Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

Pastor’s Notes – October 15, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A small business owner held a staff meeting. He felt that his employees were not showing him enough respect. The next morning he carried a sign from home and hung it on his office door. The sign read, “I AM THE BOSS.” When he came back from lunch his secretary informed him that his wife called. She wants the sign back.

Monday is National Boss’s Day. I wish all those in positions of authority a “Happy Boss Day!”

I happen to be the boss of St. Gerard but I am also the boss of my Redemptorist community. During this past week I attended our Redemptorist Superiors meeting. In that meeting I was asked to give a presentation of ‘Superior as Animator.’ I used the image of the Good Shepherd. Jesus used that image himself. It became a symbol to describe the work of leaders.

A shepherd leads the sheep to nourishment. A shepherd lives with his sheep. A shepherd protects the sheep from predators. A shepherd gathers his sheep into the sheepfold. A shepherd checks daily on the health of his sheep. A shepherd anoints the wounds of the injured sheep. A shepherd reaches out to the lost sheep and brings them back into the fold. A shepherd knows his sheep and keeps them united. A shepherd loves each of his sheep.

A Redemptorist superior is a shepherd who enjoys a healthy relationship with each confrere in his community. He lives with them, he protects them, he gathers them together for meetings and prayer, he checks on his fellow brothers’ health, he helps in bandaging the wounds, he brings lost brothers united especially in their sacred mission he knows each brother as he is in the here and now, and he loves each one.

A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. ” I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Peter, was there that day and he like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, for weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Peter told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be hones about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed; a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Peter just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!” All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”  When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Peter told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Peter. He looked at Peter, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Peter!”  Peter couldn’t believe it. Peter couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; The were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Peter, have brought me trees and plants, and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Peter was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 8, 2017

Father Shea

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

 

Early in the morning he awakened his wife. He complained of severe abdominal pains. His wife rushed him to the emergency room. This man worked at a funeral home. So he told his wife to hold off from calling the funeral home until the test results came back.

Later that morning the nurse informed them that the x-rays showed a kidney stone. His wife then asked her husband, “Would you like me to call the funeral home now?” The nurse looked bewildered. She snapped back, “Honey, honey, slow down. He is sick but not that sick.”

You’d almost think I had a kidney stone last week when I typed up the announcements. I don’t know where my head was when I wrote up that the T.V. program ‘Discovering your faith’ which was filmed at St. Gerard, would be televised on June 10th. To make matters worse, Father Peter Hill celebrated the 5:00 p.m. Mass. He read the announcement as I wrote it. Fortunately, he made light of the matter when he encouraged the congregation to remember June 10th…8 months from now.

Thank God we caught the mistake. The date and time were correctly announced at the Sunday Masses. Here is the correct date and time. Tuesday, October 10th at 7:00 p.m.

During the past year we prepared for the feast days of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, with a novena. A novena (from the Latin: ‘novem’ meaning ‘nine’) is a tradition of praying for nine consecutive days or weeks or months. The novena is an age old Christian practice of preparing for a special feast.

Each week, on Tuesday morning we pray the novena prayers of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We call this a novena. But, we con’t stop after the ninth week of prayer. Instead, we keep right on going, week after week. So, it becomes an everlasting novena.

However, on Tuesday, October 10th, yes, October 10th  – the same day of the T.V. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’ we will begin a ‘nine week’ novena. We will be preparing for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Friday, December 8th.

Bob Gonzales conducts this novena. WE begin at 6:00 p.m. We pray the rosary together. Then we celebrate Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The rosary and Benediction will take about 40 minutes. You’ll have plenty of time to drive home to watch the 7:00 p.m. program ‘Discovering your Faith.’

On October 14th we will formally welcome the fourteen seminarians. We will begin Mass at 5:00 p.m. Father Jack Kingsbury C.Ss.R., the man who arranged for the seminarians to come to San Antonio, will preside at the Mass. The seminarians will be responsible for all the ministries during Mass: the music – cantor and accompaniment – lector, ushers, gift bearers and ministers of the Eucharist. After Mass we will head over to the cafeteria to enjoy food and drink as we meet and greet and mingle.

Several years ago we conducted a financial campaign as we prepared for our centennial celebration. At that time some people contributed money toward a presider’s chair – the chair which the celebrant of the Mass occupies. I contacted Walter Lyssy, a man who builds chairs. he agreed to build this chair.

Before he began working on the chair he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He took some time off while being treated for the disease. When he returned he worked on the chair. He built a prototype our of cherry wood. A number of parishioners viewed the prototype and suggested changes. Then Walter began building the chair out of mesquite wood.

On October 14th we will debut and bless this chair and the two adjoining chairs, all made out of mesquite. Walter also built two small book stands between the chairs. Father Jack Kingsbury will bless these chairs…since he will be the first to use them.

Monday is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. We wish our Canadian brothers in the Theology Residence a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Bill Peterson, former football coach for Florida State, was well known for the mistakes he made in speech. Once he said, “The greatest thing just happened. I got indicted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and they gave me a standing observation.” He also said, “I’m the football coach and don’t you remember it!” Another time he said, “We can beat this team. All we have to do is capitalize on our mistakes.”

Remember Tuesday, October 10th. Novena at 6:00 p.m. and televising ‘Discovering your Faith’ at 7:00 p.m.

Remember Saturday, October 14th. Welcome our Seminarians at 5:00 Mass, followed with food and drink.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – October 1, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

The fish weren’t biting. But that didn’t matter. Our friend, an atheist, was enjoying a quiet day our on the water. Suddenly something hit his boat. He looked over the side of the boat. It was the Loch Ness monster. The atheist hung on for dear life. The monster swam under the boat, raised its head and flipped the boat high in the air.  The monster opened its mouth waiting for the atheist and boat to come back down. As the atheist and boat was approaching the monster’s open wide jaws, everything froze in place. There hung the atheist staring into the jaws of the Loch Ness monster. Without thinking the atheist shouted, “Oh God! Oh God! Help me!”

A moment later a resounding voice came out of the heavens, saying, “I thought you didn’t believe in me!” “Come on, God, give me some slack,” the man pleaded. “I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”

In the month of October we are reminded of the most precious gift given to human beings. It is the gift of life. It is a gift from God. Every human being has a right to this gift. We believe that no one has the authority to deprive a human being of life. For it is God who gives and God who takes away. Bless the name of God. With October being the Respect Life month, we must ask ourselves if we are a nation of believers or atheists. If atheists deny that there is a God then they also must deny that life comes from God. We don’t know where they think life comes from. As believers, we hold that the gift of life and the inalienable right to life comes from God.

There are many ways that humans usurp the power of God by preventing or destroying human life. Our government has legalized abortion. Many states use capital punishment. Euthanasia is becoming more popular, or as Dr. Kevorkian called it, ‘assisted suicide.’ Then there is in vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, in IVF, children are engendered though a technical process, subjected to “quality control,” and eliminated if found “defective.” We destroy life in many ways.

Scriptural tradition, Christian tradition and Catholic tradition all make sacred the gift of life. We do not subscribe to abortion, euthanasia or capital punishment. We subscribe to LIFE. Not only is the month of October Respect life month, but it is also a month dedicated to the rosary. Next Saturday we celebrate the memorial of the most holy rosary. We call up Mary, the mother of Christ, to intercede for us as we say the rosary.

On Saturday, October 7th we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The title of Our Lady of the Rosary can be traced to an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic. According to Dominican tradition, in 1208, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France, attempting to convert the heretical Albigensians. Dominic was meeting little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against the heretics. This feast was originally entitled ‘Our Lady of Victory’ as a reminder of The Battle of Lepanto. The Catholic Holy League defeated the Ottoman Empire in this battle on October 7, 1571. The faithful were praying the rosary during the five hour battle. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the feast to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Pope Pius X declared that the date of the Holy Rosary would be October 7th. When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Monday we celebrate the memorial of the holy Guardian Angels. Then, on Tuesday we honor Saint Francis of Assisi.

And let’s not forget the guardian angels. We honor them on Monday. A minister was visiting the homes of his parishioners. He did not bother calling ahead to set up an appointment. His style was to ring the doorbell unannounced. He came upon the home of a newly married couple. He rang the doorbell. There was a slight pause. Then he heard a woman’s voice shouting, “Is that you, angel?” The minister shouted back, “No, but I’m from the same department.”

No one had ever seen an angel. No one has ever heard an angel speak. No one knows for sure whether angels have wings. So, what do angels look like? The look like the little old lady who returned your wallet yesterday. Like the clerk who told you that your eyes light up the world when you smile. Like the small child who showed you the wonder of creation in simple things. Like the poor man who offered to share his lunch with a stranger. Like the motorist who just happened to come along when your tire went flat. Like the friend who embraced you when you heard about the death of your mother.

They are hard to find when your eyes are closed. Yet angels are everywhere you look, when you chose to look for them. An angel could be standing in line with you at the grocery store. Or perhaps an angel is sitting next to you in the theatre. Or in that car which speeds by you on the highway.

Saint Francis of Assisi founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4th. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.

On 13 March 2013, upon his election of Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He chose the name because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. Before being elected pope Cardinal Claudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor,” which had made Bergoglio think of Saint Francis. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time.”

A tourist is a person who travels to see things that are different and then complains when things aren’t the same.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 24, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

It was the annual baseball game between the townsfolk and the in

mates of the local prison. When his turn at bat came up, the leading hitter of the prison team took a vicious swing and sent the ball zooming into the far reaches of the outfield. He rounded first. He rounded second. He rounded third and headed for home. They finally caught him between third base and the Mexican border.

There will be two important events taking place this week. The first event is called “Discovering our Faith.” On Tuesday evening, September 26th, Archbishop Gustavo will be here at St. Gerard, talking about discovering our faith. The program will be televised. Father Pat O’Brien will be the moderator. The first part of the program will be focused on Catholic teaching as it affects the events in the world around us. The second part of the program will be about Archdiocesan events. And the final part of the program will be about our parish ministries. Everyone is invited to this evening of ‘Discovering our Faith.’ We would like to have a full house to be the audience of this program. So, plan to be with us on Tuesday evening.

The second event this week is called ‘V Encuentro.’ The Bishops of America have introduced a new program to help us welcome and understand people coming into our Archdiocese from around the world, especially from Mexico. The ‘V’ stands for ‘fifth’. ‘Encuentro’ means ‘encountering others.’ Over the years this is the 5th program to help people understand different cultures and listen to what is happening in the lives of fellow parishioners. The bishops asked each diocese to include this program in their ministries. The heart of this program is gathering people into small groups after a presentation. The presenter gives them a question. Then those present will form small groups and share their experiences in relation to the question.

On Saturday, in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center there will be many presentations about V Encuentro. People will meet other people. The doors open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. And the best part of this event – ‘It’s FREE.’

Finally, on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, the people of the Archdiocese are invited to ‘ASSEMBLY 2017’ at St. Mary’s University. There will be keynote addresses, short workshops, religious booths, many friends and plenty of food. So, plan to attend this important event as we are being called to become Missionary Disciples.

With these three programs, we hope to deepen our faith. As time goes on we will be explaining more about ‘V Encuentro.’

A Lutheran pastor visited a friend of his in Ireland. The pastor noticed a small plaque on his friend’s desk. On the plaque were two words – “But God.” Of course, the pastor was curious. What was the significance of “But God?”

His friend explained the meaning of ‘But God.’ The pastor was impressed. Upon returning home he designed a plaque of his own. He inscribed just two words on it – “But God.”

Whenever someone would enter the pastor’s office they would comment on the plaque. And they too would inquire about its meaning. So, the pastor explained that in the hour of deepest need he would say, “But God will help!” In the moment of utter despair he could say to himself, “But God will give me hope.” In the moment of loneliness he could affirm, “God is with me.” When he felt insignificant and unwanted it would help to repeat, “But God loves me.” That always turned the scale from despair to hope, defeat to victory, from sin to salvation. “But God! But God! But God!”

What if God had voice mail? Of course, we’ve all experienced voice mail when telephoning someone. Let’s imagine that God is receiving so many prayer requests that he decided to install voice mail. This might be what you would hear:

“Thank you for calling Your Father’s House. Please select one of the following options: Press 1 for requests. Press 2 for thanksgivings. Press 3 for complaints. Press 4 for all other inquiries. Or perhaps God would use this familiar excuse…”All the angels are helping customers right now. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order it was received.”

Or imagine getting these kinds of responses when you call upon God in prayer!! For the Archangels press 1. For Gabriel, press 2; For Michael, press 3; For Raphael, press 4. If you’d like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you are on hold, Press 5. If you would like to know if a loved one has reached heaven, press 9 for heaven’s complete personnel directory. And the final dagger is: This office is closed for the weekend. Please call again on Monday after 9:00 a.m.

Friday, we honor the Archangels – Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. We call upon Michael’s intercession for protection from evil; Gabriel to deliver good news; Raphael to bring healing of all kinds.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

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.

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.