Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

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.

 

Pastor’s Notes – June 4, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Some people find the game of baseball quite exciting. For others, it is boring. Whenever we factor the human condition into this game, there will be some unusual plays. To play the game effectively, every player must concentrate on each pitch. Everyone must be focused on what is happening at each moment. When the wind wanders, strange things happen.

One of the strangest plays took place many years ago in Ebbets Field, the razed park of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers had men on first and second with no outs. The batter hit a towering fly ball to right center. The runners stayed close to their bags, thinking that the ball would be caught. The batter forgot about the men already on base. He thought that he had hit a home run. So he lowered his head and charged around the bases. The two runners were on base were stunned. They couldn’t let the batter pass them on the base path or they would be out. They shouted at the batter to “go back, go back!” Just then the center fielder dropped the ball. Seeing the ball roll off his glove, all three men began running. The center fielder retrieved the ball and pegged it to home plate, just as all three runners arrived at third base. The catcher fired the ball back to third base. The runners did not know which man had the right to be at third base, so they all stepped off the third base bag. The third baseman then tagged each of the players for the most bizarre triple play in the history of baseball.

Imagine the thoughts and feelings of the three men as they returned to the dugout. They really wanted to head to the parking lot. In the dugout they felt lost, ashamed, and afraid. About all they could say was, “I was confused.”

Last week we left the apostles in a state of confusion. Jesus called them to the mountain top. There he gave them a mission – to go out to all peoples; to teach all peoples; to baptize all peoples. Then, Jesus disappeared. With Jesus out of sight, the apostles were lost, confused, afraid. All they could think of doing was – run and hide. And so they did. They hid in the upper room.

The apostles did not dare to walk the streets of Jerusalem. For three years they followed Jesus. When Jesus was crucified they were devastated. When Jesus rose from the dead they renewed their faith in him. Then, Jesus left them a second time at the Ascension. Now they were confused and they questioned their sanity. Were they fools to follow this person called Jesus?

Then came the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, upon Mary and the Apostles. It was an amazing day. A day when they were suddenly fortified. A day of excitement, wonderment and love.

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, or, as they say in England, Whitsunday. It is a feast in our church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth” day after Easter. In England, people were baptized by immersion, not at the Easter Vigil but on the eve of Pentecost because the weather was warmer. The following day, Pentecost Sunday, the newly baptized would wear white garments. Thus the name Whitsunday or White Sunday. Every country celebrates this day in their own unique fashion. In France, they blow trumpets during Mass, reminding them of the sound of the wind as the Spirit descended.

Wind, fire, a whistling sound, a dove – these are all symbols of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is most frequently symbolized with wind. We feel it but cannot see it. Pentecost is also compared to a lawyer defending a person in court; or an advocate encouraging another.

A man accused of theft was being tried in court. His lawyer sat at his side. The defense was bogging down, so the lawyer launched a new, creative approach. He said, “All my client did was to insert his arm across the counter and into the cash register. He then removed a small sum of money. As a matter of fact, it was just his arm that committed this crime. My client’s arm can hardly be seen as my client. I don’t understand how you can punish the entire individual for a crime that was committed by a single limb.”

With a smirk on his face, the judge said to the lawyer, “You have stated the dilemma well. So by using your line of reason, I will only sentence the defendant’s arm to one year of imprisonment. As a courtesy to the defendant, he may either accompany his arm or he may not. The choice is his.

Upon the completion of his sentence, the judge sat back in his chair with a smug smile on his face. He had played along with the lawyer’s defense but had still outsmarted him. The defendant and lawyer smiled as well. With the assistance of his lawyer, the defendant detached his artificial limb on the bench. The judge could not believe what was happening in front of him. Then, the man accused of theft, said, ‘thank you’ to the judge and victoriously walked out of the courtroom a free man.

Next Saturday we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. We are calling upon the Holy Spirit to come down upon these people who are receiving this sacrament. With the grace of Confirmation they will continue to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Why does everyone stand up on the bottom of the 7th and using “take me out to the ball game” when they’re already there?

Congratulations Confirmation Candidates

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – May 21, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Good stories deserve to be told again and again…and again. Here is one of them. And, it is recorded to be true – but almost unbelievable – story.

Larry Walters lived in Los Angeles. His lifelong dream was to pilot an airplane. He joined the Air Force hoping to fly the F-16. Unfortunately Larry had poor eyesight. His limited vision disqualified him from becoming a pilot. After he was discharged he would lounge for hours in his back yard, watching the planes take off and land from Los Angeles International Airport. Oh, how he wanted to pilot one of those planes.

One afternoon the thought came to him. There’s another way to pilot an aircraft. Why not tie balloons to a lawn chair I am laying on. Then, I would inflate the balloons with helium and casually rise above the roof tops. When I decide to come back down I will release one balloon at a time.

He shopped around for balloons. He stopped at the Army-Navy surplus store and found Army weather balloons. He bought 45 balloons and several tanks of helium. These balloons were extra heavy. He strapped the balloons to his lawn chair and tethered the chair to the bumper of his jeep. He packed a few sandwiches and a few cans of beer. He took his B-B gun so he could shoot holes into the balloons and release the helium. Then he would return to earth. He put on a parachute. When he was ready for takeoff, his ground-crew friends cut the tether.

Larry laid back in his lawn chair with his sandwiches, beer and B-B gun next to him. Larry figured he would float lazily above the roof tops. But no! When the tether was cut loose, those helium filled balloons bolted skyward. Up, up and away he went.

Larry hung on for dear life. He was rising so rapidly he couldn’t steady his gun to shoot B-Bs into the balloons. The winds carried him into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport. Two commercial pilots radioed the tower about passing a guy in a lawn chair with a gun in his hand. Word quickly spread amongst Airport Officers, The Coast Guard and the Police Officers. Law officers anxiously awaited the arrival of the lawn chair flight. After 45 minutes of drifting with the clouds, Larry shot a few holes in the balloons and slowly descended.

When Larry reached the good Earth the police welcomed him and arrested him. As he was led away in handcuffs, a television reporter asked, “Sir, why’d you do it?” Larry nonchalantly said, “A man can’t just sit around!”

In a blaze of glory, as if the sun was standing still and the moon was shining at the same time, the Lord ascends into heaven. Thursday is the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. However, the Bishops have moved the celebration of the Ascension to the following Sunday. So, next Sunday we celebrate the Ascension.

The number forty is a key number in the Old Testament. The Catholic Church has incorporated ‘forty days’ into our festive occasions. Since the Ascension of the Lord is such an important feast, and since forty days after Easter falls on a Thursday when many people are unable to attend Mass, the Bishops have agreed to transfer the feast to the following Sunday. Therefore, we have slightly altered the Old Testament numerical schedule by adding three days. Some of us ole timers remember saying “Ascnension Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday.” It is a bit difficult to say, “Forty-three days after Easter, Ascension Sunday.” But the Lord will forgive us.

And so we are commemorating the 43 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead. On that day, He gathered his apostles and disciples. He gave them a mission. Go out to all peoples. Teach all peoples. And baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. After he delivered this mission he ascended into heaven.

Since all things are possible with God, we figure that Christ just rose up to heaven like a helium filled balloon. He left the apostles and disciples gazing heavenward. There were two men watching the apostles. One of them said, “Why are you gazing up to the sky?” We could almost hear them say, “Get back to work.”

And imagine that! Those men dressed in white are saying the same to us. ‘Get back to work and bring move people to the Lord.’

We also hear the Lord saying that he will not abandon us as orphans. He will be with us all days. No matter what happens. The Lord will be with us. How comforting that is. And, so we continue the Lord’s work – to love; to forgive; to care for others. For the Lord will always be at our side.

An elderly woman was baby-sitting her three-year-old grandson. One day she decided to take him to the beach. The child began building sand castles while grandma dozed off.

Just as she awoke, a huge wave splashed onto the shore and dragged the child out to sea. Grandma was devastated. Immediately she fell to her knees, stretched her hands skyward and prayed, “Oh God, if You save my grandson, I promise I’ll make it up to You. I’ll join the Woman’s Sodality at church. I’ll bake for the bake-sale. I’ll cook for the festival. I’ll volunteer at the hospital. I’ll give to the poor. I’ll do whatever You ask of me.”

Suddenly, a huge wave rolled onto the beach and tossed the child at the feet of his grandmother. He was breathing. What a relief? Her grandson was alive!! There was even color in his cheeks.

Then she noticed something missing. She put her hands on her hips, looked skyward, and shouted, “He had a hat, You know!” Perhaps at the Ascension the apostles looked skyward and shouted, “Bring Him back!!” Yes, He is back, He is with us each day. He has not forgotten us.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – May 14, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

It was the first day of school. The kindergarten teacher asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. One kid blurted out, “When I grow up, I’m gonna be a lion tamer. I’ll have lots of lions and tigers and I’ll walk into the cage and…” He hesitated and then continued, “But of course, I’ll have my mother with me.”

We celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. We extend our love to our moms, living or deceased. Deep in our hearts most of us would like to have our moms with us. For mom is or was a ‘Real Mother.’

Real Mothers don’t eat quiche; they don’t have time to make it. Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox. Real !
Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens, and happy kids. Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn’t come our of shag carpets. Real Mothers don’t want to know what the vacuum just sucked up. Real Mothers sometimes ask, “Why me?” They get their answer when a little voice says, “because I love you best.” Real Mothers know that a child’s growth is not measured by height or years or grade…It is marked by the progression of Mama to Mommy to Mom…

The Images of Mom…
4 years of age – My mommy can do anything!
8 years of age – My mom know a lot! A whole lot!
12 years of age – My mother doesn’t really know quite everything.
14 years of age – Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either.
16 years of age – Mother? She’s hopelessly old fashioned.
18 years of age – That old woman? She’s way out of date!
25 years of age – Well. she might know a little bit about it.
35 years of age – Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.
45 years of age – Let’s go down the hallway and ask Mom what she thinks.
55 years of age – Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 years of age – Wish I could talk it over with Mom.

Real moms are the most beautiful people in the world. The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes.

Her eyes are the doorway to her heart, the place where her love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is her caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she freely shows. And the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows! ‘Doesn’t that sound like your mom?’

How often have we heard, ‘Rather than cursing the darkness light a candle or a lantern.’ Everyone is encouraged to light a lantern. There is an organization in the Catholic Church which has been lighting lanterns around the world. The organization is called the ‘Knights of Columbus.’ This organization is dedicated to Faith, Family and Fraternity.

The Knights of Columbus organization began at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1882. Father Michael McGivney called a group of men together to provide financial assistance for widows and orphans in the community. From its quiet beginnings in a Connecticut Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus grew into an international organization with over a million and a half members. Although the Knights of Columbus is a male organization, it is through the men that their families become involved.

Faith, Family and Fraternity are the three key words which identify the mission of the Knights of Columbus. The members are called to live their faith and encourage others to grow in faith. Faith within the family is vital, as well as families helping families in need. Working together as a Fraternity to assist needy people in the community is a high priority amongst the Knights.

Over the years the Knights of Columbus have done marvelous work in strengthening family life in San Antonio parishes. Here at St. Gerard our Knights are always offering to help in any way they can to strengthen the life of our parish. Next Sunday, at the end of Mass, the Knights will present a generous gift of $1000 to St. Gerard’s Church. This money is to be used in any way we deem necessary in assisting our people to grow as a Faith community.

After Mass we will also invite more men of our parish to become Knights. What a great way for St. Gerard men to live – as men of Faith; as men devoted to Family; as men expressing our love for one another in a Catholic Fraternity.

There will be brother Knights standing in front of Church after each of our Masses next Sunday. They will invite all Knights to become active. The welcome them to our monthly meetings and to get involved. They will remind them that this is all about Faith, Family and Fraternity. And the Knights will be reaching our to other men to join the Knights. Together we will stand tall in our Faith, Family and Fraternity.

A little kid was having a great time at his sister’s wedding. He whispered to his father, “When I grow up I am going to have a party just like Linda is having.” And just whom will you marry?” his father asked. “I’m going to marry Grandma,” the kid replied. “You can’t marry Grandma,” the father said. “She’s my mother.” The kid popped right back, saying, “Well, you married my mother, didn’t you?” Happy Mother’s Day!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – May 7, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Time and again mother said, “Listen, children, we are not going to have a dog in this house. And then one day he children brought home a stray dog. The kids fell in love with the dog. They wanted to keep it. They went to mom and asked, “What shall we name this dog?” Mom said, “You better name it ‘mother.’ If that dog stays, I’m leaving home!”

As we celebrate Mother’s Day next Sunday we think of the many wonderful ways in which we remember our mothers. Many of us remember our moms as they gave us their motherly advice: “Be careful! Take your coat along. Don’t forget your sweater. Don’t play in the mud.” And of course, we all remember that age old advice…’Put on clean underwear cuz you might end up in the emergency, and no telling what the nurses might think if your underwear was dirty.’ Now, can you imagine the mothers of these historical figures giving their children this advice?

PAUL REVERE’S MOTHER: “I don’t care where you think you have to go, young man. Midnight is past your curfew!”

MONA LISA’S MOTHER: “After all that money we spent on braces, Mona, is that the biggest smile you can give us?”

HUMPTY DUMPTY’S MOTHER: “Humpty, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times “Do not sit on that wall.'”

COLUMBUS’ MOTHER: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, Chris. You still could have written.”

MICHELANGELO’S MOTHER: “Mike, can’t you paint on walls like other kids? It’s hard getting that stuff off the ceiling.”

CUSTER’S MOTHER: “Now, George, remember what I told you – don’t go biting off more than you can chew!”

A mother told a little boy that it was God who made people good. The boy said, “Yes, I know that is God, but mothers help a lot.”

Looking back on his youth, a man claimed that he and his siblings had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to eat cereal, eggs and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a sweet roll for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And absolutely no pizza or hotdogs for dinner! God forbid if we would skip dinner.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. if she said, ‘be home in an hour,’ we didn’t argue. We were home in less than an hour. We knew the price we’d have to pay if we were even a minute overtime.

Mother broke the ‘Child Labor Laws.’ She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make our beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, dust the furniture, do the laundry, fold the clothes, iron the shirts, clean the refrigerator, haul out the garbage, wash the windows, sweep the garage, mow the lawn and even clean up after the dog.

She always insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. God forbid if we were caught lying. The punishment doubled!

Our mother would not allow our friends to blow the car horn, alerting us that they had arrived to pick us up. Our mother insisted that our friends come into our house. Mom had to meet them face to face. And they had better be prepared to answer a host of questions. And they had better be truthful. If they lied it would be the last time we were allowed to go out with our so called friends.

Because of our mother, we missed out on lots of fun and lots of crazy things other kids experienced. Because of mother we kids were never caught shoplifting, vandalizing property or arrested for a crime. We never got drunk nor took up smoking, nor did drugs. It was all her fault.

Sundays were reserved for church. We never missed. It it was a choice between a ball game, and going church, the answer was CHURCH! Absolutely! No discussion! We knew better than to ask to spend a Saturday night at a friend’s house. The answer was always “NO!”

All of us kids are married now. And because of our mean mom, we are all God-fearing, educated and honest adults.

Maybe mom was mean but she always told us how much she loved us and how proud she was of us. Because of our mom we learn to do the right things. Because of mom we developed a strong work ethic.

Now, we kids are doing our best to be mean parents just like mom. As we look around the world we can be thankful that we grew up with a mean mom. Many of our childhood friends are in prison, out of work, bankrupt, victims of addictions, divorced or even passed on. If the world had more mean moms like we did, our friends would no doubt be a lot better off and the world would be much different. As mean parents we hope to pass this ‘so called meanness’ on to our children.

Next Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. We remember our mothers who have done so much for us. Whether mother lives across town, in another city or in heaven, it is a time to honor her. Even if your mom was a mean mom, this is the time to tell her how much you love her.

There’s a Jewish proverb: God could not be everywhere, and therefore, he made mothers.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – April 30, 2017

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Years ago, before the age of the GPS, a man was traveling the back roads of another state. He was totally lost. He needed help. Just then he saw an elderly farmer hoeing potatoes in his garden. Our traveler decided to stop for directions. “Can you tell me how to get to route 61?” asked the traveler. “Nope,” drawled the farmer as he chewed on a piece of hay. “Well, then, do you know how far it is to the interstate?” The old man thought for a moment, then shook his head, saying, “Nope, can’t say that I do.”

So, the traveler continued his questioning by saying that he lost his sense of direction out in the country. “Which direction do I go to get to the town of Harrisonville?” Again the farmer just shook his head saying, “Sorry, sir. I never go there.”

Being totally disheartened, the traveler barked, “You are no help whatsoever!” You don’t know much of anything, do you?” The old farmer replied, “Well, sir, I have to agree with you. But there’s one thing I do know for sure. That is, ‘I’m not lost’.

As the two disciples headed down the dusty road to Emmaus, they appeared totally lost as well as disheartened. They had befriended Christ. Now Christ was dead. Their future seemed uncertain. Sadness and grief gripped their hearts. Then, along comes Jesus. Not knowing who He was, they begin retelling the events of the past few days.

Upon arriving home, the disciples followed the traditional Jewish custom of hospitality. They invited the Lord to supper. Then, at the breaking of the bread, they recognized Jesus. Immediately the sadness and grief dissolved. Their hearts leapt with joy.

We know that it was evening when the disciples invited Jesus to share supper with them. So then, we can rightly assume that it was dark outside when Jesus broke the bread. When Jesus disappeared the disciples were so excited that they raced out of the house and galloped those seven miles to tell the other disciples. Even though it was probably dark they raced back to their friends to share the good news.

We all welcome good news. We want to live in the spirit of good news. And when good news comes our way, we are excited to share it. However, our lives seem to be surrounded with bad news and sadness. We shop around for ways to escape the bleakness of life. Often times we are looking in all the wrong places.

The disciples have given us the key to happiness and good news. We will find it in the breaking of bread. We will find it in Jesus Christ. Sure, we can look elsewhere as many people do. We can look for happiness in spending our Sundays working or playing rather than going to Mass. We can search for happiness in buying more toys, or traveling to more places. We can make many excuses for not spending an hour with the Lord on Sunday. But we will never find the fullness of happiness until we make the commitment to visit the Lord. At the Eucharist, the Lord will break the bread. That’s when we will recognize the Lord. And that is when our lives will change. The choice is ours. We can be good news people or bad news people. The secret is in the breaking of the bread.

Today we celebrate the most wondrous act of God – the resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. No one in the history of the world has ever risen from the dead, except Jesus Christ. Many religious leaders have tried to present themselves as having the absolute truth. Yet, not one of them predicted their resurrection and actually rose from the dead. The empty tomb is the Christian basis for believing in Jesus Christ.

The renowned scientist, Werner Von Braun, was a man of faith. When people tried to rationalize the death and resurrection of Christ, or the afterlife of the sould, he had this to say. “Science has found nothing that can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All nature knows is transformation. If God applies this fundamental rule to the most insignificant part of this universe, surely it makes sense to assume that God applies it to the masterpiece of his creation, the human soul.

Everything science has taught me, and continues to teach me, strengthens my belief that there is spiritual existence after physical death.

In 1932 Tommy Dorsey was singing in church when the pastor handed him a telegram. It read, “Your wife just died.” Tommy discovered that she had died as she was giving birth to their first born son. Later that night, the baby died too. Tommy Dorsey buried his wife and infant son in the same casket. Then he fell apart. He felt God had handed him an injustice.

But one day he sat down at the piano and started playing a new melody. The words flowed out of him. Those words became the gospel song, “Precious Lord.” “Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on. Let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night lead me on to the light; Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”

SIGN AT HEALTH FOOD STORE: “Closed due to illness.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.