Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover art and column

Nov. 11, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of the Christ,

I know it is never easy to trust God. I say this from years of experience of prayer, but also the many years of being in the public eye as a priest. Trusting God with the little I have to offer the Church and the world is a lifelong project. This all begins with my own relationship with Christ Jesus and my willingness to extend my life beyond my own self-sufficiency.

Today’s gospel, Mark 12:38-44, shows us all that faith is real for those who have little. A poor widow opens her generous hand even though she has little to offer. For her, the amount she gives is huge. She gives from her poverty, not her wealth. This is key to the gospel and to our own formation of faith and service.

Sometimes we can be pretty stingy. We want to make sure that what we give is going to the proper place or what we give is really going to make a difference. This gospel uses money as an image, but really it doesn’t have anything to do with money. The gospel calls us to give our very lives for the benefit of others. We can’t hold back or think twice. On many occasions we are called into events and relationships that require us to offer everything.

These past few months have shown us our capability in responding to people in need from across the country. We did not hesitate to help those whose homes were devastated by fire, floods and storms. We continue to respond with such care and concern. The gospel calls us to give everything we own back to God. This requires of us a great deal of prayer and reflection. This also requires of us a new and profound sense of gratitude. I want to believe that the widow in today’s gospel is the mother of gratitude. From her prayer and reflection, she decided to offer those coins to the treasury. From exploring the depth of her heart, she realizes the beauty of gratitude and extending beyond the confines of her selfishness and old patterns of self-protection.

We listen to this gospel in the last weeks of the liturgical year. This has great significance to us as believers. We listen with a new intent to live our lives in a selfless love on this side of the grave in order to prepare our hearts for heaven. This woman stands as a model to give our lives, our past regrets, our futures, our mistakes and misgivings all back to God. I love her. I want what she has. I want to live a life of faith and of giving even when I know it is so difficult to live.

The widow gave from her poverty. We give back to God from the poverty of our sin, our heartaches and our despair. We give with open hearts and open hands that model her willingness to be changed. Imagine how others, as well as the Church, could be changed by our willingness to give and be grateful.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: My Cover art and column

Nov. 4, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in the Christ,

Reading Mark 12:25B-34 today reminds me of Tina Turner. “What’s love got to do with it?” This question must have come from one of the scribes and those whose life were given to keeping the law. There is such a leap from being a strict rule keeper to a new awareness of love. What does love really have to do with anything about Jesus’ presence, especially his death and resurrection?

Jesus reminds the people of his day that his action of self-giving is a new form of commandment. Our hearts, minds, souls must be centered on this action of Jesus. Jesus is the relationship that brings us peace, forgiveness and mercy. There is no other relationship that will bring us such life and mercy here on earth as well as our eternal reward. We follow a relationship, not a law.

Jesus also tells us that we are to live that love in the world. Love has to do with God and with people. Love is the ointment that heals our harsh words. Love sands off the rough edges of our actions that destroy other people’s reputations. Love is the center in which we bring our hardened hearts and controlling actions.

Love still is a mystery in our day. I don’t mean infatuation or romantic love. I mean the love out of which God created us. We find it so much easier to find our thoughts and actions in a negative herd mentality. We pick up our torches with others who prefer to destroy others than to offer reconciliation. On some days, it is easier to join voices of despair and revenge than it is to hear the subtle voice of hope and love from God. On other days the words of put-downs and slander become like barbed wire resting on our lips. Those words are never formed from love. On many days, it is easier to live in our protected egos, than to offer our lives to God’s love.

Today’s gospel reveals the center of faith and action. This gospel is the glue that binds love from our hearts to those most in need. This love is not flimsy or whimsical. This love is brought into the world by grace itself. This love is the key to our vocations, the way we live out our baptism and our profession of faith. This is the foundation of our lives and the Christian community. Love also costs us plenty. It demands of us a new heart and a new view of the world.

When it comes to God’s love, there are two important things. First, Jesus invites us to be loved by God. You read it correctly. I did not say that we are to love God. We are to learn to be loved by God. This is a real kicker. This takes a lifetime. This costs us our very lives of self-protection and self-sufficiency. Then we are to love others in the same way. This is what love has to do with it.

Peace,

Fr. Ron

 

Mark 10:46-52: Finger Painting and Poem. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar.

man blind 26 may 2

“Bartimaeus, Blind Beggar” Finger Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC 2016

“Bartimaeus, I am blind too,

So what if you grasped my hand and guided my heart

And led me to the place of your healing along the dirt path,

Since I desire to experience what you saw

When light entered your eyes,

To live your miracle in my own darkness,

The eyes of Jesus looking through me,

To hear his voice flow through my body,

To feel his rough hand wiping the sweat from my brow,

To smell his warm words covering my face as he prays new life in me,

To capture the eternal hope for my loneliness,

Not just for me

But for the deep wounds of our people,

So what if I could really see

The suffering of those around me along the road and

The injustices that ravage so many on the journey,

Those who sell their bodies along the roadside,

Those who walk for hundreds of miles for some food

Those who struggle to breastfeed their children in the hot sun,

Those who travel miles in plastic shoes to find permanent housing,

Those who sit on street corners communicating with cardboard signs,

Those who stride toward healthcare and possible education

And what if I could answer the question Jesus asked you,

‘What do you want me to do for you?’

And what if I could muster the courage from deep within

To form words on my lips welling up from my empty soul

To finally give my own life voice on behalf of those who suffer the most

To feel within my throat the fluttering hope

Of love compelling words out of me

And allowing my answer to be born in light,

‘Master I want to see’?”

 

(Text: Ronald Raab, CSC)

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin Column and Cover

Oct. 28, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

From Mark 10: 46- 52, we hear, “Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’”

This blind man along the roadside is the person who really saw and understood Jesus. He saw with his heart. His vision was about faith, not only about his eyes being restored. Blindness teaches us about this stranger named Jesus. Although he was a powerless person, Bartimaeus becomes the voice of power and recognition in his faith.

These gospel stories at the center of our worship in recent weeks reveal to us what it means to live out our baptismal promises. “Vision” is a metaphor for those who have been born again in Jesus’ time and in our day as well. Sight and vision show us that there is more to our lives than what is on the surface. There is more to Jesus than what first meets the eye. This “vision” in the gospel story is about our enlightenment from the resurrection of Christ Jesus, revealing truth, healing and justice.

Bartimaeus’ gut-reaction to Jesus shows us how to see as well. We are often blind to many aspects of our lives. We often do not know the full story of many situations in our world. We may believe we know all the answers to questions that are not even ours. We are even blind to our own motivations. We are blind to how people survive homelessness or the heart-wrenching decisions people make to move their parent into a nursing home or to make a decision not to have another child. Bartimaeus teaches us that faith must be our guide and that to see as Jesus sees is not an easy task. Faith shows us patience and awareness. We pray for wide-eyed faith.

Within the Mass, we offer our lives, our sin and doubt to Christ Jesus. We pray for a way of “seeing,” the way he sees. Faith witnesses to things that are unseen by the world. We pray to be brought into a vision of love, a view of mercy among sinners and a long view of justice in our world. Bartimaeus shows us that to really see as Jesus saw is a process of deep and abiding faith. Faith is not a commodity. Faith is not something that gives us all the answers immediately. Faith is not a pair of rose-colored glasses in our present day. Faith is a way of seeing that shows us the long view of life. Our prayer is a long, loving look into the mystery of God.

Bartimaeus saw Jesus in his blindness. Jesus is also present in our blindness. Sometimes it is in the darkness that we come to know the real presence of Jesus’ love and mercy and protection. We walk by faith, not by sight.

On November 1, we celebrate All Saints by honoring all the saints who have walked by faith. November provides reflection and payer as we remember all of our dead, including All Souls. The bulletin cover this week expresses our ancestors in faith and our connection to the dead by displaying the new relics that were donated to Sacred Heart Church These relics are housed in the niche with the Santos (art given to Fr. Clem by the Hispanic Community). They are from Germany and were donated by Hanni and Sheridan West. Saints and angels, pray for us!

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

 

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover art and column

Oct. 21, 2018 Bulletin Cover

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. Last Sunday, October 14, Pope Francis named 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. From love, God called him 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.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

The Canonization of Oscar Romero on Sunday October 14, 2018

IMG_0909

“Oscar Romero” Painting by: Rev. Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC 2018

 

PRAYER:

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.