Monthly Archives: October 2016

Pastor’s Notes – October 23, 2016

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

William Allen White, famed editor of Emporia Gazette, was a staunch member of the Convention of the Gazette. At the opening session, the presiding officer discovered that the man assigned to give the invocation was absent. The officer happened to see Mr. White in the audience. The officer asked him to give the invocation. William Allen White emphatically replied, “No! I will not pray in this place for two reasons. First of all, I am not trained in the fine art of public prayer. Secondly, I don’t want the Lord to know that I am attending a Republican Convention.”

We are in the homestretch of our presidential elections. We’ve heard the debates of the two candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency. We’ve heard each of them speak about the values they treasure and the issues they endorse. We’ve followed them on their campaign trails. In a few weeks all registered voters will be heading to the polls to cast their votes for one or the other candidate. My advice to you…The Bishop’s advice to you…The Church’s advice to you…vote your conscience on Election Day, November 8, 2016.

A few days before Election Day, the Catholic Church of San Antonio will be gathering together at ‘Assembly 2016.’ On Saturday, November 5, all parishioners of all parishes will gather at St. Mary’s University. The theme of our gathering is, “United As Church.”

There will be many presentations to inspire us and to renew out personal commitments as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m.  in the morning. Last year the Eucharist was late in the afternoon. Many priests had to cancel their Saturday evening Mass in order to attend the Assembly Mass. The priests encouraged Archbishop Gustavo to schedule the Mass at another time.

Everyone is invited to the 10:30 Mass. Last year the Mass was a grand celebration of praise to God as well as honoring the many people who are building the Kingdom of God here on earth.

So, we need you to register. Come for an hour. Come for a couple of hours. Visit the booths which promote vocations. Learn about the ministries in the Archdiocese. Visit the vendors. But most of all, come and celebrate the Mass with us. And if you stay all day, you may participate in Evening Prayer and Final Benediction at 4:45. Archbishop Gustavo asks us to register on line. Go to the website www.assemblysa.org .

On Monday, October 10th my mother Joe passed away. The cause of his death was listed as a heart attack. It was a silent heart attack. He simply took a nap, or a ‘power nap’ as he would call it and never woke up.

Joe went to the Packer football game on Sunday night, Oct. 9th. He and a friend left the game a bit early to beat the traffic. On the way home-which was a 1 1/2 hour drive- Joe took a nap. His friend thought he was napping. Upon arriving home his friend tried to wake him. But Joe had already gone home to the Lord.

Joe was married to Holly. They have two daughters, Sheri and Kim, both married. Joe and Holly built a house on Green Lake in Wisconsin. After Joe retired, Joe and Holly lived year-round at the lake. Nearly every summer I would spend a week with them at Green Lake. Then, in the winter Joe and Holly would rent, for two months, a condo on Marco Island in Florida. Every year I would join them for a week in Marco.

Joe owned gasoline stations and automotive repair shops for many years. he owned these businesses in Fond du Lac and Oshkosh Wisconsin. Being in business opened the door for him to meet many people. Joe was a very hospitable person. He remembered everyone’s name and everyone seemed to know Joe.

Joe’s wake reflected how much people loved and respected him. The undertaker estimated more than 600 people came to the wake. Then, before the funeral Mass there was a viewing for two hours, with another large group of people coming to pay their respects.

Joe and I have been very close all these years.  Joe was my younger brother. We loved each other and respected each other and shared many things together. We went in different directions – priesthood – businessman, but we still kept in touch. Even though I knew it was going to be difficult to stand above his casket and celebrate the Mass, and even though I was risking the possibility of breaking down, I felt compelled to preside and preach at my brother’s funeral. So I called upon the Holy Spirit to see me through the Mass. Joe was always there for me. One last time I needed to be there for my brother, as I said, ‘farewell’ to Joe.

Three scripture passages capture Joe’s life. Those three passages can be reduced to three words: Faith. Generosity. Happiness.

Joe was a man who believed. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live.” ‘John 11:25’ Joe who believed, now lives. Someone asked him, “To what do you attribute your success in business?” Joe pointed across town to St. Joe’s steeple and said, “Every SundayI am in church.”

Joe was a generous man, always available to help. ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do for me.” ‘Matthew 25:31’ How often I heard from his friends during the wake, “I called Joe for help; I asked Joe what he thought; I stopped at Joe’s and chatted. Joe was always there to help.” I remember talking with Joe about generosity. He said, “I try to be generous” and he was.

Joe was a happy man. Many a person said, “We always had a good time when Joe was there.” Wherever he went he brought cheer. Every photo showed him smiling. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ‘John 5:11’ Friends felt that joy in the presence of Joe.

Sometimes there is a premonition of death. Sometimes we say things which give a slight hint of what might happen. Whether Joe was giving us a message or not we don’t know. Here is what happened and what was said.

About a month and a half ago my 97 year old aunt died. Before her death she announced that she wanted an ‘open bar’ after her funeral Mass. Joe was quite impressed with the ‘open bar’ idea. On a few occasions before his death he said, “When I die, I want an ‘open bar’ and I am going to pay for it.” After Joe’s funeral Mass, we went to the Holiday Inn for drinks and a meal. The ‘open bar’ was open from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Yes, Joe had many drinking friends.

Joe, may you rest in peace. Thank you for your love and good times. May God reward you.

Your brother James.

Pastor’s Notes – October 16, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Recently I read some observations about marriage. I suspect a man wrote them. Remember, I read these. Never having been married, I cannot vouch for their veracity, nor am I able to subscribe to them.

A woman worries about her future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife. A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man. To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all. Married men live longer than single men, but married men are willing to die sooner. Any married man should forget his mistakes, there’s no use in two people remembering the same thing. Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night. A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, and she does. A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. There are two times when a man doesn’t understand a woman-before marriage and after marriage.

Having been in the marriage business for a few decades, i have counseled many couples who prepared for marriage, many who planned to untie the knot, and many who approached the altar for a second time. Some folks ask me how i could prepare couples for marriage when I never married. I answer by saying that I prepare people for death but never died.

If those observations above are true, then it is understandable that come couples head off to the divorce courts. But marriage is a sacrament. It is a blessed state in life. Men and women have their differences. The church teaches that there is no relationship on earth more satisfying than a good marriage. Some relationships are not meant to be. Yet, after a broken relationship, our human nature often searches for another fulfilling relationship. The Catholic Church recognizes broken relationships. And the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for people to enter into a second marriage. We call it the ‘annulment process.’

We must clarify the difference between a ‘Civil Contract’ and a ‘Sacramental Bond.’ Some couples marry in the Catholic Church, obtain a divorce and then enter into a second Church marriage. How can this be? Well, in the annulment process the Marriage Tribunal investigates the initial Church marriage. In the investigation the Tribunal discovers that the necessary prerequisites for a ‘Sacramental Marriage’ were not present. We thought the requirements were in place for a Sacramental Marriage, but after an in-depth study, the Tribunal decides that the union was merely a Civil Contract. Therefore, a person is permitted to have another church wedding which will actually be the first Sacramental Marriage. From a spectator’s point of view, it appears to be a contradiction to Church teaching. But, it is not. The first marriage was merely civil, not sacramental. The second marriage is Sacramental.

I biology class the professor asked, “Suppose you could take to Mars any of the laboratory equipment used in this course. How would you determine if there was life on Mars?” One student responded: “Ask the inhabitants.”

Fr. Jim Shea

Pastor’s Notes – October 9, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Wednesday is the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Many stories are told about Catholic Priests and Jewish Rabbis. Well, one day a priest and rabbi happened to discuss the pros and cons of their respective religious practices. Of course the topic of repentance came up.

The Rabbi explained the solemn Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It was a day of fasting and repentance. The Priest then explained the season of Lent. He said that it lasted 40 days, during which the Catholics were expected to pray, fast and abstain, and give alms.

When the Rabbi went home he told his wife about the conversation with the Catholic Priest. He explained how they discussed the merits of Lent versus Yom Kippur.

The Rabbi’s wife turned her head and began laughing. “What’s so funny, dear?” asked the Rabbi. His wife responded, “40 days of Lent – one day of Yom Kippur…so, even when it comes to sin, gentiles pay retail…”

Next Sunday we celebrate the feast of St. Gerard, the patron of our church. This week and next week I will write about the life of St. Gerard.

In southern Italy there is a little town called Muro. St. Gerard was born in that little town in 1726. His mother, a very pius woman, was the person mainly responsible for passing on the faith and planting the seeds of devotion. Gerard’s father died when Gerard was twelve years old. At a young age, Gerard became the breadwinner for the family.

Gerard began working for a tailor as an apprentice. Unfortunately the foreman at the shop was a harsh man. He often ridiculed Gerard, even beat him at times. After four years of endless nagging Gerard decided to walk away from tailoring.

Gerard went to work for the Bishop of Lacedonia. His friends tried to dissuade him but to no avail. Gerard was already living a holy life. He realized that he could grow in holiness as he worked for the Bishop. Whenever he had some free time Gerard would pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

Gerard had been working for the Bishop for three years when the Bishop died. Gerard then returned to Muro, his home town.

He began his own tailoring business. Business was good but Gerard did not make much money. He gave his money to his mother and sisters. What was left over he gave to the poor. Gerard was determined to live a holy life. He applied to the Capuchins bu was rejected. He lived a hermit for a while. That didn’t work out.

And then one day some Redemptorist missionaries came to town. They preached a mission at all three churches in the city. Gerard was also impressed by the missionaries that he expressed an interest in joining the Redemptorists. The missionaries were not impressed by Gerard. They told him to banish the thought of being a Redemptorists. Gerard nevertheless, continued to plead with the missionaries.

Before the missionaries left town Father Cafaro spoke to Gerard’s mother. He asked her to lock Gerard in his room so he would not follow them. Strange as it may seem, his mother locked his door. But Gerard was resourceful. The door was locked but the window was open. He tied his bedsheets together and lowered himself down to the ground. He then ran twelve limes to catch up to the missionaries.

Upon reaching the missionaries Gerard again begged to be accepted by them. He said, “Take me on; give me a try; then send me away if I’m no good.”

Father Cafaro finally relented. He suspected that maybe just maybe, Gerard’s persistence was God speaking. So, Father Cafaro sent Gerard to the Redemptorist community in Deliceto. Father Cafaro wrote to the superior in Deliceto: “I’m sending you another Brother, who will be useless as far as work is concerned…”

The Redemtorists in Deliceto lived a strict religious life. Gerard felt most comfortable living this lifestyle. He was able to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. He developed a deep devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Gerard took his first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on July 16, 1752. It was the feast day of the most Holy Redeemer. It was also the feast day of the most Holy Redeemer. It was also the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

(Next week I will continue the story of this ‘useless brother,’)

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R

 

Pastor’s Notes – October 2, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

One day a curious little kid went rummaging through the stored away treasures in the attic. He came upon some of his father’s military paraphernalia. He picked up a chain with a piece of metal hanging on it. So, the kid strung the chain around his neck and went down the stairs.

Pointing to the piece of metal, he said to his mother, “Mom, what is this?” His mother said, “That’s daddy’s dog tag.” With a sad look on his face the kid asked, “When was daddy a dog?”

This Tuesday we celebrate the feast day of St. Francis of Assissi. He was born in Italy around 1181. In his early life he was known to life in the fast lane, enjoying the good life of parties. Then, he fought in a battle between Assissi and Perugia. During the battle Francis was captured and tossed into prison. Legend has it that Francis began hearing the voice of god while in prison.

After he was released from prison Francis abandoned his life of luxury and dedicated himself to the spiritual life. In 1209, as he was attending Mass, the words of Jesus in the Gospel (Mat. 10.7-10) bidding his apostles to go forth on their mission struck Francis as a call. So he set out, still a layman, to preach. He was so effective as a lay preacher that a small group of men had gathered about him. They went to Rome to see Pope Innocent III, who gave them oral permission to live in the manner Francis has chosen. Thus began the Franciscan order of friars, an entirely new type of order in the church.

Francis saw animals as his brothers and sisters because they were God’s creatures, just like people. He said of animals: ” Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it.” So Francis prayed that God would work through him to help animals as well as people.

There is a great story about Francis and the wolf. When Francis lived in the town of Gubbio, a wild wolf was terrorizing the area by attacking and killing people and other animals. So Francis decided to go meet with the wolf to try to tame it. He left Gubbio and headed toward the surrounding countryside, with many people watching.

The moment they met, the wolf charged toward Francis with open jaws. But Francis prayed and made the sign of the cross. Francis stepped closer to the wolf. he called out to the wolf: “Come here, brother wolf. I command you in Christ’s name that you do no harm to me or to any other.”

People reported that the wolf instantly obeyed by closing its mouth. It lowered his head, creeping slowly closer to Francis, and then lying calmly on the ground beside Francis’ feet. Francis then continued talking to the wolf saying” “Brother wolf, you do much damage in these parts, and you have committed great crimes, destroying and slaying the creatures of God without his permission. My desire, brother wolf, is to offend them and that they may forgive you all your past offenses.” The wolf promptly obeyed and became a friend of Francis and the people of Gubbio.

Father Alton Carr has a garden between the church and the Parish Center. There he mainly grows tomatoes. Next to his garden there is a statue of St. Francis and the wolf.

Next Tuesday we will bless the animals in the Parish Center courtyard. You may approach the courtyard through the chapel entrance…behind the church. We will pray the novena at 6:00 pm and bless the animals at approximately 6:30 pm.

On Wednesday we celebrate the feast of a fellow Redemptorist, Fr. Francis Seelos. Father Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Fussen, Bavaria. He was ordained as a Redemptorist priest and offered himself to minister to the German speaking people in the United States.

His first assignment in the United States was St. Philomena parish in Pittsburgh. Fr. John Neumann, now Saint John Neumann, was the pastor at the time. Father Seelos later became the pastor of the parish along with the assignment of being the novice master for the students aspiring to be Redemptorists.

Father Seelos served in several parishes in the eastern part of the United States. Eventually he was assigned to St. Mary’s parish in New Orleans. Yellow fever was ravaging the people of New Orleans when Father Seelos arrived. He bravely visited the people affliced with the fever. Eventually, Father Seelos contracted the fever and died on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4, 1867 at the age of 48. We celebrate his feast day on October 5. Pope John Paul II declared Francis Xavier Seelos blessed in 2000.

Friday, October 7th is the feast of the Most Holy Rosary. The Holy Rosary is considered a perfect prayer. In saying the rosary we reflect upon the awesome story of our salvation. There are four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious. In each mystery we reflect upon five events in the lives of Jesus and/or Mary. Whenever we pray the rosary we are approaching Mary the mother of Christ who then leads us to Jesus.

Every Thursday evening, from 6:00 – 7:00, there is a holy hour in the Parish Center chapel. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed. The people attending this Holy Hour normally take 15 minutes to say the rosary together. For many months Jim Clark would lead the rosary. May Jim rest in peace!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.