Revisiting St. Simon


Six days passed between my first and second visits to the St. Jude shrine on Saratoga, but I wanted to replace the somewhat blurry photo of St. Simon’s stained-glass window with a better one.

Steven had already agreed to have us attend Mass at Most Precious Blood Church one day soon, but I didn’t want to wait to revisit the shrine.  I knew where the church was, so I chose to drive there before my two o’clock doctor’s appointment.

Another photo-op

On the way to the shrine, I wondered about St. Simon.

What do I really know about him?  Except for hearing his name here and there during the gospel readings at Mass, not much.  I guess this means he wants me to find out more.

Unexpected outcomes

Once home, I was disappointed yet again.  St. Simon’s photo was dark.  The vibrant colors that showed on the camera monitor at the shrine hadn’t been captured.

I took my time snapping photos with and without the flash to get better ones the second time around, so how could this have happened?

Reflecting on my second visit to Most Precious Blood Church and the St. Jude shrine, I quickly realized that St. Simon had drawn me there not to take his photo, but to give me a totally different experience altogether.

Visiting the shrine that day, my wish from the week before had come true: I’d been able to see and photograph the interior of the church.

More importantly, I’d received a very special gift from someone who hadn’t expected to be at the shrine that day.


What happened

As I was taking the last of my photos at the shrine that afternoon, a man walked in and set down his bag of tools on one of the pews.

“Good morning,” I said, quietly acknowledging his unexpected presence.

“Good morning.  I guess I’m the acting handyman today,” he chuckled more to himself than to me, as if surprised to be there.

I was so excited to have found the shrine that I couldn’t hold back.

“I was here last week, but when I got home and edited the photos for my blog post, I was disappointed to find a blurry photo of St. Simon.   So this is why I’m here today.”

“Have you seen our church?” the man asked without knowing that I’d wished just that since my first visit there.

“No,” I said, well aware that the church was closed during the day.  “It was locked the last time I was here, so I told my husband that we’ll need to come back for Sunday Mass.”

The man’s face lit up.  “I’ve got the keys.  Come on!  I’ll open the church for you to spend as much time there as you want and take as many pictures as you like.”

Wish come true

We walked from the shrine’s foyer onto a partly enclosed corridor for him to unlock the door through which I’d taken a photo of the church foyer the week before.

“Oh, my gosh!” I kept saying, my eyeballs bugged out.

The man tried to contain his amusement.  “Just let me know when you’re done, so I can lock up again,” he smiled, turning on the lights before leaving to make repairs.

What an absolutely glorious place!  I longed to have Steven there, so he could ooh and ahh along with me.  

I was thrilled to the moon to be allowed such a gift of time and space, but I was especially grateful to have been at the shrine at the perfect time.  I mean, think about it.  I could’ve gone to the doctor’s first and missed this golden opportunity to explore the church all on my own that afternoon.  It was truly a blessing to be privy to such a treasure trove!

The lens on my Coolpix had gotten jammed on our way home from Nacogdoches, so I was using Steven’s big camera.  I took lots of photos to give myself more choice just in case I flubbed some.

Then, before I knew it, the man returned.

I was photographing the angels in back of the church, so we talked as I snapped here and there.

“Just a moment, please,” I kept saying.  “I need to take some in the foyer.”

He wasn’t simplifying things either ’cause he kept pointing to different things for me to see and, of course, photograph.

Finally, I made myself stop ’cause the A/C was off, and I desperately needed fresh air.

Unexpected gift

“We haven’t introduced ourselves,” I said, as we stood by the side door we’d first entered.  “I’m Deli from St. Joseph’s in Port Aransas.”

“I’m David Castillo, one of the very busy parishioners here at Most Precious Blood Church,” he twinkled.

We stepped out onto the covered corridor, continued talking as he locked the door, and walked toward the office on the far right.

David reached into his left pocket for something.  “Here,” he extended his closed hand.  “I don’t give them to just anyone.  I give them to folks whom I sense have a need, a problem.”  He looked at me, as if trying to understand why he felt compelled to give me this object.  “Or something.  I want you to have this.”

David’s face was radiant as he gently pressed something into my outstretched right hand.  “I’ve carried it around for a long time.  It’s the last one I have, but I want for you to have it now.  There’s a second part that goes with it,” he said before retracting his hand for me to see what the treasure was.  “But I have it in my truck,” he added, gesturing to the parking lot across the way.  “So could you please give me a few minutes while I step into the office to return the church keys?”

“Sure,” I said, feasting my eyes on the very smooth, brown, almost black, stone cross I’d just received.

David stepped out of the office on the corner about ten feet from where we’d stood and began walking away.

“My truck is over here.”

“I’ll walk with you,” I said, hurrying a bit to catch up.

David chattered away as he placed his tools on the bed of the truck, unlocked the cab, and retrieved what he wanted to give me.

stone-cross-3stone-cross-2My friend started making these crosses,um, about a year ago.  To the day!”  David chuckled somewhat surprised to recall that tidbit.  “He usually gives me a bunch of them with the cards, so I can give them out.  And then he gives me more when I run out.  I’ve had this one a long time, but now it’s yours.”

Building community

We talked for a very long time in the hot sun; but, every time I’d almost thoroughly wilted, we’d get a really nice, refreshing breeze that would start us up again.  David told me that he’d had no intention of fixing the two kneelers that day; but, having had second thoughts, he’d shown up anyway.  We agreed that our meeting had been part of God’s master plan.

I chuckled inwardly at St. Simon’s part, wondering what else he had in store for me.

We also talked about the beautiful angel on the school grounds.  David told me an eagle scout had just completed the project the week before.

Aha! I thought.  Just in time for me to capture it with my camera lens the day after!  I love angels!

Then, almost as if he knew somehow, David asked, “What time is it?”  And, noticing I wasn’t wearing a watch, answered himself.  “It’s two o’clock.”

“Yes.  I have a two o’clock appointment,” I said.  “I need to go.”  His was at four-thirty, so he had plenty of traveling time; but he cautioned me about getting back onto Saratoga.

“Traffic around here can be very dangerous around this time of day, so be very careful.”  David made a couple of suggestions on getting back onto the road.  “Just be patient, and you’ll be all right,” he repeated a few times.

Did he know something I didn’t?

We shook hands for the third time, agreed that it’s a great idea to build community by attending Mass at churches other than our own, and wished each other well.

And, sure enough.  Just as David had predicted, traffic was heavy.

I was careful and took my time, but I knew everything would be just fine.

I also knew I’d revisit St. Simon at the shrine one day soon.

Last but not least

St. Simon was eleventh among the twelve apostles called, yet little is known about him.

Simon was one of the two whom Jesus sent ahead of him into a village to untie and bring the ass and the colt that the Messiah might enter Jerusalem as the prophets had foretold.  This unknown apostle never stood out from the rest, was neither prominent nor distinguished.  He was always in the group, together with the others, almost without a personality, only an apostle, only one of the twelve.  Just this remaining quiet, obscure, unknown has become a mark of his character.

Simon, the unknown apostle, is the patron of the countless Christians who go through life without fame, without a name.  He is the patron of the army of unknown workers in the vineyard of the Lord who toil in the last places for the kingdom of God.  He is the patron of the unknown soldiers of Christ who struggle on the disregarded and thankless fronts.  No one notices, no one praises, no one rewards these obscure and often misunderstood apostles… no one except the Father, who sees through all obscurity, who understands all misjudgments (Ferris, n. d.).

June 14, 2010

The third time was the charm!  I finally captured the vibrant colors in St. Simon’s stained-glass window.

September 28, 2010

On reading the Dominican shrine’s page on St. Jude this morning, I learned that he and St. Simon were martyred together, which explains their shared feast day, October 28th.

February 10, 2013

“Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men'” (Luke 5:10).

October 28, 2014

“May both Simon the CananSrMA12512-9aaean and Jude Thaddeus help us… to live the Christian faith without tiring, knowing how to bear a strong and, at the same time, peaceful witness to it” (Pope Benedict XVI).

June 29, 2016

We celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood.  Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith (St. Augustine).



Links of interest…  Apostles: sending out / who is one…  “Comfort cross,” crucifix, & Christ’s five wounds…  Most Precious Blood Church: facebook / website…  St. Simon & St. Jude: apostles (more) / biography (about) / cathedral / feast (more) / martyrs (more) / prayer / praying to St. Jude (more) / sketches (more)…

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Connected tangents…  Disquieting moments…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Growing pains…  Kindred acorns…  Making meaning…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago & Corpus Christi

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