This weekend’s Gospel from Luke offers insight and reflection on several parables offered by Jesus. What is the wisdom Jesus is attempting to get us to comprehend in this weekend’s Gospel? The first question is why is Jesus associating with sinners? The next question is what is the purpose of the parables of finding the lost sheep that strays from the flock, the woman who discovers the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son? All of these parables tie into the teaching of finding those lost souls who are repeat offenders in sin, yet fostering reconciliation. I remind us all that the Church is not an institution for the righteous and perfect, but instead the Church should be recognized as a hospital for the sin-sick souls and souls who are lost. The Church is to be seen as an instrument of God’s love, mercy, and reconciliation, rather than a place that condemns and judges. It is not a coincidence that behind us is the Christus St. Mary’s Healthcare Center that offers physical wellness and healing, and here at St. James Parish we offer Jesus Christ, the divine physician, who heals our wounded and broken souls. Our mission here at St. James Parish is to seek out the lost souls and welcome those who feel lost or wounded in their souls-that all will receive the healing and renewing love and mercy of the Lord.
During the month of September, the Roman Catholic Church, honors Our Lady of Sorrows. The Memorial Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows, takes place this year on Thursday, September 15th. On Wednesday, September 14th, is the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross. Are you familiar with the Sorrows of Mary? Here are the Seven Sorrows of Mary:
The Prophesy of Simeon in the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought the Infant Jesus there; the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath; the loss of Jesus in the Temple area; Jesus meets His afflicted Mother Mary as He carried His Cross; the Crucifixion and death of Jesus on the Cross; taking the body of Jesus down from the Cross; the burial of Jesus in the tomb. Also during the month of September there are several important feast days: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sept. 8), St. Peter Claver (Sept. 9), St. Matthew the Evangelist (Sept. 21), St. Padre Pio (Sept. 23), St. Vincent de Paul (Sept. 27), The Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (Sept. 29), and St. Jerome (Sept. 30).
According to CatholicCulture.org the recipe for the month is St. Michael Waffles, or Gaufres, which is popular in France. May all have a blessed and productive month of September and that we be blessed through the prayerful intercession of Holy Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows.
Every day we need to reflect on and count our blessings from God. How often do we do this? When was the last time we truly offered a heartfelt, and soul stirring prayer of gratitude and thanks to Almighty God? We need to pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace of gratitude and thanksgiving to touch our hearts. We need to pray for ourselves and for others, that the Holy Spirit will renew our entire being, and fill us with hope and trust in the Lord. Prayer changes things and moves all things, in God’s divine time. Please join me in helping to foster a spirit of prayer within our parish community in order to encourage us in our faith. May we remain dedicated in prayer for the continued repair, renewal, and restoration of our parish, the city, the southeast Texas community, and this nation. Let us prayerfully give praise and thanks to God!
I read this article online from a website titled, “The Amazing Parish,” and I wanted to share it with the parish community.
5 SIGNS YOUR PARISH IS HEALTHY
1. The Pastor, Employees, and Volunteers all strive for excellence valuing accountability, and responsibility, so that the parish runs smoothly.
2. The Pastor receives support from parishioners, and is not the only one keeping things going.
3 Pastors are not only administrative leaders, but also spiritual ones. Parishioners have the opportunity to pray with their priests, and learn from their witness.
4. The parish places front and center the vibrant celebration of the Mass,encouraging parishioners to delve deeper into their faith and parish life.
5. Prayer-The parish is constantly praying for the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR PARISH HEALTH:
1. Participate in the spiritual and community life of the parish.
2. Offer your skills and talents to your pastor-you never know how you can help the parish thrive.
We must realize and understand that being a Christian and following Jesus will bring into our lives rejection and opposition. Whoever believes that being a Christian means that it’s supposed to be a “cakewalk,” is sadly mistaken and deceived. We have a choice to make in our lives: we can choose to pray for a fire of passionate faith within our hearts, or be passionate in a negative sort of way in being concerned about being comfortable, or in apathy in regards to our faith. Do we have enough to persevere in division, especially when it comes down to losing relationships with people who are in our lives because we decided to side with God and stand up for our Christian faith? Always know and believe that our prayer to the Lord and the guidance of the Holy Spirit will help us in the difficult and challenging situations we will have to face in deciding to side with God, or side with those who reject God.
On August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, body, and soul. The solemnity of the Assumption is usually a Holy Day of Obligation, but because on the calendar it falls on Monday of this year it will not be a Holy Day of Obligation. We will have Mass that day at 7 am only in the church, and no other Masses that Monday. Any Holy Day of Obligation that falls on a Monday, Friday, or Saturday is dispensed from being recognized as a Holy Day of Obligation except Christmas and New Year’s Day. I wonder if you knew that just as we have an “Octave” period, meaning eight days of liturgical celebration, just as we do at Christmas and Easter, there is one for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Eight days later following the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, on August 22nd, is the feast day of the Queenship of Mary, commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary being crowned as Queen of Heaven and earth. Let us continue to ask for the prayerful help of Holy Mother Mary!
St. James parish is still in repair, restore, and renewal “mode.” By the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are accomplishing great things here in our parish. Blessed are those souls who are responding to God’s call and invitation to be good, loving, and faithful Christian stewards in our parish community. I am still praying for those who are not accepting God’s invitation to become active stewards in our parish, but I have hope that those who are not involved will trust and respond to the Lord’s invitation. I especially want to welcome back to our parish those that have left our parish at one time, or who have strayed away from the practice of the faith. As the saying goes, “there is strength in numbers,” so we need as many Christian bodies as necessary, as well as, everyone’s prayers so that we may continue to positively build up what is being done in our parish and in this community!
July 25, on the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, is the feast day of St. James the Apostle, who is the patron saint of our parish.
St. James, often referred to as “the Major” or “the Greater” was the brother of the Apostle St. John the Evangelist. St. James and St. John were the two sons of Zebedee, and both worked with their father in the fishing business when Jesus called them to follow Him.
St. James, along with St. John and St. Peter the Apostle, were specifically chosen by Christ to witness Jarius’ daughter raised from the dead, to witness the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and to be close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene.
St. James was the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom by decapitation, by order of Herod Agrippa I, in the year 44 A.D.
St. James is the patron saint of pilgrims, and patron saint of Spain, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. St. James, pray for us!
Our Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program will be starting in September of 2016. The RCIA is a program for those who wish to inquire about possibly becoming a Roman Catholic, or possibly would like to return to the Catholic faith.
RCIA provides basic information regarding the teachings and Doctrines of the faith and about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments of the Catholic faith, Catholic liturgy and worship, the saints, and other topics regarding the faith.
Do you know of someone who is interested in becoming Catholic, or is interested in returning to the Catholic Church?
Here at St. James Church we have not had anyone go through the RCIA since 2014, and that was only one person.
So what are you doing to help promote the faith? What can you do to encourage, or reach out to those in our community who might want to be a part of the RCIA journey?
I do hope and pray that this upcoming RCIA session for 2016-2017 will be a great period of interest and inquiry, as well as meeting new people who are curious about the Catholic faith.
Are you ready and open to help foster interest about Our Lord, and His Church?
ALL ARE INVITED TO JOIN US THIS WEDNESDAY, JULY 20TH, 2016 AT 6:30 PM, IN HONOR OF THE LIFE AND SERVICE OF PORT ARTHUR NATIVE, DALLAS POLICE SGT. MICHAEL SMITH. WE WILL HAVE A MEMORIAL MASS AT 6:30 PM, AND FOLLOWING THE MASS WILL BE A LIGHT RECEPTION IN KIRWIN HALL.
THE PORT ARTHUR POLICE DEPT. WILL BE PRESENT AT THE EVENT
Rev. David Edwards
Pastor, St. James Catholic Church