“O, Maria”: The Assumption of Mary

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“O, Maria” Painting of grandmother gazing upon the sky: Ronald Raab, CSC

“O, Maria

I see you in the sky

Clothed with the sun

And I hear you and

The promises God gave you

 

The Father told you that the poor

Shall be lifted up

Maria, I am poor, too,

And my grandbabies

They crossed the boarder

Eating sand

Their shirts ripped off their backs

From the barbwires

Trying to keep them poor

 

Now, Maria, I look up

Where you are

And I pray for my family in the dirt

I do not know where my grand-babies are

But I know you see them from the sky

You watch out for us

In the dirt, the sand and the heat

In the unknown

 

Please, Maria, look down on me

‘Cause I want to be with you

To be where you are

You know where your Son is

You remember His face

I don’t want to forget my children

And their children

I wish I could cross the boarder to heaven

And see you beautiful robes

To be welcomed among the people

The Father lifts up.”

Saint Maximilian Kolbe; Priest and Martyr

Maximillian, pray for us!

Broken But Not Divided

Kolbe 2 Kolbe, Martyr, Finger Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2015

(This painting and reflection is from 2015)

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr, 1894-1941

This is a crude finger painting. It is meant to be incomplete and simple because there is no easy way to interpret this man’s faith, life and death. This Polish Franciscan priest died in Auschwitz on this day in 1941.

Crown: The red crown was given to him in a vision when he was 12 years old. He had a vision of Mary who presented him with two crowns, one white that would become his reward in heaven, then a red crown, representing his martyrdom. He accepted both crowns from Mary, the Mother of God. 

Mary, the Mother of God: Mary’s appearance to Maximilian gave him purpose in life. Notice how the blue beads of the rosary co-exist and even blend into the barbed wire. I must believe…

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and My Column

August 12, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

The most important conversations of my life and priesthood revolve around dining room tables, either at home or in a favorite restaurant. In all of my years of priesthood in various cities, I have gathered people at table to listen to people’s lives of struggle and joy. We have gathered to share life decisions, to sort through problems or to lift a drink in celebration of something wonderful. I could list the restaurants in every city in which I felt most at home. Meals for me are a rich form of intimacy and companionship. Meals together are a continued form of Eucharist.

Common meals are going by the wayside. They are becoming as obsolete as phones with cords or cursive penmanship. Meals with others, however, are at the core of what Eucharist means within our Church. When we lose our interest in common meals, the Eucharist also loses much of its meaning.

If we separate ourselves from Eucharist, we overlook our family stories in the Scriptures. Stories, parables, testimonies and images in Scripture give us purpose in life. They form us as a people of God. The stories around the table of Eucharist form us in an ancient humility and wonder. They teach us to trust God and not just our own inclinations or opinions.

Without the Eucharist, we lose our ability to be in touch with something greater than ourselves. We do not have all the answers. Our convictions and decisions become shaky and even destructive without other people. We need patience in community, forgiveness among those who disagree with us, hope among those who challenge us. Many young people do not have the patience to listen to older people, their parents and most especially the Church.

The Eucharist positively forms our lives in ways we cannot imagine. We learn to trust people. We learn to listen to the problems others face, the diseases that ravage family, the natural disasters that our world encounters. The Mass teaches us that life is not about ourselves. We are formed in teachings that have formed people for centuries. We learn to be hungry for God. We learn that we are not our addictions or our depression or our loneliness. Our restless hearts have remedy and hope within the Mass. I cannot live without our prayer at the altar.

The Eucharist shows us how to live, how to serve and how to believe in God. Most especially, the Eucharist shows us how to have space within our lives to welcome people who are different from us by race, education and political backgrounds. We are growing more insular and selfish and self-protected. We all need to dine with Jesus, our life, and our hope and invite our enemies and friends.

Pray this week about how you believe God is among us in the Mass. Can we recommit our lives to the mission of the Church in offering our lives to the Real Presence of Christ Jesus?

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

Eighteen Sunday in Ordinary Time: August 5, 2018, Column and Cover

Aug. 5, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

For several weeks in a row, the Sunday gospel leads us to and teaches us about the Eucharist. Today, John 6:24- 35 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’”

We are all hungry for something. We are hungry to belong, to live in peace and harmony. We all want to have a voice in the world and to find our way in hope. We want to be free from our past abuse or scrupulosity. We desire to live for others and to be people of integrity. We hunger for many things, some of which are fleeting and many of which are a lifelong journey. God alone satisfies the soul.

Every week we come to Mass because we know that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist heals us more than we can imagine. We will never hunger or be thirsting again when we take our faith seriously, when we can connect the Eucharist and our deepest hungers.

Here are some questions to reflect upon after we leave Mass this weekend, to make sure that the Eucharist is made real in our lives.

Why do you come to Mass? Why is this time important for you?

What does the Eucharist mean to you? Why do you return to it time and time again?

How do you interpret the Eucharist? Do you view it as a ticket to heaven or can we see the Eucharist as Jesus’ Real Presence here on earth challenging us to live differently?

What are you most hungry for in life? Is it integrity, a voice in our world, healing for your soul, justice for people, sobriety, housing, or what? How does the Eucharist feed and satisfy these hungers? How do you find Jesus in the Eucharistic celebration?

How have you lived your life differently because of the Eucharist? How does the Eucharist lead you to tenderness, mercy and joy?

What does it mean for you to connect the Eucharist and service within our world? Why is serving others a result of coming to communion? What does the Eucharist have to do with peace, relieving hunger, justice, hope and integrity?

The bulletin cover today is a photo of the Crucifix that now sits between the statue of Mary and the statue of Joseph in Sacred Heart Church. This gold Crucifix is from the original high altar from 1922. This Crucifix was in storage in the basement of the church. Now, it has a prominent place again in our worship space. I found this Crucifix late in the restoration process and I am very grateful that we can all enjoy its meaning, history and beauty for years to come.

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Ron

O, Sacred Heart: A prayer for home

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“O, Sacred Heart” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

O, Sacred Heart,

Comfort our grieving families,

Searching through the rubble left on burned lands,

Where home once stood,

Where shelter calmed fear,

Where a house provided security for children.

 

O, Sacred Heart,

Unite our families on our nation’s boarder,

Searching through the rubble we created from fiery politics,

Urchins in the arms of mothers fleeing abuse,

Infants forgetting the breast,

Bring them home to the warm embrace of their parents.

 

O, Sacred Heart,

Guide us when suicidal thoughts spark fires,

Tend to us when job loss burns away our future,

Comfort us when death of a loved one numbs our hearts,

Console us when fear rips through our relationships,

Shelter us when our earthly homes cease to exist.

 

O, Sacred Heart,

Chase us down, who desire you,

Who beg for your Heart’s fire,

To calm our fear and welcome our grief,

For you create a shelter,

In which we all find our home.

Article from Give Us This Day, published by Liturgical Press, July 2018

Reflection published in Give Us This Day by Liturgical Press for Monday July 30, 2018

Under the Shade of Mercy

 While preaching a parish mission some time ago, I tossed out the seed that God loves and heals us no mater our illness or our poverty. The seed fell on the fertile hearts of a group of parishioners praying for an ill friend. They asked me to offer him the Anointing of the Sick.

The following day they brought their frail friend to the parish. I listened with all of my heart to the soft voice of the professional athlete who had lost his right arm to cancer. He whispered his fear of death and his anger. We all wept together as I smeared sacramental oil on his forehead and in the palm of his hand.

His friends found solace under the tree that grew from genuine hope. Their mustard-seed faith nourished him and brought them together. Though their friend later died, his death did not wilt their tenacity to search for healing. They continue to grow in faith, and now others rest in the branches of their care, love and outreach to people who are ill.

People find healing on earth when faith is lived, when love grows like a weed, when the small seed of mercy shelters the forgotten, and when we invite Jesus into our pain.

I still throw out seeds in memory of those strangers who were shelter for their friend, all of them longing for the Kingdom of God. I pray we all find shade among such friends.

Fr. Ronald Raab

Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, is pastor of the Tri-Community Catholic Parish in Colorado Springs. He formerly served as associate pastor at Saint Andre Bessette Church in Old Town, Portland, Oregon. Learn more at http://www.ronaldraab.com.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: My Column

July 29, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear followers of Jesus,

The cover of today’s bulletin is the Cross and Anchor, a hand-carved image of the logo of the Congregation of Holy Cross. This carving now hangs in the lobby of Sacred Heart Church. This image tells us of our identity, not an identity of a religious community only, but the reality that our lives in Christ are beautiful and abundant. There is nothing, no suffering or turmoil, which will not be redeemed and forgiven in Christ. The logo of our religious community is not counterfeit or simplistic. This logo is a statement that all of life shall find its newness in Christ. The refreshing, loving and forgiving promise that through Christ’s suffering all shall be well in his resurrection.

On Saturday, July 28, six young men in the Congregation of Holy Cross professed their First Vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience at Sacred Heart Church. These men, through the work of the Holy Spirit, show us that new life is possible and offer us a sign of hope in world. I am grateful for their witness to the Cross and Anchor.

We all have our unique call to follow the Lord Jesus. We all strive to enter into relationship with God so to find our real call, work and love in the world. The Cross and Anchor reveal to us this mystery for every person who enters our lobby. In our church, we are to find the hope in the resurrection through our suffering and humanity that life is indeed full of wonder, sacrifice, hope and integrity.

Today’s second reading inflates our souls and expands our faith. This text from Ephesians gives us great hope in our following of Jesus, no matter our call or our suffering. “I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love…” This is our call as Christians to live the message of the Crucified. His death and resurrection is not just about what Jesus once accomplished, but it is about what Jesus is doing within our lives to transform the world.

Prayer and service in Christ should lead us into the depths of loving. This is the call in which our text invites us to reflect upon. The call that each of us has been given is to find within our hearts joy, beauty and wonder. This comes from understanding our suffering and coming to terms with our faith, our real faith in the Lord Jesus who will restore all things into his life, all suffering and messiness, all misfortune and ill will, all hardship and death, into the glory of resurrection. Let us all find this to be our calling!

Take some time this week for personal prayer and reflect upon this text from Ephesians. How can you live in the manner worthy of your call? As a parent? As a spouse? What does it mean for you to live with humility and gentleness, with patience and bearing with one another in love? Ask God for these things in your call to follow the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Poem: “Dear Mister Emmett Till”

Yesterday would have been Emmett Till’s 77 birthday. He was beaten and killed at fourteen years old. His mother wanted the world to see his body after death so the lid of his casket remained open. Here is a link to his story. Last night our poetry class sponsored a reading at Sacred Heart Church. I read this poem in honor of Emmett’s birthday. His death is on the long road of the Civil Rights movement. His case is now being opened up again. Wikipedia. 

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Dear Mister Emmett Till

Dear Mister Emmett Till,

Our souls met

After you left your beaten body

Ascending the ladder home

My soul descending

Waiting for my skin.

 

Your body died three months

Before I was born in 1955.

 

Our eyes met along the way

In them

I witnessed the pain of your Momma.

 

When we met without skin

I felt your sadness

As we passed and I knew you were

Trying to tell me something.

 

Our souls akin exchanged a message

From heaven that we should look

Beyond the colors of our skin

So beatings and killings and shootings

Will never happen because of race or political power.

 

If you made a mistake with Misses Bryant

You never deserved a beating beyond recognition.

I am so sorry.

 

I thank your strong Momma

She kept your casket lid open so we could all see

Your black skin ravaged and disfigured

The pain of raising a black body here

In our country of the not so free.

 

Only A Powerless Black Mother

With great faith could lift high

Her son beaten and ravaged

By ignorance and violence.

 

I hope on my way home

Mercy and forgiveness have bathed your soul

Where we shall meet singing

And feel without skin

The beauty of our lives.