Monthly Archives: February 2015

Pastor’s Notes – February 22, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The Cincinnati Reds were hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers for a weekend series. Tommy Lasorda was the manager of the Dodgers at the time. Tommy was a faithful Catholic. Even when the Dodgers were playing baseball on the road, Tommy would begin his Sunday morning by attending Mass.

On this particular Sunday Tommy attended Mass in the downtown church in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Reds’ manager happened to attend the same Mass. Arriving late, the Reds’ manager took a pew in the back of church. He spotted Tommy up front. After the Mass, when the parishioners were heading to the exits, Tommy visited the Blessed Virgin’s shrine. He knelt and prayed. Then he lit a candle and walked out.

The Reds manager kept his distance, hiding behind a pillar so Tommy couldn’t see him. The Reds manager watched every move that Lasorda made. When Tommy lit the candle, the Reds manager became a bit uneasy. He assumed that Tommy was trying to achieve a divine edge on the crucial game they were going to play that afternoon.

When Tommy left the church the Reds manager casually walked up to the votive light stand and blew out the candle that Tommy had just lit.

Why do people light candles in church? In nearly every church, there are candles for people to light. Shrines around the world have countless candles burning. Have you ever noticed how children love to light candles? There is something fascinating about candles. A burning candle is so warm, so comforting and so consoling.

Any burning light is a reminder of Christ, the Light of the World. The flame of a candle is symbolic of love because of its warmth and cheerfulness. As the candle bums itself out and is consumed in giving its light and service to people, it is a sign of sacrifice and sacrificial love.

Using candles in church is an age-old practice. Candles are recommended or used for every sacrament except for the sacrament of reconciliation, unless reconciliation is within a ‘Penance
Service.’ In the early days of Christianity flaming torches and incense accompanied the officials of imperial Rome as a sign of dignity and respect. The same practice was adopted to show
reverence for the bishop of Rome. Blessed candles are kept in Christian homes and are lit for times of prayer, When I was a kid, my mother would always wake the family up during an electrical storm. She would light a candle. Then we would pray for safety. The candle was our way of asking for God’s protection during the storm.

People light candles in St. Gerard vigil light room. The candle symbolizes the presence of that person before God, praying for a special favor, or calling upon a saint to intercede before God for a special blessing.

In every church there is another candle next to the tabernacle. It is called the sanctuary lamp. This lamp bums day and night throughout me year. This candle reminds us that Jesus Is present in the tabernacle. As we enter the church we know the Lord is present when the candle is lit. So we reverence the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle with a genuflection or a profound bow.

March 24th is ADVOCACY DAY in Texas. The Bishops of Texas will be present at the Texas State Capital to promote Life, Justice, Charity and Religious Freedom. Archbishop Gustavo invites the people of San Antonio to join him at the Capital. if you are interested in reserving a seat on the
free bus’ to the Capital, please call 210-734-1655.

Remember St. Gerard Mission. It begins Sunday night, March 22. The theme of the Mission is The Joy of the Sacraments.’ So, plan to be there.

Lent is a time to change, or transform ourselves from our old self to a new and more wholesome self. We could do well if we followed the words of Dorothy Law Nolte’s
“Children Learn What They Live.”

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
Ira child lives with approval, he }cams to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

But then, the devil has his beatitudes to sway the faithful away from Lenten resolutions.

Blessed are those who are tired, too busy, and too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow believers in Church – they are my best workers.
Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked – I can use them.
Blessed are the touchy, with a bit of luck they may stop going to church – they are mine forever.
Blessed are those who are very religious but get on everyone’s nerves – they are mine forever.
Blessed are the troublemakers they shall be called my children.
Blessed are those who have no time to pray – they are easy prey for me.
Blessed are the gossipers – for they are my secret agents.
Blessed are those critical of church leadership – for they shall inherit a place with me in my fate.
Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people – I’ve got you.

A reporter was interviewing Jack Nicklaus. He said, “Jack, your name is synonymous with the game of golf. You really know your way around the course. What is your secret?”

To which Jack responded, “The holes are numbered!”

Fr. Jim Shea C.SS.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 15, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The doctor handed his patient a bottle of pills with these instructions: “Take one of these pills after each meal and drink an ounce of whiskey each night before you go to bed.” The patient returned two weeks later, complaining that he still did not feel well.

“Did you do what I told you to do?” The doctor asked. “Well,” the patient said, “l’ve fallen a little behind with the pills, but I’m about six months ahead with the whiskey.”

In a few days we will celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a time for making resolutions. What is it that I want to give up? What is it that I want to do? Sacrifices can be made in many different ways. Our church suggests two ways: fasting and abstaining.

There are two fast and abstinence days during Lent – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence means that we do not eat meat on that day. Fast means that we eat one full meal and one moderate meal. It also means ’no solid food between meals.’ Everyone 14 years or older, is obliged to abstain from meat. Everyone between the ages of 18 and 59 is obliged to
fast.

Every Friday during Lent is a day of abstinence. That means ‘Fridays without meat.’ This regulation was intended to be a sacrifice. With all the delicious fish meals we wonder if
Fridays without meat is any sacrifice at all. Those folks living near the ocean are not making much of a sacrifice as they eat lobster instead of steak.

There are times when the faithful can excuse themselves from abstinence. However, it must be a serious reason. Perhaps, we can say that a wedding rehearsal dinner is a serious reason to
permit meat on Lenten Fridays. In most cases there are many non-Catholics present at the dinner. I don’t think the non- Catholic folks would appreciate us Catholics imposing our
regulations upon them.

Catholics are expected to do penance during this season of Lent. Some give up favorite foods or drinks. Others perform charitable acts. There are those who increase their devotion or prayer. Some attend daily Mass. No one is excused from doing something extra during Lent. Plus, it is very important that we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.

President Lincoln frequently made hospital visits to file wounded soldiers during the Civil War. When visiting a soldier near death Lincoln asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” The soldier did not recognize the President. He asked, “Would you please write a letter to my mother?” President Lincoln complied as the soldier dictated this letter: “My dearest mother,
I was badly hurt while doing my duty. I’m afraid I’m not going to recover. May God bless you, Dad Mary and John.

The President then added ’written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.’ At that moment the soldier recognized the President. Lincoln asked if there was anything else he could do. “HoId my hand” the soldier said, “it will help me to see me through to the end.” There, the President of the United States sat next to a dying soldier, holding the boy’s hand until he died.

No matter who we are, no matter our profession or position in life, no matter what political party we endorse, no matter what religion we profess, no one is excused from being compassionate. Christ reached out to the poor, the widows, the suffering and the dying, the
lepers and the crippled. As Disciples of Christ, we too must imitate our leader.

As Mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia liked to keep in touch with all the various departments under him. Often he would fill in for the department heads of officeholders as a way of understanding what that person was experiencing.

One time he chose to preside over Night Court. It was a cold winter night and a trembling man was brought before him. The man was charged with stealing a loaf of bread. His family, he said, was starving.

“ll have to punish you,” declared La Guardia. “There can be no exceptions to the law. I fine you ten dollars.” As he said this, however, The Little Flower was reaching into his own pocket for the money. He tossed a bill into his famous sombrero. He said, “Here’s the ten dollars to
pay your fine – which I now remit.

“Furthermore,” he declared, “I’m going to fine everybody in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where a man has to steal bread in order to eat. Mr. Bailiff collect the fines and give them to the defender!
The hat was passed and the in credulous man, with a smile on his face, left the courtroom with a stake of $47.50.

A few weeks ago a representative from the Archdiocese audited our financial books and procedures. His report focused on three areas.

1. All personnel files for W2 and 1099 forms be kept in one file.

2. All financial transactions of the Altar Society/Holy Name must be entered in our parish Logos system- which is the universal accounting system for the Archdiocese. (Incidentally, this system will be changed to a new system this spring because Microsoft will no longer support Logos.)

3. Regarding the ‘raffle,’ for proper tracking with the IRS:

a. we can no longer sell tickets ‘six for five dollars.’ Each ticket must be assigned the same financial value.

b. Each ticket must be assigned a number. Numbers must be in sequence. E.g. 101, 102, 103 etc.

c. if the prize is in excess of $600, or 300 times the amount of the wager or price of the ticket, then the winner needs to be reported to the IRS.

The headwaiter of the elegant restaurant, a rather snobbish middle-aged man, recoiled in horror as a young punk wearing torn jeans slung low on his hip, his chest hair bulging out from
behind his tank top shirt, tattoos up and down his arms and dangling rings in both ears approached him. “Hey man, where’s the restroom?” asked the young guy. With a sigh the headwaiter replied, “Down the hall, turn left, and you’II see a sign marked ‘Gentlemen.’ Pay no attention to what it says on the sign, and go right inside.”

A reminder to all: Attending Holy Mass is an honor for all of us. For we come to church to meet our Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, Our Lord Jesus Christ. I think the Lord would
like us to come, wearing our Sunday best.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 7, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From: Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A man woke his wife early one morning complaining of severe abdominal pain. They rushed to the emergency room. The husband, who worked at a funeral home, told his wife not to call in sick for him until the test results were back. Soon, the nurse informed the wife that their suspicions were correct: he had a kidney stone. The wife asked the husband, “Would you like me to call the funeral home now?”

The nurse looked shocked. She snapped, “Honey, he’s sick, but he’s not that sick!”

Wednesday, February 11th is ’World Day of the Sick ‘ It is also the Memorial of ‘Our Lady of Lourdes.’ And, February 11, 2013 marks the day Pope Benedict XVI resigned the papacy due to medical reasons. On this day we are reminded to pray for the sick and to recognize all those who work in health care and serve as caregivers.

On this day in 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a 14 year old girl in the town of Lourdes, high up in the Pyrenees Mountain. The girl’s name was Bernadette. The Blessed Virgin
told Bernadette to bath and drink from an unknown underground spring. Bernadette followed the Virgin’s instruction. Water began to flow and has been flowing ever since. Lourdes has become a holy shrine where millions of people pray for healing of their maladies.

A bachelor went into Hallmark’s looking for the perfect Valentine card. A sales clerk offered to help. Several minutes later she said,. “I think I found the card you were looking for.
The card read:

“Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You’re my one and only,
Hope you think so, too.”

“That’s absolutely perfect!” said the bachelor. “I’ll need eleven of those cards!”

Next Saturday is Valentine’s Day. Valentine was a priest near Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius had begun persecuting and imprisoning Christians for not worshiping the Roman gods.

A few years before an all-out persecution of Christians, a war broke out in the Roman Empire. Claudius called ail the able-bodied men to go into battle. Many men were reluctant to leave
their families or their sweethearts. Claudius countered that reluctance by issuing a decree which said that there would be no more marriages. And, all engagements were to be broken off
immediately.

Tradition tells us that valentine would secretly officiate at Christian marriages in spite of the Emperor’s ban. Valentine soon had a reputation throughout Rome as a friend of those in love.

It didn’t take long for Claudius to get wind of Valentine’s secret marriage ceremonies. The emperor sent soldiers to arrest the priest. At the trial the emperor tried to persuade Valentine to renounce his faith. Valentine remained steadfast in his faith in the true God.
So, Claudius tossed Valentine into prison.

Even in prison Valentine continued to minister to those with whom he had contact. He ministered to his guards, one of whom had adopted a blind girl many years earlier. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed for the girl and God healed
her, restoring her sight.

Emperor Claudius was furious when he heard about Valentine’s jail ministry. So, he ordered his soldiers to beat Valentine and then behead him. The order was executed on February 14, 270 A.D. Shortly afterwards the church elevated Valentine to sainthood. Because of his willingness to risk all to unite couples in marriage, he is known today as the Patron Saint of people who are
in love.

In Hillsborough, New Jersey the schoolboard figured that St. Valentine’s Day had too much of a religious heritage. They decided not to celebrate the day as ’St. Valentine’s Day’ but rather as ‘Special Person Day.’

A group of professional people asked four eight year olds, “What is love?” Here are six answers the children gave. a) “Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.” b) “Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well” c) “When my grandmother got arthritis, she could not bend over and
paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” d) “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” e) “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” f) “When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they
won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.”

Health care executives are now wearing rubber gloves whenever they meet with patients. It’s not for sanitary reasons. Rather, they just don’t want to leave their fingerprints on your wallet.

Good health to all!
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – February 1, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A husband and wife were on a long trip when they got into a large-sized argument over a small-sized issue. The air was so icy between them, that they probably could have turned off the air conditioner. For many miles they refused to speak to each other.

The strained silence continued until they drove past a couple of donkeys grazing in a pasture. The husband finally broke the silence. Pointing to the donkeys, he asked, “Are those some of
your relatives?” The wife sharply responded, “Yes! On my husband’s side of the family!”

This is a week of special days, concluding with ‘World Marriage Day’ next Sunday. This Sunday is ‘Boy Scout Sunday’ as we honor all boy scouts and scout leaders. Monday is the feast of the ‘Presentation of the Lord.’ Mary and Joseph present their son at the temple. Monday is also known as ‘Candlemas Day.’ On this day we bless the candles that will be used in our churches or in our homes throughout the coming year.

Monday is also ‘World Day for Consecrated Life’. The men and women who profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are living the consecrated life. Although Monday is the actual
day for consecrated life, the bishops suggest that we celebrate this very special day in parishes on the weekend of February 7-8, 2015, along with World Marriage Day. Finally, there’s another intriguing day on Monday – ’Groundhog Day.’ According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

On Tuesday we celebrate the feast of St. Blaise. Blaise was raised as a Christian in a rich family. He was a doctor who became a bishop. In a vision God appeared to him and told him to flee to avoid persecution. So he lived in the hills with animals. He spent his time in prayer. Many people visited him. Those who were sick were healed.

His holiness was manifest through many miracles. People came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; legend has it that even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing.
When the emperor, Licinius, ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill all Christians, they captured Blaise. As he was being led to his execution a mother rushed her only son to Blaise. The kid
was choking to death with a fish-bone lodged in his throat. Blaise blessed the boy and the kid was cured straight away. The soldiers then bludgeoned Blaise with a club, ripped his flesh
with iron combs, and beheaded him.

On the feast of St. Blaise there is a custom of blessing throats. We use two candles which were blessed on Candlemas Day. We cross the candles and place the candles on either side of the person’s throat. We pray – “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Next Sunday we will celebrate World Day of Marriage. There is an old story about the wife of Caligula. Caligula served as a general in Cyrus’ army. One day the wife was brought before the golden throne of Cyrus where she was charged with treachery against the King. At the trial she was sentenced to death.

Caligula never heard about the trial until it was nearly over. He rushed to the courts as quickly as possible. When he heard the sentence condemning his wife to death. he threw himself before the king and begged, “Oh, Sire, take my life instead of hers. Let me died in her place!” Cyrus was so touched when he heard that hisgeneral was willing to be executed in place of his wife, he said, “Love like that must not be spoiled by death. The king exonerated the wife and sent her away as a free woman.

As Caligula and his wife walked away, happy and relieved, the husband asked, “Did you notice the expression on file King;s face as he freed you?” His wife said, “No.” Caligula said, “Did you see the golden throne where he was sitting?” Again she responded, “No.” “Did you see the ivory ornaments on the wall?” Again she said, “No.” Finally, Caligula asked, “Well, what did you see?” His wife said, “I only saw the face of the man who said he was willing to die for me.”

After many years of a turbulent marriage a couple went to see a marriage counselor. They were seriously considering a divorce. The counselor said to the husband, “When was the last time you told your wife that you loved her?”

With arms crossed, the man glared at the counselor and firmly stated, “I told my wife` I loved her on our wedding day and that stands until I revoke it.”

Have a happy: World Boy Scout day, Presentation of the Lord Day, Candlemas day, Consecrated life day, Groundhog Day and World Marriage day. (What a week this will be!!)

Fr. Jim Shea