God of wisdom and justice,
As we celebrate the life of Saint Oscar Romero,
Open our ears to hear your whispers of love,
Open our eyes to the needs of people in poverty,
Open our mouths to speak for those shamed by hatred,
Open our hands to work for the real needs of people.
Help us let go of what we think is our security,
Help us act on behalf of people without power,
Help us engage the tragedies and hardships of outcasts,
Help us believe that faith in action brings liberation.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our peace and salvation.
Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us.
Archbishop Oscar Romero (August 15, 1917-March 24, 1980)
Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered while offering Mass on March 24, 1980 in San Salvador, El Salvador. He had become a genuine pastoral leader, outspoken on behalf of people in poverty, those surviving injustice, torture and violence. On Sunday October 14, 2018, Pope Francis will name him a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
I have been praying for his intercession since I was ordained a priest in 1983. He died at 62, the age I am at present. I have found great consolation from his life and martyrdom. My insights are mostly impressions of him as the years have gone by. However, I find in Oscar the beauty of conversion. God called him from love as an unlikely leader to minister among people living in great fear.
On February 23, 1977, Oscar Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. On March 12, 1977, Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest and personal friend of Romero who had organized people in poverty, was assassinated. The death of his friend while trying to give voice to the poor greatly affected Oscar. This priest’s death compelled Romero to put his own faith into action, working among the oppressed and voiceless. Even though he had suffered from scrupulosity, his life now was being broken open for the benefit of others. The Jesuit priest’s death was never completely solved and this deepened Oscar’s quest for justice and peace.
The Holy Spirit compelled Archbishop Romero into becoming a spokesperson for justice. He was timid, with a complicated personality. Conversion happened in this man. He used his academic background and growing faith to find an authentic voice against hatred and war. Oscar Romero found his voice bending down to listen to the voices of people struggling to survive. His people were tormented by injustice, lack of food, torture and a lack of hope. His heart softened, his eyes were opened and his work became collecting the cries of the poor into a voice of liberation and freedom. He believed God would work miracles while they all carried the cross for a better life
His own spirituality centered on the Cross of Christ. He slowly understood that what he had learned from his scholarship was to be lived in the world. Suffering became a tool for him to find his faith and the mercy of God. He began to live out his real life of faith only in the closing years of his life. Romero lived the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This way of following Jesus became the reason for his canonization. I pray that we all may find such dignity.
Oscar Romero wrote in his journal on February 4 1943, “In recent days the Lord has inspired in me a great desire for holiness. I have been thinking of how far a soul can ascend if it lets itself be possessed entirely by God.” Oscar’s soul found God and allowed him to work beyond his expertise for the good of so many people. In his life, I find great inspiration and hope that the Lord Jesus is at work among us all, especially the broken and marginalized.
Read the article and view the photos from Notre Dame Magazine on the restoration of Sacred Heart Church, HERE
In the sight of the angels, I will sing your praises.
Send forth your angels
So we may sort through the realities of abuse in our Church,
So we may seek union in our racial divides,
So we may learn how hungry the poor really are,
So we may not scapegoat the powerless,
So we may seek justice among those who seek entry in our nation,
So we may teach our children how to believe in you,
So we may not divide with our tongues,
So we may learn how to listen to the marginalized,
So we may speak the truth of our lives,
So we may heal our wounded cities,
So we may show others that love is possible.
In the sight of the angels, I will sing your praises.
Text: Ronald Raab, CSC
Dear Followers of Jesus,
There is a new statue in Sacred Heart Church. The new bronze statue is an image of Saint André Bessette. The statue came from the artistic hands of Rev. Anthony Lauck, CSC who died in 2001. Fr. Lauck was a priest and artist at the University of Notre Dame. I considered him a spiritual and visual mentor when I was in college. Copies of this statue are located in many of our Holy Cross institutions. I am so proud to have this art welcome folks through the doors of Sacred Heart Church. André’s hands extend down to welcome the weary and unfortunate.
Saint André Bessette is important to this community for many reasons. Not only was he the very first religious to be canonized, but also his relic is in the new altar at Sacred Heart. I also painted an image of Saint André that hangs in the main enterance and that image was published in AIM Magazine a couple of years ago.
Saint André was illiterate and his ministry as a porter drew the attention of many people. He became a healer in Montreal. He ministered at the door for over forty years. His ministry was to welcome people but in that position his faith drew others to Saint Joseph and his healing potential. He lived a very simple life. He believed that small things would lead him to God. This belief led him to receive over 600 people a day. He slept only an hour or two and spent the night praying for the people whom he had met during the day. Many people were cured of their ailments and diseases.
Saint André died January 6, 1937 and over one million people came to his funeral in Montreal during that snowy winter. His reputation extended throughout Canada and the United States. His legacy of simplicity, hospitality and healing forms our ministry and lives as members of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
A Prayer for Healing to Saint André Bessette
I come to you in prayer for healing. (…state your need…)
You were no stranger to illness.
You were an orphan and homeless.
You questioned your strength and place in life.
You were illiterate and your body was weak.
You received thousands of people at the door.
I come before you today in need.
Pray that I might be restored to health in body, mind and soul.
With Saint Joseph as my guide,
Strengthen my faith and give me peace,
That I might accept God’s will for me,
No matter the outcome.
Saint André Bessette, pray for us.
Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel shows us the true meaning of following Jesus. Mark 9:3-37 begins by Jesus telling the story of his future suffering and death. The disciples just do not understand his message. Even further, the disciples really do not comprehend the meaning of his presence among them.
The disciples are arguing over many things. Jesus asks, “What were you arguing about on the way?” The disciples thought for sure that they were going to have new personal identities in the new “age of the messiah.” In other words, they thought they would be the cool kids on the block because they were close to Jesus. We can just see Jesus rolling his eyes. They still did not understand that to follow Jesus means service toward others, living in a profound humility and helping the helpless among them.
So to demonstrate his point, Jesus takes a child and says, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me…” The child becomes the window in which we see all of what it means to follow Jesus. Let go of self and get a clue in Jesus.
Sadly over the years, not much has changed. We still think just because we follow Jesus that we are better than other people. Just because we have rules to follow and commands of the Church, we think that our identities are about power, separateness and strength. Even the clergy who follow Jesus in the Church rest more on power than humility, more on ego than Divine love, more on strength than on the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
When power and greed become the source of our following Jesus, the children suffer. In this day of purification of the Church’s power, authority, and clericalism, humility must be the call of the day. The reason we educate children today is so that they will grow up to find a place where they can rest their pain, their sorrow and their suffering. We do not hoard our power in following Jesus or abuse the innocent. We must not discuss along the way who is the best, the brightest or who is more Catholic by how we rigidly we follow the rules of the Church.
In today’s gospel, the children are an image of liberation for the followers of Jesus, for the children are the reality of humility and honesty. I pray that we all may learn to follow Jesus with such humility. Jesus still asks us the question, “What were you arguing about on the way?” because we are still struggling to get it right.
Blessings along the way,
This image of Our Lady of Sorrows was published in AIM Magazine by World Library, Autumn 2018.
Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows is the Patroness of the Congregation of Holy. She stands next to all the suffering of the world. This painting is intense and bold since she carries all of our suffering. She stands by our children who were abused, those who fought in wars but still carry the wounds and those who live with intense pain and bodily wounds. Mary, no matter our suffering, stands next to our incompleteness and our longing for mercy. She leads us to Jesus, the healer and redeemer, the one who is our only hope.
Gospel Jn 19:25-27
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Dear Followers of Jesus,
The questions of Jesus throughout the gospels are incredibly important to our faith. These questions come directly from Jesus’ mouth and they are some of the most challenging aspects of the four gospels. Questions open us to new possibilities. They are not rigid statements from Jesus’ life. His questions take on a different tone that invites us to respond to him.
Today’s question from Jesus is no different. “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-35) In fact, this might just be the most important question Jesus asks not only of Peter, but also of ourselves. If we are truly followers of Jesus, then his question also penetrates our soul, as it must have done for Peter. Peter is always carrying the initial burden of many of Jesus’ questions; questions that are proposed to us even today.
For many of us, being an acquaintance of Jesus is enough because we do not desire to be formed or changed by his life or questions. It is easy to walk into our churches and never think about how Jesus demands us to live our lives or what to change in them to make us better people. Sometimes it is easier to follow a set of prescriptions or rules that is the life of the Church, but never come close to the source of what the Church is really about. Jesus’ questions begin to peel away the layers of anger, rage, apathy, denial or disgust we carry within our lives. These questions form us like no other teachings of Jesus.
For all baptized Christians, these questions of Jesus are bread and butter of faith. They are essential that we use them for our prayer, our daily experience of coming closer to Divine love, forgiveness and peace. These questions in the gospels form our conscience, ease our inner burdens and satisfy our hungers for justice. If we can really live from our answers to these divine questions, our Church and world would truly become a place worth living in.
To answer today’s question that Jesus poses to Peter, we need to sift through our life experience and come to terms about our faith and what it means for us. This question implies that we have an answer. This question also suggests to us that we have had the ability to pray, to learn, to experience God’s grace, even in our past. Do we have a deep enough relationship with Christ to even begin to answer this question?
The entire point of Jesus’ ongoing question to us is to get us to live in him and not to cling to our own tight egos and certainty. We shall lose our lives in his love and his mercy and not live in only our own righteousness and self-denial. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Take some time for deep prayer this week and ask Jesus to help you find the answer to his question, “But who do you say that I am?”