Fr. Jim's Christmas Message
So this is Christmas … a song by John Lennon, whose lyrics strike me as odd, but whose title has intrigued me. Appropriate for Christmas 2020, especially with COVID fears, restrictions and deaths; masked socially distant relationships behind glass, that are live-streamed or with face time; plus, it is winter- it is dark, cold.
So this is Christmas … whether it be a question or a statement, our response this year maybe more akin to a phrase from A Christmas Carole: Bah- humbug, rather than a Merry Christmas! Maybe this year, we are like Charlie Brown and cry out in our despair as we walk through this valley of ‘fear and death, in this time of darkness: “Will somebody tell me what Christmas is all about?”
Do we hear Linus, taking center stage echoing the whispering of the angel- “I proclaim to you good news of great joy, that will be for all people … in Bethlehem is born a Savior, the Messiah; who is Wonder Counselor, God-Hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace.”
Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s wish to dwell among us, not in a tent, not in a temple, not even in a womb, but in our very flesh, our humanity! From the time of Moses, who could not look on the face of God and live, to the birth of a child in a stable, born of Joseph’s and Mary’s YES to God, we gaze upon the face of a babe, the Son of God and come to know Life, Love, Hope, Joy!
It is said that when one looks upon a person’s face it has a claim on them, because we can’t help but understand the singular uniqueness of that person, and we read their eyes and facial lines and know what they have to and will need to endure in their journey of life and we marvel at the mystery of who they are- … but it is truest when we look on the face of an infant. That face makes a claim of us, born of an innocence of trust and love; follow me, shelter me, do as I will do!
Christmas is God’s belief in us, that we are capable of nurturing the greatest gift of love- in all its vulnerability … a baby; even in the face of the cross and Calvary’s of the world. Consider how parents silently gaze on the miracle of their enfleshed love, hopes and dreams. A child that forever changes their lives; a child that will ask of them to be less selfish and more self-giving; a child that will inspire them to improve themselves and the world in which their daughter or son will grow up in; a child that beckons us to sit on the floor and play with them- in the straw if you will, causing us to ponder … the meeting of heaven and earth, where perfection embraces our brokenness and calls us to the best of our divinity and more so of our humanity.
So this is Christmas … to gaze upon the face of God, as we are called, as the shepherds were, to the stable … for the Word was made flesh and made His dwelling among us! God became man to save us and bring us home!
So where is the stable in Setauket this year? It’s in our stay- at- home work places, with the craziness of the kids, who call us to sit on the floor and play with them? In our car parades that pass by people’s homes to celebrate a life milestone event? In our window visitations to those in nursing homes? In our phone calls, letter writing, social media contacts? In our medical personnel who have risked their health and that of their family to care for us? In those who have served us at stores, gas stations, post office, deliveries, restaurants, parish outreach, work, etc. …
This is Christmas! For maybe, just maybe, as the narrator in the Grinch who stole Christmas says: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!”― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Christmas Day will always be- just as long as we- have we. Christmas comes in spite of COVID, and all the darknesses of the present time; for God moves among us and is birthed once again in you and me. In the solitary time we have been offered through the pandemic- and in spite of the darkness- we share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men; a mystery of eternal love, calling us to the wonder of Christmas …
The Family we love
The Friends we find
The Faith we hold
The Life we’re given
The Hope of Heaven
The Joy of Grace
The Gift of Jesus!
This is Christmas- so let kindness come with every gift, good desires with every greeting, deliverance from evil by the blessing which Christ brings and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. Blessings
Call to Prayer Safety Issues
Mask It or Casket! A reminder about the importance of wearing a mask in church.
Please be advised that in accordance with CDC guidelines and our previously announced requirement that all who choose to attend Mass at St. James MUST wear either a mask or other face-covering that covers the mouth and nose is mandatory and no exceptions will be made.
Anyone observed not wearing a mask/face covering will be asked by an usher to either don a mask or immediately leave the church. Should that individual refuse to comply with the usher’s request, the ushers have been directed to interrupt the presider, who will publicly address the situation with the offender.
The wearing of face coverings has been shown to reduce transmission of droplets that may carry the coronavirus or other illnesses. As such, it is a simple and effective sign of courtesy and respect towards others in our midst.
Your cooperation is vital in order for us to continue to publicly celebrate Mass during the ongoing pandemic.
Sunday Mass has resumed at St. James
From the Pastor’s Desk
I am pleased to share with you the latest information from our diocese relative to the resumption of public worship in our churches. Our current schedule of public Mass is Saturday at 5pm, and on Sunday at 9:30am with the following restrictions:
- We are limited to 120 people at each Mass. All in attendance MUST wear a mask or face covering and all are required to practice the current CDC guidelines to maintain social distancing and remain 6 ft apart. You will find that certain pews have been roped off while others have been marked to indicate where you may be seated. In the interest of safety, please sit only in those pews that are open and appropriately marked.
- Entrance to the church will be only through the new sacristy entrance, where you will find ushers at the doors keeping count of people entering the church. While we prefer that you exit via the sacristy doors as well, the other doors may be utilized for this purpose.
- Please feel free to utilize the hand sanitizer stations located throughout the church.
- The 5pm Mass will be live streamed and taped for broadcast on our website and Facebook pages.
- Daily Mass will continue at 8am, Mon-Fri; no morning Mass on Saturday.
- The resumption of our regular Mass schedule will be revisited in the coming weeks as we continue to monitor not only Mass attendance, but the number of COVID cases in our area. The health and well being of our parishioners remains our top priority.
We have also been given the go-ahead to resume private baptisms (one family at a time), an adjustment to our previous practice of celebrating the sacrament with multiple families; if you are interested in scheduling a baptism, please call the office as soon as possible to discuss the schedule and available dates. Weddings and funerals will also resume, again following CDC guidelines related to masks, social distancing, and reduced attendance in the church.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier communications, the church we are returning to is, in so many ways, different from the church we attended a few months ago. We have endured physical separation from each other and had some of our most beloved traditions upended, specifically surrounding the Triduum days and Easter. Yet, throughout this entire ordeal, our faith has sustained us and we will once again be able to gather around the Table of the Lord within the walls of our church.
Some physical changes to the church include the long awaited replacement of our air conditioning units which took place this week; the electrical work will not take place until next week, so we ask for your patience as the workers make every effort to complete this job as quickly and safely as possible.
In addition, the new/refurbished tabernacle is in place, having been pulled forward from the alcove in which the previous tabernacle was housed. A wall has been installed that now encloses the alcove, allowing us to create additional much needed storage space. The finishing touches on this project will soon be in place, but again, I ask for your continued patience.
Amidst all of this good news, we unfortunately are faced with a deficit of $85,000 in our collections (year to date). These past months have been challenging for all of us, and the financial issues brought about by the pandemic cannot be taken lightly. As our economy begins to reopen, please continue to remember how vital your financial support is to the survival of our parish.
Finally, please allow me to not only thank all of your for your support and prayers, but to also ask you to remember that the resumption of in person celebration of Mass and all that is associated with it, is a process, and will, of necessity, continue to evolve as the weeks unfold before us. We will make every effort to keep you informed of additional changes, and invite you to regularly visit the parish website for the latest information on this rapidly developing situation.
Pax et bonum,
Looking for our virtual Masses during the COVID 19 Health Emergency? Look at our banner at the top of this page where you will find links to Holy Week celebrations as well as our weekly Masses.
For your convenience, you will also find above, links to homilies by both Fr. Jim and Fr. Fitz.
An Urgent Plea from our Laudato Si Ministry
Our common home needs us now - Brookhaven needs your voice
The Laudato Si’ Ministry wishes to draw your attention to an important, time-sensitive issue in our very own town of Brookhaven. Our household trash is burned at an incinerator, and the remaining ash is buried in the Brookhaven Landfill. This has led to air and water quality concerns, as well as health problems for the people living in the area. The Town agreed to close the landfill by 2024. However, plans are being considered to continue accepting ashes from burned garbage, perpetuating the existing environmental threat. Please check out the video ABC7NY report, linked below, to learn more.
In the spirit of Christian charity and stewardship, please consider adding your voice in support of clean air and water on Long Island and for our Brookhaven neighbors who have suffered the ill effects of the landfill for decades. Click this document to see how you can help
RECTORY OFFICE HOURS
Please be advised that our rectory office has resumed regular office hours and our staff will be available to assist you in person or on the phone during the following times:
Monday-Friday: 9am-4pm (closed for lunch 12-12:30)
In accordance with CDC guidelines, we ask that you wear an appropriate face covering when visiting the office.
Thank you for helping to keep everyone safe and healthy!
A new offering from Bp. Robert Barron's "Word on Fire" Institute
A new course has been added to the Word on Fire Institute!
VIRTUAL MASS SCHEDULE CHANGE!
We are pleased to announce that our virtual Masses will be available here on our webpage and our Facebook pages, at 5pm on Saturdays. This Mass is currently live streamed and taped for viewing at a later time for those parishioners who are unable to attend Mass in person.
The link will remain on our website homepage until 10pm on Sunday nights, after which it will be available via the "Weekly Video Mass" tab at the top of the home page.
We hope that this modification to our viewing schedule is helpful, especially for those who would typically attend the 5pm Mass on Saturdays.
Televised Masses during the COVID 19 Crisis
We are happy to tell you that through the kind generosity of St. James parishioner Jim Townsend and his partner Corey Arnold, and Corey's son Justin, of Bars and Tone Media Productions, we will continue to provide our weekend celebration of the Mass at 5pm on Saturday evenings. Mass will be available on the website as well as the parish Facebook page.
The Catholic Faith Network (CFN), will continue to provide televised and online daily Masses. CFN also offers other devotional and spiritual programs. (Optimum channel 29/137; Verizon FiOS TV channel 296 and Spectrum channel 162/471)
St. James Church will continue to be open Mon-Sat 8am-5pm for private prayer, reading of scripture and adoration before the tabernacle. In accordance with the latest directives provided by Governor Cuomo on April 18, please wear an appropriate face covering/mask when leaving your homes.
We, the Catholic community of the Three Village area, formed as the Body of Christ through the waters of Baptism, are a pilgrim community journeying toward the fullness of the Kingdom of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, nourished by the Eucharist and formed by the Gospel.
We strive to respond to Jesus’ invitation: to be faithful and fruitful disciples; to be a Good Samaritan to (our) neighbor and enemy; stewards of and for God’s creation and living witnesses of Faith, Hope and Charity … so that in Jesus’ name, we may be a welcoming community, respectful of life in all its diversities.
Mass Times and Sacraments
Weekdays and Saturdays: 8:00 am
Saturday: 5:00 pm Youth Mass (live-streamed and taped)
Sunday: 8:00 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am
Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Saturdays 4:00 - 4:45 pm
and by appointment.
One Family in Mission, Called to Evangelize
To donate, please visit: https://www.drvc.org/cma/
Give On-Line Securely
During this time of uncertainty surrounding the COVID19 virus, many of us will choose to remain at home and not venture out to church or other places where large groups of people may gather. While respecting that choice, please remember that our parish still needs our financial support in order to meet regular operating expenses such as electric bills, heating/cooling, water and payroll. If you have not already signed up for electronic giving via Faith Direct, please consider doing so now.
Thank you for your continued support of St. James.
Give securely either here on-line or by texting: 631.206.5614
Click on the link below to make a one time gift through Faith Direct: Faith Direct