By Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
An elderly woman who lives in the country drove into the city to visit a friend in the hospital. She had not been inside a hospital for many years. She heard that medical technology had progressed over the years but had no idea what the latest instruments and gadgets might look like.
Upon arriving at the hospital she was directed to the elevator. As she stepped into the elevator a technician followed her, wheeling a large machine with tubes, wires, dials and lights.The elderly woman heard about ventilators and assumed that this machine must be a ventilator. Looking at the machine, then at the technician, she said, “My Oh My, I would hate to be hooked up to that apparatus.” “I’d hate it, too,” replied the technician. “It’s our new floor-cleaning machine.”
Week after week we come to Mass and probably never notice how clean the floor of our church is. And to think, we do not have a new floor-cleaning machine. We do it the old fashion way.
Let me tell you why our church always looks so bright and clean. Two faithful parishioners spent many hours each week dry mopping the floor, dusting the window sills and statues, cleaning the pews, and straightening the song books and missalettes. Yes, two sister-in-laws have been cleaning our church for the past 40 years. Plus, when the elementary school was in session they cleaned the school as well.
Both Marie and Lidia have an interesting history. Marie was raised as a Baptist. She became a Catholic when she got married. Lidia was not a Catholic but her husband was. They sent their children to St. Gerard School. Since their children were in the school, both Marie and Lidia got involved with the school. It was only within the last few years that Lidia became a Catholic. Now, she is present at Mass every day before she goes to work at Whataburger.
Marie and Lidia remember the days when the church floor was carpeted. It was quire a task to maneuver the vacuum cleaner between the pews. They are grateful for the new floor of ceramic wood plank. Now, after 40 years, Marie and Lidia are retiring. Marie’s daughter-in-law, Yvonne Ramirez, will carry on the Ramirez tradition of cleaning the church. However, after all these years Marie cannot totally step aside. She wants to help out in a less strenuous way.
Next Sunday evening Marie and Lidia will be at the 5:00 Mass. We as a faith community want to thank them for their 40 years of providing for us a beautifully cleaned church where we can proudly worship our God.
At a country fair, the townspeople held a horse-pulling contest. The first-place horse ended up moving a sled weighing 4,500 pounds. The owners of the two horses decided to see what these horses could pull together. They hitched them up and found that the team could move 12,000 pounds.
By working separately, the two horses were good for only 8,500 pounds. When coupled together, their synergism produced an added 3,500 pounds. It’s a hard lesson for us, but unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. “Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.”
In Jesus’ time, plow animals always worked in pairs. The yokes they used were custom fitted to each animal. If the yoke was too small or too big, or if the yoke awkwardly rubbed against the animal’s neck, the animal would lose some of its strength. So, the yokes were not interchangeable. Each animal had its personal yoke. With custom fitted yokes, the animals work harder and longer. As we saw above, when animals work together, the output is nearly doubled.
So, when Jesus says to ‘take my yoke upon you,’ he is offering to share our burdens, to help carry our load as a partner on the journey of life.
Last Tuesday we celebrated the memorial of St. Benedict. The Benedictine monks have been known for their great hospitality. The following bit of welcome and caution comes from the rule of St. Benedict in the sixth Century.
‘If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with a wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in the place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received, for as long a time as he desires. If, indeed, he finds fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbott shall discuss it prudently, lest perchance God has sent him for this very thing. But if he had been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, not only ought he not to be joined to the body of the monastery, but also, it shall be said to him, honestly, that he must depart. If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.’
Johnny’s mother always warned him that he would never amount to much because he always procrastinated. Whenever she said this, Johnny would always reply, “You just wait!”
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.