He must increase…

06-24-2018Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“He must increase; I must decrease.” – St. John 3:30

Before continuing with our Ordinary – or numbered – Time, we pause to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Generally, the Church only celebrates the birth into heaven of Saints, i.e., their day of death. But in fact, there are three earthly birthdays – or nativities – that we celebrate: Jesus at Christmas (of course), the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sept. 8), and today (June 24), St. John the Baptist.

This feast day comes at an important point of the year. Believe it or not, the days are already getting shorter. In speaking of Christ, John the Baptist said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Saint John’s nativity falls when the days are beginning to get shorter, while Jesus’ nativity occurs in the dark of winter when the days begin to get longer. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Since John the Baptist is also the Patron Saint of our diocese, the Diocese of Charleston, we pray in a special way for our witness as a diocese to the Good News. May everyone who sees you and me see instead not us but Christ shining through us as His disciples. Be a shining light of Christ’s love and mercy!

This week we have another important feast day on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul are copatrons of Church of Rome, both having given up their lives there. We pray for the Universal Church and the Pope in a special way this day. I’d like to encourage you to come to Mass this day for another reason. It was on June 29, 1853, that our parish in Aiken was formally established. For 165 years, St. Mary’s parish has striven to raise up new disciples of Jesus Christ. Come to Holy Mass and pray in thanksgiving to God for our past; and also pray in joyful hope for the future that we can show forth in our words and deeds as true disciples of Christ right here in Aiken, S.C.

In your kindness please pray for Fr. Ernie Hepner. He is fine, but he has been recovering from some minor surgery, which has kept him from offering Mass publicly.

How great it was to see our seminarian Will Frei home for the summer from his studies in Rome! Will is assigned to Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach this summer. If you’re up that way, be sure to say hello. Please also keep our over twenty seminarians studying for the diocese in your prayers. And keep up those prayers that more men will answer the call!

Finally, Fr. Michel has just returned from a seminar, and I am headed away on vacation. Many of you are also travelling for a well-deserved summer break. May God bless and protect you in your comings and goings.

As always, let us pray for each other!

Father Wilson