The Pentecost Event
Wind and Fire—not the name of a musical group, but the elements that most often describe the Pentecost event, the birthday of the Church. Listen to the ways these words are used in the Mass this weekend!
The power of the Holy Spirit created unity out of the chaos that followed Jesus’ Ascension. The Holy Spirit brought miraculous unity to people very divided, and filled with fear. We need the Holy Spirit in our world today. We need the Holy Spirit in our marriages, in our families, in our Church as well as in our personal lives.
We too are divided and filled with fear. Think about how much we hear about divisions and fear.
What would happen if instead of division and fear, we focused on unity and hope, on community and love? Jesus came to bring peace. After all, Jesus told us to not be afraid countless times in the Scriptures.
Will we invite the Holy Spirit to work in us as individuals, as families, and as communities to renew us, refresh our souls, dispel the fear and create in us hearts that are filled with zeal for living the Gospel?
Perhaps we can embrace the reminders that the Church gives us in the celebration this weekend. Wear red. Find ways to enjoy the playfulness of wind and air. Blowing bubbles, flying a kite, playing with pinwheels aren’t activities reserved for children, although their delight increases ours! Breathe intentionally with a focus on breathing in God’s goodness and breathing out all that separates us from that goodness. Eat red foods, drink red wine! Learn to say Peace and or Love in multiple languages. Speak love languages to replace criticism, gossip, and complaining. The words we use create our reality. What kind of reality are we seeking?
And so we pray from the prayer for the V Encuentro: “May the fire of your Word rekindle our hearts and prepare us to become missionary disciples ready to share the joy of the Gospel to present and future generations of every race, culture, and language.”
Fill our hearts and minds, Holy Spirit! Dwell in us all. Move us to action that creates unity out of chaos.
What do you do after spending precious, quality time with the persons you admire most in life, who have accompanied you and taught you incredible things about what it means to be family, community?
That’s what it was like for the followers of Jesus when he ascended from their midst. Suddenly, they were left in charge. I’m reminded of the countless time that I have heard, “Don’t just stand there, do something.” Usually, it’s when someone is in trouble and no one seems to know what to do.
What must it have felt like to be left in charge? Jesus told his followers to proclaim the Good News to every creature. And he told them to expect to see the signs—the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons, and speaking in tongues. Were these intended for that time only? Jesus is clear about that. He says “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” And Mark, the evangelist, tells us that they went forth and preached everywhere. The Lord continued to work with and through them to accomplish the signs–demons driven out, new languages spoken, incredible healings.
How do we keep from standing there looking at the sky? At every Mass, we are sent forth on mission. Go forth and live the Gospel! Go forth and spread the Good News! Preach always, with your lives!
The Eucharist empowers us, strengthens us for the task, puts us on fire for the mission. After being fed in mind, body, and spirit by the Eucharistic celebration, we SING our way out of the church. The words to our recessional remind us, prod us and keep us from just standing there. We go out with the strength of our community as disciples of Jesus.
Complete Joy and Love
We are an Easter people! Just a reminder that six weeks after Easter, we are still celebrating with joy. The psalm we pray this weekend reminds us “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.”
As Easter people, what are we singing about? Where is our joy? What are we joyful about?
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Complete joy comes from loving one another the way Jesus would!
In our day, it is quite a challenge to truly love those who are different from us. The differences include people who look different, who come from another culture or country, or hold different political or religious beliefs. In our day, almost everything around us fuels that divisiveness. It becomes harder and harder to see what we have in common, to love as Jesus did.
So we pray to God to help us to love one another with God’s heart of love and forgiveness. And we also ACT! We make efforts to know the “other” in our world. One way to do that is to spend time with someone of another culture, race or economic status. Sharing conversation and work promotes peace, understanding and the love Jesus commands. Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries says we should quit looking at differences and start identifying “samenesses.”
It isn’t easy to love everyone. Yet the challenge remains. The command remains. Our friendship and relationship with God depend on it. When we sing “We Belong to You” we recognize the love relationship between God and the Christian community. That is the same kind of genuine and self-giving love Jesus lived.
Just as in last week’s Gospel of the vine and the branches, we are chosen by God and appointed to go and bear fruit that will remain. Love endures. Love remains if we work for it. If we work for it, we tear down walls, we walk across the bridge to the world of the other, we enter the unknown and that which we fear. We cross boundaries that are holding us back from the love that completes our joy.
Our Parish Festival celebrates our community to thank God for all of our blessings at St. Francis of Assisi. As our biggest party of the year, the festival committee has more fun behind the scenes than people know! Make new friends and join in on the fun by becoming a member of the festival committee. The first committee meeting is Tuesday, June 26 at 6 pm in the Emmaus Room. The following meetings will be on the last Tuesday of each month leading up to the festival in October. If you cannot make it to this first meeting but want to join the committee, please call Irma Flores at 210-413-1120. This is a great way to give back to our beloved parish community and build new relationships with fellow parishioners!
August 17, 1937-April 29, 2018
Antonio I. Ramirez, 80, passed away on April 29, 2018. He was born on August 17, 1937 to Carlos A. and Ventura R. Ramirez in Mission, Texas. He was the beloved husband of Mary Esther Ramirez for 54 years, the father of four children, grandfather to four, and great grandfather to two.
Antonio participated in several civic, fraternal and patriotic organizations including the Boy Scouts of America as a Scout Master, St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, The 100 Club of San Antonio, The Knights of Columbus Councils 624 and 4786, Catholic War Veterans Post #4, Disabled American Veterans, and the Society of Logistics Engineers. He was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Booster of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and The Order of Franciscan Missionaries. Antonio was an avid fisherman, hunter and gardener.
Antonio is preceded in death by his daughter Margaret J. Ramirez, father, mother and brother Enrique. He is survived by his wife, Mary Esther Ramirez; children Retired CPO David A. Ramirez (Judith Ramirez) from Pensacola, FL, Patrica A. Hutson (Larry Hutson) from Jacksonville, FL, and Lt. Col. Roland E. Ramirez from Plato, MO; grandchildren Jessica K. Lang (Jerry Lang), Zachary D. Ramirez, Jessica N. Boguslawski (John Boguslawski III), and Renee M. Ramirez; great-grandchildren Brayden J. Lang and Riley L. Lang. He is also survived by his siblings Jose, J. Carlos, Maria, Miguel, and Ramon.
The family would like to thank the many family and friends for your prayers, visits and calls. May the Lord bless you all!
Visitation: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Rosary: Tuesday, May 15, 2018 7:00 p.m.
Castle Ridge Mortuary
Funeral Service: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 11:45 a.m.
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Interment: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 2:00 p.m.
Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
February 6, 1964-May 1, 2018
A beautiful light of our community, Lynda Ambrose, went to her heavenly home on May 1, 2018, surrounded by her family and dear friends. She fought a tremendous battle with cancer for the last ten years with integrity, strength, humility, and great love.
She was a pillar of joy for all of us at St. Francis. She regularly attended the 5:00 pm Mass on Saturday’s where she welcomed parishioners with her radiant smile as a Hospitality Minister. She gave of her time weekly to help the less fortunate by serving on multiple Mobile Loaves & Fishes teams. She also enjoyed helping out with the Kid’s Games at the annual church festival. She was an ACTS sister and was grateful to serve on team and share the love of Jesus with others.
Most of all, Lynda leaves a legacy of love, compassion, service, and joy! We give thanks and praise to God for Lynda’s life, and we rejoice that she is no longer suffering. She remains a beautiful light in the lives of all those that knew her. May she rest in peace in the arms of Jesus.
Sunday, May 6, 2018 All Faiths Funeral Home in Smithville, Texas
Visitation 2:00-4:00 pm
Rosary 4:00-5:00 pm
Monday, May 7, 2018 Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Smithville, Texas
Mass: 10:00 am
April 18, 1933-April 26, 2018
Born to Guadalupe and Consuelo Perez on April 18, 1933 in Brownsville, TX, Maria was their only child. At the age of 11, while skating in front of her father’s restaurant, she pointed out a paperboy she’d never seen before to her aunt and boldly predicted she would marry him one day. On Feb. 9, 1949, she did just that marrying Manuel de la Rosa, Sr.
As a young mother, she worked several jobs, including Gift Wrapper and Elevator Operator at JCPenney’s. She was also a seamstress and sold Avon products.
In 1960 she, her husband and their three children moved to San Antonio where they opened a small café on Josephine Street serving breakfast and lunch to employees from nearby Pepsi Cola, Co., Slater White Cleaners, and Texas Neon Lighting Company. In 1962, a small taco/enchilada stand on Vance Jackson Road led to the opening of La Rosa Mexican Restaurant. The daily specials and catering business took off encouraging a second La Rosa restaurant on Fredericksburg Road in 1966. They retired in 1981 after 21 years as restaurant owners.
While her husband continued working in the restaurant business including La Mansion, she opened a licensed in-home child care business which inspired her to complete a GED in 1988. Continuing her education, she earned an Associate’s Degree in Child Care. She was a second mom “Mimi” to many children in her care. At one time it was said that she had cared for over 200 babies. She continued her business after her husband died in November 1995 retiring in 2001. Not one to sit at home, she volunteered as a Foster Grandparent at St. Paul’s Ministry and Catholic Charities Ministry, earning many commendations for her dedication and caring work with the children.
Always an entrepreneur, she had a side business selling Beeline Clothing, in-home/catalog sales. Maria was known for her ability to spread the Good News, often quoting from the Bible. She was a “walking/talking Bible Thesaurus”. Ask her a where to find a certain verse or scripture and she could tell you without batting an eyelash.
She is survived by five children, Dolores Patiño (Anthony), Manuel de la Rosa, Jr. (Betty), Mary Roszell (Billy), Esther Sahagun (Tim), and Miguel de la Rosa (Angie). Maria had thirteen grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren. She is also survived by several brothers in law, sisters in law, many nieces and nephews, godsons and daughters.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s crept in and stole the last years from her and loved ones. She died peacefully on Thursday, April 26, 2018. We will celebrate this occasion as her birthday into heaven and reunion with her husband.
Maria was blessed to lead a very full life. Her life was a blessing to all of us and made possible what we enjoy today. We thank God for her gift of life and the beauty of her creation in her family. We treasure our memories of her and we will miss her. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Alzheimer’s San Antonio & South Texas Chapter.
The visitation will be held on May 5 at 10:30 am at Fred J. Tips Mausoleum Chapel (20900 IH 10 West, San Antonio, TX 78257). The funeral service will follow at 12 pm.
So when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” what does that mean for us? What does it mean for us as individuals in our faith community, our parish? What does it mean for us as a parish? How are we connected? Where do we belong? How do we grow? What fruit do we bear?
Much of new growth comes about through a process of pruning, of cutting back and making room for the new. What is it that needs pruning in my life? What do I need to cut off or cut back in order to be more connected to God? What in my life is unhealthy or even spiritually toxic that keeps me from being the person that God intends for me to be? It could be whatever keeps me from praying, from celebrating sacraments, from active involvement with my community in the parish. It could be all the things and activities in my life that occupy so much of my time that I neglect my spouse, my family, and even care of myself.
The vine and the branches are all about belonging, about connection, about growth. Sometimes just cutting back the old, tired growth isn’t enough. We need to find “healthy, vibrant” growth and GRAFT it. Where do I find opportunities to spruce up my spiritual life? Could it be a retreat? Joining an SCC? Participating in Adult Faith Formation or a Bible Study? Becoming a sponsor for RCIA?
Growth is about change. At times some of our old practices are no longer useful and we need to update. Some of the people who have served in our church with great love and faithfulness yearn for replacements in their ministries. They are ready to make room for new participants, new leaders, new ways of doing things.
In all of life, we would do well to consider what needs to be pruned, what needs to change. Can we honestly say to God, prune away? What do we need to stop doing in order to make room for the new? What is the fruit we are expecting from the new growth? Do we trust God enough to yield wholeheartedly to what must die in us in order for us to enjoy new life and to bear good fruit?
The Vulnerable Sheep
Why is Jesus walking around with a sheep cradled between his neck and back? I’ve always been curious about this depiction. I am more used to Jesus cradling a small sheep in his lap, a very loving, cuddly kind of cradling a baby lamb. Most of us probably prefer that image. Meanwhile, I am stuck on this image and my neck hurts just thinking about that sheep making me uncomfortable. I can barely stand a collar around my neck!
And then there are Pope Francis’ words reminding us that any good shepherd should “smell like the sheep.” Another discomfort! I know what cows and pigs smell like. I must admit sheep smells have not been in my experience!
And then I remember a reflection once offered by a wise Sister companion of mine. She said that a shepherd often can spot the sheep that is going to be the “ring leader for mischief” or the recalcitrant one. This is the sheep that will start a revolt, or at least cause great consternation and suffering for the shepherd and the rest of the sheep.
That same shepherd who can identify the one needing attention, also knows from experience what the sheep needs in order to “hear the voice” of the shepherd. Sometimes we have a hard time recognizing the voice of someone who wishes us well, while challenging us to be all that God wants us to be.
In order to recognize the voice, the sheep must be close, must be carried, must become dependent on the shepherd. In order to accomplish that the shepherd breaks a leg of the sheep and begins to carry it. The sheep becomes vulnerable.
Perhaps we also need the Good Shepherd to carry us in our vulnerability. All of us experience some kind of “brokenness.” Some heals readily. Others need God’s attention. Jesus reminds us of God’s love and care for us, even when the suffering is intolerable. And for us, following Jesus means that we must stand with, we must act for the good of all, especially those in most need, the most vulnerable among us.
Who are the shepherds in your life? Who is leading, guiding, protecting and nurturing you? How do hurt and suffering contribute to our capacity to hear God’s voice in the midst of it?