiphons were appropriately assigned to the Vesper Hour because the Saviour came in the evening hour of the world and that they were attached to the Magnificat to honour her through whom He came. Each Antiphon addresses Jesus with a messianic title derived from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, and whose initial letters, when read backwards (i.e. – from the perspective of Christmas Day), form a Latin acrostic “Ero cras” which means “Tomorrow I will be.” After the Scriptural invocation, we beseech the Lord to come and free us from sin, death, and darkness. As one commentator put it: As we take the words and images of the prophets in our mouths, we join their cry for the coming of the babe of Bethlehem.
Together with Gaudete Sunday, Sapientiatide marks a shift in the Advent season. We continue to prepare ourselves for the second coming of Christ, when he will come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire; yet, even as our preparations intensify in this second half of Advent (and even as our earthly preparations for the holidays ahead intensify!), Holy Mother Church, in the prayers and biblical readings of Sapientiatide, reinvigorates her children and renews our zeal as she reminds us of the hope, the mercy, and the promise that accompanied Our Lord’s first coming at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
Families can make up their own ceremonies using the O Antiphons and Scripture by singing or listening to O Come, O Come Emmanuel, adorning a Jesse Tree or Chrismon tree, or creating a variation of the Advent calendar. To pray the O Antiphons as they are prayed in the Divine Office, begin with the Antiphon, then pray the Magnificat, then repeat the Antiphon.
A good reflection and explanation of the liturgical catechesis of the O Antiphons can be found at the New Liturgical Movement site.
Advent Anthems: The Great O Antiphons
December 17 O Sapientia
O WISDOM, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.
December 18 O Adonai
O ADONAI, and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai: come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.
December 19 O Radix Jesse
O ROOT OF JESSE, which standest for an ensign of the peoples, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek: come and deliver us, and tarry not.
December 20 O Clavis David
O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the house of Israel; that openest, and no man shutteth, and shuttest, and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner out of the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death.
December 21 O Oriens
O DAY-SPRING, Brightness of the Light everlasting and Sun of righteousness: come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 22 O Rex gentium
O KING OF THE NATIONS, and their Desire; the Corner-stone, who makest both one: come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay.
December 23 O Emmanuel
O EMMANUEL, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Salvation: come and save us, O Lord our God.
December 24 O Virgo virginum
O VIRGIN of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
Faithfully, your pastor,