Monthly Archives: March 2016

Pastor’s Notes – March 20, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

It is baseball season. Most of us grew up in the culture of baseball. At an early age we learned the terms and the basic rules. Most Americans have played the game as far back as we remember. And we take for granted that everyone else understands the game.

However, not everyone understands baseball. Many people emigrate from baseball-less countries. They don’t have a clue what the game is all about. Did you ever try to explain what balls and strikes, walks and hits, steals and balks, pop fly and ground out, safe and out, curve balls and sliders are all about to a kid from Nigeria. Unless you grow up with the sport, it is a difficult game to comprehend. In the story below, a kid explains baseball.

“You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s on the side that’s in goes out and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When three men are out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out. When both sides have been in and out nine times, including the not outs, that’s the end of the game.’ Now that clears up everything. But – we still want to know who’s on first.

If baseball seems to be a mystery to the uninformed, imagine what kind of a mystery the Catholic Religion is to a second grader. Try explaining the nature of God to that little mind. Or, how can three persons in one God be the Trinity. Have you ever tried to convince a second grader that the bread and wine in the Eucharist are really the Body and Blood of Christ? Of course, it’s all about the gift of faith.

Our Catholic Faith Formation teachers have volunteered their time every Sunday morning to teach St. Gerard students about Jesus Christ. The basic truths about Jesus Christ will take place this week, On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Last Supper. We render present what Christ said to his Apostles: “This is my Body. This is my Blood.” Since that time we have been rendering present what happened at the Last Supper. We don’t repeat the Last Supper. We don’t recreate it. We don’t just remember it. We render present. For there was only one Last Supper. There is only one Mass. Each time we celebrate Mass we are rendering present what happened at the Last Supper.

On Good Friday we celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed that he was the Son of God. The people of His time viewed His statements as blasphemy. And so they unjustly condemned him to death. The people placed him in a tomb and rolled a heavy boulder in front of the cave.

On Easter Sunday they found the stone rolled back and the tomb empty. Jesus had risen. He was the first person to ever rise from the dead. The empty tomb convinces us that Jesus was divine. Because of the empty tomb we believe everything that Jesus said to be true.

Like the little children, we too have difficulty understanding the Last Supper, the crucifixion, the death, the resurrection and the ascension. We thank our God for the gift of faith. Since we have faith, we believe.

Years ago a famous priest preached about the crucifixion. After the Mass a stranger came up to him and said, “I don’t like the way your spoke about the cross. I think that instead of emphasizing the death of Christ, it would be far better to preach how Jesus taught us and gave us an example to follow.” The priest replied, “If I presented Christ in that way, would you be willing to follow Him?” “Of course I would,” said the stranger. “All right then,” said the priest, “Let’s take the first step. Christ did not sin. Can you claim that you never sin?” “Why no,” he said. “I am a sinner like everyone else.” “Then,” the priest replied, “Your greatest need is to have a Savior, not an example.”

Indeed Christ is a great example for us. However, we cannot erase the cross and crucifixion. Christ is our Savior. He died on the cross to save us. However, death could not contain him. He rose from the dead.

During this most sacred week we gather with Christ to share a meal, the Last Supper. We then spend time with Christ in the Garden of Olives as He prays and sweats blood. We must walk with Christ on the way of the cross. We must stand beneath the cross as we watch his life drain from this body. We must take the Lord down from the cross and place him in a tomb. Then, we wait. We wait for three days. We wonder with the apostles – is all lost. But, unlike the apostles, we know the end of the story. After three days, there is new life: The resurrection.

All of Holy Week is one long event. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are three days in one – triduum. It is suffering, dying and rising. Then on Easter ┬áSunday we celebrate the resurrection.

One day a Priest and a Rabbi meet for lunch. They talk about sin and repentance. The rabbi explains the solemn Day of Atonement called Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and penitence. The priest in turn tells about Lent, and his 40 days of self-denial, abstinence, fasting and alms giving.

That evening the Rabbi tells his wife about his conversation with the Priest. He explained how Catholics have 40 days of fast and penitence as compared to the Jews’ feast of Yom Kippur – one day of fast and penitence.

The Rabbi’s wife began laughing. She says, “forty days of Lent…one day of Yom Kippur! Not only do Catholics need an awful lot of repentance for their sins, but even when it comes to religion, Christians pay retail.”

Happy Palm Sunday.

Fr. Jim Shea


Pastor’s Notes – March 13, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Are you ready to hear an Irish story? Well, St. Paddy’s day is Thursday. So, ready or not, here is a story from the ole sod.

It seems that Paddy spent most of the night quaffing a few pints at his favorite pub. It was midnight when the bartender shouted, ‘last call for drinks.’ So the Irishman stood up to leave. He fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time. Again, he fell flat on his face. Since he couldn’t stand, he figured he’d crawl out to the sidewalk.

Once outside, he tried standing but once again, fell on his face. So he decided to crawl the four blocks home. Arriving home he crawled through the front door and into his bedroom. He pulled himself into his bed and fell sound asleep.

The next morning he was shocked out of a deep sleep when his wife, standing next to his bed, screamed, “SO YOU’VE BEEN DRINKING AGAIN!”

Looking through his blood shot eyes, Paddy said, “Now, honey, what makes you say such a nasty thing?”

His wife shouted back, “The pub just called; you left your wheelchair there again.”

Two days after St. Paddy’s day, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is the patron saint of Italians. So, it is only appropriate to relate an Italian story. Father Salvatore Puccilini was the pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in an Italian neighborhood. He received word that he was transferred to another parish. At a farewell dinner honoring Father Salvadore, the church secretary was invited to say a few words. She stood up and said, “Well, I just wanted to say that I’ve served this church for 23 years. I’ve seen seven pastors come and seven pastors go, and, contrary to rumors, I still believe in God and I am still a Catholic.”

Speaking about transfers, we received word from our Provincial, Fr. Stephen Rehrauer, that Father Bob Lindsey has been assigned to our Redemptorist community. Father Bob comes to us from St. Gerard parish in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Father Bob came to the Redemptorists after working in the public sector for many years. He was ordained in 2009. Father Bob will be available to help in our parish as well as helping other parishes throughout the city. Welcome, Father Bob.

Many parishes, especially those who have St. Joseph as their patron, honor the foster father of Jesus with a ‘St. Joseph’s Table.’

Saint Joseph is one of the most beloved saints among Italian-Americans. 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 his intercession before the throne of God. Their prayers were answered. With the ending of the dreadful famine, a special feast of thanksgiving was held in commemoration of the Saint. This celebration became tradition. Wealthy families prepared huge buffets of the finest foods. They then invited the less fortunate people of the village, especially the homeless and sick.

All were free to come and go as they wished. The guests would eat what they chose and as much as pleased them. The festival lasted most of the day and well into the night. When all had been fed, they went on their way with thankful hearts, taking the blessing of the host and hostess with them.

As we celebrate these two fests, one might ask, “What nationality was Jesus?” Scripture tells us that Jesus was Jewish. For centuries, people researched the reason for God sending His Son to the Jews. There are three good arguments for being Jewish. 1) He went into His Father’s business. 2) He lived at home until he was 33. 3) He was sure his Mother was a virgin and His mother was sure He was God.

Italian researchers maintained that Jesus had Italian characteristics. 1) He talked with his hands. 2) He was always telling stories. 3) He used olive oil.

Of course the Irish claim that Jesus resembled them. 1) He never got married. 2) He was always telling stories. 3) He had no gainful means of employment.

But women are convinced that Jesus was a woman. 1) He fed a crowd at a moment’s notice when there was no food. 2) He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it. 3) And even when he was dead He had to get up because there was more work to do.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. We begin Holy Week as Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. On Tuesday all the priests of our Archdiocese will join our Archbishop Gustavo on a day of retreat, and then celebrate with him the Chrism Mass. Everyone is welcome to join us at the Chrism Mass which begins at 6:30 pm in the Cathedral.

Holy Thursday Mass will be at 7:00 pm. At 3:00 pm on Good Friday we will have the Stations of the Cross. Our Good Friday service will be at 7:00 pm. On Holy Saturday, we will begin the Easter Vigil Service at 8:00 pm.

Dance as though no one is watching you,
Love as though you have never loved before,
Sing as though no can hear you,
Live as though heaven is on earth.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Happy St. Joseph’s Day.

Fr. Jim Shea

Pastor’s Notes – March 6, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

An English professor wrote this sentence on the blackboard: “Woman without her man is a savage.” He directed his students to correctly punctuate this sentence.

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is a savage.”
The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is a savage.”

March Madness is upon us. It’s a time when many students become savage-like as they cheer their teams into the playoffs. Fans throughout the country will be watching the games between the best college basketball teams. Basketball enthusiasts will not only be watching the players. They will also be evaluating the coaches. Of course we in San Antonio are blessed with one of the best coaches the game has ever seen, Gregg Popovich.

There is another famous coach who has strongly influenced the game. John Wooden coach UCLA basketball for 27 years. He never had a losing season. How did he manage a winning season for all those years? Not by shouting. Not by throwing towels. Not by challenging the referees. Rather, he looked deeply into the hearts of each player and treated the players with honor and dignity as he told them to do their best.

In his last 13 years as a coach, his team won 10 national championships, seven of those in succession. During his coaching years he set a record for the longest winning streak in any major college sport – 88 games over four seasons.

Someone asked him about ‘success.’ John Wooden said, “To me, success isn’t outscoring someone; It’s the peace of mind that comes from self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best. That’s something each individual must determine. You can fool others, but you can’t fool your self.

Many people are surprised to learn that in all my years at UCLA I never once talked about winning. Instead I would tell my players before games, “When it’s over, I want your head up. There’s only one way your head can be up – that’s for you to know, not me, that you gave your best effort. If you do that, then the score doesn’t really matter, although I have a feeling that if you do give your best, the score will be to your liking.”

“I honestly believe that in not stressing winning as such, we won more than we would have, had I stressed outscoring opponents.”

A young boy received a slingshot for a birthday present. During the summer vacation the kid spent a couple of weeks with his grandparents out on the farm. He was anxious to play with his slignshot out in the woods.

One day he spent several hours trying to hit targets in the woods. He was getting a bit discouraged, so he headed back to the house for dinner.

As he was walking past the duck pond, he saw Grandma’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he took aim and fired a BB at the duck. To his sourprise he hit the duck. And the duck dropped dead. The kid panicked. What to do? He quickly grabbed the dead duck and raced behind the shed. He hid the duck deep in the woodpile. He turned to head to the house when he noticed his sister Sally, watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

After lunch the next day Grandma said, “Sally let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.” Then she whispered to Johnny, “Remember the duck?”

So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to to go into town with him. Grandma said, I’m sorry but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally just smiled and said, “Well that’s all right, grandma, Johnny will help you. I will go with grandpa. Again, she whispered to Johnny, “Remember the Duck?”

For the next three days Johnny did all of Sally’s chores. Finally he couldn’t stand it any longer. He went to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a warm hug and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window. I saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make you her slave.”

God is standing at our window. He sees all that we have done. He sees our past sins, the ones we have in hiding. He knows all. And God is wondering how long we will be imprisoned by our sins. How long will the devil make us his slave? God loves us. He forgives us. But he wants us to be honest with ourselves. He wants us to be accountable for our sins. And God has provided an instrument to get us our of the prison which we have created in our hearts.

God has given us the sacrament of Reconciliation. Imagine, all we have to do is ‘fess’ up and we will be free. All those sins which we have tried to cover up and which have been gnawing away at our conscience will be washed away when we confess. Oh, we say, we can turn to God in our hearts and God will forgive us. IT is true that God forgives su long before we confess. Yet, in our Church, we are expected to verbally name those sins in confession.

This Wednesday, March 9th, we will be having our Penance Service. God is at the window of our souls. God is watching. How long are we going to side-step this wonderful sacrament? Our church expects us to go to confession once a year. When was the last time you confessed?

When teh minister baptized Sam Houston in the river, he said: “Sam, you are washed clean of all your sins. They are gone. They are flowing down the river. Sam said, “I pity the poor fish.”

Fr. Jim Shea