Monthly Archives: March 2015

Pastor’s Notes – March 28, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Fifty passengers settled into their seats as a West Coast commuter plane took off. The flight attendant announced, “We welcome you aboard.” After announcing all safety measures for the flight, the attendant said, “We’d like you folks to help us welcome our new co-pilot. He will be performing his first commercial landing for us today. So, be sure you give him a big round of applause when we come to a stop.”

At touchdown the plane hit hard on the concrete runway. Three times the plane bounced on the tarmac before settling down. Nevertheless the passengers dutifully applauded. When the
plane arrived at the gate and the pilot shut down the engines, the attendant’s voice came over the intercom, “Thank you for flying with us today. And don’t forget to let our copilot know
which landing you liked best.”

During Holy week we like the third landing best. It is the resurrection. But first, we must endure the first two landings. Only then will we be able to rejoice with the Lord as He rises from the tomb. We begin holy week by waving our palms and shouting out praises to the Messiah. Only a few days later, beginning with Holy Thursday, do we enter into the Paschal Triduum – triduum meaning three days. The Paschal Triduum embraces the Paschal mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We begin the Triduum with the Last Supper. Then, on Friday, we walk with Christ to Calvary where he is crucified. Finally, we give praise to God when we discover that Jesus rose from the dead. The mystery of these three days, lie at the heart of our Catholic faith. The first days of the triduum are trying and painful as we anticipate the death
of Christ. However, after waiting three days we welcome ‘the third landing’, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The empty tomb is proof that Jesus is God.

At one point early in Julius Caesar’s political career the citizens were rising up against him. He thought it best to leave Rome.  He sailed toward the Aegean Island of Rhodes. However,
pirates attacked his ship before arriving at Rhodes. They captured Caesar and demanded a ransom of 12,000 gold pieces.

Caesar’s coterie set out to raise the ransom money. Caesar spent 40 days under the brutal eye of his captors. During that time he joked with the pirates, telling them that someday he
‘would capture them and crucify them to a man.

As soon as the ransom was paid, Caesar was released from captivity. He immediately put together a fleet to pursue and capture those pirates who held him captive. Eventually they
were captured. Being true to his word Caesar had each of them crucified. Such was the Roman’s attitude toward crucifixion. It was to be reserved for the worst of criminals. It was a means of showing extreme contempt for the condemned. The suffering and humiliation of a Roman crucifixion were unequaled.

Crucifixion was rarely used on Roman citizens. It was reserved for the worst of crimes. After Constantine’s conversion, crucifixion was no longer practiced in the Greek world.
Romans crucified. Jews did not. The Jewish method of execution was stoning. Crucifixion was the most shameful way for a Jew to die.

Prior to the crucifixion the Romans would flog the criminal. Romans used what is called the ’cat-o-nine-tails’. This instrument of torture consisted of long leather straps embedded
with pieces of bone or glass. Occasionally lead balls were woven into the thongs to increase the impact of the blow. And while the Law of Moses stipulated a maximum of forty lashes
minus one. no such limit existed in Roman law or practice. The only stipulation amongst the Romans was that a man could be flogged until the flesh hung from his back. Some scholars think that Jesus may have been flogged twice. The accounts of both St. Luke and St. John hint at it.

At a meeting of his priests, the Archbishop of Paris once told a story of three cynical young men. Those men were raised as Catholic. Later, they not only lost their faith but even denied
the existence of God. One day the three of them happened to be walking past the cathedral of Notre Dame. They decided to look around inside this beautiful structure. Inside they noticed
that a priest was hearing confessions. Two of the guys dared their buddy to go into the confessional booth. He faintly remembered how to go to confession. Nevertheless he entered
the confessional and made up a bogus confession. The priest wasn’t fooled by this arrogant atheist. The priest instructed this phony penitent to go out in the church stand under the large
crucifix hanging above the altar, look Jesus in the eye and say to him three times: “All this you did for me and I don’t give a damn.’

The young man and his friends decided to carry out that instruction. They snickered as they approached the altar. The irreverent imposter stood in front of the altar, looked into the
eyes of Jesus and began to speak. He discovered that he was a bit hoarse. Somehow he mustered enough energy to shout, “All this you did for me, and I don’t give a damn.” He tried to shout a second time but his voice began to falter’. So he whispered, “All this you did for me, and I don’t give a damn” Moments later he tried to shout a third time but his voice failed him
altogether. The young man hung his head in shame and then headed to the exits. Just then a voice inside him said, “Wait! Wait! Go back to the confessional. Confess your sins.” The young man returned to the confessional booth, apologized to the priest and made a sincere confession. A year or so later that same man entered the seminary. He went on to be ordained a priest. That young man, who once was a cynical atheist, became a dedicated priest. Later he was ordained a bishop and eventually became the Archbishop of Paris. I am that man.” The message in this column has been a sad and heavy one. Yet, that is the way Holy week is. It consists of suffering, pain, ignominy, ugliness and death. But wait! Wait three days! Wait three days and there will be new life. The life of the resurrected Christ. Let’s look forward to Easter Sunday.

Looking back I want to thank the many people who were involved in many different ways with our Parish Mission. First of all, I thank Fr. Greg Schmitt for preaching the mission. I want to thank Raquel Rubio for responsibly taking the leadership role in forming a committee. Father Gary Ziuraitis was present with the committee guiding them. I applaud all the committee members for a job well done in preparing for, promoting and participating in the mission. I thank the many people who were involved in the mission service itself. And finally, I was delighted to see many parishioners attending the mission. God will fill us with his life giving graces.

As we look forward to Easter let us ponder the word emptiness. Emptiness is meant to be filled. We furnish empty rooms; feed empty stomachs; and fill our empty lives with as much pizazz as we can. No one of us wants an empty bank account; an empty closet; an empty pantry; or an empty mailbox. We just don’t get excited about emptiness. We do our best to fill emptiness with something.

God has a way of filling empty spaces. Out of nothingness He created the universe. He fills hungry people with food. He fills the weary, confused and lost with his presence. He fills the
lonely with excitement. He fills the depressed and sad with joy. The only empty thing that God approved of was the empty tomb. Because of the empty tomb we, the chosen faithful, are
filled with the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. Let’s look forward to Easter. It is a time to open our hearts and let the joy of life flow in.

A tourist walked down the street of a small mountain town. He went over to an old man sitting on a bench in front of the only store in town. The tourist said, “Friend, can you tell me
something this town is noted for?” “Well,” replied the old man, “I don’t rightly know except that it’s the starting point to the world. You can start here and go anywhere you want.”

Let’s go with Jesus Christ.
Fr. Jim Shea

Pastor’s Notes – March 15, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From: Fr. Shea, C.Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Many, many years ago a new game was invented in Scotland. The name given to this game was Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden. Now the world refers to that game as GOLF. In this column we’ll address golf, mission, St. Patrick and St. Joseph.

Two weeks from now Father Greg Schmitt C.Ss.R. will be preaching a mission at St. Gerard. Back in the early 1990’s Father Greg and I traveled to Ireland to play golf. Fr. Greg and I have known each other for many years. We are both from Wisconsin. Both Packer fans. .Both enjoy golf together. I followed Fr. Greg as pastor of OLPH parish in Kansas City. Now, we team up for a mission at St. Gerard, and a round of golf awaits us when the mission is over.

John Sullivan, was a long-time friend of the Redemptorists in Kansas City. John was a very successful businessman. He had many frequent flier miles with the now extinct alrline, TWA.
He gave those miles to Fr. Greg and me. John also owned a cottage near Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland John invited us to stay at his cottage. So Fr. Greg and I flew to Ireland, stayed
in the cottage and played golf at Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville, Kenmare and other courses.
John’s bachelor cousin in Ireland, Danny O’Shea, known amongst his drinking buddies as Danny the Durd, was the caretaker of the cottage. John told us to drive to Kenmare, take the highway south, and stop at the ‘Lake House’ pub. If Danny was not at the pub, his buddies would know where he was. Danny had just left the pub to go home.

Fr. Greg and I drove to a quaint cottage in the meadow where Danny lived. We walked down a dirt path to his house and noticed empty bottles of Bushmills Irish Whiskey on all the window sills. Strange indeed. Danny welcomed us. We sat down and chatted in front of the fireplace. Danny’s dog was resting comfortably at our feet, typical Irish scene. So, Fr. Greg said to Danny, “You enjoy a nip of the spirits, do you?” “I do, I do,” said Danny, “and how do you know?” “It was obvious. We were surrounded with empty bottles of Bushmills.”

Danny told us that one of his cows died and he had to dig the grave by hand. Well, the next day Fr. Greg and I went into Kenmare. We bought a bottle of Bushmills, put it in a paper sack and went back to visit Danny. I asked Danny if his hands were chapped and sore after digging the grave. He said, “They were. they were.” Handing him the paper sack I said, “Danny, I bought you a pair of gloves.” Danny took the sack, held it close to his heart, felt the square bottle and said. “I hope they fit. I hope they are well lined and keep me warm. Do you mind if I try one on? Do you want to try the other one on?” So we sat and enjoyed a nip of the spirits.

We paid one last visit to Danny before leaving Ireland. I said, “Danny, if I ever get back to Ireland I’m going to stop in for a visit.” Danny said, “Seamus you do that. And when you come, bring another pair of gloves. The old ones might be worn out.”

On Tuesday we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a festive day indeed. So let’s toast the Irish. “St. Patrick was a gentleman, of strategy and strength. He drove the snakes from Ireland Have a
drink unto his health. But not too many drinks my friend, lest we forget him then. forget the good St. Patrick and see the snakes again.”

On Thursday we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph. On this day we honor Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster-father of Jesus. He is the patron saint of fathers,
families, workers, and the Church. Although the main celebration for St. Joseph is Thursday, March 19, we also honor St. Joseph the Worker on May 1.

Many churches celebrate March 19th with a St. Joseph Table. A St. Joseph Table is an offering of love, labor and sacrifice in honor of the Patron Saint of the Sicilians and the Universal Church.

According to legend, there was a famine in Sicily many centuries ago. The villagers prayed to St. Joseph, foster-father of the Infant Savior, and asked for his intercession before the throne of God. Their prayers were answered when the rains finally came and their crops prospered. In thanksgiving for these blessings from God, the community made food offerings to St. Joseph. In his honor they erected a lovely altar, with three levels to represent the Holy Trinity. They draped the altar with beautiful white altar cloths. They placed their finest grains, fruits, vegetables, seafood and wine on the altar. They surrounded the altar with flowers.

The celebration begins on a religious tone. Selected villagers portray an elderly man, a lovely young woman, and a little child. The three of them represent the Holy Family. They are
seated at the head table and remain there during the early part of the festivity. Others accompanying this “Holy Family” are twelve men or boys, representing the Apostles and other
children, attired as angels. The village priest blesses the food. The “Holy Family” is served first by the host and hostess. Then they invite the poor, the less fortunate people, especially the homeless and sick to share in their prayer and festivity.

According to legend the folks in Sicily ate fava beans during the famine. Normally, the fava bean was used as fodder for cattle. The fava bean is now featured on every St. Joseph’s altar
and is referred to as “lucky bean.” If you keep one, you will always have money. or so the saying goes.

The St. Joseph’s Table continues to this day in many communities, especially amongst the folks of Italian descent. People have many reasons to celebrate: to fulfill a promise, to give thanks for a favor granted, such as the safe return of a loved one from war, for healing the sick, for a happy life, for success in studies or business. Having a St. Joseph’s table is an opportunity for the prosperous to share with those less fortunate.

St. Joseph Table blessing: ALL-provident God, the good things that grace this table remind us of your many good gifts. Bless this food, and may the prayers of Saint Joseph, who provided bread for your Son and food for the poor, sustain us and all our brothers and sisters on our jounzey towards your heavenly kingdom.

May the Irish hills caress you! May her lakes and rivers bless you! May the luck of the Irish enfold you! May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you!

Fr. Seamus O’Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – March 8, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From: Fr. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,

According to a news report on the web site Ananova.com, a married couple from Beijing, China, received a nasty shock when they discovered that they were each other’s secret Internet lovers. The husband and wife had each been secretly and anonymously flirting with one another online. After a month of online flirting, they decided to meet and introduce themselves face to face. A nasty fight broke out when the spouses met at the rendezvous site.

Joy doesn’t just happen. We must choose it. How often it happens that the joy we are pursuing is right in front of us. However, we don’t recognize it. For some reason this couple probably found themselves trapped in an argument. Any joy they once experienced in their relationship got smothered under their differences. Each of them looked elsewhere. Each found an anonymous friend on the internet. Little did they know that they were texting their spouse. When they discovered the truth, that old argument surfaced its ugly head. Once again. they
chose to re-ignite the argument rather than enjoy the goodness of each other which they discovered while texting on the Internet.

Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be  easier to describe where joy cannot be found. Not in Unbelief: Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: “I wish I had never been born.” Not in pleasure: Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure. He wrote: “The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone.” Not in money: Jay Gould. an American millionaire, had plenty. When dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.” Not in position and fame. Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed both. He wrote: “Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.” Not in military glory. Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his
day. Having done so, he wept in his tent before he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.” Where then is real joy found? The answer is simple. In Jesus Christ alone.

Robert J. Morgan tells about the famous Chinese Christian Christiana Tsai. Christiana was born into a wealthy family in China. She was raised in a deeply devout Buddhist home. As
her parents sent her to a Christian high school run by missionaries. her father told her, “Just be sure you don’t fall for Christianity!” Despite her father’s advice, Christiana became a Christian.

In her autobiography Christiana tells us what happened when she announced to her family that she was a Christian. They reacted with fury. They snatched her bible, tore it to pieces, and
threw it in her face. Yet, sometime later, her younger brother approached her. He said, “Tell me about Christianity and why you became a Christian. I have noticed that in spite of the way we treat you now, you seem much happier than you used to be. I think I would like to believe, too.” In time, Christiana’s happiness and joy spilled over to her entire family. Her joy paved the way for her to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Everyone in her family became a Christian.

Wilfred Grenfell, an English medical missionary, said: “Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of others, but from doing something worthwhile.”

Over ten years ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that David Sun and John Tu sold 80 percent of their company, Kingston Technology Corporation. At the time it was the world’s largest
manufacturer of computer memory products. The sale price was $1.5 billion.

The two men then decided to share their windfall with their employees. The average bonus payment their workers received was just over $75,000. Sun summarized their decision: “To
share our success with everybody is the most joy that we can have!

Orville was informed some years ago that he had terminal cancer. He went home to cry, and wait for death. He and his wife wondered. should we keep this disease a secret? They
prayed about it. The answer that came to them was to share the news. But not only to share, but to rejoice. Rejoice!! How could anyone rejoice with a disease sentence hanging over their
heads?

Well, they decided to host a big party. During the festivities Orville called for everyone’s attention. He broke the news to his guests, saying, “You may have wondered why I called you
all together. This is a cancer party. I have been told I have terminal cancer. My wife and I have come to realize that we are all terminal. We decided to start a new organization. It is called
M T.C. – Make Today Count.”

Since that time the organization has spread across the country. Orville pointed out that Christians ought to face the medical death penalty with singing and loving. We are all terminal. We just don’t know when that terminal moment will appear. But, in the meantime we can choose to live a joy filled life by Making Today Count.”

In two weeks Father Greg Schmitt will preach our mission. He will be focusing his sermons on the seven Sacraments. The mission committee, which is chaired by Raquel Rubio, decided
to follow the spirit of Pope Francis. As Pope Francis speaks about the Joy of the Gospels, the committee decided that the theme of our mission will be `The Joy of the Sacraments.’
We have all learned. the definition of a sacrament: An outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. Grace is the life of God Himself. We do not see the life of God. We believe in God
and in God’s life. We believe that the lifeline of God’s grace is injected into our veins through the sacraments.

We believe that Christ Himself instituted the seven sacraments. The sacraments touch upon the various phases of life – from the crib to the grave. Along the journey of life we need God’s life within us. God’s grace is always available to us.

Many years ago a young man from a small village in Nigeria was attending the University of Arizona. There was no electricity in his home town. There were no cars in that town.
He came to Arizona so he could help his people with electricity.

He bought an old car to get around Tucson. A year later, on a blistering hot day, he invited some friends to join him on trip to the Grand Canyon. As they traveled the temperature in the car
became unbearably hot. A friend asked him if he would turn on the air conditioning. The Nigerian said, “I don’t have air conditioning in this car.” “Yes you do,” said the friend. “It’s the
button that says A/C.” “No,” said the Nigerian, “that means alternating current. I don’t want to touch that button less the car stop running.” “No,” said his friend, “A/C means air conditioning.”

Imagine. The Nigerian sweated through many hot days thinking that A/C meant alternating current. All along he had cool air at his fingertips but never used it. So it is with ‘grace.’ The
sacraments supply us with many graces. Grace is always at our fingertips. It is up to us to open our hearts to receive that grace and use it.

A woman was visiting an art museum. She turned to a curator and pointed at the wall. She said, “I suppose you call that hideous-looking thing modern art!” “No!” he replied. “We call
it a mirror.”
Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – March 1, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

From Father James Shea, C.Ss.R

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Late one night a man and his son were returning home from a ‘classic car rally.’ The father decided to take a back roads~ shortcut. Wouldn’t you know it? Almost in the middle of nowhere the motor began to sputter. It chugged along for a few yards then died. They tried to re-start the engine. No luck!

The son noticed a light in the distance. So, the two of them walked toward the light. It was a farm house. They knocked at the door. The farmer opened the door, and welcomed them in. The father explained to the farmer how bis car stalled and died. Both of them agreed that it was too late to work on the car, so the farmer invited them to spend the night in his house.

The farmer took the travellers to the guestroom. There was one single sized bed in the guest room but the farmer explained that in his son’s bedroom there is a queen-sized bed. The father could sleep in the guestroom while the little boys could sleep in the queen size bed.

The two boys crawled into bed. Moments later the farmer’s son jumped up and knelt beside the bed. The traveling kid saw the farm boy kneeling and figures he was saying his prayers. So, the
kid rolled out of bed and knelt down opposite the farm boy.
The farmer’s son looked across the bed and shouted, “What are you doing!?” The kid shouted back, “Same thing that you are doing.” “What!!” exclaimed the farmer’s son? Mom is really going to be mad! “Why?” asked the innocent visitor. The farm boy answered,…Cuz the pot is on my side.”

This coming Friday, March 6th, we will be celebrating World Day of Prayer. The World Day of Prayer is a worldwide movement of Christian women from many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer. It is a yearly tradition. It is a movement initiated and carried out by women in more than 170 countries and regions. It is a movement symbolized by an annual day of celebration – the first Friday of March. It is a movement which brings together women of various races, cultures and traditions in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year. Through World Day of Prayer, women affirm that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world. The motto of file World Day of Prayer is “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action”.

Each year a country is chosen to be the host country. This year, 2015, the host country for World Day of Prayer is The Bahamas. The women of The Bahamas have selected a biblical text which is John 13:1-17. After washing the feet of his community of disciples, Jesus asks, “Do you understand what I have done for you? The women of The Bahamas describe what Jesus does when he washes the disciples’ feet as “radical love.”

Radical love comes from humility, compassion and commitment. God’s radical love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. Although we perhaps first associate The Bahamas, a country of islands, with the pleasures of vacation and images of tropical paradise, there is much more to learn. We see the transformation that occurs when a teen mother finds support to continue her education and raise her child; when a breast cancer survivor and people living with HIV/AIDS find strength to live out their journeys; and when the chains of oppression are broken.

The women of The Bahamas identified a number of justice issues to pray for. They invite us to pray for peace in the home. Domestic Violence must be transformed into peaceful relationships. According to information gathered by the United Nations, more than two-thirds of the women in the world will experience violence in their lifetime. In the United States, the incidence is roughly one-fourth.

World Peace Day invites us to remember these women. We are also encouraged to pray to end all violence against women and girls. As we pray for the women of the world, let us also join in the work of creating a safe, just and joyful world for everyone! The Women of the Bahamas call us to pray for victims of HIV/AIDS, for immigrants and refugees and for women in the work place. Finally, these women remind us that we are to pray for Eco-justice which includes all ministries designed to heal and defend creation, working to ensure justice for all of creation and the human beings who live in it.

Last week we heard how Jesus went out into the desert to pray. This week he goes up the mountain where he was transfigured. Wherever Jesus goes he spends a little time in
prayer. Jesus sets the example. In our Lenten journey we are encouraged to pray, fast and give alms. On Friday, March 6th we can join with our sisters from around the world to pray not only for women but for all peoples that Justice be rendered to all. We pray that we respect one
another, love one another and live in peace with one another.

We all find ourselves searching for love, peace, joy, kindness, patience, understanding, forgiveness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are wonderful virtues. And where will we find them? They will be hidden in our prayers and reading of Sacred Scripture.

Ever wonder about the abbreviation ASAP? Most of the time it means “hurry up and get the job done.” Let’s give the acronym a new meaning: Always Say A Prayer.

There’s work to be done, deadlines to meet. You’ve got no time to spare. But as you hurry and scurry – ASAP. Always say a prayer.

In the midst of family chaos. Do your best. Let God do the rest – ASAP. Always say a prayer.
It may seem that your worries are more than you can bear. Slow down and take a breather – ASAP. Always say a prayer.

God knows how stressful life is. He wants to ease our cares. He’ll respond to all our needs -ASAP. Always say a prayer. Today I’m saying a prayer that God will smile on us and send us all the special blessings that only God can give – so – ASAP. Always say a prayer. Amen ASAP!!!

Little Johnny and his family were having dinner at his Grandmother’s house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away.

“Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer,” said his mother.
“I don’t need to,” the boy replied.
“Of course, you do,” his mother insisted. “We always say a prayer before eating at our house.”
“That’s at our house,” Johnny explained. “But this is Grandma’s house and Grandma knows how to cook.”

Stop! There is one person in your life who could use an extra prayer. So, say a prayer for that person ASAP.

Fr. Jim Shea C.SS.R.