Monthly Archives: November 2015

Pastor’s Notes – November 28, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The Little Sisters of the Poor were going from door to door in a French city, soliciting alms for old people.

One nun called at the house of a rich frethinker who said he would give 1,000 francs if she would enjoy a glass of champagne with him.

Sister immediately recalled her rule of religious life which forbad the nuns to partake of alcoholic beverages. But, 1,000 francs would but many loaves of bread for the poor. What to do! What would Christ do? She quickly remembered how Christ broke the rule of the Sabbath as he healed a crippled man. Surely God would forgive her if she broke the rule of her religious life to feed the hungry.

Sister smiled and siad to the freethinker, “Yes, I will enjoy a glass of champagne with you.” A servant brought the bottle and poured each of them a glass of sparkling champagne. They toasted each other and sister chug-a-lugged her glass of champagne. She then set the glass in front of the freethinker and said, “And now sir, another glass, please at the same price.”

The freethinker was taken by surprise and he honored sister’s second request.

Sister was explaining the procedures for a fire drill to her grade school students. “In the event of fire,” she said, “I will be the first to leave. You will follow me.”

A young boy, a bit irritated whispered to his buddy, “Why should Sister go out first?” Without blinking an eye, his buddy said, “Because kids you can get out anytime, but Sisters are hard ti find.”

I think the kid was on to something. Sisters are hard to find these days. Many of us remember the days when a nun taught in every classroom. Those were the good OLE days. But were they that good. If we look close we would discover that those nuns were unjustly treated. They were not salaried. They were given a pittance to live on.

Where are those nuns today? Well, many of them have gone on to their eternal reward. Others are in nursing homes where their relligious orders are caring for them. In many instances, the religious orders are struggling to provide dignified care for the ailing sisters who dedicated their lives to teaching. Unfortunately, when these nuns were active, their financial pay was so minimal that they wer not able to save for their retirement years.

The Bishops and priests across the country have recognized the situation of the elderly nuns. They owned up to the injustices which the church rendered to all those teaching nuns. In 1988 the Bishops established a Retirement Fund for Religious. Each year a collection is taken for retired religious. The money is distributed to the religious orders to care for their sick anddying. an average of 25 million dollars has been collected annually from all the parishes across the country.

Today, this money is used to care for many of those nuns who taught us. Yes, the nuns gave thousands of kids a wonderful education. Because of the nuns, those kids grew up, graduated from college and launched profitable careers. Now we are asking those same people to share some of their earnings to care for the aging nuns who gave them such a wonderful start in life.

On the weekend of December 12-13, there will be a second collection for the retirement Fund for Religious. If you were blessed to have a nun teach you, you may now give a financial blessing to her in her retirement years. Even if you did not have nuns for your education, you are welcome to make a donation.

Mother Superior was on her deathbed. The other nuns gathered around her bedside. Mother Superiou aksed for something to drink. As they were bringing a glass of milk, one of the the younger nuns suggested that they spike the milk with a splash of Irish whiskey to energize their superior. After drinking the milk, color came back to Mother Superior’s face. A sparkle flashed in her eyes. Seeing sister so chipper, one of the nuns asked, “Mother Superior, before you pass on to your eternal happiness, do you have some final words for us?” Mother Superior paused a moment, smacked her lips, then said, “For God’s sake, don’t sell that cow!”

We are coming to the end of the year of Consecrated Life. Let us say ‘Thank You’ to the many religious who have fiven a lifetime to God and to His Holy Church.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – November 22, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Three stores in a small mid-western town stood side by side on Main Street. They all sold pretty much the same type of of merchandise. One day the owner of the store at one end hung a sign over the front entrance: ROCK-BOTTOM PRICES.

The proprietor of the store at the opposite end took offense. How dare a competitor monopolize the sale of merchandise with a rock bottom price tag! To counteract the advertisement, he hung a sign over the front entrance of his store: LOWEST PRICES IN TOWN.

Well, it looked like the proprietor of the middle store would be squeezed out of business. But no! The man in the middle came up with a bright idea. He hung a sign in front of his store: MAIN ENTRANCE.

Last Sunday, nearly 100 people gathered for our town hall meeting. The restoration committee wanted to hear what people were thinking regarding the buildings at St. Gerard. There are three parish values we must maintain: 1. A place to worship. 2. Classrooms for religious education. 3. A social hall. The school buiding is a space where religious and social functions take place. And, the building is rapidly deteriorating. So, we must prepare for the future. We asked for ideas. Our parishioners definitely provided us with a bundle of suggestions.

Some wanted to restore the school building. And others wanted to transform the school into an assistant living facility, then build a new hall and religious education center in the parking lot.

Others wanted to retrofit the parish center into classrooms. Then, they’d build a social hall in the parking lot across the street. Of course they’d lose parking with a structure in the parking lot. To offset the loss of parking, they would lease, purchase or just use the island which the city owns, and turn it into a parking lot.

Still others would totally retrofit the parish center. They would build classrooms our of the nuns’ cells. They would put a concrete floor in the court yard, then put a roof over that space for a social hall. They would use the front of the building for offices, the back of the building for meeting rooms.

The ideas flowed freely. May I loudly proclaim: “NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE!” We must follow the process which is given to us by the Archdiocese. According to archdiocesan guidelines, a parish must have one half the total construction cost on hand before beginning construction. That means we must raise over a million dollars before beginning.

So, we take this first step. That is, I’ll ask Archbishop Gustavo for his approval to begin a capital campaign. It will take a few years to raise a million dollars. During that time we will continue our conversation about the buildings of St. Gerard. By the time we have the money we should have a pretty good idea where the ‘MAIN ENTRANCE’ will be.

It was Thanksgiving morning when the husband and wife injoying a cup of coffee. The kids were in the next room. Suddenly the parents heard the sound of a brief scuffle. Mary, the three year old, rushd into the kitchen in tears. Sobbing, she yelled, “Mommy! Daddy! Christoper hit me!” Before either parent could respond, the nine year old daughter stepped into the kitchen and said to her sister, “It’s Thanksgiving – be thankful he didn’t bite you!”

Byrl Shaver wrote this ‘Lord, Thank You’ prayer.

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes; we have plenty of food to eat. Thank you for this pile of dirty, stinky laundry; we have plenty of nice clothes to wear. And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds; they were so warm and comfortable last night. I know that many people sleep on the floor.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the spattered mess, soggy, grimy towels and dirty lavatory; it is so convenient. Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly; it has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of cold drinks and enough leftovers for two or three meals. Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today; it has baked so many delightful meals over the years.

The whole family is grateful for that tall grass that needs mowing. The lawn that needs raking; it really is beautiful and we all enjoy the fun times in the yard.

Thank you, Lord, even for that slamming screen door. My kids are healthy and able to run and play. Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says that you have richly blessed my family. I shall do them cheerfully, and I shall do them gratefully. And all God’s people say…THANK YOU! AMEN!

My heartfelt thank to you, for the many blessings you bring to St. Gerard.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – November 15, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Monsignor Patrick Clark was the pastor of Christ the King Parish. He came from fine Irish stock. However, he inherited the Irish curse. He had an unquenchable thirst for liquor.

On the eve of his birthday,, Monsignor Clark decided to celebrate with a few drinks. One drink led to another as he was drifting off to la-la land. Late that night the telephone rang. Monsignor quickly answered the phone. Little did he know that it was the Bishop calling! Monsignor Clark answered the phone: “Clark the King Parish, Christ speaking.”

Next Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. This feast was introduced into the Church calendar by Pope Pius XI in 1925. There was economic uncertainty in Europe. People were willing to serve political parties adn their leaders who promised to save them. Religion became more and more a private matter. So Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King. The Pope wanted to assert that no human ruler is Lord but that the sovereignty of Christ extends to all peoples in all ages.

Throughout history, many power hungry kings amassed mighty kingdoms. Napoleon thought he could be great because he founded a kingdom through force. Perhaps it’s worth listening to his words of warning at the end of his life. Napoleon said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love. And at this hour millions of men would die for him.”

In the movie ‘The Last Emperor’ a young child was anointed as the last emperor of China. He lives a magical life of luxury. Thousands of servants were at his command. “What happens when you do wrong?” his brother asks. “When I do wron,” the boy emperor replies “someone else is punished.” To demonstrate, he breaks a jar and one of the servants is beaten.

In Christian Catholic theology, Jesus reverses that ancient pattern. When the servants committed wrongdoing, the King was punished. The sinful disciples are free because Christ the King paid the price for our sins.

Christ reverses many patterns in life. Christ was a living paradox in His life time as well in ours. St. Gregory of Nazianuzus wrote the following reflection in 381 a.d. ‘He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Living Water. Jesus was weary, yet he was our Rest. Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King. Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons. Jesus wept, yet he wipes away our tears. Jesus was sold thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world. Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd. Jesus died, yet by his death He destroyed the power of death.’

How inspiring it is to hear how some people can live humble lives, as Christ did, even though they hold important positions. Some years ago, an American soldier on a bus in Sweden told the man sitting next to him, “America is the most democratid country in the world. Ordinary citizens may to to the White House to see the President and discuss things with hiim.”

The man said, “Is that so! Do you know that in Sweden, the King travels with ordinary people in the same bus?”

When the man got off the bus at the next stop, the American was told by other passengers that he had been sitting next to King Gustav Adolf VI.

Looking ahead…Thursday, November 26 is Thanksgiving. We will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Church at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 8th is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a holyday of obligation. As Catholics, we are expected to attend Mass on that day. Masses will be at 6:30 am, 9 am and 7 pm.

On Saturday, December 12th, we will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We will have Mass in church at 8:00 a.m. Since this feast falls on a Saturday, there will be a 5:00 p.m. Mass. However, the scripture readings will be for the third Sunday of Advent.

Sunday, December 13 we will celebrate the sacrament of the anointing. At one time this sacrament wass called Extreme Unction, or the Last Sacraments. People would wait until they were near unto death to receive this sacrament. The thinking has changed. The sacrament is now offered to the elderly; to those with illnesses, diseases or chronic conditions; to those with injuries or addictions. If you have a doubt whether you are qualified to receive the sacrament, dissolve the doubt by receiving it. And, if possible, invite the priest to confer this sacrament upon your loved one while he/she is still consscious and alert.

On Monday, December 14th we will have the sacrament of reconciliations. We have heard this sacrament called by different names. Penance, confession, reconciliation or just forgiveness of our sins. We invite everyone to receive this sacrament. Not only are sins forgiven, but we receive extra graces to ward off tempations.

A grandmother went to church on Sunday, aglow with joyful anticipation. Her grandchildren were coming to spend Thanksgiving week with her. She was so excited that she put then dollars in the collection basket. The very next Sunday, after the grandchildren had left, and with a sigh of relief, she put twenty five dollars in the collection basket.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – November 8, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A lad living in the hills of Tennessee said, “We’re so poor up here, if a thief breaks into our house, all he’ll get is practice.”

He also described how poor his family was: My grandfather was a righteous old man. He had just one tie. Every night he’d show up for dinner wearing that tie. Every night he would spill half his food on that tie. But grandmother said not to worry. Once each year she woud wash that old tie in boiling water. Gramps would finally have a clean tie and the rest of the family would have tie soup.

In our scripture readings today we hear about two women, both widows, who were living a life of poverty. Out of their poverty they generously shared with others in need. The Old Testament widow baked a piece of cake for the prophet Elijah. The New Testament widow gave two small coins to the temple treasury. The Lord noticed the woman giving two small coins while others were placing generous contributions to the treasury. He praised her for giving out of her poverty while others give out of their surplus.

We are reminded of Blessed Mother Teresa’s words of mercy. One day she entered a hovel of a very poor family in Bangladesh. She brought with her a bowl of rice.. The mother of the family took the bowl of rice, put half of it in another bowl and began walking out of the hovel. Mother Teresa said, “Where are you going with that rice?” The mother said, “The people next door are hungry too.”

Many years ago the Redemptorists owned major and minor seminaries. Only Redemptorists taught in those seminaries. But, times have changed. Nowadays Redemptorists no longer own seminaries. Young men studying to be Redemptorist priests attend theological schools, such as the Oblate School of Theology.

When the Redemptorists owned the seminaries, we always had a soup kitchen in the building. Sometimes it was called ‘The Pauper’s Kitchen.’ We seminarians would disrespectfully refer to the room as ‘the hobo kitchen.’ Every day men and women would come to the kitchen for food. Every day the nuns would give them a meal.

Back in those days seminarians always seemed to be hungry. Occasionally, we would disguise ouirselves as beggars. We’d try to get a meal from the nuns. It never worked. We couldn’t fool the nuns.

The Pauper’s kitchen taught us seminarians a powerful lesson. The nuns also taught us a life-long lesson. As Christ said, “The poor will always be with you.” And the poor became hungry like the rest of us. Except, the poor have nothing to satisfy the hunger pangs. So, they would come the our Pauper’s Kitchen.

The nuns would feed them. No one, yes no one was ever turned away. We always gave those folks something to eat.

In most of our Redemptorist Houses and Parishes, we have a soup kitchen or a food shelf. Here at St. Gerard, we call it the ‘St. Gerard Food Panrty.’ Every week, on Thursday morning, from 9:00 to 11:00, we hand out bags of non-perishable foods to the people who come to our door. We do not serve hot meals. At times there will be people coming to our door outside of the scheduled times. We never turn them away. We always send them home with something to eat. As we often hear, “That could be Jesus asking for a bite to eat.” We do not give money. Only food.

On the 4th Friday of every month the St. Francis of Assisi Food Truck comes to St. Gerard. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi a group of parishioners from St. Francis of Assisi parish bring food to the less fortunate. We are grateful to Father Larry Christian and the parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi for bringing bag lunches for the hungry folks around St. Gerard.

The lesson I learned with the “Pauper’s Kitchen” and the nuns serving hot meals to the knights of the road is a lesson that has carried me throughout my ministry. Never, never, turn anyone away. For our mission is the poor.

I received a letter from Archbishop Gustavo. It was addressed to me but the greeting was “My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.” He writes: “Congratulations to you and your parish for reaching your goal for the 2015 Archbishop’s Appeal. I want to express my most sincere gratitude to your pastor, all the parishioners you Appeal Coordinator (Cliff Padalecki), and all lay leaders and volunteers who recognized the needs of your brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of San Antonio and helped to make this effort a success.”

The final port-a-call of our Family Anniversary Cruise last month, was Rome. While my family and family friends flew back home, I stayed in Rome for two extra days. One day I made a personal pilgrimage to the four major basilicas: St. Peter, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Paul outside the wall. ┬áMonday is the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran. It is the cathedral church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff. Even though St. Peter’s is better known, and widely visited by tourists, it is John Lateran that is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Rome.

In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – November 1, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

An old man known asn the ‘County Grouch’ owned a piece of property down by the cemetery. At the edge of his land stood an old pecan tree. In the darkness of the night a couple of young kids snuck onto the County Grouch’s farm. With a flashlight to guide them, they headed toward the pecan tree. There they quickly gathered up two gunny sacks of pecans. With the sacks slung over their shoulders, the boys jumped over the cemetery wall. Two pecans happened to slip out of the sacks as they cleared the wall. Hiding behind the wall the two boys began dividing the nuts between them – “One for you. One for me. One for you. One for me.”

It so happened that the Grouch’s son, Cranky Kid, was getting ready for bed when he looked out the window and saw a flickering light under the pecan tree. Curious to what was happening Cranky Kid hiked down to the tree. When Cranky Kid arrived at the tree the two boys were already behind the wall dividing the nuts. Cranky Kid put his ear to the wall and heard, “One for you. One for me. One for you, one for me.”

Frightened out of his mind Cranky Kid raced back to get his dad. He said, “Come dad, Come quick. You won’t believe it. Satan and the Lord are in the cemetery dividing up the souls.” County Grouch and Cranky Kid hurried down to the pecan tree. They quietly crept up to the cemetery wall. They listened. All they could hear was, “One for you. One for me.”

County Grouch said, “You are right son. It is Satan and the Lord.” Just then the boys finished dividing the pecans. One boy said to the other, “Now let’s go get those two nuts outside the wall and we’ll be done!” They say that County Grouch and Cranky Kid set a new outdoor record as they bolted back to their house.

On November 2nd, we celebrate All Souls Day. It is a day we honor those folks who have gone home to the Father.

In rome, there is an ancient building called the Pantheon. Romans beliebed that their gods helped them to be victorious in their military battles. After a major vidtory they would build a temple to honor that god. It happened that they had many false gods. So, the Pantheon was built to honor all the false gods that the Romans worshipped.

In the year 607 Emperor Phocas turned the beautiful Roman Pantheon temple over to the Pope. The pope quickly removed the statues of Jupiter and the pagan gods and consecrated the Pantheon to all the saints who died from Roman persecutions during the first three centuries. the bones of the martyrs were exhumed from various graves and placed in the Pantheon church.

In the 8th century Pope Gregory III decreed that November 1st would be ‘All Saints’ Day. In the 10th century Abbot Odela of the Cluny monastery declared that November 2nd would be ‘All Souls Day’ to honor all Christians who have died.

The pictures and statues of St. Gerard often times has a skull at his feet. It might seem to be a bit out of place. But, St. Gerard prepared himself well for his death. He died at the age of 29. The skull was a reminder of the new life granted to him in eternity. So the skull remains at his feet to remind us of death and resurrection.

Last week thirty Redemptorist priests, all superiors of Redemptorist communities, gathered at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Retreat House in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Each year Father Provincial calls the superiors together to review our lives as superiors and leaders of our communities. We are given our guide rule of life, or as we call it, our Constitutions and statutes. During our time together we evaluated our communities in light of our Constitutions and Statutes.

We spent time deepening our understanding of our mission, which is ‘to preach the Good News to the poor.’ We exist for our mission. We also discuss how well we are living our vision, which is the way in which we fulfill our mission.

Living our community life entails our minds, our hearts and our souls. We embrace our Constitutions and Statutes with our head, our heart and our spirit. Every community is unique. Every community is constantly changing. Therefor, on a regular basis, we share our thoughts, our feelings, and our spiritual life. We call this our P.C.L. –plan for community living.

After spending three full days reviewing our Redemptorist life, I stayed in Wisconsin to officiate at my niece’s wedding.

Next Saturday we will be attending our Archdiocesan Assembly. Archbishop Gustavo wants every parish to be represented. He wants all priests to concelebrate the 5:00 pm Mass with him. Therefore, there will be:

NO 5:00 P.M. MASS AT ST. GERARD NEXT SATURDAY

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.