Monthly Archives: September 2017

Pastor’s Notes – September 24, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

It was the annual baseball game between the townsfolk and the in

mates of the local prison. When his turn at bat came up, the leading hitter of the prison team took a vicious swing and sent the ball zooming into the far reaches of the outfield. He rounded first. He rounded second. He rounded third and headed for home. They finally caught him between third base and the Mexican border.

There will be two important events taking place this week. The first event is called “Discovering our Faith.” On Tuesday evening, September 26th, Archbishop Gustavo will be here at St. Gerard, talking about discovering our faith. The program will be televised. Father Pat O’Brien will be the moderator. The first part of the program will be focused on Catholic teaching as it affects the events in the world around us. The second part of the program will be about Archdiocesan events. And the final part of the program will be about our parish ministries. Everyone is invited to this evening of ‘Discovering our Faith.’ We would like to have a full house to be the audience of this program. So, plan to be with us on Tuesday evening.

The second event this week is called ‘V Encuentro.’ The Bishops of America have introduced a new program to help us welcome and understand people coming into our Archdiocese from around the world, especially from Mexico. The ‘V’ stands for ‘fifth’. ‘Encuentro’ means ‘encountering others.’ Over the years this is the 5th program to help people understand different cultures and listen to what is happening in the lives of fellow parishioners. The bishops asked each diocese to include this program in their ministries. The heart of this program is gathering people into small groups after a presentation. The presenter gives them a question. Then those present will form small groups and share their experiences in relation to the question.

On Saturday, in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center there will be many presentations about V Encuentro. People will meet other people. The doors open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. And the best part of this event – ‘It’s FREE.’

Finally, on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, the people of the Archdiocese are invited to ‘ASSEMBLY 2017’ at St. Mary’s University. There will be keynote addresses, short workshops, religious booths, many friends and plenty of food. So, plan to attend this important event as we are being called to become Missionary Disciples.

With these three programs, we hope to deepen our faith. As time goes on we will be explaining more about ‘V Encuentro.’

A Lutheran pastor visited a friend of his in Ireland. The pastor noticed a small plaque on his friend’s desk. On the plaque were two words – “But God.” Of course, the pastor was curious. What was the significance of “But God?”

His friend explained the meaning of ‘But God.’ The pastor was impressed. Upon returning home he designed a plaque of his own. He inscribed just two words on it – “But God.”

Whenever someone would enter the pastor’s office they would comment on the plaque. And they too would inquire about its meaning. So, the pastor explained that in the hour of deepest need he would say, “But God will help!” In the moment of utter despair he could say to himself, “But God will give me hope.” In the moment of loneliness he could affirm, “God is with me.” When he felt insignificant and unwanted it would help to repeat, “But God loves me.” That always turned the scale from despair to hope, defeat to victory, from sin to salvation. “But God! But God! But God!”

What if God had voice mail? Of course, we’ve all experienced voice mail when telephoning someone. Let’s imagine that God is receiving so many prayer requests that he decided to install voice mail. This might be what you would hear:

“Thank you for calling Your Father’s House. Please select one of the following options: Press 1 for requests. Press 2 for thanksgivings. Press 3 for complaints. Press 4 for all other inquiries. Or perhaps God would use this familiar excuse…”All the angels are helping customers right now. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line. Your call is important to us. It will be answered in the order it was received.”

Or imagine getting these kinds of responses when you call upon God in prayer!! For the Archangels press 1. For Gabriel, press 2; For Michael, press 3; For Raphael, press 4. If you’d like to hear King David sing a Psalm while you are on hold, Press 5. If you would like to know if a loved one has reached heaven, press 9 for heaven’s complete personnel directory. And the final dagger is: This office is closed for the weekend. Please call again on Monday after 9:00 a.m.

Friday, we honor the Archangels – Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. We call upon Michael’s intercession for protection from evil; Gabriel to deliver good news; Raphael to bring healing of all kinds.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 17, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

One day, in a religion class, the teacher told the students many wonderful stories about Jesus. She said, “Alex, where is Jesus?” “Jesus is in heaven” answered Alex. “Very good,” said the teacher. The teacher next said, “Olivia, where is Jesus?” “Jesus is in my hear,” Olivia answered. Again, the teacher said, “Very good.” The teacher then turned to Jimmy and said, “Jimmy, where is Jesus?” Jimmy said, “Jesus is in the bathroom.” Puzzled with his answer she asked, “Why do you say that?” Jimmy responded, “Because every morning dad bangs on the bathroom door and yells, “Jesus Christ, are you still in there?”

This Sunday we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. We bless all the teachers who will be teaching in St. Gerard Catholic Faith Formation program. Each year there is a special theme for Catechetical Sunday. Our theme this year is “Living as Missionary Disciples.” ‘Missionary Disciples’ is a term which we will be hearing about more and more. As a Catholic Church, we are missionary disciples. We follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who has called us. We have been baptized into Jesus Christ. We learn more about Jesus. And then we the disciples are sent out as missionaries to welcome more folks into the flock. When we were baptized we heard the words of Christ, “Go out to all peoples, be with all peoples and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

We hear in our readings this weekend that the ‘Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion.’ What a comfort it is to know that the Lord is kind and merciful. We are all sinners. We do things that are wrong. We do stupid things and even fall into sin. But the Lord is an understanding Lord. The Lord is always ready to forgive. We hear in Matthew’s gospel how Jesus tells us that we must forgive not seven times, but seventy-seven times. No need to count the number of times leading up to 77 times. ‘Seventy-seven’ means that we forgive, as God forgives, as many times as a person requests for forgiveness. That could be 7 times, or 77 times, or 77 billion times. Anyone living the message of the gospel have discovered how difficult it is to forgive. Deep in our hearts we know we must forgive. But at times we cannot put forgiveness into words and say, “I forgive you.”

The Amish folks in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 2006, gave us a beautiful example of forgiveness after the ‘Amish School Shooting.’ When most people would say, “I will never forgive” the Amish not only forgave but also reached out to comfort the killer’s family. After this senseless shooting a pastor wrote: A grandfather of one of the Amish girls who was murdered in Lancaster County, said of the killer on the day of the murders, “We must not think evil of this man.”

A member of the Brethren community living near the Amish explained, “I don’t thin there’s anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way, but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.”

The Amish reached out to the family of the killers within hours of the shooting and have since established a charitable fund for his family. Five girls, ranging in age from 6 to 13, were injured. The response of the friends and neighbors, parents and grandparents was ‘Regardless of what you have done to our children we will not withhold our love from you.’

Albert Speer was one of the high ranking Nazi. He was one of Hitler’s ministers. He was convinced at Nuremberg to spending the rest of his life in Spandau prison. He wrote of the huge burden of guilt he carried. He said that he could never forgive himself. But he responded to Simon Wiesenthal’s who wrote a book about the atrocities of the concentration camps. He said that Wiesenthal showed kindness to him when they met after the war. There was no reproach, anger or hatred, and how much that had helped, and that as a result his burden felt lighter. The final line of his letter in reply to Wiesenthal says was this: ” It is God’s grace that has touched me through you.”

“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees. “Yes sir, I do,” said the employee. Then the boss said, “That’s good because after you left the office early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she dropped by to see you.”

Next Saturday – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. there will be an Archdiocesan Assembly at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. It is called: V Encuentro. V Encuentro means ‘fifth encounter.’ Over the years there have been encounters (I; II; III; IV) to reach out to all peoples, especially Hispanics. Since the Hispanic population is rapidly growing in the United States the United States Council of Catholic Bishops have developed a strategy to reach out to all people, especially the Hispanics who have recently arrived in the United States. It is designed to make everyone welcomed in our parishes and Archdiocese. With open arms we embrace everyone into our faith communities. It is a free event. So, I encourage everyone to attend.

Two wise old men were engaged in an animated conversation. “Since you are so wise,” said one sarcastically, “try to answer this question: Why is it that when a slice of buttered bread falls to the ground, it’s bound to fall on the buttered side?”

The other sage was a bit of a scientist. He decided to disprove this theory with a practical experiment. He buttered a slice of bread. Then, he dropped it. “There you are,” he shouted triumphantly. “The bread, as you can see, did not fall on the buttered side at all. So, where is your theory now?”

“Ah-ha!” laughed the other cynically. “You think you are so smart!” You buttered the bread on the wrong side!”

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.

Pastor’s Notes – September 10, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

An elderly Florida finished her grocery shopping. With her arms filled with groceries she returned to her car. There she found four young mend about ready to drive off…in her car. She dropped her shopping bags, screamed at the top of her voice. Then she grabbed a handgun from her purse and shouted, “I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of my car, you scumbags!” The men didn’t hesitate one bit. They bolted out of the car and ran like crazy. The lady, a bit shaken, proceeded to load her groceries into the back seat of the car. She got in, ready to drive away. She tried and tried. No luck! She glanced over at the items in the front seat and noticed that they were not hers. She checked the glove compart. Nothing in there was hers. She finally realized that she was in the wrong car.

She found her car five spaces down the line. She put her groceries in her car and drove immediately to the police station. She told the sergeant what had happened. He began laughing as he pointed to four frightened young men at the end of the counter. These lads were reporting a carjacking by a crazed elderly woman, brandishing a hand gun. ‘Happy Grandparent day.’

Monday is ‘Patriot Day.’ It is the day that the United States, and the world, remembers the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington. The day is commonly referred to as 9-11 (Nine Eleven). It is believed that 2,977 people died in the 4 attacks. President George W. Bush proclaimed September 11th Patriot Day in 2002.

On September 11th, United States flags should be flown at half-mast – both on U.S. soil and abroad. A moment of silence is held at 8:46 a.m. (EST) across the nation – commemorating the time the first plane struck the North tower of the World Trade Center. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum takes up over half of the destroyed World Trade Center site. It contains bronze parapets inscribed with the names of those killed on September 11, 2001, and those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

There is an old legend about St. Francis visiting the Sultan of Egypt. The Sultan tried to ensnare the saint in an uncompromising situation. The Sultan directed his staff to lay a carpet on the floor leading up to his throne. Crosses were weaved into the carpet. The Sultan said: “If he walks on those crosses I shall accuse him of insulting me.” As Francis approached the throne he walked on the crosses that had been weaved into the carpet. Immediately the Sultan charged him of insulting his God. But Francis answered: “Our Lord died between two thieves. The thieves also hung on crosses. We Christians have the true Cross; but the crosses of the thieves we leave to you. Without shame I walked on the crosses of thieves.”

We will be celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Thursday. The feast day is also called ‘Triumph of the Cross.’ The cross is a symbol of our Christian faith. The cross becomes significant in our lives only because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was crucified on the cross.

Early in the fourth century, St. Helena, another of the Roman Emperor Constatine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. Tradition had it that the temple of Aphrodite was built over the tomb of Jesus Christ. She ordered the temple he razed. Then, her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre over it. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus was identified when a dying woman touched it and was healed. From that time on the cross became an object of veneration.

We will be celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Friday. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows was formerly known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. In 1668 the Servite Friars began a devotion to the suffering Virgin Mary. In 1814, Pius VII extended the devotion to the whole Western Church.

The Seven Sorrows (or Dolors)  are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary which are a popular devotion and are frequently depicted in art. Mary’s sorrows are:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35) or the Circumcision of Christ
  2. The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
  3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
  4. Mary’s meeting of Jesus on the way to Calvary.
  5. Jesus dying on the cross. (John 19:25)
  6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
  7. Placing of the body of Jesus in the tomb. (John 19:40-42).

The Seraphic Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows staff the Chapel of Divine Mercy on Beethoven as well as St. Francis Nursing Home on Woodlawn. We Redemptorists celebrate daily Mass at the chapel and frequently celebrate Mass at the nursing home. Happy feast day Sisters!

You can’t turn the clock back but you can wind it up again.

Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.


Pastor’s Notes – September 3, 2017

Father Shea

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

Dear Parishioners and Friends:

A woman hired a painter to paint all the rooms on the second floor of her home. Later in the afternoon she began to wonder if he was making any progress. She hadn’t heard a sound for hours. So, she shouted up the stairs to the painter, “Are you working hard?” “Yes, ma’am. I am,” came his reply. The woman shouted louder, “Well, I can’t hear you!” “My dear lady,” said the painter, “I want you to know that I ain’t putting it on with a hammer.!”

It is Labor Day weekend. We applaud all workers. Whether we make sounds while we are working or we work in silence; whether we work with our hands or not’ whether we work alone or with a team, we come to honor the sacred gift of work and the people who work for a living.

On day, in 1853, George Crum, head chef at a posh Saratoga Springs (New York) resort, prepared fried potatoes as part of the evening’s menu. A finicky customer kept returning his potatoes to the kitchen, complaining that they were too thick. Finally, an enraged Crum picked up his sharpest knife, sliced some potatoes wafer thin, and deep-fried them in boiling fat and served them to the cantankerous customer. Rather than be annoyed, the troublesome patron loved them. Soon other guests wanted to order the ‘Saratoga chip.’ The rest is potato chip history.

“How’s your tripod?” That is a slogan often said in Kinko’s stores. Sometimes you hear a worker say, “My tripod’s out of balance.” They are not talking about a paper jam in one of their copiers. They are speaking ‘Kinko-ese.’ According to Kinko’s founder and chairman, Paul Orfalea, three ingredients for the foundation of a happy life. They are: Play/Work/Love.

Paul believes that these three elements must be in balance to stay healthy. He calls it his tripod. All Kinko’s employees are introduced to the concept of the tripod early in their orientation and training. They are reminded that Kinko’s philosophy is that “We trust and care for each other.”

As such, Kinko’s coworkers are encouraged to develop and maintain all three aspects of their life, and are cautioned not to let work overwhelm their humanity. “Our life needs to be happy,” one group of new employees was advised during orientation, as they were taught about the tripod. “We need you to be healthy people. Complete people. Balanced people.”

Kinko’s managers regularly ask their employees, “How’s your tripod?” And, from time to time a coworker will go to a manager and say, “My tripod is out of of balance.” That means they need some time off to catch up on the play and love components of their tripod. They’ve got to get a life.

Work. play, love. Three pretty good basic elements of a happy life. Paul’s tripod certainly deserves merit. And that is why we set aside one special day in the year. And we call that day, ‘Labor Day.’ But let us add another ingredient and place it smack dab in the middle of the tripod – Prayer.

Labor Day is a day to restore balance to our tripods. A time to renew our energy as we rest from work. A time to spend time with family to express our love for them. And a time to play – with family and friends. Let us also add, a time to put prayer into the center of the tripod. So, to complete the tripod, Mass at 9:00 a.m. would certainly add lots of balance to the tripod.

“Made in America?” Jake Brown starts the day early, having set his alarm clock, (made in China)< for 6:30 a.m. While his coffee pot (made in China) is perking he puts his blow-dryer (made in Taiwan), to work and shaves with his electric razor (made in China). He puts on a dress shirt (made in Taiwan), his designer jeans (made in Singapore), and a pair of tennis shoes (made in Korea). After cooking up some breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in the Philippines), he sits down to figure out on his calculator (made in Mexico), how much he can spend today. After setting his watch (made in Switzerland), to the radio (made in China), he goes out and gets in his car (made in Germany). He goes looking as he has been doing for months, for a good paying American job. At the end of another discouraging and fruitless day, Jake decides to relax for a while. He puts on a pair of sandals (made in China), pours himself a glass of wine (made in France), and turns on his TV (made in Japan), and ponders again why he can’t find a good paying American job.

Elizabeth Dole was appointed secretary of transportation by President Reagan in 1985. Following the appointment many magazines covered the Dole marriage. Elizabeth as a cabinet member. Bob Dole as a powerful senator.

After a magazine photo showed Elizabeth and Bob making their bed in their apartment, a man wrote a complaining letter to Bob Dole, praising Elizabeth’s skill but adding, “You’ve got to stop doing the work around the house. You are causing problems for men across the country.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Dole wrote back. “The only reason she was helping was because they were taking pictures.”

Happy Labor Day!

Fr. Jim. Shea, C.Ss.R.