Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

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.

 

Pastor’s Notes – August 6, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:.

An elderly woman took her little grandson to the zoo. That little boy’s face was filled with brightly shining freckles. Grandma and the boy got in line with other children, waiting to have tiger paws painted on their cheeks.

A little girl took one look at the little boy and said, “You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint tiger paws!” The little boy was embarrassed. He dropped his head and began to whimper. Grandma noticed how her grandson was offended. She knelt down next to him and said, “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles.” While tracing her finger across the child’s cheek, she said, “Freckles are beautiful.”

The boy looked up and said, “Really! Is that for real? You really like freckles?” With a smile on her face grandma said, “Of course I do. Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.” The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”

Did Jesus have freckles? We really don’t know. But those of us who have freckles would like to think that Jesus had freckles. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration today. Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain top. There he was transfigured before them. St. Matthew said that ‘Jesus’ face shone like the sun.’ As we all know, a face that shines like the sun must be filled with freckles.

As we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration we imagine Jesus glowing with light. His clothes became white as light. How often we refer to Jesus as coming to us as the light of the world. On the walls of an ancient Scottish castle are engraved these words: “When Jesus comes the shadows depart.” The earliest Christians had this saying of Jesus: “He has turned our midnight into morning.”

On Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 ‘CTSA 17,’ the Catholic Television of San Antonio, will be coming to St. Gerard. At 7:00 pm they will be televising a program in which they will speak about current Catholic issues in the world and the Catholic issues in our Archdiocese. The last segment of the program will be about our parish. They want to hear about the many ministries in our parish. They have asked me to invite the entire parish to be present for the filming. So, mark your calendars. Let’s fill the church and let people throughout San Antonio what a great parish we have.

The week after Thanksgiving the men of our parish will be conducting an ACTS retreat. Daniel Thatcher is the director. He is putting together his team. Between now and the ACTS retreat I will be encouraging the men of the parish to sign up for the weekend. We have a great parish. When the men make an ACTS retreat we will have a greater parish.

The Archdiocese is currently involved in a Capital Campaign. Fifty years ago was the last time the Archdiocese had a Capital Campaign. The name of the Campaign is: !On the Way! !Andale! The Steier Group, from Omaha Nebraska, is the consultant for the Campaign. The parishes throughout the Archdiocese have been assigned to one of four waves: Pilot Wave; Wave 1; Wave 2; Wave 3. St. Gerard has been assigned to Wave 2 which will take place next March-August.

The Steier Group will come to our parish and help us in conducting the campaign. They will provide the brochures and handle all the mailing. The Steier Group has developed a formula to establish a parish goal. Our goal is $133,600 will remain in our parish.

The money from the Campaign will be used to strengthen our existing parishes, especially the older ones which are struggling; to establish new parishes; to help Catholic Charities Outreach; for Lay Ministry; Assumption Seminary; Campus Ministry and Catholic Schools.

Finally, I want to thank the many people who have helped in various ways to welcome our Theology students. So many pitched in to turn bedrooms, unused for 20 years, into attractive homes for the students. And so I say to you all: Thank You. Father Stephen Rehrauer, our Provincial, also sends his heartfelt thanks.

Many, many years ago Thelma Goldstein treated herself to her first vacation. She drove from Chicago to Florida. She stopped at a decent looking hotel in North Miami. Little did she know that the hotel was restricted.

She walked up to the registration desk and said to the manager, “My name is Mrs. Goldstein. I’d like a small room for two weeks” “I am awfully sorry,” the manager replied, “but all of our rooms are occupied.” Just at that moment a man stepped up to the desk announcing that he was checking out.

“How lucky I am,” exclaimed Mrs. Goldstein. “Now there’s a room.” “Not so fast, Madam,” said the manager. “I’m sorry, but this hotel is restricted. No Jews are allowed to occupy our rooms.” “Jewish? Who’s Jewish? I happen to be Catholic,” shouted Mrs. Goldstein.

“With a name like Goldstein, I find that hard to believe,” said the manager. Let me ask you, who was the Son of God?” “Why, it was Jesus, the Son of Mary,” answered the woman. “Where was he born?” asked the manager. “In a stable,” said the woman. “And why was he born in a stable?” asked the manager. With a stern look on her face, the woman said, “Because a schmuck like you wouldn’t let a Jew rent a room in his hotel!”

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – July 30, 2017

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An old retired couple decided to treat themselves with a new Mercedes sports car. They visited a dealership, picked out a car and informed the salesman that they had $70,000 but would need to finance $25,000 to close the deal. He promised to hold the car for them.

A month later they returned to learn that the car had just been sold to a gorgeous blond, elegantly dressed. That young woman was sitting in her new Mercedes and about to drive off. The old man, visibly upset, looked at the woman, then shouted at the salesman, “Young man, you said you would hold the car till we raised enough financing. You told me that there was no discount to this model. Yet you closed the deal with that woman over there. That was wrong!”

The salesman took a deep breath and said, “Well, what can I tell you?” She had $70,000 ready cash. She didn’t need any financing help. And, sir, just look at her, how could I resist that beautiful woman.” Just then the young woman walked over the senior couple. She handed the keys to the Mercedes to the old man and said, “There you go, dad. I told you I could get him to lower the price. See you later Mom and Dad. Happy Father’s day.”

A month ago the Redemptorist leadership team in Denver made a significant financial decision. The team chose to move the residence of the provincial and his two consultors from Denver to Chicago. For the past 21 years the provincial leadership team lived in an apartment house near downtown Denver. For the past 12 years they conducted business in a large office building.

In Chicago the provincial and his consultors will reside in St. Michael’s parish – staffed by Redemptorists. They will conduct business in the former convent at St. Michael.

Next Tuesday, August 1st, we are celebrating the feast day of St. Alphonsus. St. Alphonsus founded the religious order of men, entitled, ‘The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.’ However, throughout the world, this congregation is affectionately known as ‘Redemptorists.’ Our mission is to: “Preach the Good News to the poor.”

When the Redemptorists came to America in 1832, the Bishops asked the priests and brothers to staff immigrant parishes. Redemptorists from Austria, Bavaria and Germany arrived in America. They ministered in parishes where many of these immigrants settled. From the early days, many Redemptorists became parish priests. Yet, we were founded to preach missions in parishes. Being parish priests, the Redemptorists tried to distinguish themselves from other parishes by directing parishes as though they were conducting a continuous mission. Even to this day the Redemptorists try to give a ‘mission’ flavor to the parishes we staff.

St. Alphonsus was a man dedicated to prayers. He directed his followers to ‘pray and pray always.’ When we pray and accept God’s way, we will find happiness in our lives. They say, “If your troubles are deep-seated and of long standing, try kneeling.”

‘Good News’ which the Redemptorists preach, means eternal salation. However, there was a young boy in North Dakota who added another interpretation for good news. This young pre-school lad was suffering from a severe case of constipation. The doctor had suggested the usual remedies of prunes, mineral oil, and enemas. Nothing worked until he drank a glass of saline solution.

He quickly visited the bathroom then rushed into the kitchen shouting to his mother, “Mom, mom, I’ve got good news! I’ve got good news!” Good news became his phrase to signal a successful bowel movement. The following Sunday, during the children’s Mass, the priest asked the kids, “Does anyone know what ‘Good News’ means?” This young kid quickly raised his hand. And now you know the rest of the story.

A Philadelphia legal firm opened a new office in Baltimore. The firm contacted a florist to deliver flowers on the day that the Baltimore office opened. Through a mix-up, the ribbon on the floral piece read “Deepest Sympathy.” When the florist was informed of the mistake, he exclaimed, “Good heavens! Then the flowers that went to the funeral home said, ‘Congratulations on your new location!”

WELCOME

Welcome to the Redemptorist theology students. Welcome to your new location – San Antonio. Welcome to your new location – St. Gerard. Welcome Father Peter Hill and Father Mick Fleming – the two priests in charge of the students. We are happy that all of you are part of our St. Gerard Family.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 23, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Ernie Banks played shortstop and first base for the Chicago Cubs. He was a Hall of Fame baseball player and a Hall of Fame individual.

Ernie always remembered the way his father worked and sacrificed to give him a chance to play baseball. Every day his father left the house before dawn and got home after dark. He worked so many hours, he hardly ever saw sunlight. When Ernie signed his first contract with the Cubs, he sent a three-word telegram to his dad; “We did it!”

“We did it!” Yes, we worked many hours to prepare “The Theology Residence” for the arrival of the seminarians. The list of volunteers goes on and on. The contractors did their work – painting, plumbing, electrical, plastering, carpentry, carpet and tile. Many people in the parish participated by making generous donations toward the furnishing of the rooms. We purchased all new furnishings – sheets, towels, blankets, comforters, etc.

Now we are ready for a final ‘clean up.’ On Thursday, July 27th we will have our work day. We want to make each room as attractive as we can, just like they do at the Marriott. Whether you have signed up or not, you are welcome to help us on the 27th.

Then, over the weekend of July 29-30, we will have open house.. Some of the people who have volunteered said that they never saw the inside of the house. After each Mass on the 29th and 30th folks are welcome to see what the back rooms look like, or what kind of rooms are on the second floor. Everyone who helped furnish a room with donations will be able to see how their contributions were used.

Congratulations to all who helped. Now, let’s welcome the seminarians.

Now, let’s take a look at what will be happening next spring. Surely we have all heard the Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. The Campaign is being called: !Andale! Many of us probably used that word to tell someone to “hurry up.” The Campaign is translating the word to ‘On the Way.’ We are ‘on the way’ to become a growing Archdiocese that cares about people, that reaches out to the marginalized, that is present to the young people on college campuses, that helps the disabled, and is preparing for the rapid growth of the populations. New parishes will be opened. Older parishes will be updated. Our goal for the campaign is 60 million.

The parishes in the Archdiocese have been divided into four groupings. These groupings are called ‘Waves.’ Rather than having every parish in the Archdiocese conduct their capital campaign at the same time, we are divided into four different time periods. The Pilot Wave is currently having their campaign. Then follows the first wave, followed by the second wave and finally the third wave. We at St. Gerard are listed in the second wave. We will conduct our campaign next spring.

There are many fascinating aspects to this campaign. First of all, we must be aware that the last capital campaign the Archdiocese conducted was 60 years ago. The Steier Group consultants from Omaha Nebraska will assist each parish in conducting the campaign. the Group will help each parish with the planning, printing and implementation. All the mailings will come from the Archdiocese. A portion of the money raised will go directly to the parish. If the parish has a construction project planned or in progress, 30 to 40 percent of the money raised will be returned to the parish.

St. Gerard will have a construction project. With the seminarians occupying “The Theology House,” we had to find space for our parish activities – meetings, Parish Faith Formation classes and social activities. We will be dividing the large classrooms in school to accommodate the smaller religious formation classes on Sunday morning. Getting into the school and going from floor to floor requires going up and down steps. We will be looking into the construction of an elevator so that the elderly and the disabled can get to the classrooms without climbing up steps.

There are two ways in which I want to prepare for this campaign. First of all – prayer. We will be including the campaign in our prayers at Mass. Secondly, information. I will try to keep you well informed every step of the way.

On June 26th the pilot wave was seven weeks into the campaign. At that time they have raised $12,385,583.

As we look ahead, let our minds, hearts and souls be filled with hope: Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst. Hope opens doors where despair closes them. Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot. Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of human nature. Hope regards problems small or large, as opportunities. Hope cherishes no illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism. Hope sets big goals and is not frustrated by repeated difficulties or setbacks. Hope pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit. Hope puts up with modest gains, realizing that ‘the longest journey starts with one step.’ Hope accepts misunderstandings as the price for serving the greater good of others. Hope is a good loser because it has the divine assurance of final victory.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 16, 2016

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly woman who lives in the country drove into the city to visit a friend in the hospital. She had not been inside a hospital for many years. She heard that medical technology had progressed over the years but had no idea what the latest instruments and gadgets might look like.

Upon arriving at the hospital she was directed to the elevator. As she stepped into the elevator a technician followed her, wheeling a large machine with tubes, wires, dials and lights.The elderly woman heard about ventilators and assumed that this machine must be a ventilator. Looking at the machine, then at the technician, she said, “My Oh My, I would hate to be hooked up to that apparatus.” “I’d hate it, too,” replied the technician. “It’s our new floor-cleaning machine.”

Week after week we come to Mass and probably never notice how clean the floor of our church is. And to think, we do not have a new floor-cleaning machine. We do it the old fashion way.

Let me tell you why our church always looks so bright and clean. Two faithful parishioners spent many hours each week dry mopping the floor, dusting the window sills and statues, cleaning the pews, and straightening the song books and missalettes. Yes, two sister-in-laws have been cleaning our church for the past 40 years. Plus, when the elementary school was in session they cleaned the school as well.

Both Marie and Lidia have an interesting history. Marie was raised as a Baptist. She became a Catholic when she got married. Lidia was not a Catholic but her husband was. They sent their children to St. Gerard School. Since their children were in the school, both Marie and Lidia got involved with the school. It was only within the last few years that Lidia became a Catholic. Now, she is present at Mass every day before she goes to work at Whataburger.

Marie and Lidia remember the days when the church floor was carpeted. It was quire a task to maneuver the vacuum cleaner between the pews. They are grateful for the new floor of ceramic wood plank. Now, after 40 years, Marie and Lidia are retiring. Marie’s daughter-in-law, Yvonne Ramirez, will carry on the Ramirez tradition of cleaning the church. However, after all these years Marie cannot totally step aside. She wants to help out in a less strenuous way.

Next Sunday evening Marie and Lidia will be at the 5:00 Mass. We as a faith community want to thank them for their 40 years of providing for us a beautifully cleaned church where we can proudly worship our God.

At a country fair, the townspeople held a horse-pulling contest. The first-place horse ended up moving a sled weighing 4,500 pounds. The owners of the two horses decided to see what these horses could pull together. They hitched them up and found that the team could move 12,000 pounds.

By working separately, the two horses were good for only 8,500 pounds. When coupled together, their synergism produced an added 3,500 pounds. It’s a hard lesson for us, but unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. “Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.”

In Jesus’ time, plow animals always worked in pairs. The yokes they used were custom fitted to each animal. If the yoke was too small or too big, or if the yoke awkwardly rubbed against the animal’s neck, the animal would lose some of its strength. So, the yokes were not interchangeable. Each animal had its personal yoke. With custom fitted yokes, the animals work harder and longer. As we saw above, when animals work together, the output is nearly doubled.

So, when Jesus says to ‘take my yoke upon you,’ he is offering to share our burdens, to help carry our load as a partner on the journey of life.

Last Tuesday we celebrated the memorial of St. Benedict. The Benedictine monks have been known for their great hospitality. The following bit of welcome and caution comes from the rule of St. Benedict in the sixth Century.

‘If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with a wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbott shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he had been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also, it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.’

Johnny’s mother always warned him that he would never amount to much because he always procrastinated. Whenever she said this, Johnny would always reply, “You just wait!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 9, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.

Father Rob Ruhnke lives in our Redemptorist house. Father Rob had dedicated his ministry in helping couples prepare for marriage. He is the author of a marriage preparation program entitled ‘For Better and Forever.’ In 1980 Father Rob published the first edition of ‘For Better and Forever.’ Recently the ‘National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers’ has selected Father Rob to receive an reward for his dedication to serve families, especially through his marriage preparation program, ‘For Better and Forever.’ On Monday, July 24th the Association will present the award to Father Rob at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

NACFLM applauds Fr. Rob as a long-time NACFLM member who has supported the national conference as a trainer, exhibitor, and sponsor. He first published the sponsor couple marriage preparation program ‘For Better and For Ever’ in 1980 and continues to expand the reach of the program through translations and updates. It has become the most widely used program of its kind in the Americas. It exemplifies the mission of NACFLM by: His commitment to the sponsor couple method of marriage preparation and awareness of its diversity enables family life ministry to provide accompaniment to couples and families.

Congratulations Father Rob Ruhnke!

Many unincorporated communities dot the countryside in Tennessee. One little community is named Amqui. In the olden days many trains stopped at Amqui. Those days are long gone. At one time the late Johnny Cash purchased the quaint railway station and moved it to his estate. Amongst the unusual names for a town, ‘Amqui’ surely ranks high on the list. Some of the local inhabitants of Amqui explain how their town received its name. When Amqui was settled by railroaders, their foreman told them to pick out a name for the place, and do it “damn quick.” So, they named the town Damquik, spelling it D-a-m-q-u-i-k.

Over the years some of the upper class ladies in town became infuriated with the name. They felt that their town was named after a vulgar statement. So they held a town hall meeting. After a heated discussion, they reached a compromise. They agreed to eliminate the first and last letters of the town’s name. And now you know the rest of the story.

Well, the convent at St. Gerard has gone through a few name changes. Originally it was built to be the home of the Sisters of Notre Dame. The sisters taught in the elementary school and high school. Some say that at one time nearly thirty nuns lived in the building. As time went on there were fewer and fewer nuns teaching in St. Gerard Schools. Those who were teaching moved to other residences. At that time, the Redemptorists rented the convent for college seminarians, studying at local colleges. These students were discerning their vocation to the priesthood. The name of the building changed to ‘Liguori House.’

When the decision was made to send the college seminarians to universities in New York the building became available for parish ministries. And so we referred to the building as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ And when we were lost for a name for this building, we simply referred to it as the ‘Former Convent.’ But now – The parish offices will remain in the south end of the building so we will continue refer to the south end as ‘Parish Center and Offices.’ However, the Redemptorist theology students will occupy the north end, west end and second floor of the building. And now we will also refer to the building as ‘The Theology Residence.’ It might be confusing but we’ll get used to it.

Many people have asked: “What can I do to help?” There are many things to do before the seminarians arrived. But first, let me extend a “thank you” to the many people who have worked in ‘The Theology Residence’ over the past weeks. There were contractors bringing the building up to date. There were painters, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, carpenters and carpet layers. Many volunteers cleaned the kitchens and meeting rooms. In the next two weeks the contractors will be finishing their work. On July 27th there will be a final ‘clean up’ work day. We will need many people to prepare the bedrooms for occupancy.

The Redemptorists of the Denver Province have paid for all the contracted work that has been done to the building. The parish has not paid for the construction work. Now, many people have offered to buy items for the rooms. First let me thank the Altar Society/Holy Name. This organization bought a commercial washer and dryer for The Theology Residence. Thanks much!

We are also inviting people to sponsor, or co-sponsor a bedroom. We have 22 bedrooms. The sponsor and/or co-sponsor will provide bedding, towels, blanket, comforter/bed spread. We ask that the sponsors deliver these items to the parish office no later than July 25th. Then, on July 29th, the final ‘clean up’ day, we will clean the rooms and make the beds. On August 1st, or soon after, we will welcome the seminarians.

A New Yorker driving through Texas stopped in a small town for a bite to eat. As he was crossing the street, a powerful gust of wind from the West almost knocked him over. Staggering inside, he asked the restaurant owner. “Does the wind blow that way all the time?”

“No,” said the owner, “Sometimes it comes from the other direction.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss,R.

Pastor’s Notes – July 2, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Many years ago when communism had a stranglehold on the Russian citizens, two dogs happened to meet on the streets of Paris. The French dog asked, “Where do you come from?” The visiting dog said, “Russia.” The French dog asked, “What’s a dog’s life like in Russia?” The Russian dog responded, “Well, we live in a well-insulated and heated dog house. They feed us caviar every day. We never have anything to do but lounge around.” “With living conditions like that, why would you want to come to France,” asked the French dog. “Well,” said the Russian dog, “sometimes I just like to bark.”

Freedom is a sacred gift, given to us from God. Freedom of speech is a precious privilege which we have in America. And sometimes we do like to bark.

This week we celebrate the freedom of our country with the Fourth of July. Our ancestors fought for freedom. Our flag, our National Anthem and our Declaration of Independence proclaim to the world that we are a free country.

In 1812 America was at war with Great Britain. The British were confident that they could whip this upstart nation. As the war dragged on, victory eluded them. One night in 1814 the British initiated a three-pronged attack on American strongholds. One point was Fort McHenry in Baltimore. If the British took the fort, it would be defeat for the Americans.

In one of the attacking ships were two Americans, William Beanes and Francis Scott Key. The British had taken Beanes as a prisoner. His friend Key was there to beg the British to set him free. From their tiny window on the ship, the two captives waited through the night, hoping for victory and fearing defeat. If the American flag was still flying over the fort in the morning, they knew that the Americans had protected the fort, and victory would be in sight. If the British flag was flying high over the fort. Inspired by what he saw, Key wrote a poem commemorating the moment. He called the poem, ‘the Defence of Fort McHenry.’ Today, we know it as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The flag which inspired Francis Scott Key now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Where did it come from? A year before Key wrote his poem the commandant at Fort McHenry commission Mary Young Pickersgill to create a flag ‘so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing from a distance.’ Pickersgill had learned the craft from her mother, who made the first flag of the American Revolution. After six weeks of work, she presented a massive flag – thirty-six feet high and forty-two feet wide. By Proclamation of Harry S. Truman on July 2, 1948, Fort McHenry was proclaimed to be one of only two sites in the world over which the flag of the United States of America may be displayed at all times, day and night. The other site is the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. As we stand to salute the flag on this Fourth of July, and as we sing our National Anthem, we applaud two brave people, Pickersgill and Key.

Then, on the evening of July 4, 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. A copy of the original document was found in 1989. A man bought a painting for $4.00 at a flea market. He didn’t care for the painting. He wanted the picture frame. When he took the picture apart a copy of the Declaration of Independence fell out. He thought it was a 19th century printing. So he kept it as a conversation piece.

A few years later, a friend saw it. The friend suggested that he investigate the origin of the document. He learned that only hours after the Declaration was completed, the Continental Congress had delivered the handwritten draft to a printer with orders to send copies to Assemblies, Conventions and Committees. This was one of those original copies. It is unknown how many copies were printed, but 24 survive today. Most are in poor condition. But the one in the picture frame was in mint condition. In 1991 it sold at auction for $2.4 million dollars.

Through blood, sweat, tears and death, our country became a free nation. Each year thousands of people immigrate to the United States to enjoy freedom. We natives often take our freedom for granted. For those who had been deprived of their God given right of freedom, Fourth of July is a sacred holiday. Let us thank our God for the gift of freedom.

How often we have heard the phrase, “Enjoy the moment.” Ralph Sockman said, “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and by borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.” Let us enjoy each day during the summer.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – June 25, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He loved mystery plays. One evening he went to the theatre to watch a mystery play. The usher escorted him to a seat in the middle of the theatre. The man said, “Excuse me, Sir, but I much prefer watching a mystery in a front row seat. For a handsome tip, do you think you could find a seat for me up front?” The obliging usher motioned for him to follow. He directed him to a seat in the second row. The man dug into his pocket, pulled out a crumpled-up bill and gave it to the usher. The usher politely said, “Thank you” and turned. He glanced at the tip, expecting at least a 50-dollar bill. But no! The man tipped him one dollar. The usher burned with anger. He turned back to the man leaned over his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Enjoy the mystery play. The wife did it!”

On June 27th, we celebrate the feast of a wife, a mother and a mystery woman. It is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Sometimes we refer to this feast day as Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It seems that ‘Lady’ and ‘Mother’ are interchangeable. Both titles refer to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and she does so much for so many.

For many centuries people have turned to Mary for her intercession. Beginning at the wedding feast at Cana, when the guests exhausted their supply of wine, the waiters turned to Mary to intercede for them. Mary then turned to Jesus and Jesus performed his first miracle. Since then, the faithful have called upon Mary for her intercession with her son. We do not pray to Mary for favors. We pray that she intercedes with her Son so He can grant favors. Only God can grant favors. And through Mary’s intercession, the faithful have enjoyed countless miracles.

Many of us turn directly to Jesus for help. That’s exactly what Mary did. Mary holds a special place in Jesus’ heart and in ours. She is the Mother of God. She is our Mother. Because of Mary’s love for her son and for us, we call upon Mary’s intercession.

The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has a fascinating and miraculous history, much of it shrouded in mystery. No one knows when icon was painted. No one knows who the artist was. After testing the wood, it seems that the icon was painted long before the 15th century.

Apparently, the icon came from the island of Crete. A merchant heard about the icon and the many miracles that were attributed through the picture. Wanting the icon for himself, the merchant stole the painting. Eventually he arrived in Rome where he fell ill. On his death bed, he confessed that he stole the icon. He asked his Roman friend to take the icon to a church where it would help others.

But the Roman took it home where his wife hung it in her bedroom. Apparently, Mary appeared to the Roman, beckoning him to share the icon with others. Probably under the influence of his wife, the Roman refused. Finally, Mary appeared to his six-year-old daughter, directing her to place the icon in the church between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Persuaded by his daughter, the obstinate Roman obeyed. In 1499, he gave the icon to St. Matthew’s Church, which was located between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

Over the years the faithful visited St. Matthews, praying before the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1798 a French general under Napoleon, destroyed thirty churches in Rome. St. Matthew was one of them. Everyone assumed that the icon of Mary was destroyed in the flames.

But no! Nearly 50 years later, in a chapel many miles from the basilicas, a sacristan showed Michael Marchi, an altar boy,an icon which used to hang in St. Matthew’s church. The sacristan explained that the church had been destroyed but someone rescued the icon. Michael went on to become a Redemptorist priest. In 1853 the Redemptorists established their headquarters on a large estate between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. On the estate, they discovered the ruins of an old church. The Redemptorists researched the history of the church, only to discover that St. Matthew’s Church once housed the miraculous painting, but was lost in the ruins. Fr. Marchi quickly informed his brother Redemptorists that not only did the icon exist, but he knew where it was located.

After much prayer, the Redemptorists informed Pope Pius IX of the icon. Pius IX ordered that the icon be returned to Rome and placed in the new church between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The new church bore the name of St. Alphonsus.

Upon the return of the painting to Rome, it was placed in St. Alphonsus Church. In 1886, Pius IX commissioned the Redemptorists to: “Make Our Mother of Perpetual Help known throughout the world.” The Redemptorists embraced this command by preaching, writing and distributing literature of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in every parish that we staff and on every mission that we preach.

One year later, in 1887, a parish in Kansas City was founded on the corner which is now known as Linwood and Broadway. The Redemptorists were entrusted with the new parish. How fitting it was to place the parish under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I had the wonderful honor of pastoring this parish for 12 years before coming to San Antonio. Father Gary Ziuraitis came to San Antonio first and then went to Kansas City to be pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

May Mother Mary intercede with her son for all of us!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – June 18, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He was reading the newspaper while relaxing in his recliner. He said to his wife, “Honey, there’s an interesting article in the paper today. I think it has a lot of merit. It says that the intelligence of a father often proves to be a stumbling block to his son.” “Well, thank heavens!” his wife said with tongue in cheek, “at least our Hubert has nothing in his way.”

Today we celebrate ‘Father’s Day.’ And nothing is standing in our way as we sing the praises of our dads. It is a day to honor our dads. Whether there’s anything standing in our way or not, remember, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’re all products of the genes which have been passed down to us. How often we think to ourselves “my dad has a certain characteristic that I am not going to act that way.” Our dads trained us as best they could. So, today is the day to say ‘Thank You’ to our dads for the gifts they passed on to us.

Philip Yancey wrote, “Unavoidably, we transfer to God feelings and reactions that come from our Human parents. George Bernard Shaw had difficulty with God because his father had been a scoundrel, an absentee father who cared mostly about cricket and pubs. Likewise, C.S. Lewis struggled to overcome the imprint left by his own father, a harsh man who would resort to quoting Cicero to his children when scolding them. When his mother died, Lewis said, it felt as if Atlantis had broken off and left him stranded on a tiny island. After studying at a public school led by a cruel headmaster who was later certified insane and committed to an institution, Lewis had to overcome the impact of these male figures to find a way to love God.

All dads have that sacred responsibility to be a loving father to their children. It is through our relationship with our fathers that we will come to better understand our relationship with our heavenly Father.

There is a wonderful story that was published in 1993. During that winter, workers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, renovated various sections of the museum. They found a photograph that had been hidden in a crevice underneath a display case.

The man in the picture has a bat resting on his shoulder; he’s wearing a uniform with the words ‘Sinclair Oil’ printed across his chest; his demeanor is gentle and friendly. Stapled to the picture is a note, scribbled in pen by an adoring fan. The note reads; ‘You were never too tired to play ball. On your days off, you helped build the Little League Field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame Dad. I wish I could share this moment with you. Your son, Pete.’

How blest was Pete to have such a loving father. Because of that wonderful relationship, Pete found a way to put his dad in the Hall of Fame.

The late Erma Bombeck suggested that fatherhood is not only a biological term but can be a generic term. ‘Father’ is a term for people who enrich other peoples’ lives. A ‘Father’ makes a difference in the lives they touch.

Erma pointed out that Hans Christian Andersen, the father of children’s literature, never had a biological child of his own. Nor did George Washington, the father of our country; nor did James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution. Father Flanagan of Boys Town fame never fathered a child of his own, but he certainly was a father to many; Father Wasson was the father image for many orphans in Mexico. Father Mike Shea is a father image to hundreds of kids who had been abandoned on the streets of Thailand and are now welcomed in Father’s home.

When Henry Aaron, the Hall of Fame baseball player, was growing up, he learned about love and sacrifice from his father. Every day, Henry’s father would give him a quarter to buy his lunch at school. Henry knew that his father skipped lunch each day so that he could give his son that quarter.

When Henry signed a major league contract with the Milwaukee Braves, he immediately telephoned his father and excitedly said, “We¬†did it!” Henry realized the role his father played in guiding him to a career in baseball.

Everyone needs a spiritual boost. Sometimes our tanks are running on empty. We could use a good jump-start. We Redemptorist decided to give ourselves that spiritual adrenalin by attending a program called ‘Renewed Hearts.’ Everyone in our Denver Province is expected to attend this two week program.

Next Sunday Father Rob Ruhnke, Father Francis Pham, Brother Charlie Fucik and Father Bob Lindsey will be traveling to the Redemptorist Retreat House on Crooked Lane in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. For two weeks they will be praying, studying, learning, relaxing and even playing. Our Provincal has asked us to remember these men in prayer.

“Let us pray that these Redemptorists will always be docile to the Holy Spirit, who works without ceasing to conform them to Christ. May the Redemptorists who are participating in this Province Renewal Program learn to view all things as Christ does. And may they be of one mind and one heart with him. Oh God giver of good gifts, help them to trust their gifts and insights with each other so that together they may know a renewal of their hearts, minds and structures according to your will. Through Christ our Lord. Amen”

The father of five children won a toy at a raffle. He called his five kids together to help him decide which child should receive this toy. He said to his kids, “I want you to decide who is the most obedient? Who is the one who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?”

In unison, the five little voices answered, “Okay, dad you get the toy.”

Happy Father’s Day
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – June 11, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

On a mountain climbing expedition the Swiss guide warned an American tourist, “Be especially careful not to fall – we are in a dangers place. But if you do fall,” he added nonchalantly, “remember to look to the right – the view is extraordinary.”

Summer has arrived. Many will be taking vacations. And of course, we need to remember ‘Safety First!” When i completed my first year in the seminary I looked forward to heading home. But first, the dean of students wanted to address the student body. Of course all of us seminarians were thinking one thing – HOME. We were looking forward to a couple of months when we would not be bound to follow seminary rules. And there would be no dean monitoring our summer behavior. We would be on our own.

In those early days in the seminary we traveled back and forth by train. We needed a stepping stool to get on the train. In bold letters, carved into that stool was the caution which said, “WATCH YOUR STEP.” The dean used that stepping stool caution to warn us that we better watch our steps during the summer months. Some of us did. Others didn’t. Perhaps that would be good advice for all of us. Not only in the summer time, but year around.

On Wednesday, July 13th we will be celebrating the memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron of our city. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Spain. He lived a relatively short life. He accomplished much during those years before his death at the age of 36. The Lord called him to many adventuresome tasks. The first call was to religious life. He gave up a future of wealth and joined the Augustinians.

Then one day he met a group of Franciscan missionaries on their way to Morocco. He was impressed by the fortitude of these men as they headed to hostile territory to preach the good news. Then, word came back that these men were martyred. Their bodies were brought back and carried in honor through the city where Anthony was stationed. At once he was inspired to become a Franciscan. He too wanted to be like those missionaries who were willing to die while preaching the Good News.

After attending a large Franciscan gathering he received an assignment to a small hospice for lay brothers at Monte Paolo. He spent most of his time performing menial tasks, reading and praying. He longed to be a missionary. But, his health prevented him from traveling amongst the Moors and preaching for Christ. But then came the day of an ordination when no one was assigned to preach. Everyone turned to Anthony. Anthony turned to the Holy Spirit for help. The years of studying scripture, the years he spent in prayer and meditation helped him as he prepared for this unique task. Anthony preached a powerful sermon. Word spread about his powerful preaching.

He received a letter from Francis himself authorizing him to preach and to teach theology to the friars.

Eventually he was sent on a preaching mission that included all of Italy. People travel from great distances to hear Anthony preach. He urged his listeners to have compassion for everyone, especially for the poor.

On June 13, 1231, at the age of 36, Anthony died. He was buried in Padua where he spent the last years of his life. Most of us have mislaid items, or just plain lost them. We turn to St. Anthony to help us find them. St. Anthony wrote: “Attribute to God every good that you have received. If you take credit for something that does not belong to you, you will be guilty of theft.”

Wednesday of this week is ‘Flag Day.’ Flags were used in ancient history to symbolize variously leaders, communities, gods, merchant and craft guilds, ships, and towns. A flag often gained the same respect as was accorded to the person or thing which it represented. In battle, the loss of a flag was a severe blow. The capture of the opponents’ flag might be the turning point in a battle. Flags often bore religious symbols, and were used in religious as well as state occasions.

Respect for the flag is one indication of patriotism. Public dishonoring of the flag is regarded as an extreme for of dissent in most countries, and punished accordingly. Some countries, notably including the USA, make the public affirmation of loyalty to the flag and the country a civic duty.

To fly the national flag is a sign of pride and patriotism. It is a positive affirmation of loyalty and commitment. It marks out a country that has confidence in itself, and is comfortable with its place in the world, its history and its future.

A visitor from the Netherlands was chatting with an American businessman. The foreigner observed that the American flag has the same red, white and blue colors as the Netherlands’ flag. “Our flag symbolizes our taxes,” the man from the Netherlands said. “We get red when we talk about them, whit when we get out tax bill, and blue after we pay them.”

“That’s the same with us,” replied the American. “But after we talk about taxes, we get the tax bill and then when we pay the taxes we see stars.”

Ben Franklin wrote this letter to Benjamin Webb. “Dear Sir: Your situation grieves me and I send you herewith a banknote for 10 louis d’or. I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. After you pay your debts you will meet with another honest man in similar distress. Then you must pay me by lending the sum to him, reminding him that, when possible, he too must relieve someone else who is trapped in a distressful situation. I hope this sum will go thus through many hands before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress.”

The Knights of Columbus is a brotherhood which reaches out to many people in distress. The brotherhood also makes many donations to charitable causes. Last week the Grand Knight of the Council at St. Gerard, Javier Martinez, representing the entire brotherhood of knights at St. Gerard donated $1,250 to St. Gerard Church. We will be using this money to help others. We pray that the chain of helping others will continue through many hands and will never meet a knave that will stop its progress. Many Thanks to the Knights of St. Gerard.

The reason dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails and not their tongues.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.