Happy Advent to you! How are you? Hope you are doing well. Now some of you reading the title for this eNewsletter might be thinking, “Is this some way for Fr. James to shamelessly talk about his hometown or is it a thinly veiled joke about his name?” I can assure you that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding, “No.” :)
The truth of the matter is that a couple of weeks ago I offered a reflection about the travels of Christopher Columbus to the “New World” of the Americas. In God’s Providential Plan, today also marks a significant date in the history of sailing and travels to what would become the United States of America. It was on December 19, 1606 that three ships left England and made their way towards the future settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. The names of those ships - the
are worth a bit of pondering.
was the largest of the three sailing vessels that landed in modern-day Jamestown. Its name is a two-fold bit of mystery: (1) There was not a historical figure of prominence with that particular name; and (2) The boat has sometimes been referred to as the
. Since names and words intrigue me with their etymology and significance we shall take a quick look into the meaning of “Susan,” “Sarah,” and “Constant.” The name “Susan” comes from Hebrew and can have the significance of “to be joyful.” The name “Sarah” also finds its roots in Hebrew and can mean “lady” or “princess.” It might go without saying but “Constant” can be defined as “steadfast” or “faithful.” In our own faith journey we are given the grace “to be joyful” and “steadfast” with the prayerful help of our spiritual “lady,” that is to say Our Blessed Mother. To be sure she is a queen rather than a princess but the truth remains that she has a royal identity in connection with her Son, Christ the King.
The second ship to set sail with folks from England to what would become Jamestown was called the
. According to etymological researchers the phrase compound word “Godspeed” first came into prominence in the 1300s. It had the connotation of wishing someone well in his or her endeavors. We certainly desire good things for our family members and friends and those for whom we care among the living and deceased. St. Paul also exhorted the early Christian communities to, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14). While not easy to do, the Love of Christ can empower us to bless and pray for those who are near and dear to us and even those for whom we have a tough time doing so. May we do so with Godspeed and not at the snail speed that can sometimes happen to us in the human family.
The third and smallest ship from England back in 1606 was the
. Nowadays when I hear that word the first things that come to mind are the TV station of the same name and one of the iterations of Star Trek. In the realm of our beliefs, by the goodness of the Lord, we can make a new discovery about God, theology, sacred scripture, or any other matter related to our faith on a daily basis. Together we all press onward in the journey not towards the settlement of Jamestown but to the eternal settlement that God has prepared for us in Heaven.