Praised be Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother! The Apostles’ Creed has twelve articles of faith. From the most ancient times it has been the tradition of the Catholic Church that each Apostle contributed one of each of the twelve articles of faith. During the Church’s Liturgical Year of Grace we celebrate the Feasts of each of the Apostles. Generally speaking, in every month we keep the Feast of one of the twelve Apostles. Their Feasts are usually kept toward the latter part of each month.
Thus in June (June 29th) we kept our own patronal Feast, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul. This month (August 24th) we will keep the Feast of St. Bartholomew, in September (the 21st) we will keep St. Matthew, in October (the 28th ) we will keep Saints Simon and Jude, and then in November (the 30th ) we will keep the Feast of St. Andrew, the First-Called of the Twelve. Since the end of November is the beginning of the Liturgical Year which starts on the First Sunday in Advent we keep the Feast of the First-Called Apostle St. Andrew at the very beginning of the Liturgical Year.. And each month we keep the Feast of an Apostle. But for this week’s mediation I would like to think of St. James, whose Feast is kept each year on July 25th just a week ago.
Like his brother St. John the Apostle and author of the fourth Gospel, St. James was a fisherman. Their father was Zebedee and their mother was Salome who was one of the holy women who stood with Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross.
After Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, St. James preached the Gospel at what was then considered the very end of the earth, the Finis Terrae, Spain. St. James labored arduously and yet was unable to make even one convert in the vast Iberian Peninsula. One day he was so discouraged that he sat at the bank of the River Ebro weeping copiously. Suddenly he heard the sound of beautiful signing and saw a bright light. Our Lady appeared to him standing on top of a pillar. She is the Joy of All that Sorrow, the Consolation of the Afflicted, and the Comfort of those who mourn. Just her appearance gave him the courage to continue his great work of the evangelization of the Spanish people. Today on that very spot where Our Lady appeared in the city of Zaragoza there is a great Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. Many Spanish women bear the name Maria Pilar in her honor. The Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Marianist Congregation who are so much a part of our parish family, received his inspiration to found the Marianist Congregation while praying at that very shrine.
After his great work of evangelization in Spain, St. James returned to Jerusalem and there became the first of the Apostles to be martyred.
But the Spanish people would not be deprived of the presence of their beloved missionary. The body of St. James was brought from Jerusalem to Spain in the fourth century. However, in the seventh century the Moslems crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered Spain, putting many Christians to death and enslaving many others. The body of the Apostle was hidden so that it would not be desecrated
Many had forgotten where the body had been hidden but in the tenth century a great miracle occurred. Above a field in the extreme northwest of Spain (the province of Galicia) the stars began to shine brilliantly leading the faithful to discover the body of their beloved father and teacher St. James. This Field of Stars (in Latin Campus Stellarum) is today the great City of Compostella. There so many Christians throughout the centuries that have come to pray before the tomb of that Apostle who witnessed the glory of the transfiguration and witnessed the bloody sweat of Our Lord in the Agony in the Garden. Many people even to our own day walk the Way of St. James or El Camino de Santiago. It is on that journey that many promises have been made to God and where many graces have been given. Let us pray that St. James will ever lead us along the way of salvation and protect us from all dangers of body and soul.
In my short time here I have been so impressed with your generosity in donations of time, talent and treasure. So many parishioners have come forward willing to express their willingness to work to build the Kingdom of God here at our beloved St. Paul. Much of it is unseen. But God and Our Lady always see. And so may I sincerely pray the God will reward each and every one of you. It is your generosity which has allowed us to meet our goal in the Catholic Ministries Appeal. It is your generosity that allowed us to install a state of the art sound system in the Church. It is your generosity that has allowed us to make the Church a true House of God. O Lord, I love the beauty of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells (Psalm 42).
Please be sure to see the Center Stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar for which so many of our parishioners have been working for such a long time. Please join me in thanking everyone from the squires for their fine service to our dear ladies who clean the weekday Mass Chapel to those who are making the rectory a bright, cheerful and welcoming home to those who bring joy and consolation to the sick and elderly. I would go on for another 15 pages in thanking everyone, but may all be assured of my sincere gratitude and a special remembrance at every Holy Mass which I am privileged to offer.
Our Lady’s Lent: In many places of the Church it is the custom and tradition to keep a fast beginning on August 1st until August 15th. It is given the charming name of Our Lady’s Lent. It is a fast in honor of Our Lady as we celebrate her principal feast of the year on August 15th, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I would encourage our parishioners to follow this ancient spiritual practice.
Mass Manners: It seems that here at St. Paul there is a great deal of movement during Holy Mass. It would seem a reasonable request that those, who for one reason or another, expect to be walking through the Church during Mass not sit in the very first rows. Thus leaving and returning to the pews is less distracting and does not call attention to oneself. If one should leave their place during Mass, one may consider not returning to the same place in the front, but perhaps to discreetly and humbly sit toward the rear of the Church. Since we are blessed to have slate floors often a great deal of noise and disorder is created by walking up and down the aisles. Even in secular theaters this is not permitted. One should never run in Church. There is often a great deal of rushing. When we worship God there is no hurry. Once Holy Mass has begun one should not walk to the first rows to be seated.
St. Philip Neri: To begin and end well, devotion to Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of God, is nothing less than indispensable.
St. Josémaria Escrivá: Do not make excuses by saying that is my character. It is really your lack of character. Be brave and be a saint!-
Pope Benedict XVI: Look at the face of the other…Discover that he has a soul, a history and a life, that he is a person and that God loves this person…
May God bless you and Mary keep you,
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda