Monthly Archives: December 2015

Pastor’s Notes – December 27, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, “Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and my face would turn red.” All the students nodded their heads in agreement.

The teacher continued, “Then why is it that while I am standing upriight in the ordinary position, the blood doesn’t un into my feet?” A little fellow shouted, “Cause your feet ain’t empty!”

This is a week of celebrations. First, we celebrate the feast of Holy Innocents. And Friday we celebrate the feast of Holy Innocents. And Friday we celebrate New Year’s Day. It’s all about children, family, parents and new beginnings.

After a snow storm in Minnesota, Susan was outside shoveling her driveway. She stopped to wave hello to her neighbor. The neighbor asked her why her husband wasn’t out there helping her with the shoveling.

She explained that one of them had to stay inside to take care of the children. So they drew straws to see who would go out and shovel. “Sorry about your bad luck,” the neighber said. Susan said, “Oh, no! Don’t be sorry. I won”

Robin Landermann writes about her experience of being a parent: One sunny afternoon she decided to visit the Charlestown Navy Yard. A replica of a Viking ship was docked for the day. So, she hurried to get her four year old son, Sam, ready for the trip to the Navy Yard. She had exactly 45 minutes to get there before the Yard closed. If all went well, she would make it just in time.

All did not go well. Traffic was unbearable. There they sat in a log jam. Stop and go! Stop and go! Soon it became apparent that they would never arrive in time. So, she broke the news to Sam. “Sam,” she said, “I am afraid that the Yard will be closed by the time we get there.”

The mother braced herself for tears and crying. Instead, Sam simply gazed out the window. He thought for a minute, then said, “I guess it doesn’t matter when we drive the other way, Mom, because home never closes.”

What a beautiful response. Home never closes. Home is always open. Today is the feast of the Holy Family. We honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their Bethlehem home was open to the shepherds and Wise Men. The Holy Family’s home never closes.

Soon in your hands will be placed a priceless gift. Look at it closely. There is no price tag on it. It cannot be weighed because there’s no scale that can balance its value.

The gift is a jewel. It is rare and unique. It cannot be purchased nor sold. Undoubtedly, it is a gift that far surpasses any gift you have ever received.

This gift has been offered many times before. Thousands of people have received this gift. Wthin a few days it will be offered again to millions people.

It is the gift of the New Year. A precious gift indeed. For God has given us another year of life. With God’s graces, we’ll wisely use this gift.

There are many New Year’s wishes…such as: may you get a clean bill of health, from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastroenterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber, and the IRS.

Clowns have a delightful prayer: “Lord, as I stumble through this life, help me create more laughter than tears, dispense more happiness than gloom, spread more cheer than despair. Never let me grow so big that I fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged.

Never let me forget that I am a clown, that my work is to cheer people up, make them happy, make them laugh, and make them forget momentarily all the unpleasant things in their lives. Never let me acquire financial success to the point where I will fail to call upon my Creator in the hour of need, or thank him in the hour of plenty.

And in my final moment, O Lord, may I hear you whisper in my ear: “When you made MY people smile, you made ME smile.”

Happy New Year!!! With God’s graces we can make 2016 a year of smiles.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – December 20, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

During the winter of 1962, Thelma Goldstein from Chicago treated herself to a vacation. She drove to Florida. Upon reaching North Miami, she began looking for a hotel. Finding one, she stopped to book a room. She did not know that the area and the hotel were restricted.

She said to the manager, “Excuse me, Sir. My name is Mrs. Goldstein. Thelma Goldstein. I’d like to rent a small room for two weeks.”

“I’m awfully sorry,” he said, “but all of our rooms are occupied.” Just at that moment a man approached the desk, informing the clerk that he was checking out. “What luck!” said Mrs. Goldstein. “Now there’s a room.”

“Not so fast, Madame. I’m sorry, but this hotel is restricted. No Jews allowed.” “Jewish? Who’s Jewish? I happen to be a Catholic.”

“Madame,” said the clerk, “I find that hard to believe. Let me ask you, who was the Son of God?” Mrs. Goldstein said, “Jesus, Son of Mary.” And the clerk asked, “Where was he born?” Mrs. Goldstein answered, “In a stable.” “Why was he born in a stable?” asked the clerk. Looking the clerk straight in the eye, Mrs. Goldstein said, “Because a schmuck like you wouldn’t let a Jew rent a room in his hotel.”

We have arrived at the final days before Christmas. We join Mary and Joseph as they travel toward Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, they came to a cave where Mary gave birth to the child Jesus. There, the Savior of the world, the WORD became flesh and began his human dwelling among us.

Back in 1865, a young pastor in Philadelphia, Phillip Brooks, made a pilgrimage to Palesting. The day before Christmas, he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. He visited the usual sights in the village then went eastward to the traditional Fields of the Shepherds.

As darkness fell, he stood for a while by the cave where the shepherds saw the angels and the glory of heaven. Finally, he joined in the services conducted in Constatine’s ancient basilica built in A.D. 32 over the traditional site of the nativity.

The service lasted from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. With these experiences in mind, he returned to Philadelphia and wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The music was composed by his organist Lewis H. Redner. The lyrics and melidy exquisitely express what we mean by “back to Bethlehem.”

O Little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,

Above the deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light,

The hopes and dreams of all the years are met in thee tonight.

At Christmas time, many kids write letters to Santa Claus. These letters usually end up in ‘Santa’s bin’ at the post office. One day some of the employees opened the letters and read the wish list of a little girl. “Dear Santa: This Christmas I would like four things: ‘Understanding for children. Respect for the parents. Love for the elders and peace for everyone'” From the mouths of babes…

‘Lumen Gentium’ is the Latin word for “Light of nations.” Each year Archbishop Gustavo has asked all pastors to identify an individual or a married couple who have served their parish well. Archbishop wants to acknowledge those people with a prayer service and a reward.

The indiviual or the couple must be a practicing Catholic who manifests an understanding of the teachings of the Church and has been graced with a life formed in the Catholic spiritual traditions. The indivdual or the couple has used his or her talents to deepen the life of the Church in the parish or has served in an extraordinary way in assisting in the works of the parish.

Many people at St. Gerard could be selected to receive this award. With consultation with the parish staff, I have selected Jim and Linda Worstwick to receive the Archbishop Gustavo’s 2016 Lumen Gentium award. On February 2, 2016, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, at St. Dominic’s Church, Archbishop Gustavo will present this award to people from every parish in the Archdiocese. Thank you for accepting this award, Jim and Linda. You are well deserving of it. Congratulations.

One airline traveler noticed a sprig of mistletoe hanging over the baggage check-in counter at the airport. The traveler asked the clerk what the mistletoe was doing hanging in such an unusual spot. The clerk said, “It’s hanging there so you can kiss you luggage goodbye.”

A blessed Christmas to all,

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – December 13, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A story in the newspapers told about a wife who loved to shop. At Christmas time it was unreal. Day after day she shopped. Her husband told her that he was going to leave her if she did not stop so much Christmas shopping. Her response was, “I’m going to miss that man!”

Our Advent journey is half over. This is the third Sunday of Advent, commonly known as Gaudete Sunday. We light a beautiful rose colored candle. The candle tells us that God is near. It is time to rejoice. Sure, we have sufferend a few misfortunes along the way. There were sorrows and disappointments. We stumbled. We failed. How quickly we must remind ourselves that God is near. Isiah tells us in the psalm or song we sang or said on Sunday: “Cry out with joy and gladness for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Christmas was only a few days off. A woman had not sent a Christmas card. She rushed into a store and bought a package of 50 cards. She never checked the message within the card. She quickly signed each card, still not reading the verse within. She sent 49 cards to her family, friends and neighbors. A few days later she happened to notice the left-over card lying on the table. She glanced at it closely, only to discover to her dismay the following verse: “This card is just to say- a little gift is on the way.” She nearly fainted. Some 49 people were waiting to receive gifts that would never come.

During thet final days befor Christmas, we are all rushing. Relax. A gift is on its way. The Prince of Peace is coming. So why be anxious. Everyone understands. Christ is coming.

For most of us Christmas is dated December 25th. But the Armenian Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on January th. There is a good possibly that neither date is correct. Nobody is precisely sure when Christ was born. No date was given in the Bible.

So why do we celebrate the 25th with all the color, warmth, and music? Probably because of a Persian cult called Mitrhaism. In the earrly years of the Christian era, the cult of Mithra, a god of wisdom and light, was more popular in rome than the worship of Christ.

The Mithraists celebrated “The Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun” on a day that corresponds in our calendar to December 25th. this date also fell in the middle of a festive Roman holiday period called the ‘Saturnalia.’ Saturnalia is the ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which ws a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.

The first mention of a Christian nativity feast on December 25th appeared in a Roman text around the year of 354. By then, Christianity was gaining the upper hand in Europe, but there were still a great many heathens around. It is likely that the early church thought the best way to win over the heathens to Christianity was by adapting pagan tradition to the new faith.

One of the most beautiful stories in literture is the French classic, ‘Petit Prins’ – ‘The Little Prince.” There are two lines that have an Advant and Christmas message in them. The fox says the Little Prince at one point, “If you come at four o’clock, I shall begin to be happy at three o’clock.” This is the story of Advent. (This is where ‘Happy Hour’ came from.) It is the happy hour of waiting in hope and expectation.

George Frederick Handel became half-paralyzed and bankrupt. Life for him had become almost unbearable. Yet, in the midst of his worst moment came one of his greatest inspirations. He was inspired to write the oratorio, “The Messiah.” He told friends that while he was composing the ‘Hallelujah Choris” he could, as it were, hear angels singing. He wrote the music to which he was listening.

Today, whenever we hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” we cannot remain seated. it would be sacreligious to hear that chorus without standing. What an inspiration indeedk that a half-paralyzed, bankrupt man could write such a beautiful and inspirational piece of music. Such is the God who goes before us.

Finally, a large family went together to shop at a mall. They wanted to buy presents for each other. They decided to split up and meet later. That way, each gift would be a surprise. Before they went their separate ways the father of the family suggested that they synchronize their watches. That way, everyone would meet at the same time. Just then, the motehr held out her hand and said, “Now how about synchronizing our wallets as well.”

The school children were putting on a Christmas program. The kindergarten teacher carefully lined up four little cherubs. Each carried a huge cut out letter. Standing side by side the letters would spell out ‘STAR.’ Before appearing on stage, there was a bit of confusion. When the curtain opened, the audience broke out in laughter. For the cherubs took their places – in reverse – “RATS.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – December 6, 2015

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Prishioners and Friends,

It was the holiday season when an atheist complained about holidays. He said, “Every religion has holidays, but we atheists have no recognized national holidays. It’s unfair discrimination.”

His friend replied, “You can always celebrate April 1.”

There is a story of a young Norwegian soldier during WW II. His mother, father and his whole family were killed when a bomb exploded in their home. It was a tragic situation. Now, this would be the first Christmas that he would be alone. He was deeply depressed.

Then one day shortly before Christmas, he stood by the edge of a Norwegian fjord. In his frustration and bitterness he shouted into the sky: “Glory to God in the highest”…and the fjord shouted back…Highest, highest, highest. He shouted again Peace on earth and the fjord shouted back…Peace…peace…peace…peace.”

The young man sat down and cried and cried…There was no peace. Peace for him was only an echo that began to fade, and fade, and fade far away.

Peace, peace, peace! Can we truly look into the mirror and say that we are at peace…at peace with ourselves our God and others. Can we say that there is peace in our family? Or are we just pretending to be at peace. is peace just a fading echo?

Now is the season to welcome peace into our lives. Now is the time to fill our families with peace. Now is the time to become a living example of one at peace with God, self and others. To reconcile with God and others is a guaranteed way to be at peace. Now is the time to reconcile with one another.

Yes, reconcile! St. Paul reminds us how important it is to reconcile with God and others. Paul himself reconciled with God. Paul persecuted the Christians. He then asked God for forgiveness. Not only do we ask for forgiveness, we also give forgiveness to others.

St. Matthew wrote: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heaenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

A little girl was getting ready for the Christmas season. Her folks and even her brothers and sisters were hustling around to buy Christmas presents. Even in the stores there were people pushing and shoving. Some people were shouting, “Hurry up!” Others were telling the little girl, “Get out of the way or get out of here.” To this little girl Christmas became a time of pushing, shoving, shouting and hustling about.

One night, as she said her prayers before going to bed, she prayed, “Dear God, forgive us our Christmases, even as we forgive those who Christmas against us.”

Monday evening, December 14th, at 7:00 p.m., we will have a Penance Service. A Penance Service is a time to reflect on our lives in a prayerful manner. We identify the times we have failed by commission or omission. Commission means we actually have done wrong and we ask for forgiveness. Omission means we failed by not loving, or not forgiving, or not helping at times when we should have.

Our Catholic Church strongly recommends that we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a year. Some might say that they have not committed a sin during the past year. Maybe so! But can they say that why always loved, forgave or helped all the time? Or have you done wrong by omission?

Two years ago Proximo Travel invited me to be a chaplain on a pilgrimages which followed in the footsteps of St. Paul. We visited Greece and Turkey. Proximo Travel has now invited me to be their chaplain on a pilgrimage to Hungary Bavaria and Poland. We will visit many historic cities: Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Wroclaw, Warsaw and Czestochowa. We will visit Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland’s greatest pilgrimage shrine, as well as many other shrines and cathedrals.

The tour takes place September 10-22, 2016. I wish to extend an invitation to parishioners and friends to join me on this historic and sacred pilgrimage. There are fliers in the front office which further explains this pilgrimage. “Safety is one of their top priorities.”

We hope that when the insects take over the world they will remember with gratitude how we took them alon on all of our picnics.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.