Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pastor’s Notes – May 29, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A young Catholic woman taught little children in a public school. There were a few Catholics in her class. Most of the students were non-Christian.

One day she brought a red delicious apple to school. She placed it upon her desk. She announced to her students that she was going to quiz them. The first person who answered correctly would receive the apple.

The teacher said, “I am looking for the name of the greatest man who ever lived.” Several hands went up immediately. The first was a little Italian boy who suggested Leonardo da Vinci as a possibility. The teacher said, “I am sorry. But he was not the greatest.” Then, and Irish child waved furiously and offered the name of St. Patrick. Again, the teacher shook her head, saying, “I am sorry.”

The next child was a Jewish girl. She said, “The greatest man to ever live was Jesus Christ.” The teacher was amazed. She said, “You are right. Jesus Christ is the greatest man ever to live. But tell me. I know you do not believe in Jesus as the Christ – but why would you say that he was the greatest man who ever lived?”

As the little girl took the apple she said, “Actually, I think Moses was a much greater man, but business is business!”

Albert Schweitzer had enough genius and talent for three or four lifetimes. In his time, he was a world-renowned doctor and an accomplished musician. He was also a note theologian, and earned five doctorate degrees. With his talents and abilities, he could have earned huge sums of money and been the center of attention wherever he went.

But Schweitzer gave up his esteemed career and his comfortable lifestyle to open a hospital for the desperately poor citizens of Lambarene, in French Equatorial Africa. When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 he used the awarded money to expand his hospital’s services to lepers, the outcasts of the community. Over his grave in Africa is a modest stone inscribed simply with his name and the dates of his birth and death. Albert Schweitzer gave himself away on behalf of the poor and powerless of the world.

In an interview, someone once asked Schweitzer who was the greatest living person in the world. Rather than referring to a celebrity or world leader, Schweitzer replied, “The greatest person alive at this moment is some unknown individual in some obscure place who, at this hour, has gone in love to be with another person in need.”

This week we are celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Christi. The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), is the celebration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ on our altar – the greatest person who ever lived. The real presence means that the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is ‘really’ present on the altar.

When we reflect on the Last Supper, we see Jesus taking bread, blessing it and breaking it, saying, “This is my Body.” He took the wine, blessed it and said, “This is my blood.” Even though it looks like bread and wine, Jesus Christ is truly present in those species. The bread and wine are not signs of Jesus’ Body and Blood. They are not symbols, or figures. After the priest consecrates the bread and wine, the bread no longer exists as bread and the wine no longer exists as wine – even though they look like bread and wine. Instead, the Bread and Wine are truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Imagine, Jesus Christ is truly present with us.

Leonardo da Vinci painted ‘The Last Supper’ over 500 years ago. It is considered to be one of the classic masterpieces in the history of art. According to Michael J. Gelb, this painting was done in a circular motif. Everything on the table is round, such as the bread and the plates. Also, the disciples are arranged in a half-circle on either side of Jesus. There is a distinct purpose behind Da Vinci’s use of the circular theme. As Gelb writes, “Like a stone tossed into the still pond of eternity, Leonardo conveys Christ’s influence rippling out to change human destiny forever.”

What’s the worst thing about buying a new boomerang? Throwing away the old one.

The teacher said to the little kid, “This is the fourth time this week that you’ve been so bad that I had to punish you. What do you care to say about your actions? The kid responded, “Thank God it’s Friday.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – May 21, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Ginny Smith was a fifth grade teacher. While she was on playground duty she noticed a boy making faces at the other kids. She approached Bobby and said, “My friend, it is not polite to make ugly faces at others. When I was a child, my mother told me that if I made ugly faces at other kids, someday my ugly face would stay that way for the rest of my life.” Bobby looked up and replied, “Well, Misses Smith, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”

We celebrate Trinity Sunday this weekend. There are three  persons in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do we have any idea what the Trinity looks like? Well, we have some idea what Jesus Christ looks like. He became one of us. He was God Man. So we can imagine what Christ looked like. Now, what does God the Father look like? Don’t know. What does the Holy Spirit look like? Don’t know.

The Trinity is the most profound mystery in the Catholic Church. When we make the sign of the cross we say: ” In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When we pray the Nicene Creed at Mass we faithfully pray: I believe in God the Father. I believe in on Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe in the Holy Spirit. The Most Holy Trinity is a doctrine in our Catholic faith. We have not seen the Trinity. Rather, we believe in the Trinity.

There is a lovely little chapel on the campus of Princeton University. There is an interesting story behind this building. The chapel was not originally on the campus grounds. Many years ago some administrators at Princeton decided to acquire the chapel and move it onto the University grounds.

Many people heard about the move. They gathered at the scene to watch a powerful tractor move the little chapel. Among the folks in the crowd was Albert Einstein. Einstein glanced at the big tractor, then at the little chapel and remarked, “That little box is too small to hold God!” The Trinity cannot be contained.

Leo Rosten wrote “The Joys of Yiddish.” There is a story about a legendary sayde (grandfather) in ‘Shpolle” who was called ‘The Saint of Shpolle.’ Zayde was so heartsick over the sufferings of the Jews and the injustices of the world that he decided to put God on trial. So he appointed nine friends as judges. He himself was the tenth judge. They summoned the Almighty to appear on the witness stand. (Since God is everywhere, the zayde simply closed his door.)

For three days and nights this remarkable juridical body tried the Lord. They presented charges, devised defenses, pondered, prayed, fasted, consulted the Torah and the Talmud. Finally, with solemn consensus, they issued their verdict: God was guilty. In fact, they found him guilty on two counts: 1) He had created the spirit of Evil which He then let loose among innocent and pliable people 2) He clearly failed to provide poor widows an orphans with decent food and shelter.

To many of us, this story might have a sacrilegious ring. But the fact is, many human beings have also tried God, in the court of their own hearts. And, like the ten Jews in Rosten’s story many of them have found God guilty.

There is a beautiful legend about Zacchaeus, the tax collector. As an old man he would rise early every morning, sling his knapsack over his shoulder, pick up a small bucket and quietly leave the house. His wife was curious. Where was he going?  What was he doing?

One day his wife decided to follow him. Zacchaeus walked to the town center. He filled his bucket with water and walked until he came to a sycamore tree. There he cleared the branches and rubbish from around the base of the tree. Then he poured water around the tree. Setting the bucket aside he lovingly embraced the tree.

His wife stepped forward, asking what he was doing. Zacchaeus simply replied, “This is where I found Christ.”

A few weeks ago we heard some sad news. But, when we put all things into the hands of our loving Father, bad news turns into good news. A few months ago Kevin Clark verbally booked two dates at the Moye Center in Castroville for ACTS retreats – one for women: another for men. Well, it was a verbal booking. Sometime later Kevin called to confirm those dates. Unfortunately, the dates had been given to another group.

Kevin then did some calling around for a retreat center. Every center was booked. Just when we were preparing ourselves to skip a year, Cordi-Marian Retreat Center called. Two groups had just cancelled out. So we were quickly booked – in writing – November 10-13 and December 8-11, 2016.

The Reyes couple will be our ACTS retreat directors this year. Danny Reyes will direct the men’s. Gladys Reyes will direct the woman’s.

We welcome Archbishop Gustavo to St. Gerard. Archbishop will be conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation upon thirty-seven folks. Welcome Archbishop and congratulations to our confirmandi.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – May 15, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A Pentecostal preacher announced that the Holy Spirit had come upon him, convicted him and told him to leave for Africa to be a missionary to the heathen. A woman in the congregation shouted out, “That wasn’t the Holy Spirit. That was your ex-wife.”

Today we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles. At the Last Supper Jesus promised the apostles that he would send a Paraclete to be with the disciples. In the midst of their fears, feeling weak and abandoned, the Holy Spirit will be  there to empower them.

Paraclete is a word that comes from the Greek language. It means helper, comforter, counselor and enabler. The Greeks used the word ‘paraclete’ to refer to a person who ran next to a fainting soldier, giving encouragement to the weakening soldier.

Upon one occasion it is said that Alexander the Great sent an emissary to Egypt with a special request. He wanted the king of Egypt to stop all hostilities.

The emissary traveled without weapons or military escort. The only armament or protection he carried was the seal of Alexander. For he represented the great Alexander.

The emissary met with the mighty king of Egypt. The King stood with his army behind him. The emissary stood face to face with the king. The emissary presented Alexander’s request, “Cease hostilities against Alexander’s interests.” The King of Egypt, wishing to save face in front of his army, responded, “I will consider Alexander’s request and inform you of my decision.”

At that, the emissary drew a circle in the dirt around the kind of Egypt and said, “Do not leave this circle without informing me of your response. What courage the emissary had. The king could have struck him down on the spot. He could have had his army arrest him and thrown into a prison cell. Yet, the king did not dare touch the man because he carried the seal of Alexander the Great. To touch the emissary was to touch Alexander. To disobey the emissary was to disobey Alexander. To give affront to the emissary was to give affront to Alexander.

The king took a deep breath. He thought for a few minutes. Then, realizing that his response would be presented to the great Alexander, he said, “Tell Alexander that I will abide by his request,” and then the king stepped out of the circle.

As we come to understand the Holy Spirit we believe that the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is united with God the father and God the Son.  The three are one. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, it is the Holy Trinity coming to us, filling us with courage and strength.

One of the famous leaders of the Catholic Church, and defender of our faith, was St. Athanasius. He lived during turbulent times. He protected the dogma of the Catholic Church. Never did he waver. Surely the Holy Spirit moved him during his life.

Athanasius lived in the fourth century. He was the bishop of Alexandria. During his life time there was a heresy that was poisoning the Church – Aranism. The heresy taught that Jesus was a nice man but not divine. Athanasius preached against the heresy, he wrote books against it. He even laid his life on the line to proclaim that Jesus Christ was divine. Five times he was sent into exile. Five times he returned and taught that Jesus Christ was God and Man.

At some time furing our lives we find ourselves in difficult situations. At such times, we can call upon the Holy Spirit to come down upon us and fill us with courage. The Holy Spirit can be a powerful ally and friend. We pray to the Holy Spirit before making life-time decisions. We pray to the Holy Spirit to be with us in our daily obligations. When making a critical phone call, when interviewing for a job, or even making a decision regarding which car to buy, it is wise to take a moment and call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and courage. Come Holy Ghost!

We’ve heard of Ceasar’s Breath. It is science’s way of reminding us that energy never dies or disappears. The molecules of Ceasar’s breath, 2,000 years ago, are still in our atmosphere today. They have scattered around the globe and we are breathing then with every breath we take.

After doing statistical research in the library a medical student met a friend and said, “I am amazed to find out the number of people who die with every breath I take.” The friend replied, “Did you ever think about using Lavoris or Listerine?”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – April 8, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

The little boy looked closely at his mother’s hair and said, “Mom, why do you have white streaks in your hair?” His mother replied, “Son, every time you are naughty I get another grey hair.” “Gee, Mom, you must have been a holy terror when you were young! Look at what happened to Grandma!”

We celebrate ‘Mother’s Day’ this Sunday. It is a very special day to thank our mothers for the many blessings she brought to us, beginning first with the gift of life.

Once upon a time there was a child ready to be born. So one day she asked God: “They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?” And God said, “Among the many angels, I chose a special one for you. She will be waiting for you and will take care of you.”

“But tell me, here in Heaven, I don’t do anything else but sing and dance and smile, that’s enough for me to be happy.” God said, “Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you every day. And you will feel your angel’s love and be happy.”

“And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me, if I don’t know the language that those people on earth speak.” “Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak.”

“And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?” “Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray. Your angel will defend you.”

“I’ve heard that on earth there are bad men. Who will protect me?” And God said, “even if it means risking its life your angel will watch over you and stand beside you.” But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore.” “Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way for you to come back to me, even though I will always be next to you.”

At that moment there was much peace in Heaven. But voices from earth could already be heard. And the small child, asked softly: “Oh God, if I am about to leave now, please tell me my angel’s name. But you will call your angel: Mommy.”

Mothers are filled with love. And they make their love complete by giving it away. Below is what one mother wrote, paraphrasing what St. Paul said about love in his letter to the Corinthians. Paul concludes this passage by saying, ‘the greatest of these is love.’

‘If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper- not a homemaker. If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn cleanliness – not godliness. Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh. Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window. Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up spilt milk. Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys. Love is present through the trials. Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsible. Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child and then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood. Love is the key that opens salvation’s message to a child’s heart. Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child. As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

Kids always have the most unique way of answering questions about their mothers. When asked what kind of little girl their Mom was, these replies came. “They say she used to be nice.” I don’t know because I wasn’t there. But my guess would be that she was pretty bossy.”

When children were asked if they could change one thing about their Mother, what would it be? They answered: “I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.” “I’d make my Mom smarter. Then she would know my sister did it, not me.”

Images of mother:

4 years old: My mommy can do anything!

8 years old: My mom know a lot! A whole lot!

12 years old: My mother doesn’t really know quite everything.

14 years old: Naturally, mother doesn’t know that, either.

16 years old: Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned.

18 years old: That old woman? She’s way out of date!

25 years old: Well, she know a little bit about it.

35 years old: Before we decide, let’s get mom’s opinion.

45 years old: Wonder what mom would have thought about it?”

65 years old: Wish I could talk it over with mom…

Thank you for being mom.

Fr. Jim Shea C.Ss.R.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes – May 1, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce. He asked, “What are the grounds for your divorce?” She replied, “About four acres and a nice home in the middle of the property with a stream running by.” “No! No!” said the judge, “I mean what is the foundation of this case?” “It is made of concrete, brick and mortar,” she responded.

“I mean,” he continued, “What are your relations like?” “I have an aunt and uncle living here in town, and so do my husband’s parents.” The judge continued his investigation, “Do you have a real grudge.”?” “No,” she replied, “We have a two-car carport and have never really needed one.”

” Please,” he tried again, “is there any infidelity in your marriage?” “Yes, both my son and daughter have stereo sets. We don’t necessarily like the music, but the answer to your questions is yes.”

“Ma’am, does your husband ever beat you up?” “Yes,” she responded, “about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do.”

Finally, in frustration, the judge asked, “Lady, why do you want a divorce?” “Oh, I don’t want a divorce,” she replied. “I’ve never wanted a divorce. My husband wanted a divorce. He said he can’t communicate with me.”

On Tuesday we celebrate the feast of two apostles, Phillip and James, who communicated the word of God to the followers of Christ. It was Phillip who noticed the throngs of people following Christ. On one occasion, Jesus asked Phillip where they could buy food for all these people. Jesus knew what He was going to do, but he wanted to test Phillip.

Phillip figured that it would take a lot of money to feed them. In fact, something like 200 days’ wages. To Phillip, it was impossible to feed all those people. A little boy had a couple of fish and some loaves of bread. That would never feed the multitude. But Phillip did not take into account that Jesus was with them. With Jesus, all things are possible. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. The people were fed. And there was food left over.

We see James’ name along with Peter and John. Christ took Peter James and John up the mountain. There he gave these three apostles a taste of heaven. In front of these Apostles Jesus was glorified. The same three apostles were in the garden on the eve of the crucifixion. Christ wanted them to pray. They fell asleep.

On Thursday, we celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. After giving the apostles a mission to go out amongst the people, teach them and baptize them, Jesus ascended into heaven. Normally, this day would be a holy day of obligation. However, the Bishops have moved this solemnity to next Sunday.

Thursday is also the National Day of Prayer. As a nation we want to pause for a few moments to pray for people who are near and dear to each of us. We also want to remember in prayer all those people who have no one praying for them.

Thursday is also ‘Holocaust Remembrance Day.’ We remember the millions of people who were exterminated by Hitler. We remember their families. We hold them up in prayer.

Finally, Thursday is Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s day of independence.

The Battle of Puebla was important for at least two reasons. First, although considerably outnumbered, the Mexicans defeated a much-better equipped French army of 8,000 that had not yet been defeated for almost 50 years. Second, since the Battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has subsequently been invaded by any other European military force.

Also, on May 5, there will be a movie in our School Cafeteria. The movie, ‘Temptation of the Miracle Weaver,’ was filmed about four years ago. St. Gerard Church is in part of the movie. Roberto Rosas, who wrote the story, and is now the director of the film, has invited the parishioners of St. Gerard to preview the movie before it hits the theatres. All are welcome.

On the phone with a golf buddy who has asked him to play a round, a guy says: “I am the master of my home and can play golf whenever I want to. But hold on a minute while I find out if I want to.”

In the redeeming Christ,
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.