Author Archives: DGonz47es

Living as Missionary Disciples

This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 17, 2017. The 2017 theme will be “Living as Missionary Disciples.” Those who the Community has designated to serve as catechists will be commissioned at each of the Masses, for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

Pastor’s Notes – September 17, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

One day, in a religion class, the teacher told the students many wonderful stories about Jesus. She said, “Alex, where is Jesus?” “Jesus is in heaven” answered Alex. “Very good,” said the teacher. The teacher next said, “Olivia, where is Jesus?” “Jesus is in my hear,” Olivia answered. Again, the teacher said, “Very good.” The teacher then turned to Jimmy and said, “Jimmy, where is Jesus?” Jimmy said, “Jesus is in the bathroom.” Puzzled with his answer she asked, “Why do you say that?” Jimmy responded, “Because every morning dad bangs on the bathroom door and yells, “Jesus Christ, are you still in there?”

This Sunday we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. We bless all the teachers who will be teaching in St. Gerard Catholic Faith Formation program. Each year there is a special theme for Catechetical Sunday. Our theme this year is “Living as Missionary Disciples.” ‘Missionary Disciples’ is a term which we will be hearing about more and more. As a Catholic Church, we are missionary disciples. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who has called us. We have been baptized into Jesus Christ. We learn more about Jesus. And then we the disciples are sent out as missionaries to welcome more folks into the flock. When we were baptized we heard the words of Christ, “Go out to all peoples, be with all peoples and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

We hear in our readings this weekend that the ‘Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion.’ What a comfort it is to know that the Lord is kind and merciful. We are all sinners. We do things that are wrong. We do stupid things and even fall into sin. But the Lord is an understanding Lord. The Lord is always ready to forgive. We hear in Matthew’s gospel how Jesus tells us that we must forgive not seven times, but seventy-seven times. No need to count the number of times leading up to 77 times. ‘Seventy-seven’ means that we forgive, as God forgives, as many times as a person requests for forgiveness. That could be 7 times, or 77 times, or 77 billion times. Anyone living the message of the gospel have discovered how difficult it is to forgive. Deep in our hearts we know we must forgive. But at times we cannot put forgiveness into words and say, “I forgive you.”

The Amish folks in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 2006, gave us a beautiful example of forgiveness after the ‘Amish School Shooting.’ When most people would say, “I will never forgive” the Amish not only forgave but also reached out to comfort the killer’s family. After this senseless shooting a pastor wrote: A grandfather of one of the Amish girls who was murdered in Lancaster County, said of the killer on the day of the murders, “We must not think evil of this man.”

A member of the Brethren community living near the Amish explained, “I don’t thin there’s anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way, but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.”

The Amish reached out to the family of the killers within hours of the shooting and have since established a charitable fund for his family. Five girls, ranging in age from 6 to 13, were injured. The response of the friends and neighbors, parents and grandparents was ‘Regardless of what you have done to our children we will not withhold our love from you.’

Albert Speer was one of the high ranking Nazi. He was one of Hitler’s ministers. He was convinced at Nuremberg to spending the rest of his life in Spandau prison. He wrote of the huge burden of guilt he carried. He said that he could never forgive himself. But he responded to Simon Wiesenthal’s who wrote a book about the atrocities of the concentration camps. He said that Wiesenthal showed kindness to him when they met after the war. There was no reproach, anger or hatred, and how much that had helped, and that as a result his burden felt lighter. The final line of his letter in reply to Wiesenthal says was this: ” It is God’s grace that has touched me through you.”

“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees. “Yes sir, I do,” said the employee. Then the boss said, “That’s good because after you left the office early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she dropped by to see you.”

Next Saturday – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. there will be an Archdiocesan Assembly at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. It is called: V Encuentro. V Encuentro means ‘fifth encounter.’ Over the years there have been encounters (I; II; III; IV) to reach out to all peoples, especially Hispanics. Since the Hispanic population is rapidly growing in the United States the United States Council of Catholic Bishops have developed a strategy to reach out to all people, especially the Hispanics who have recently arrived in the United States. It is designed to make everyone welcomed in our parishes and Archdiocese. With open arms we embrace everyone into our faith communities. It is a free event. So, I encourage everyone to attend.

Two wise old men were engaged in an animated conversation. “Since you are so wise,” said one sarcastically, “try to answer this question: Why is it that when a slice of buttered bread falls to the ground, it’s bound to fall on the buttered side?”

The other sage was a bit of a scientist. He decided to disprove this theory with a practical experiment. He buttered a slice of bread. Then, he dropped it. “There you are,” he shouted triumphantly. “The bread, as you can see, did not fall on the buttered side at all. So, where is your theory now?”

“Ah-ha!” laughed the other cynically. “You think you are so smart!” You buttered the bread on the wrong side!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 10, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly Florida finished her grocery shopping. With her arms filled with groceries she returned to her car. There she found four young mend about ready to drive off…in her car. She dropped her shopping bags, screamed at the top of her voice. Then she grabbed a handgun from her purse and shouted, “I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of my car, you scumbags!” The men didn’t hesitate one bit. They bolted out of the car and ran like crazy. The lady, a bit shaken, proceeded to load her groceries into the back seat of the car. She got in, ready to drive away. She tried and tried. No luck! She glanced over at the items in the front seat and noticed that they were not hers. She checked the glove compart. Nothing in there was hers. She finally realized that she was in the wrong car.

She found her car five spaces down the line. She put her groceries in her car and drove immediately to the police station. She told the sergeant what had happened. He began laughing as he pointed to four frightened young men at the end of the counter. These lads were reporting a carjacking by a crazed elderly woman, brandishing a hand gun. ‘Happy Grandparent day.’

Monday is ‘Patriot Day.’ It is the day that the United States, and the world, remembers the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington. The day is commonly referred to as 9-11 (Nine Eleven). It is believed that 2,977 people died in the 4 attacks. President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11th Patriot Day in 2002.

On September 11th, United States flags should be flown at half-mast – both on U.S. soil and abroad. A moment of silence is held at 8:46 a.m. (EST) across the nation – commemorating the time the first plane struck the North tower of the World Trade Center. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum takes up over half of the destroyed World Trade Center site. It contains bronze parapets inscribed with the names of those killed on September 11, 2001, and those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

There is an old legend about St. Francis visiting the Sultan of Egypt. The Sultan tried to ensnare the saint in an uncompromising situation. The Sultan directed his staff to lay a carpet on the floor leading up to his throne. Crosses were weaved into the carpet. The Sultan said: “If he walks on those crosses I shall accuse him of insulting me.” As Francis approached the throne he walked on the crosses that had been weaved into the carpet. Immediately the Sultan charged him of insulting his God. But Francis answered: “Our Lord died between two thieves. The thieves also hung on crosses. We Christians have the true Cross; but the crosses of the thieves we leave to you. Without shame I walked on the crosses of thieves.”

We will be celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Thursday. The feast day is also called ‘Triumph of the Cross.’ The cross is a symbol of our Christian faith. The cross becomes significant in our lives only because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was crucified on the cross.

Early in the fourth century, St. Helena, another of the Roman Emperor Constatine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. Tradition had it that the temple of Aphrodite was built over the tomb of Jesus Christ. She ordered the temple he razed. Then, her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre over it. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus was identified when a dying woman touched it and was healed. From that time on the cross became an object of veneration.

We will be celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Friday. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was formerly known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. In 1668 the Servite Friars began a devotion to the suffering Virgin Mary. In 1814, Pius VII extended the devotion to the whole Western Church.

The Seven Sorrows (or Dolors)  are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary which are a popular devotion and are frequently depicted in art. Mary’s sorrows are:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35) or the Circumcision of Christ
  2. The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
  3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
  4. Mary’s meeting of Jesus on the way to Calvary.
  5. Jesus dying on the cross. (John 19:25)
  6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
  7. Placing of the body of Jesus in the tomb. (John 19:40-42).

The Seraphic Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows staff the Chapel of Divine Mercy on Beethoven as well as St. Francis Nursing Home on Woodlawn. We Redemptorists celebrate daily Mass at the chapel and frequently celebrate Mass at the nursing home. Happy feast day Sisters!

You can’t turn the clock back but you can wind it up again.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – September 3, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A woman hired a painter to paint all the rooms on the second floor of her home. Later in the afternoon she began to wonder if he was making any progress. She hadn’t heard a sound for hours. So, she shouted up the stairs to the painter, “Are you working hard?” “Yes, ma’am. I am,” came his reply. The woman shouted louder, “Well, I can’t hear you!” “My dear lady,” said the painter, “I want you to know that I ain’t putting it on with a hammer.!”

It is Labor Day weekend. We applaud all workers. Whether we make sounds while we are working or we work in silence; whether we work with our hands or not’ whether we work alone or with a team, we come to honor the sacred gift of work and the people who work for a living.

On day, in 1853, George Crum, head chef at a posh Saratoga Springs (New York) resort, prepared fried potatoes as part of the evening’s menu. A finicky customer kept returning his potatoes to the kitchen, complaining that they were too thick. Finally, an enraged Crum picked up his sharpest knife, sliced some potatoes wafer thin, and deep-fried them in boiling fat and served them to the cantankerous customer. Rather than be annoyed, the troublesome patron loved them. Soon other guests wanted to order the ‘Saratoga chip.’ The rest is potato chip history.

“How’s your tripod?” That is a slogan often said in Kinko’s stores. Sometimes you hear a worker say, “My tripod’s out of balance.” They are not talking about a paper jam in one of their copiers. They are speaking ‘Kinko-ese.’ According to Kinko’s founder and chairman, Paul Orfalea, three ingredients for the foundation of a happy life. They are: Play/Work/Love.

Paul believes that these three elements must be in balance to stay healthy. He calls it his tripod. All Kinko’s employees are introduced to the concept of the tripod early in their orientation and training. They are reminded that Kinko’s philosophy is that “We trust and care for each other.”

As such, Kinko’s coworkers are encouraged to develop and maintain all three aspects of their life, and are cautioned not to let work overwhelm their humanity. “Our life needs to be happy,” one group of new employees was advised during orientation, as they were taught about the tripod. “We need you to be healthy people. Complete people. Balanced people.”

Kinko’s managers regularly ask their employees, “How’s your tripod?” And, from time to time a coworker will go to a manager and say, “My tripod is out of of balance.” That means they need some time off to catch up on the play and love components of their tripod. They’ve got to get a life.

Work. play, love. Three pretty good basic elements of a happy life. Paul’s tripod certainly deserves merit. And that is why we set aside one special day in the year. And we call that day, ‘Labor Day.’ But let us add another ingredient and place it smack dab in the middle of the tripod – Prayer.

Labor Day is a day to restore balance to our tripods. A time to renew our energy as we rest from work. A time to spend time with family to express our love for them. And a time to play – with family and friends. Let us also add, a time to put prayer into the center of the tripod. So, to complete the tripod, Mass at 9:00 a.m. would certainly add lots of balance to the tripod.

“Made in America?” Jake Brown starts the day early, having set his alarm clock, (made in China)< for 6:30 a.m. While his coffee pot (made in China) is perking he puts his blow-dryer (made in Taiwan), to work and shaves with his electric razor (made in China). He puts on a dress shirt (made in Taiwan), his designer jeans (made in Singapore), and a pair of tennis shoes (made in Korea). After cooking up some breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in the Philippines), he sits down to figure out on his calculator (made in Mexico), how much he can spend today. After setting his watch (made in Switzerland), to the radio (made in China), he goes out and gets in his car (made in Germany). He goes looking as he has been doing for months, for a good paying American job. At the end of another discouraging and fruitless day, Jake decides to relax for a while. He puts on a pair of sandals (made in China), pours himself a glass of wine (made in France), and turns on his TV (made in Japan), and ponders again why he can’t find a good paying American job.

Elizabeth Dole was appointed secretary of transportation by President Reagan in 1985. Following the appointment many magazines covered the Dole marriage. Elizabeth as a cabinet member. Bob Dole as a powerful senator.

After a magazine photo showed Elizabeth and Bob making their bed in their apartment, a man wrote a complaining letter to Bob Dole, praising Elizabeth’s skill but adding, “You’ve got to stop doing the work around the house. You are causing problems for men across the country.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Dole wrote back. “The only reason she was helping was because they were taking pictures.”

Happy Labor Day!

Fr. Jim. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Save The Date!

San Antonio Catholic Television wants to film a one hour program called, “Discovering Your Faith” on Tuesday, September 26th. Please plan on coming to the Church that evening.

“Discovering our Faith” is a one hour program during which a moderator – Father Pat O’Brien and Archbishop Gustavo speak about world-wide Catholic issues, Archdiocesan events, and St. Gerard ministries.

Join Other Adults for Coffee and Faith Sharing

Plan to be enriched through this group, meeting on Sunday mornings from 9-10:15 in the parish office building. During the School Year, the group will explore the Sunday Scripture Readings and aspects of our Catholic faith. Bring yourself! Bring your questions! Bring a friend! Questions? or Want to Register? See Tom Magott, facilitator, or talk with his wife, Charlotte, at the church.

Pastor’s Notes – August 27, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A kid was “acting up” at Mass. He was out of control. The parents did their best to quiet him down. Nothing worked. The folks in the nearby pews were mumbling “get him out of here.” Finally, the father grabbed that kid, threw him over his shoulder and marched down the aisle toward the front door. The kid began to cry. He knew he was in big trouble. Just as they reached the church door the kid looked back and shouted to the congregation, “Pray for me! Pray for me!”

Pope Francis wrote an encyclical letter entitled ‘Laudato Si.’ He spoke about our common home – the earth. Pope Francis asked that Friday, September 1st, be devoted to ‘The World day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.’ This is the day that the Catholic Christian world will join together in pray for the preservation of our common home – the earth. As Pope Francis says, “Christians are called to ‘an ecological conversion’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”

This annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will remind us that we are all called to keep air clean and breathable, our water clean and drinkable, our rain forests protected, our swamps and everglades preserved. There is so much beauty in God’s creation that we do not want to dishonor it and destroy it. We must never forget to thank our God for the wonderful handiwork He has created and handed down to us humans. It is up to us to keep our common home looking good for generations to come.

Prayer to Protect and Heal God’s Creation

“We have come to renew our covenant with God and with one another in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have come to help protect God’s creation. We have come as followers of Jesus to commit ourselves anew to one another and to heal injustice and poverty.

We have come to stand together against all threats to life. We have come to discover some new beauty every day in God’s creation the sunrise and the sunset, birds, flowers and trees, rainbows in the sky, the stars, the many forms of life in the forest. We have come to listen to the “music of the universe” – water flowing over rocks, the wind, trees bending in the wind, raindrops pattering on the roof. We will remember always that God speaks to us through the beauty of his creation, and we will try our best to answer God’s call to reverence all that he has created. Amen.”

During the Redemptorist convocation a few years back a suggestion was made that we Redemptorists ought to have some kind of a renewal program. We were looking for a way to energize ourselves. We were expecting to add a new spirit amongst us; and to build a stronger bond between us. One might say that we would be putting new wine into new wineskins.

A group of Redemptorists were asked to put together a program. They did. They called it ‘Renewed Hope, Renewed Hearts, Renewed Structure for Mission.’ This program was scheduled to be repeated at four different times and locations to accommodate all the Redemptorists of our province. Those who attended the program raved about it, so much so that those in charge added a fifth session for those who were hesitant to register early.

Communication is vital in this experience. Each day there is a presentation regarding our spiritual and community life. Then, a great part of each day is devoted to round table discussions of sharing: Sharing ones experience. Sharing one’s faith. Sharing ones hopes and dreams. Of course this means lots of listening to one another. ‘Shared Spirituality is the Heart of Change.’ So, we hope to bring that faith sharing experience into our conversations in our communities.

Everyone in our province was expected to attend. Fathers Carr, Ruhnke, Francis and Bob have already experienced the program. I am the last in line to attend. I will be attending this program at the Redemptorist Picture Rocks Renewal Center in Tuscon, Arizona from September 4th to September 18th. I look forward to the renewal program and hope to return spiritually refreshed.

Father Bob Lindsey will be handling the day to day duties. Father Lamar Patin, our Redemptorist vocation director, who is well known in our parish, will be helping with Masses and other duties. And of course Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming will also be helping with Masses as they continue their responsibilities as formators for the theology students.

Without sunscreen the hot summer sun can burn and blister human skin. The sun can also burn and blister our church doors that face to the south. Stan Guza built those doors. He applied the best sunscreen sealant available. The time has come to re-seal those doors. Stan asked his wife Beata and his sister Binaca – who is on vacation from Poland – to clean and re-seal those doors. Great job! Thanks Beata and Binaca.

A religion teacher asked her students to memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters one month to learn the Psalm. Little Rick was excited about the task – but he had difficulty remembering the words. He practiced and practiced. He simply could not remember all the words. On the day when Ricky was scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, he was a bundle of nerves. He stepped up to the microphone and shouted: “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R,

Pastor’s Notes – August 20, 2017

Father Shea

By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Two elderly women were enjoying the warm breeze in the park. Their conversation eventually focused upon their husband. They began fussing about them. One woman said, “I do wish my Harry would stop biting his nails. That makes me terribly nervous!”

“Oh, my Elmer used to do the same thing,” the other woman commented. “But I broke him of that habit real quick.”

“Tell me,” said the other woman, “what did you do?” With a sheepish grin she said, “I hid his false teeth.”

The older we get the more we realize that the people who want to help themselves can only do so by helping others. It’s a basic law of success. This law comes to us right out of the bible, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brethren you do for me.” “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” “I’ve come to serve, not to be served.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

One of the most successful businessmen who has used this principle was James Cash Penney. Mr. Penney started with a small general merchandise store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. From that store he built a multibillion-dollar business empire on one simple principle: The Golden Rule.

For years the Penney stores were called ‘The Golden Rule Stores.’ And it was Mr. Penney’s faith in the Golden Rule principle – always treating a customer as he himself would want to be treated – that made him grow and prosper.

But perhaps even more importantly was Mr. Penney’s attitude toward his employees. In the first place he did not like the word ’employee.’ He treated everyone as a partner. Rather than referring to his hired helpers as ’employees’ he referred to them as ‘associates.’ And he devoted himself to treating them as he would want to be treated. Most of all he knew that by helping them make money, his own success would be assured.

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Yet, so many of us still fear the loss of self through serving others. Actually, serving others is the only way to find oneself.

In our scripture readings today we hear God inviting us to break down the boundaries that separate us from others. God wishes that all His children enter into community with each other and with God. J.C. Penney was promoting the same principle. It was his profound Golden Rule principle.

During World War I, a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit. As the war progressed this chaplain was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted.

But the priest ran into a problem with the chancery office. The bishop was sympathetic, but he said that he would not approve the burial of a non-Catholic chaplain in a Catholic cemetery. So, the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence.

Years later, a war veteran who knew the story of the Bishop and the Pastor, returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The visiting veteran asked the priest to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.

“Oh,” he said, “I see that you got permission to move the body.” “No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”

I wonder what God thinks when he watches us humans making laws and establishing policies that separate us from one another. Jesus had but two laws – love God and love neighbor…whether you are boss, employee, partner or associate,…or whether you are inside the fence or outside…we are all one in Jesus Christ. It is up to us to live the ‘Golden Rule.’

As we recognize the Golden Rule of J.C. Penney, let me share with you a current ‘J.C. Penney incident.’ Before the Redemptorist Students arrived at St. Gerard, the parish as a whole decided to purchase new sheets, pillow cases, blankets, comforters and towels for each student. Cliff and Eileen Padalecki shopped around and found the best deal at J.C. Penney. The saleswomen graciously welcomed us. They gave us a discount you couldn’t beat. It was a combination of ‘4th of July discount;’ ‘bulk discount;’ and ‘opening a new account discount.’ All toll, it was a ‘mammoth’ discount. These saleswomen followed the Golden Rule. Thank you J.C. Penney.

Save the date! Save the date!…and then we change the date! Yes, that’s what happened. San Antonio Catholic Television wanted to film a one hour program called ‘Discovering Your Faith’ in St. Gerard Church on Tuesday, September 22th. The date has been changed to Tuesday, September 26th.

‘Discovering Our Faith’ is a one hour program during which a moderator – Father Pat O’ Brien and Archbishop Gustavo speak about world-wide Catholic issues, Archdiocesan events ad St. Gerard ministries.

You are invited to attend. Let’s fill the church with parishioners. Let’s show the T.V. audience how we vibrant we are as a parish. So – Save the date! September 26 – 7:00 p.m.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – August 13, 2017

Father Shea

By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Many years ago an ambitious young man emigrated from Italy to America. He opened up a grocery store in Brooklyn. He had a big heart for other emigrants. When some Italians visited his store he often sold them groceries on credit. Unfortunately, only a handful of emigrants ever paid their credit.

Over the years that store owner continued to allow young emigrants to buy food on credit. These emigrants still did not pay their credit. And then, the store owner had a heart attack and died. He arrived before St. Peter. St. Peter read his record of generosity and immediately invited him into heaven. The grocer asked St. Peter if he could take a detour through hell before entering heaven. Peter agreed and said, “I’ll be waiting for you when you return.”

When the grocer arrived in hell he knocked on the door. Satan answered. The grocer said, “I want to see all those people who owed me money in my grocery store back in Brooklyn.” Satan asked, “How do you know they are here in hell?” “Well,” said the grocer, “Whenever I tried to collect from them, this is where they told me to go.”

On Tuesday, August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Normally, the feast of the Assumption is a holy day of obligation. However, in the United States and other countries, the bishops have received permission from the Vatican to abrogate (temporarily waive) the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on certain Holy Days of Obligation, when those Holy Days fall on either Saturday or Monday. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!! Since the Solemnity of the Assumption falls on a Tuesday, WE ARE OBLIGATED to attend Mass in honor of the Assumption. Yes, this year, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass either on the vigil – Monday evening, or on the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity itself – Tuesday. The Mass schedule for the Solemnity of the Assumption: Monday – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday: 6:30 a.m.; 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the first of the disciples, the one who brought the Son of God into the world, is honored today in this feast of the Assumption. We believe that her bodily assumption into heaven is a sign to us of the future that awaits all who believe in her Son, Jesus.

The scriptures tell us nothing about Mary in her later life. We do not know exactly where she lived. We do not know for sure how long she lived. We don’t know for sure where she was when she died.

There are many stories which were passed down through the centuries about Mary. These stories tell us that Mary lived in an area near Ephesus, called Meryem Ana. Tradition tells us that, at the age of 64, she fell asleep and was taken body and soul into heaven. In 1967 Pope Paul VI paid a visit to the house of Mary at Meryem Ana. Later Pope John Paul II visited the house and confirmed again the significance of the house. Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to Mary’s home when he visited Turkey.

Two years ago, I went on a pilgrimage to walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, where we stopped to visit Mary’s home.

It is said that St. John had had a house built for the Blessed Virgin before he brought her to Ephesus. Several Christian families and holy women had already settled near Ephesus. Some lived in caves, others in fragile huts or tents. They came to escape violent persecution. Tradition says that Mary’s house was built with stone.

There was a woman by the name of Katharina Emmerick who was born on September 8th, 1774, in a small down in Westfalia (northern Germany). She grew up to be a prayerful woman. She was blessed to have many visions. At a relatively young age she became bedbound. From her bed she would talk about the visions she had in regards to the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She never visited the home. But in her visions she was able to describe the exact location. Many church authorities questioned Katharina. Katharina was able to exactly describe the location and house. To the best of their knowledge, Katharina was describing the home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And now, thousands of pilgrims and tourists annually visit Mary’s home.

The preacher carried a hand held mic which was attached to a cord. He moved briskly up and down the middle aisle, twisting and turning as he preached. After several twists and turns, the cord got wrapped around his legs. The preacher pulled and jerked on the cord, trying to free himself. A little girl up front saw what was happening. She leaned over to her mother and said, “If he gets loose, will he hurt us?”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.