From the Desk of:
Fr. Gary Ziuraitis C. Ss. R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Today, Redemptorisf Father Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R. will be with us to talk to us about our call from God (vocation), especially the call to be a Redemptorist. Longtime parishioners know Father
Tat from back in his days as a student living here at St. Gerard ‘while attending Oblate School of Theology. Welcome back Father Tat!
It is with great pleasure I welcome back Father Shea to break the news to him that my Detroit Lions beat his Green Bay Packers. There will be a rematch later in the season, so he
would probably want you to know that this is not the last word!
Last Sunday I gave Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini as an example of a laborer in the Lord’s vineyard who probably had it a lot tougher in the vineyard than some of us modem day
laborers for the Lord. It was brought to my attention that in more recent history there is a hometown, St. Gerard parishioner who also left her mark on the Lord’s vineyard: Mother
Georgianne Segner, from St. Gerard’ s parish and a school Sister of Notre Dame, who would have been 100 years old had she lived, on Sept. 19, 2014. During her years on this earth. she was Directress of her Order’s Postulants in St. Louis, served as the first provincial of a newly formed province here in the South (two terms), and served two terms as Mother General of the SSND’s in Rome. The parish can be proud of this native daughter who became a selfless laborer in the vineyard of the Lord leading this outstanding Congregation of religious sisters
in the pre and post Vatican Council II years.
The gospel par.able for this Sunday of the two sons is very interesting. It is a continuation of last Sunday’s gospel when we heard Jesus say “The first shall be last and the last shall be
first.” Who of us has not, at one time or another, had a child respond to us like. the two sons, or we ourselves that acted like the two sons in the parable saying we were going to do
something and didn’t, or, declaring our obstinate refusal to do something, but in the end going ahead and doing it anyway? In the context of Jesus’ time, the first son was a characterization of
the religious leaders of his time who professed obedience to God’s word but refused to believe in Him. The second son is a characterization of the outcasts of Jesus’ time who, yes, sinned, and sometimes sinned gravely, but, in the face of Jesus’ mercy changed their initial “no” into a “yes” by their repentance.
Is that breakfast I smell cooking over in the cafeteria this Sunday morning? Why, indeed it is and the wonderful ladies of the Women’s ACTS retreat and their volunteers have prepared
it for us so that others who may not be able to afford it, can go on the Women’s ACTS retreat. A win-win situation for all of us! And don’t forget next Saturday is the Rummage Sale in our parish parking lot sponsored by the Mission Assistance Committee to further some of our ongoing projects.
Speaking of projects, thanks to all who came out for the “sound system demonstration” last Monday evening. There is still a lot of discussion to be had about its pros and cons
before any decision can be reached. The opinions and critiques will be evaluated by Father Shea and the parish council in the weeks to come.
As we continue this “Season of Welcoming,” have a blessed week.
From the Desk of Fr. Gary Ziuraitis C. Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
While Father Shea is on pilgrimage to the places where St. Paul preached and ministered in Greece and Turkey, he asked me to fill in for him and write this column.
As I wonder how he is experiencing these biblical places where St. Paul walked, my attention is more keenly drawn to the passages of St. Paul that we hear proclaimed at our Sunday and
daily liturgies. During the weekday Masses recently, we have been treated to continuous passages from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In those passages Paul is explaining to his Corinth congregation that they are all members of ONE BODY with different gifts. Just as the human body has a heart and a head, has arms and legs and fingers and toes that work together
harmoniously, so too the Church can be described as a living organism, with Christ in the Eucharist as the heart of the Church and we as members of His ONE BODY who have various gifts that perform different functions that enrich the ONE BODY.
During this “Season of Welcome” we are attempting to reach out to each other and to our neighbors outside the walls of our Church. My experience of St. Gerard’s in the eight months I’ve been here is that we are a community especially united by our Sunday Eucharist. Then, during the week, many things are going on in smaller gatherings of parishioners that live out Paul’s analogy of the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, fingers, legs, feet, toes performing different functions. but all done with the purpose of what is good for the WHOLE, ONE BODY.
But sometimes we can lose sight of the existence .and the power of these small groups in the life of the parish. So let me offer a few examples, from just this past week, far from exhaustive, that might get you thinking about your own participation.
Daily Mass: Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m. (including Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m.) various parishioners numbering from 10 to 20 people begin their day by gathering to celebrate the daily Eucharist in our small, more intimate parish center chapel. (Tuesdays we celebrate in Church in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.) The benefit of daily Eucharist is that we hear a steady diet of scripture and receive holy communion to strengthen our faith, be steadfast in our choices, constant in our practice and faithful in our relationships. Even if you can’t join us for daily Mass, you might want to read the daily Mass scriptures at your convenience sometime during the day. It is said that you can’t read Scripture on a daily basis and not have it change your life.
Preparation for the Women’s ACTS retreat: About 20 women meet each week In preparation to give the Women’s ACTS retreat in October. These are the team members and they do this in
preparation to give you the best possible experience if you decide to sign up and go on the retreat. So although this is not an activity open to the general population of the parishioners, it is done with the purpose of providing you, the women of St. Gerard’s, with the best possible retreat experience, which is open to you. So please seriously think about signing up and attending the St. Gerard’s Women’s ACTS retreat starting October 16th, the feastday of St. Gerard.
Volunteer landscaping, garden and parish building maintenance crews: This is one Church activity that can sometimes involve being on your knees in a different way! And it’s good exercise. You’ve probably noticed the efforts outside the front entrance to the Church and back behind the Church at the Grotto to beautify our surroundings. You know, we are not a wealthy
parish, but even being poor we, and more importantly, God, deserve to have a home that is inviting within the means that we have. Our volunteers help us accomplish that.
St. Gerard Food Pantry: Every Thursday a group of parishioners personally serve face-to-face our neighbors who are in need of assistance with food. The people involved in this necessary
ministry obtain the food, sort it and bag it to be ready to go on Thursday morning. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters”, says the Lord, ”you do it for ME.”
Holy Hour on Thursdays from 6 – 7 p.m. in the parish center chapel: Again, a small group of parishioners gather to pray silently before the Blessed Sacrament to gain peace, strength
and familiarity with Jesus. It is a simple, quiet hour where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar, everyone present prays silently in a way that suits them best. and we close with
benediction. You yourselves know what it’s like to have family and friends drop over for a visit. All Catholic Churches reserve the Blessed Sacrament in tabernacles not just to retain the
Eucharist for Sunday Masses, but to also allow people to come and visit Jesus outside of Mass. And HE appreciates his friends dropping in and spending some time with HIM and
experiencing a strengthening of His relationship with you.
Seniors: Every first Monday of the month a group of our Seniors gathers for a potluck lunch at 11:30 in the Parish Center. Afterwards they play some bingo. Father Shea and I try
to show up to share in the fellowship. Well…ok…we come for the potluck too! Seriously, we have a lot of Seniors in our parish who may not be aware of this monthly activity. Especially if you are empty nesters or living alone and looking to get out of the house for a congenial activity with people with the same interests, come on over to the parish center the first Monday of the month and enjoy some socializing in good company.
Communion Ministers to the Homebound: Every week at the end of Mass we send forth our Communion Ministers to visit the Homebound and Sick. This is an important spiritual
ministry that means so much for those who cannot get out and come to Church and Mass. Why, just this past week, one of our Communion Ministers gave holy communion to a parishioner
and prayed with loved ones gathered around her bed on Sunday morning just hours before God called the parishioner home to heaven. What a ministry of compassion and caring the people perform for our people!
Mission Assistance Committee: This committee holds fundraising projects such as the Rummage Sale to provide some extra funding for special parish needs. They are presently preparing for the next Rummage Sale on October 4th. Information in this bulletin can
direct you to how you can pitch in and help at the Rummage Sale and enjoy the company of our parishioners at the same time.
As I said, this is not an exhaustive list. We have the better known groups like the Altar/Holy Name .Society, the Knights of Columbus, and the CFF and RCIA faith formation classes that do
so much for the parish, and all the other unmentioned groups. But I highlighted just a few of the smaller groups that participated in this past week to get you thinking and to underline the spiritual message that the members” of the ONE BODY, whether it’s the head or the Big Toe or pinky finger, all do their part to build up the ONE BODY of Christ as St. Paul teaches us in his letter to the Corinthians.
You can call the parish office if you need more information about these activities or any other activity you hear announced in Church or see here in the bulletin that could benefit from your
Have a blessed week,
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Whenever a bishop signs his name he places a cross sign + or a plus sign + before his name. It so happened that a Scottish bishop was dining in a fine restaurant in his diocese. The young waitress was honored to be the waitress at thee bishop’s table. After she took his order she asked the bishop if he would kindly autograph the menu. The bishop obliged, putting the small cross before his name. The waitress looked at the signature and said,
“Thanks for your autograph and for the wee kiss my Lord.”
This Sunday we celebrate the ’Exaltation of the Holy Cross.’ The feast of the Holy Cross replaces the Sunday Mass of ordinary time. The cross is ever so special in our lives.
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates three historical events: the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine; the dedication of churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulcher and Mount
Calvary; and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by the emperor Heraclius II. But in a deeper sense, the feast also celebrates the Holy Cross as the instrument of our salvation. This instrument of torture, designed to degrade the worst of criminals,
became the life-giving tree that reversed Adam’s Original Sin when he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.
After the death and resurrection of Christ, both the Jewish and Roman authorities in Jerusalem made efforts to obscure the Holy Sepulcher, Christ’s tomb in the garden near the site of His crucifixion. The earth had been mounded up over the site, and
pagan temples had been built on top of it. The Cross on which Christ had died had been hidden (tradition said) by the Jewish authorities somewhere in the vicinity.
According to tradition, first mentioned by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem in 348, Saint Helena, nearing the end of her life, decided under divine inspiration to travel to Jerusalem in 326 to excavate the Holy Sepulcher and attempt to locate the True Cross. A Jew by the name of Judas, aware of the tradition concerning the hiding of the Cross, led those excavating the Holy Sepulcher to the spot in which it was hidden.
Three crosses were found on the spot. According to one tradition, the inscription lesus Nazarenus Rex ludaeorum (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) remained attached to the True Cross. According to a more common tradition, however, the inscription was missing, and Saint Helena and Saint Macarius, the bishop of Jerusalem, assuming that one was the True Cross and the other two belonged to the thieves crucified alongside Christ, devised an
experiment to determine which was the True Cross.
The three crosses were taken to a woman who was near death; when she touched the True Cross, she was healed. In another, the body of a dead man was brought to the place where the three crosses were found. He was laid upon the cross. The True Cross restored the dead man to life.
In celebration of the discovery of the Holy Cross, Constantine ordered the construction of churches at the site of the Holy Sepulcher and on Mount Calvary. Those churches were
dedicated on September 13 and 14, 335, and shortly thereafter the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross began to be celebrated on September 14th. The feast slowly spread from
Jerusalem to other churches, until, by the year 720, the celebration was universal.
The cross has become the sign of Christianity. It reminds us that Jesus went up to Jerusalem to take up his cross, carry it to Calvary where he was nailed to the cross and left to die. Jesus said to us. “If you want to come after me you must pick up your
cross and follow me.”
No one is spared from carrying a cross. Listen to what Malcolm Muggeridge, the British intellectual and journalist said in his old age: “Contrary to what might be expected, I look
back on experiences that at that time seemed especially desolating and painful. I now look upon them with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that
everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence has been through affliction and not through happiness whether pursued or attained. In other words, I say this, if it were possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo-Jumbo, the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too
banal and trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the cross signifies and it is the cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.” Malcolm Muggeridge visited Blessed Mother Teresa. He saw her faith in. action. Muggeridge was so blessed with the gift of grace that he converted to Catholicism.
One night Officer O’Hanlon was walking his beat in London when he heard the cry of a child. He looked around to find a boy weeping on the storefront steps. The child looked up at O’Hanlon and said, “I’m lost. I don’t know how to get home.” The officer asked a few questions but the boy bad no clue where he lived. O’Hanlon remembered that the church in the town square had a huge cross on the bell tower. He could see it from where he was standing. Pointing to the cross the officer asked, “Do you live anywhere near that?”
Looking up, the boy jumped up and shouted, “Yes, I know where that is. Take me to the cross and I will find my way home.”
If you are going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow, sleep late.
Fr. Jim Shea, C. Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
This is one of Winston Churchill’s favorite stories. It was a bitter cold night in London. A man was standing on the platform waiting for a London bound train. Because of some emergency, a nonstop express train made an unscheduled stop at this platform. Our man quickly stepped aboard.
“You can’t get on here,” objected the conductor. “This train doesn’t stop here.”
“Very well, then, Sir, just forget it,” suggested the passenger. ”If this train doesn’t stop here, then I’m not on it.”
Nearly two years ago Father Anthony Nachef came to visit me. He was associated with Proximo Travel, a Catholic tour company. He invited me to be the chaplain on a tour to Greece and Turkey, all expenses paid. This tour, or pilgrimage, would follow the footsteps of St. Paul.
In the olden days my grandfather farmed with horses. He always said, .Don’t ever look a gift horse in the mouth.” This was an unexpected surprise. And I wasn’t going to question this gift. So I told Father, ”I am here and ready to get aboard.”
Over the past two years I invited family and friends to join me on this tour to Greece and Turkey. A couple from Kansas City will be touring with me. Also, Father Lucatero. pastor of our
neighboring parish, St. Michael, will be on the tour, with his mother and sisters. I do not know of others who might be going, nor do I know the number of people on this pilgrimage.
Proximo Travel sent me an itinerary. This pilgrimage visits the cities where St. Paul journeyed, or where he sent his letters. For all these years I have been reading St. Paul’ s letters.
I will be leaving on Saturday, September 13th and returning on Thursday, September 25th, I will be visiting the following cities: Thessaloniki. Philippi, Delphi, Athens and Corinth. There wiII be
a three day cruise to Mykonos Island, Hora and Alefkandra. After the cruise we will visit Kusadasi and Ephesus in Turkey. We will drive through the town of Kusadasi to Mt. Koressos where tradition has it that the Blessed Virgin Mary spent her last days. We will also visit the Basilica of St. John built over the grave of St. John. We will visit Patmos where the monastery of St. John is built within the walls of a strong fort.
We will continue our cruise to Heraklion and Santorini. Santorini is perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. After viewing the Greek Isles we will sail to Athens. From Athens we will fly to Istanbul and then back to the U.S.
Monday we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Catholic Church celebrates three nativities throughout the liturgical year. The Nativity of the Lord is on December 25th.
Some say that this date was chosen because it was transferred from the Roman festival of the unconquered sun. The Nativity of John the Baptist is on June 24th. Ancient tradition chose this
date due to the birth of Jesus, coming six months before Christ’s birth. And of course, September 8th is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.
Tradition suggests that Mary was born in the house of Anna, located near the Sheep Pool, the place where Jesus cured the paralyzed man. The church built next to the pool was dedicated
to Mary. It is likely that September 8th was simply the day of dedication for this fifth-century structure. The celebration of Mary’s Nativity made its way from Jerusalem to Constantinople, where the emperor Justinian had it included in the Church calendar of celebrations.
In the monthly publication ’Connect’ an article about church bells appeared. The articled referred to tower bells not altar bells. It was noted that the church bell is a cultural landmark.
Church bells have been around since the sixth century. Pope Stephen II erected a belfry with three bells as part of the old St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The ringing of a bell calls the
Christian people to worship. It also acts as a symbol, heralding the good news of the Gospel in the world. The prayer of blessing for church bells asks that God let the voice of the bells
direct the hearts of the hearers toward him. The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris recently hung new bells which were rung for the first time of Palm Sunday 2013.
Three bells hang high up in the tower of St. Gerard Church. Verdin, a church bell company, has evaluated our church bells. They tell us that the electronics which controls the ringing of
the bells, is a bit out of date. They also sald that the structure which supports the bells in the tower needs repair. Someone suggested that we return to the old fashion way of ringing bells.
Well, the holes are still in choir loft floor where the ropes used to hang.
Another cultural landmark, according to the ‘Connect’ publication, is stained glass. Glass production dates from ancient times. However, actual stained glass windows began to
appear in the seventh century, and as glass-making techniques improved, they became a dominant art form in the Christian churches.
Medieval artisans exercised great skill in producing windows that today are considered historical treasures. Many churches continue the tradition today, incorporating the traditional art of stained glass into buildings meant to serve the contemporary congregation. The stained glass windows in our church are the products of Emil Frei.
Emil Frei (Senior) was born in 1869 in Bavaria, and immigrated to the United States as a young man. Setting up shop in St. Louis, he opened his own studio in 1900, producing traditional Munich Style windows for churches, and later mosaic designs. In 1917, he was joined by his son Emil Frei, Jr. We suspect that the stained glass windows in our church were designed and fabricated in St. Louis.
Love cures people – both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.