Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
An old man spent a weekend fishing down at the coast. As he was casting his lines upon the waters, he noticed a snake next to the boat. The snake had a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, the man reached down and snatched it from the jaws of the snake. The snake remained next to the boat with its mouth open. After a few moments the man realized that he had just deprived the snake of a meal.
Feeling a bit saddened, the man looked around for something to feed the critter. He found nothing. So he took his flask filled with bourbon and gave the snake a shot of whiskey. The snake swallowed the whiskey and swan peacefully away. The man returned to his fishing.
Ten minutes later there was a thump on the side of the boat. The old man looked over the side of the boat. He couldn’t believe what he saw. The snake had returned. But this time it had two frogs in its mouth.
We welcome Father Peter Schavitz, a Redemptorist missionary. Father Peter will be preaching our mission this week. He is well experienced in preaching missions. In fact, he has been preaching missions throughout the United States as well as overseas since the early 1990’s. We welcome Father Peter.
We are honored to have with us during the mission, the traveling icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The original icon is encased in a bullet proof container above the main altar in St. Alphonsus Church in Rome. The icon which had been traveling the country since last June is a painted replica of the original.
It was 150 years ago when Pope Pius IX entrusted the original icon to the Redemptorists. He said, “Make her known to the world.” Since that time, we Redemptorists have had a special devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help. To celebrate the 150th anniversary, the traveling icon has visited all Redemptorist communities across the central and western states of our country. How blest we are to have the icon with us during the mission – which dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
A well-known doctor, loved throughout the community, suffered a tragic death. His wife and family were devastated. At the wake the widow and children were surrounded by clergy and professional people. They tried to ease the grief. They said all the right words. Nothing helped. The widow kept saying, “You are right. I know you are right. But it doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t bring my husband back.”
Then a man walked into the mortuary. He was a big burly man in his eighties. He was somewhat of a legend in the toy and game industry. He had escaped Russia as a youth after having been arrested and tortured by the czar’s secret police. He had come to this country not knowing how to read or write. Over time had built up a successful company. He never took the time to learn how to read and write. He hired people to read his mail to him. The joke in the industry was that he could write a check for a million dollars, and the hardest part would be signing his name at the bottom.
He had been sick recently. His face was creased with worries. He relied heavily on a cane to help him walk. But he managed to walk over to the window. He stood in front of her and started to cry. She cried with him. You could feel the atmosphere in the room change. This man who had never read a book in his life spoke the language of the heart. He held the key that opened the gates of solace where learned doctors and clergy could not.
Today we hear the story of Lazarus. When Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, notified Jesus, the Lord stalled a day or two, then came to visit the grieving family. More than just sharing their grief Jesus provided a powerful sign, which strengthened their belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
A week ago this past Thursday, we saw a grand transformation of St. Gerard Parish Center. A number of generous volunteers who not only signed up to help but also arrived to help clean thirty bedrooms. This summer there will be nearly 20 Redemptorist students, who will study theology at the Oblate School of Theology and live in these rooms. This building was originally built to house the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Those sisters taught in St. Gerard Elementary and High School. I thank all the industrious parishioners who helped clean these rooms.
The parish offices will remain in the front of the building. The students and the priests in charge of the students, will live in the back part of the building. When we finish the cleaning and arrangement of the offices and rooms, we will designate a day for an ‘Open House.’
Someone provided a list of Lenten practices which could be a way to burn off calories: Tooting your own horn. Passing the buck. Throwing your weight around. Swallowing your pride. Hitting the nail on the head. Pulling out the stops. Bending over backwards. Dragging your heels. Jumping to conclusions. Adding fuel to the fire. Climbing the walls. Jumping on the bandwagon. Eating crow. Pushing your luck. Running around in circles. Wading through paperwork. Making mountains out of molehills.
Remember the mission – Sunday thru Thursday – 6:30 p.m.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.