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.