Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pastor’s Notes – December 25, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Many years ago a few zealous Christians decided to place a creche in the lobby of the Capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida. When the American Civil Liberties Union got wind of the creche in the building, they immediately protested. To preserve harmony, peace and the respect of all religions, the officials removed the creche.

A reporter from the Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper contacted one of the State Representatives for her opinion. She said, “I am very disappointed that the creche had to be removed. It was the first time we had three wise men in the Capitol building.”

It is believed that St. Francis of Assissi introduced the creche to the Christmas season. Francis wanted the people of Assisi to deepen their devotion to the Christ Child. In 1223 Francis had a local farmer build a miniature manger. He filled it with straw. Wood carvers created the figures of Jesus, Mary, an ox, an ass, the shepherds and the three kings. The creche became an annual custom. The custom spread through Europe. Then, the Germans brought the custom to the U.S.

It was during World War II when Ann, along with her two little sons, went to live with her parents in Wyoming. Her husband was overseas in the Air Force. They were anxiously waiting for his return home for Christmas.

The days were passing quickly. Christmas was drawing nearer. Ann, the two boys and their grandparents were busy preparing for the holidays. They wanted the two young boys to have a memorable Christmas. As a family they picked out a lovely spruce tree. They decorated it with colorful lights. They bought presents and placed them under the tree. Their hearts were filled with the joy of the season.

But only for a time. Just a week before Christmas, a dreadful message arrived. Daddy will not be coming home this Christmas. Not only this Christmas, but for all Christmases to come. Daddy had been killed in action.

After hearing the news, Ann went to her room. She closed the door and wept. Grandpa and grandma talked quietly, wondering what they could do. The two little boys sat in the living room, trying to comprehend the situation. Finally, grandpa and grandma decided to remove the lights, the decorations and the glitter. They took down the tree and set it outside. The joy reflected in the tree has been suppressed with sorrow in this home.

Later, Ann came out of her room. She saw the empty space where the tree had been. “Why, Mother?” she asked, “Why did you take the tree down?”

“Daddy and I took it down and put it outside. It seemed so out of place. The tree fills the house with joy. But the joy has disappeared when we heard of your husband’s death. Your heart is broken.”

“Oh, but mother, let’s bring it back in. Christmas was made for such times as these. A child is born unto us. The Angels sing Glory to God in the highest and on earth. Peace on earth to people good will. The shepherds rush down the mountain to visit the new born babe. The Wise men bring gifts. Mom and Dad, it is true that my heart is heavy with sorrow. This is Christmas. This is a time for joy. It is a time when Christ comes to us. So, let’s wrap our hearts in the joy which God gives to our loved ones who die with the Lord.”

Christmas is a time when memories return. We remember the loved ones of Christmas’ past. We remember those who were with us last Christmas but will not be with us this Christmas. We remember the good times. With the loss of loved ones, in death, in separation or in divorce, a heavy weight hangs from our hearts. Sadness has replaced that joy.

But Christmas was made for such times as these. For a Child is born unto us. God has come to live with us. Christ has become a human like us. He has taken on the pain and suffering of humanity. He has also filled our hearts with hope and happiness. Through Christ the blind see, the deaf hear, the crippled walk, dead people rise and the Good News is preached to them. Christ has reached deep into our hearts to lift us from the depths of sorrow to the heights of eternal joy. Christ our thoughts to eternal life.

A certain king had a dream. In his dream he saw a huge pair of scales held in the hand of Justice. On one side of the scales was a pile of pure gold, silver and jewels, – all symbols of material power. On the other side was a nest of straw.

The gold, silver and jewels touched the earth while the nest of straw rose high in the sky. Then a woman from the sky, with a baby in her arms, placed the infant in the nest of straw. The scales immediately began to move until the baby in the the nest touched the earth and the gold, silver and jewels brushed past the clouds in the sky.

Carl Sandburg knew how babies can tip the scales. He wrote, “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn baby.

As faith filled people, burdened with sorrows and pains, we rejoice with the shepherds and sing with the angels – “Glory to God in the Highest.”

A blessed and merry Christmas to all.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – December 17, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Years ago a Mom, Dad and the two boys decided to visit grandpa and grandma for Christmas. It was a 200 mile trip across the state to get to their grandparents’ house. So, early in the morning dad roused the kids from bed. The loaded up the car and away they went. About ten miles into the trip the boys began to tangle. They teased, they pinched, they poked, they wrestled, they screamed. Finally, their folks could take it no longer.

Dad shouted at the boys in the backseat: “Ever since we left home you boys have been picking on each other, yelling names and tearing up the back seat. I am putting an end to this right now.” He pulled the car onto the shoulder, slammed on the brakes, jumped out, opened the back door and jerked his sons out. He spanked both of them soundly. (This happened back in the dear old golden rule days when there was ‘readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.)

“I don’t want to hear one word out of either of you for 30 minutes. Is that clear? Not one word. Thirty minutes. Do you hear me!? Not one word!”

The two boys were terrified. They froze in their seats. They didn’t dare utter a word. When the 30 minutes were up Dad said, O.K. boys, You can talk now.”

The youngest boy modestly said, “Daddy.” “Yes son. What is it?” “Daddy, do you remember when you stopped the car and spanked me?” “Yes, son, about 70 miles back. What about it?” “Well. One of my shoes fell off.”

And the boy sang, “All I want for Christmas is a new pair of shoes.”

A group of Moravian missionaries once decided to take the Good News to the Eskimos. One of their struggles in teaching the Eskimos was that they could not find a word in the Eskimo language for forgiveness. Finally, they had to compound a phrase to use in the place of forgiveness. This compound phrase turned out to be ‘issuamag-ijoujunmgnainermik’. It is a formidable looking assembly of letters. But the compound phrase beautifully expresses forgiveness. For the phrase says ‘Not being able to think about it anymore.’

During this final week of Advent we can take a moment to look deep into our hearts. Is there a sin down there? Is that sin deep inside of you making you uncomfortable? Does it stick its ugly head into your consciousness? Do you drive it back hoping that you will never think about it again?

Well, we all know that the sins we commit can be forgiven. And when we receive that forgiveness the sin is wiped away, never to be thought of again. It disappears from our soul. Sometimes we wonder if God really forgives the sins we have committed. We hear the Lord telling us that there is no sin which he will not forgive. God forgives all sins.

Monday evening, December 19, we will have a penance service. We now call this service ‘reconciliation.’ We reconcile ourselves with God. There will be four priest available for confession. So take this opportunity to cleanse your soul.

We want to present ourselves before our God at Christmas with a clean soul. How often we make excuses when it comes to going to confession. We give ourselves permission not to go to confession. We convince ourselves that we don’t need the sacrament of Reconciliation. Well, we all need the sacraments. We need to make a good confession. We need to receive those graces to continue living as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

God does not accept excuses when it comes to confession. We all need confession. We all are sinners. No one is perfect. But we are striving for perfection. We can’t do it on our own. We need God’s help. Take this opportunity to go to confession.

Last Sunday the women who made the ACTS retreat over the weekend returned back for the 10:30 Mass. These women were filled with the Holy Spirit. They sand songs in praise of God. They nearly blew the roof off the church. We thank them for spending a weekend on retreat at Cordi Marion, then bringing that fire of love back to the parish.

There were 32 women on the team, leading the retreat. Belinda Montoya and Irma Segovia were the spiritual companions accompanying the 23 retreatants during the weekend. These women spent 15 weeks preparing for the retreat. Gladys Reyes was the director, with Mona Cazeras and Yvonne Segovia were co-directors. Congratulations to the directors, the team, the spiritual companions and the retreatants. Let’s keep that wonderful spirit alive.

Have a blessed week. There’s only six more days before Christmas.

Fr. Shea

 

Pastor’s Notes – December 1, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A week before Christmas the father of a family was scheduled to be out of town for three days on a business trip. On the first night of his absence, his young son, Carlos, asked his mom if he could sleep in dad’s place. “No son. You have your bed upstairs.” The next night he pleaded to sleep in dad’s place. Again, mom said, “No!” On the third night he begged again. Mom Finally relented and said, “OK.”

So, Carlos crawled into bed. He propped himself up on the pillow just like his dad would do. He put his hands behind his head and said to his mom, “Honey,” “Yes son, what is it?” “Well, honey, I’ve been thinking it over.” “Yes, son, tell me.”  “Well, honey, I think we ought to buy Carlos a bicycle for Christmas.”

Someone said that as a kid Rob Ruhnke longed for a bicycle. Day after day he prayed to God. The bicycle never arrived. He finally realized that God doesn’t work that way. So, he stole a bicycle, went to confession and asked forgiveness.

Well, we know that the integrity of Rob Ruhnke would never allow him to steal a bicycle. However, as a young kid his folks bought him a bicycle. When he outgrew that bike he began running. Then, in 1998, when his jogging knees began to bark back, he purchased a multigeared road bicycle. Over the years he wore out two bikes. He had a few crashes. He sports a few dog-bite scars. And he claims that he has pedaled nearly 80,000 miles on those bicycles. When you are traveling down Mission Road you could very well see a colorfully dressed bike logging a few more miles.

Fifty years ago Father Rob was ordained a priest in the seminary chapel on Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Next Saturday evening, we will honor Father Rob. First he will be the main celebrant for a reception and a sit down meal. As we celebrate Fr. Rob’s 50th we will celebrate our annual parish Christmas party. So. Come one. Come all. Let the good times roll.

Robert Ruhnke, affectionately known as Rob, grew up in St. Gerard parish. He attended St. Gerard elementary school. After graduating he attended the Redemptorist high school seminaries in Kirkwood, Missouri and Edgerton, Wisconsin. When he completed his philosophy and theology studies in Immaculate Conception Seminary, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, he was ordained to the Redemptorist priesthood. Father Rob continued his theological studies by earning a Master of Theology degree at St. Thomas University in Houston and a doctorate degree of ministry at SMU-Dallas.

Early in his priesthood Father Rob ministered in parishes in San Antonio, Baton Rouge and Houston. He also served as director of students who were preparing for the priesthood. Since 1999 Father Rob has been the Director of Marriage Preparation Resources. He authored the well known marriage preparation book-‘For Better and Forever.’ He has been a presenter and consultor of marriage preparations in dioceses throughout North America. Nearly every weekend Father Rob is traveling somewhere to give a presentation or celebrate a wedding.

Whether living the Redemptorist life, ministering as a priest, preparing couples for marriage, celebrating their wedding ceremony, riding his bicycle, or rooting for the Spurs and Cowboys, Father Rob gives 110%. Thank you for your 50 years of faithful ministry. You are a blessing to us Redemptorists and to our church.

When Father Rob and I were preparing for the priesthood – years back – we studied theology in Immaculate Conception Seminary, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. As time went on that seminary was closed. The students then studied in Esopus, New York. When that seminary closed the students attended Catholic Theologica Union in Washington.

About two years ago the provincials of all North American provinces and vice provinces – eleven units – decided to send all North American students to one school of theology. After investigating several schools of theology they agreed upon the Oblate School of Theology right here in San Antonio.

Then the question was: ‘where to house 20-25 students.’ Father Steve Rehrauer, our provincial, called me this past week. He was enquiring about the possibility of renting the former nuns convent which is now called the Parish Center. Since the students are professed Redemptorists, by rule they are required to live community life. Father Rehrauer wants all these students to live under one roof. Such as building is hard to find in San Antonio.

I informed him that we are using the front part of the building for parish offices and the back part for meeting rooms. Some of the individual bedrooms are being used for administration. He seemed to be interested in renting the entire building.

So, if the students occupied the entire building, the parish would need to establish offices elsewhere. Father Rehrauer suggested that perhaps the provinces could possibly help finance the relocation of parish offices.

The building is owned by the Archdiocese. Now the questions are: Do we rent this building to the Redemptorists? And if we rent, do we rent the building excluding the front offices? Or, do we rent the building, including the offices? If we rent the entire building where do we relocate the parish administrative offices? Do we set up office space in the school building? Do refurbish the portables? Do we rent/buy portable office buildings? Do we build an office building? If so, where do we build it? Many questions are lurking on the horizon.

Let us don our thinking caps and come up with good suggestions. We’ll discuss the possibilites. We’ll examine all options. And then decide.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

 

Pastor’s Notes – December 4, 2016

Father Shea

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

After graduating from college, the young man landed his first job. He moved into a small apartment in a classy neighborhood. One evening he invited his parents over for dinner. As he was showing his folks his new home, he noticed that his father was going from room to room, turning on all the lights. A bit disturbed, the young man reminded his father about the steep price of electricity. So he asked, “Hey Pa, don’t you remember how you told me about the cost of electricity?” So why are you turning on all the lights?”

With a satisfied grin on his face, his father happily responded, “I’ve waited twenty-two years to be able to come to your house, turn the lights on in every room, walk out of those rooms and forget to turn the lights off.”

Back in the 1930’s Dizzy Dean joined the St. Louis Cardinals’ ‘Gashouse Gang.’ Dizzy was a country boy. He talked with a homespun humor. His blazing fastball fascinated the fans as much as his naivete. Rooming with Rip Collins on his first road trip. he noticed Rip ordering ice from the bellboy, Dizzy asked Rip why he paid the young man. Rip said, as he was pulling the wool over Dizzy’s eyes, “That was for the elevator ride.” “But they didn’t charge me,” said Dizzy. Rip said, “That’s because they know you are with the team so they put it on your bill.” For the next three days, Dizzy thought he was saving money by walking the steps to the seventh floor.

The lights on the River Walk have been turned on. Homes are brightly shining with Christmas lights. Wherever we turn, we see colorful lights. All these lights remind us of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The Jews waited for centuries for this light. Each year during the Advent season, we turn our lights to welcome the Light of the World.

Yet, there is a price to pay. Not in paying the electrical bill. Rather, by following the light of the world, Christ. Following Christ is not an easy elevator ride. Rather, it is like the three Wise men who had to travel through many twists and turns as they walked toward the light. Our gospel this weekend reminds us that we are to prepare the way of the Lord. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.

Pope Saint John Paul II tells us how to make straight the way of the Lord. “There should be no more postponement of the time when poor Lazarus can sit beside the rich man to share the same banquet and be forced no more to feed on the scraps that fall from the table.” We cannot allow the color of our skin to prejudice us. We will not permit our political diversities to create anger and bitterness. We cannot allow family jealousies to divide us. Nor the pettiness between husbands and wives to silence us. We will proclaim the love for God from the rooftops. Christ is the Light of the World for all peoples. We are His children. His beloved. We will commit ourselves to justice and peace as Christ did.

Tuesday, December 6, is the feast of Saint. Nicholas. He was a bishop with a big heart. Many stories surround the life of Nicholas. One story tells of a poor man who had three daughters. He did not have money to care for the needs of his daughters. Hearing of the poor man’s predicament, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through his window. Not only did the poor man have the funds to care for his daughters’ needs, but he also had money for their dowries.

Thursday, December 8th, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Some folks mistakenly refer to the feast as the Virgin birth. It is not. The Virgin birth is Christmas, when Mary, who was a virgin, gave birth to Jesus. The feast of the Immaculate Conception honors Mary who was conceived without sin. Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our country. The feast is a holy day of obligation.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. We will be following the normal Sunday Mass schedule – Saturday vigil- 5:00 p.m.; Sunday morning-8:00 and 10:30.

The late Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune, tells of a salesman who detested receiving Christmas cards with just a short note or no note at all. He decided to send out prank cards to his friends. If his friend was in military, he wrote, ‘Hi, Joe, old buddy. Got your address from Jim Scanlon (you remember, the old barracks moocher). Me and the wife and kids are going to be passing through Chicago during the Christmas holidays. Thought we’d stop by and spend a night or two with you. We can sip a few brews and rehash our days in the old outfit.’ Then, he signed the card with a phony name -‘Your old pal, Wilbur Crull.’

Since he was driving down South on a sales trip he mailed the cards from small Southern towns. When his friends received these cards, they were dumbfounded. Wives were yelling , ‘Who is this guy? they are going to move in with us during Christmas?! NO WAY!!! Husbands were saying, ‘I knew a hundred yokels in the Army. He could be any one of them!” Many couples panicked. One couple almost got a divorce. Some wouldn’t answer the door bell around Christmas.

The pastor of a small town church offered a sign for their outdoor manger-scene. the company needed to know the exact dimensions and verbiage of the sign. The next day, the company secretary, who knew nothing of the sign, received a fax. She was startled when she read the message: “For unto us a child is born. 8 feet long, 3 feet wide.”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.