Monthly Archives: June 2017

Pastor’s Notes – June 25, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He loved mystery plays. One evening he went to the theatre to watch a mystery play. The usher escorted him to a seat in the middle of the theatre. The man said, “Excuse me, Sir, but I much prefer watching a mystery in a front row seat. For a handsome tip, do you think you could find a seat for me up front?” The obliging usher motioned for him to follow. He directed him to a seat in the second row. The man dug into his pocket, pulled out a crumpled-up bill and gave it to the usher. The usher politely said, “Thank you” and turned. He glanced at the tip, expecting at least a 50-dollar bill. But no! The man tipped him one dollar. The usher burned with anger. He turned back to the man leaned over his shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Enjoy the mystery play. The wife did it!”

On June 27th, we celebrate the feast of a wife, a mother and a mystery woman. It is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Sometimes we refer to this feast day as Our Mother of Perpetual Help. It seems that ‘Lady’ and ‘Mother’ are interchangeable. Both titles refer to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and she does so much for so many.

For many centuries people have turned to Mary for her intercession. Beginning at the wedding feast at Cana, when the guests exhausted their supply of wine, the waiters turned to Mary to intercede for them. Mary then turned to Jesus and Jesus performed his first miracle. Since then, the faithful have called upon Mary for her intercession with her son. We do not pray to Mary for favors. We pray that she intercedes with her Son so He can grant favors. Only God can grant favors. And through Mary’s intercession, the faithful have enjoyed countless miracles.

Many of us turn directly to Jesus for help. That’s exactly what Mary did. Mary holds a special place in Jesus’ heart and in ours. She is the Mother of God. She is our Mother. Because of Mary’s love for her son and for us, we call upon Mary’s intercession.

The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help has a fascinating and miraculous history, much of it shrouded in mystery. No one knows when icon was painted. No one knows who the artist was. After testing the wood, it seems that the icon was painted long before the 15th century.

Apparently, the icon came from the island of Crete. A merchant heard about the icon and the many miracles that were attributed through the picture. Wanting the icon for himself, the merchant stole the painting. Eventually he arrived in Rome where he fell ill. On his death bed, he confessed that he stole the icon. He asked his Roman friend to take the icon to a church where it would help others.

But the Roman took it home where his wife hung it in her bedroom. Apparently, Mary appeared to the Roman, beckoning him to share the icon with others. Probably under the influence of his wife, the Roman refused. Finally, Mary appeared to his six-year-old daughter, directing her to place the icon in the church between the basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. Persuaded by his daughter, the obstinate Roman obeyed. In 1499, he gave the icon to St. Matthew’s Church, which was located between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

Over the years the faithful visited St. Matthews, praying before the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In 1798 a French general under Napoleon, destroyed thirty churches in Rome. St. Matthew was one of them. Everyone assumed that the icon of Mary was destroyed in the flames.

But no! Nearly 50 years later, in a chapel many miles from the basilicas, a sacristan showed Michael Marchi, an altar boy,an icon which used to hang in St. Matthew’s church. The sacristan explained that the church had been destroyed but someone rescued the icon. Michael went on to become a Redemptorist priest. In 1853 the Redemptorists established their headquarters on a large estate between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. On the estate, they discovered the ruins of an old church. The Redemptorists researched the history of the church, only to discover that St. Matthew’s Church once housed the miraculous painting, but was lost in the ruins. Fr. Marchi quickly informed his brother Redemptorists that not only did the icon exist, but he knew where it was located.

After much prayer, the Redemptorists informed Pope Pius IX of the icon. Pius IX ordered that the icon be returned to Rome and placed in the new church between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. The new church bore the name of St. Alphonsus.

Upon the return of the painting to Rome, it was placed in St. Alphonsus Church. In 1886, Pius IX commissioned the Redemptorists to: “Make Our Mother of Perpetual Help known throughout the world.” The Redemptorists embraced this command by preaching, writing and distributing literature of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in every parish that we staff and on every mission that we preach.

One year later, in 1887, a parish in Kansas City was founded on the corner which is now known as Linwood and Broadway. The Redemptorists were entrusted with the new parish. How fitting it was to place the parish under the patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I had the wonderful honor of pastoring this parish for 12 years before coming to San Antonio. Father Gary Ziuraitis came to San Antonio first and then went to Kansas City to be pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

May Mother Mary intercede with her son for all of us!

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – June 18, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

He was reading the newspaper while relaxing in his recliner. He said to his wife, “Honey, there’s an interesting article in the paper today. I think it has a lot of merit. It says that the intelligence of a father often proves to be a stumbling block to his son.” “Well, thank heavens!” his wife said with tongue in cheek, “at least our Hubert has nothing in his way.”

Today we celebrate ‘Father’s Day.’ And nothing is standing in our way as we sing the praises of our dads. It is a day to honor our dads. Whether there’s anything standing in our way or not, remember, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’re all products of the genes which have been passed down to us. How often we think to ourselves “my dad has a certain characteristic that I am not going to act that way.” Our dads trained us as best they could. So, today is the day to say ‘Thank You’ to our dads for the gifts they passed on to us.

Philip Yancey wrote, “Unavoidably, we transfer to God feelings and reactions that come from our Human parents. George Bernard Shaw had difficulty with God because his father had been a scoundrel, an absentee father who cared mostly about cricket and pubs. Likewise, C.S. Lewis struggled to overcome the imprint left by his own father, a harsh man who would resort to quoting Cicero to his children when scolding them. When his mother died, Lewis said, it felt as if Atlantis had broken off and left him stranded on a tiny island. After studying at a public school led by a cruel headmaster who was later certified insane and committed to an institution, Lewis had to overcome the impact of these male figures to find a way to love God.

All dads have that sacred responsibility to be a loving father to their children. It is through our relationship with our fathers that we will come to better understand our relationship with our heavenly Father.

There is a wonderful story that was published in 1993. During that winter, workers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, renovated various sections of the museum. They found a photograph that had been hidden in a crevice underneath a display case.

The man in the picture has a bat resting on his shoulder; he’s wearing a uniform with the words ‘Sinclair Oil’ printed across his chest; his demeanor is gentle and friendly. Stapled to the picture is a note, scribbled in pen by an adoring fan. The note reads; ‘You were never too tired to play ball. On your days off, you helped build the Little League Field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame Dad. I wish I could share this moment with you. Your son, Pete.’

How blest was Pete to have such a loving father. Because of that wonderful relationship, Pete found a way to put his dad in the Hall of Fame.

The late Erma Bombeck suggested that fatherhood is not only a biological term but can be a generic term. ‘Father’ is a term for people who enrich other peoples’ lives. A ‘Father’ makes a difference in the lives they touch.

Erma pointed out that Hans Christian Andersen, the father of children’s literature, never had a biological child of his own. Nor did George Washington, the father of our country; nor did James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution. Father Flanagan of Boys Town fame never fathered a child of his own, but he certainly was a father to many; Father Wasson was the father image for many orphans in Mexico. Father Mike Shea is a father image to hundreds of kids who had been abandoned on the streets of Thailand and are now welcomed in Father’s home.

When Henry Aaron, the Hall of Fame baseball player, was growing up, he learned about love and sacrifice from his father. Every day, Henry’s father would give him a quarter to buy his lunch at school. Henry knew that his father skipped lunch each day so that he could give his son that quarter.

When Henry signed a major league contract with the Milwaukee Braves, he immediately telephoned his father and excitedly said, “We¬†did it!” Henry realized the role his father played in guiding him to a career in baseball.

Everyone needs a spiritual boost. Sometimes our tanks are running on empty. We could use a good jump-start. We Redemptorist decided to give ourselves that spiritual adrenalin by attending a program called ‘Renewed Hearts.’ Everyone in our Denver Province is expected to attend this two week program.

Next Sunday Father Rob Ruhnke, Father Francis Pham, Brother Charlie Fucik and Father Bob Lindsey will be traveling to the Redemptorist Retreat House on Crooked Lane in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. For two weeks they will be praying, studying, learning, relaxing and even playing. Our Provincal has asked us to remember these men in prayer.

“Let us pray that these Redemptorists will always be docile to the Holy Spirit, who works without ceasing to conform them to Christ. May the Redemptorists who are participating in this Province Renewal Program learn to view all things as Christ does. And may they be of one mind and one heart with him. Oh God giver of good gifts, help them to trust their gifts and insights with each other so that together they may know a renewal of their hearts, minds and structures according to your will. Through Christ our Lord. Amen”

The father of five children won a toy at a raffle. He called his five kids together to help him decide which child should receive this toy. He said to his kids, “I want you to decide who is the most obedient? Who is the one who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?”

In unison, the five little voices answered, “Okay, dad you get the toy.”

Happy Father’s Day
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

School Sisters of Notre Dame Jubilee Celebration

Group picture of all attending nuns(L to R) Sister Marcelle Stos, 50 years; Sister Barbara Labor-Hagel,  25 years; Sister Judith Scheffler,  50 yearsThe anniversary cake!

Photographs by Genny Kraus

Pastor’s Notes – June 11, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

On a mountain climbing expedition the Swiss guide warned an American tourist, “Be especially careful not to fall – we are in a dangers place. But if you do fall,” he added nonchalantly, “remember to look to the right – the view is extraordinary.”

Summer has arrived. Many will be taking vacations. And of course, we need to remember ‘Safety First!” When i completed my first year in the seminary I looked forward to heading home. But first, the dean of students wanted to address the student body. Of course all of us seminarians were thinking one thing – HOME. We were looking forward to a couple of months when we would not be bound to follow seminary rules. And there would be no dean monitoring our summer behavior. We would be on our own.

In those early days in the seminary we traveled back and forth by train. We needed a stepping stool to get on the train. In bold letters, carved into that stool was the caution which said, “WATCH YOUR STEP.” The dean used that stepping stool caution to warn us that we better watch our steps during the summer months. Some of us did. Others didn’t. Perhaps that would be good advice for all of us. Not only in the summer time, but year around.

On Wednesday, July 13th we will be celebrating the memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron of our city. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Spain. He lived a relatively short life. He accomplished much during those years before his death at the age of 36. The Lord called him to many adventuresome tasks. The first call was to religious life. He gave up a future of wealth and joined the Augustinians.

Then one day he met a group of Franciscan missionaries on their way to Morocco. He was impressed by the fortitude of these men as they headed to hostile territory to preach the good news. Then, word came back that these men were martyred. Their bodies were brought back and carried in honor through the city where Anthony was stationed. At once he was inspired to become a Franciscan. He too wanted to be like those missionaries who were willing to die while preaching the Good News.

After attending a large Franciscan gathering he received an assignment to a small hospice for lay brothers at Monte Paolo. He spent most of his time performing menial tasks, reading and praying. He longed to be a missionary. But, his health prevented him from traveling amongst the Moors and preaching for Christ. But then came the day of an ordination when no one was assigned to preach. Everyone turned to Anthony. Anthony turned to the Holy Spirit for help. The years of studying scripture, the years he spent in prayer and meditation helped him as he prepared for this unique task. Anthony preached a powerful sermon. Word spread about his powerful preaching.

He received a letter from Francis himself authorizing him to preach and to teach theology to the friars.

Eventually he was sent on a preaching mission that included all of Italy. People travel from great distances to hear Anthony preach. He urged his listeners to have compassion for everyone, especially for the poor.

On June 13, 1231, at the age of 36, Anthony died. He was buried in Padua where he spent the last years of his life. Most of us have mislaid items, or just plain lost them. We turn to St. Anthony to help us find them. St. Anthony wrote: “Attribute to God every good that you have received. If you take credit for something that does not belong to you, you will be guilty of theft.”

Wednesday of this week is ‘Flag Day.’ Flags were used in ancient history to symbolize variously leaders, communities, gods, merchant and craft guilds, ships, and towns. A flag often gained the same respect as was accorded to the person or thing which it represented. In battle, the loss of a flag was a severe blow. The capture of the opponents’ flag might be the turning point in a battle. Flags often bore religious symbols, and were used in religious as well as state occasions.

Respect for the flag is one indication of patriotism. Public dishonoring of the flag is regarded as an extreme for of dissent in most countries, and punished accordingly. Some countries, notably including the USA, make the public affirmation of loyalty to the flag and the country a civic duty.

To fly the national flag is a sign of pride and patriotism. It is a positive affirmation of loyalty and commitment. It marks out a country that has confidence in itself, and is comfortable with its place in the world, its history and its future.

A visitor from the Netherlands was chatting with an American businessman. The foreigner observed that the American flag has the same red, white and blue colors as the Netherlands’ flag. “Our flag symbolizes our taxes,” the man from the Netherlands said. “We get red when we talk about them, whit when we get out tax bill, and blue after we pay them.”

“That’s the same with us,” replied the American. “But after we talk about taxes, we get the tax bill and then when we pay the taxes we see stars.”

Ben Franklin wrote this letter to Benjamin Webb. “Dear Sir: Your situation grieves me and I send you herewith a banknote for 10 louis d’or. I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. After you pay your debts you will meet with another honest man in similar distress. Then you must pay me by lending the sum to him, reminding him that, when possible, he too must relieve someone else who is trapped in a distressful situation. I hope this sum will go thus through many hands before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress.”

The Knights of Columbus is a brotherhood which reaches out to many people in distress. The brotherhood also makes many donations to charitable causes. Last week the Grand Knight of the Council at St. Gerard, Javier Martinez, representing the entire brotherhood of knights at St. Gerard donated $1,250 to St. Gerard Church. We will be using this money to help others. We pray that the chain of helping others will continue through many hands and will never meet a knave that will stop its progress. Many Thanks to the Knights of St. Gerard.

The reason dogs have so many friends is because they wag their tails and not their tongues.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – June 4, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

Some people find the game of baseball quite exciting. For others, it is boring. Whenever we factor the human condition into this game, there will be some unusual plays. To play the game effectively, every player must concentrate on each pitch. Everyone must be focused on what is happening at each moment. When the wind wanders, strange things happen.

One of the strangest plays took place many years ago in Ebbets Field, the razed park of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers had men on first and second with no outs. The batter hit a towering fly ball to right center. The runners stayed close to their bags, thinking that the ball would be caught. The batter forgot about the men already on base. He thought that he had hit a home run. So he lowered his head and charged around the bases. The two runners were on base were stunned. They couldn’t let the batter pass them on the base path or they would be out. They shouted at the batter to “go back, go back!” Just then the center fielder dropped the ball. Seeing the ball roll off his glove, all three men began running. The center fielder retrieved the ball and pegged it to home plate, just as all three runners arrived at third base. The catcher fired the ball back to third base. The runners did not know which man had the right to be at third base, so they all stepped off the third base bag. The third baseman then tagged each of the players for the most bizarre triple play in the history of baseball.

Imagine the thoughts and feelings of the three men as they returned to the dugout. They really wanted to head to the parking lot. In the dugout they felt lost, ashamed, and afraid. About all they could say was, “I was confused.”

Last week we left the apostles in a state of confusion. Jesus called them to the mountain top. There he gave them a mission – to go out to all peoples; to teach all peoples; to baptize all peoples. Then, Jesus disappeared. With Jesus out of sight, the apostles were lost, confused, afraid. All they could think of doing was – run and hide. And so they did. They hid in the upper room.

The apostles did not dare to walk the streets of Jerusalem. For three years they followed Jesus. When Jesus was crucified they were devastated. When Jesus rose from the dead they renewed their faith in him. Then, Jesus left them a second time at the Ascension. Now they were confused and they questioned their sanity. Were they fools to follow this person called Jesus?

Then came the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, upon Mary and the Apostles. It was an amazing day. A day when they were suddenly fortified. A day of excitement, wonderment and love.

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, or, as they say in England, Whitsunday. It is a feast in our church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth” day after Easter. In England, people were baptized by immersion, not at the Easter Vigil but on the eve of Pentecost because the weather was warmer. The following day, Pentecost Sunday, the newly baptized would wear white garments. Thus the name Whitsunday or White Sunday. Every country celebrates this day in their own unique fashion. In France, they blow trumpets during Mass, reminding them of the sound of the wind as the Spirit descended.

Wind, fire, a whistling sound, a dove – these are all symbols of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is most frequently symbolized with wind. We feel it but cannot see it. Pentecost is also compared to a lawyer defending a person in court; or an advocate encouraging another.

A man accused of theft was being tried in court. His lawyer sat at his side. The defense was bogging down, so the lawyer launched a new, creative approach. He said, “All my client did was to insert his arm across the counter and into the cash register. He then removed a small sum of money. As a matter of fact, it was just his arm that committed this crime. My client’s arm can hardly be seen as my client. I don’t understand how you can punish the entire individual for a crime that was committed by a single limb.”

With a smirk on his face, the judge said to the lawyer, “You have stated the dilemma well. So by using your line of reason, I will only sentence the defendant’s arm to one year of imprisonment. As a courtesy to the defendant, he may either accompany his arm or he may not. The choice is his.

Upon the completion of his sentence, the judge sat back in his chair with a smug smile on his face. He had played along with the lawyer’s defense but had still outsmarted him. The defendant and lawyer smiled as well. With the assistance of his lawyer, the defendant detached his artificial limb on the bench. The judge could not believe what was happening in front of him. Then, the man accused of theft, said, ‘thank you’ to the judge and victoriously walked out of the courtroom a free man.

Next Saturday we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. We are calling upon the Holy Spirit to come down upon these people who are receiving this sacrament. With the grace of Confirmation they will continue to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Why does everyone stand up on the bottom of the 7th and using “take me out to the ball game” when they’re already there?

Congratulations Confirmation Candidates

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.