“What if I receive communion today as if…?”

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“What if I receive…?” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Litany based on John 6:35-40

 

What if I receive communion today as if…

 

For the first time…

 

I was truly hungry for your love…

I could be open to your forgiveness…

I was quiet enough to listen to you…

I could be still enough to encounter you…

I wanted to remain in the love you promise…

I could encounter the Bread of Life…

I could sip the miracle of your presence…

I was open to being led…

I could embrace your mercy…

I could love you…

I was ready to be changed…

I could not live without you…

 

Your Kingdom was already here…

Your love and mercy would fill me…

Your hope for our world is tasted…

Your peace would be manifest…

Your tenderness would show us how to live…

Your simple presence would be accepted…

Your compassion would be shared with the forgotten…

Your call would be heard by the self-reliant…

Your Body and Blood would become our only hope…

 

On behalf of all people in poverty…

On behalf of all injustice…

On behalf of all who grieve…

On behalf of all who hate and divide…

On behalf of all sinners…

On behalf of all who thirst for holiness…

On behalf of the deaf and blind…

On behalf of all who ache for harmony and hope…

On behalf of the tired and jobless…

On behalf of the widow and orphan…

On behalf of teens struggling with sexual identity…

On behalf of the naked and immigrant…

On behalf of all trapped in sex trafficking…

On behalf of all prisoners and addicts…

 

For the last time…

 

 

Third Sunday of Easter: Cover and Column

April 15, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Read full bulletin here

Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,

In this resurrection passage from Luke 24:35-48, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” This is the second week now that our gospels invite us into such a mystery. These are the first words that Jesus says after the resurrection. These words remain brimful of love for us as well. This invitation brings to us an abundant source of reflection. Jesus asks us two vital questions today in the gospel, “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?” Bring the peace of Jesus to your hearts, your thoughts and your actions in this Easter season. Here is a litany to help us reflect on the peace we long for in Christ Jesus.

Peace to you…

When the spark of love for your spouse has grown cold.

When you feel trapped by your family and caring for their needs.

When you tire of picking up after your children and feel resentment toward them.

When you are trapped between caring for an aging parent and your children.

When you are ensnared in self-loathing and you feel the world is an ugly place.

When it is easier for you to complain about others than support and encourage them.

When darkness covers your thoughts and hatred falls from your lips.

When you feel you have not received the respect you think you deserve.

When you are restless and negative and unsure.

When you feel more hopeless than engaged in love.

When you cannot find the words to compliment yourself or others.

When people just don’t seem to give you a break.

When your image of God becomes one of judgment and hatred.

When violence surrounds your soul and thoughts.

When you feel more comfortable with putting others down.

When you feel just a lack of inner peace and solace.

When hardness of heart has destroyed your friendships.

When the burdens of life reveal your temper.

When lack of charity has changed your attitude about yourself and others.

When stress is your only friend.

When violence seems to be growing within everyone.

When your negative judgments about other people grow stronger.

When we want to condemn and not embrace.

When we put some people on one side and other people on the other side.

When we blame others for their disease or addiction or difference.

When we feel we are better than others.

When we turn religion into a weapon of hate.

When the hardships of the world overwhelm you.

When we cannot surrender to the love of Jesus.

When our prayer is rote and routine.

When we feel we do not have time to pray.

When we no longer feel within our hearts the remedy of mercy and love.

When we postpone Easter joy.

When I ignore Jesus’ invitation to be in peace and at peace.

When my troubles rise up stronger than his peace.

When hope eludes me.

The resurrection of Jesus heals us, from the inside out, from our inner struggles into becoming people of hope and faith. Allow Jesus to offer you such peace.

Peace, the real peace of Jesus be with you,

Fr. Ron

 

Article from Give Us This Day, Published by Liturgical Press, April 2018

This is my article from Give Us This Day for Tuesday April 10, based on the scriptures for today.

 

Creative Hope

 The resurrection of Christ Jesus reimagines our lives on earth. Life from above brings hope and healing in our worldly needs. We hold these things in common. The Holy Spirit dwells in our humble hearts and loving imaginations. This is how we maintain the power of the risen Lord.

I attempt as a pastor to help people share their possessions of love by learning to serve others in need. I also discover that offering art classes and poetry writing groups helps us feel connected through vulnerability and honesty. These forms of creativity come from our common lives and past mistakes, our lived experiences of embracing God.

One retiree wrote his first poem grieving his father who died more than fifty years ago. A businesswoman wrote about her childhood nightmares because she felt the warmth and support of the writers’ group. Teenagers in recovery have also found their new voices of hope in class. Men living in a halfway house find their liberated voices expressing emotions in charcoal and acrylic. I myself picked up a paintbrush for the first time four years ago. My passionate voice of faith is revealed now in color.

People desire healing and truth. Everyone learns about things of heaven when lives on earth are changed. Easter reimagines the past, offers emotional safety, and gives us all hope for tomorrow. The Holy Spirit gives us courage to live in exuberance, vitality and expression. Our real possessions come from imagination and creativity to build joy and hope for people on earth.

Fr. Ronald Raab, CSC

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

Thirty-Fifth Anniversary of Priesthood Ordination, April 9, 1983

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Self-Portrait for 35th Anniversary of Priesthood, April 2018

 

My Place at the Table after Thirty-Five Years

The Real Presence of Jesus rests

In my soft hands

Not real work some would say

No work-related cuts or calluses

 

Lifting up the Bread of Life

The Body of Christ

Reflects back to me

The beauty of ordinariness

Dipping bread in homemade soup

For strangers

Serving family recipes

Around rectory tables

To spiritually malnourished friends

Sharing fresh loaves from the oven

When their bread has become stone

 

Lifting up the Cup of Salvation

The Blood of Christ

Remains heavy lifting

After all these years

Of carrying within me the bruises of many

I now conceive the primacy of blood

For parishioners’ mastectomies

Accident survivors

Mothers giving birth

The deep cuts of suicide

And the bloated fear of blood

In friends and strangers

Who died of AIDS

 

The Word of God

Falls from my mouth

More easily now

Since I have learned to listen more deeply

Conversing with people who need healing

From their mental illnesses

From wars and abuses that were not their fault

Or multiple addictions

Or sheer stubbornness

And now I finally admit in my silence

I am poor too

Since I am powerless to change them

From my own talents

Or to convince others that Jesus is not silent

 

My shoes are worn now

My shoulders slumped and my belt tight

For my possessions are many

As I walk in faith

And pace around my own infidelities

And my heartbreaks

For the step-by-step journey to love is long

Where the Word becomes flesh

 

Jesus remains present

In sacramental oil and song

As I mark and anoint another forehead

As a tattoo for salvation

Or a brand of fidelity

For the many who remain afraid to die

 

I am still surprised

By the consolations falling from

My mouth when a divorce is imminent

When a husband cannot admit infidelity

Or when a wife hides her multiple prescriptions

Or when a police officer knocks

On a parents’ door

During the nighttime

 

The Forgiveness of Jesus

Rests more comfortably

Within my heart

As mercy becomes a constant friend

As tender as a spring jonquil

And as hearty as an ancient oak

In my reluctant surrender to love

 

The years have drawn me more closely

To admit my insincerities and peccadilloes

And to see with sheer delight

Surprises that enflame

My heart with gratitude

So that there is more room

Under my skin

For both Jesus and myself to be together

Under the same roof

Of our priesthood

 

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Bishop William McManus, John and Rosemary Raab, April 9, 1983

Second Sunday of Easter: My Art and column. Poem by Holly Conlon

April 8, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in the Risen Christ,

On this Second Sunday of Easter, we hear from John’s Gospel (20:19-31) that Thomas probed the mystery of the wounds of the Risen Christ. He fell to his knees and put his fingers into the hands of Jesus and his hand into his side. He declared, “My Lord and my God!”

For us to discover the Risen Christ, we all must probe the mystery of the wounded Christ. We have become the Body of Christ in our world through our baptism. We must fall to our knees in face of the wounded Christ, the wounds we all bear in faith and love. For us to find the real meaning of Jesus’ resurrection, we must reach out to people in need, those who face hunger and hatred, violence and crimes, war and neglect. If we extend our lives to those who are humbled by suffering, then we shall discover the grace of God’s love and redeeming compassion.

This gospel identifies Divine Mercy. Christ’s merciful presence to Thomas becomes a longing and model for us all. Pope John Paul II declared this Sunday as Divine Mercy Sunday in 2000.

Mercy is not something we do for ourselves; it is not an act of our will. Rather, mercy is a sheer gift of God. We cannot save ourselves. God initiates his presence and forgiveness in our lives. Mercy is an abundance of love and peace as seen by the disciples behind locked doors in this gospel text after the resurrection. God’s compassion and forgiveness are given to us through the passion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. God’s love is far greater than we can imagine.

This gospel story is told on all three cycles of liturgical readings on this Second Sunday of Easter. Our Holy Cross men are ordained priests on the Saturday after Easter. So on this Sunday, each new priest preaches this gospel at his first Mass of Thanksgiving after ordination. I celebrate my 35th Anniversary of Ordination on April 9 this weekend.

In this gospel, Jesus comes to his disciples after his death. They are behind locked doors. He offers them peace. “Peace be with you,” he says to his disciples whom he knows are shaking in fear. This peace is from the mouth of the Risen Christ and I invite you to make his peace your desire and your prayer in the Easter Season.

This gospel invites us into a scene with Jesus and his disciples. It is a scene in which we too encounter Christ Jesus. Place your life in this beautiful scene. The images of this text are broad with grace and deep with meaning.

Here are some things to consider this week:

I find myself locked in fear these days because…

I ache for the peace of Jesus because…

Jesus, please bring my heart to your peace because…

Please bring the chaos and hatred to your peace because…

Jesus, help me probe the mystery of the wounds of our world in faith…

Jesus, bring Easter hope to my life because…

 

Peace be with you,

Fr. Ron

Easter Sunday: Cover art and column

April 1, 2018 Bulletin Cover

“Easter” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Believers in the Christ,

Our hearts hasten to the tomb this Easter day along with Mary Magdalene, John, the Beloved and Peter. We rub our eyes in disbelief because it is difficult for us to realize after everything Jesus went through that his dead body would be missing. This simple act of discovery between a woman, two disciples and Jesus is the core of our faith. We still find it difficult to believe that such freedom is ours as well.

Easter is the remarkable experience that freedom, redemption and love makes a home within us. The empty tomb is a sure symbol that our hearts are filled with hope. This notion of the empty tomb is very difficult to wrap our brains around. Yet, it is our hearts that interpret Easter more clearly. Jesus’ pain, suffering and exhaustion bring new life for us. We shall find a new liberating view of the world and discover our place now in heaven through the view of Mary Magdalene, John and Peter.

Each of us is connected to Jesus’ suffering, passion, death, and resurrection through our baptism. This is the point of entry for our faith. Today, on Easter, we commit our lives once again to our belief that Jesus Christ is true hope and deliverance for our world. Today, we stand among those being baptized and find our home in the waters of new life. We learn how to belong to one another through living water, which becomes thicker than blood. This bond of baptism unites more closely that our family ties.

I pray that on this Easter day, you may find the healing and hope you desire. I pray that your heart may be cracked open enough to recognize the love God has for you. This is Jesus’ free gift. We do not earn our faith; it is not a commodity to be purchased. God is the gift freely given to us in Christ’s resurrection.

I realize that many people live very complicated lives.Many of you might not be able to find that anything is different today. You still need to pay bills, your housing rent is still due, your children are still fighting and your spouse is still considering a separation. There is still war, violence and arguments over guns. There is still corruptive power and the poor still do not have food and shelter. Many things are just as they were yesterday.

However, we cling to the Master who rose from the dead for you and for me. I cling to such hope for each and every one of you. Please know of my prayer for all of your questions and doubts, for all of your suffering and worries about tomorrow. Today is Easter and I am amazed at the beauty of life and tenderness of God. I have come to know and understand such things though my own personal prayer as well as standing at the altar here in the parish with all of you.

Easter makes our hearts sing as a sparrow in spring. On behalf of our parish staff and councils, thank you for all of your contributions, your talents and gifts in order to make our community a place of faith and service. Let us sing of the grandeur of God.

Easter Blessings,

Fr. Ron

Holy Saturday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

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“Heart of Hope” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

 

Holy Saturday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

This morning dawns with holy stillness. The church building is empty and anticipation grows for birthing followers of Jesus later tonight. All creation seems to steady its focus on what is to come. No Eucharist or sacraments before sunset. Our lives breathe into a deeper love that waits for redemption

Tonight the damn of sin breaks. Tonight we gather after sunset around fire, story, water and oil, bread and wine, and community, and the leash to division, evil, and pain is broken. We wait steadily for the gift of resurrection, the surprise in our lives that changes everything.

Before we celebrate Easter, let us be steady in our awareness for what we wait. Life is in the hands of God and we rest in the assurance that our pain, our loneliness, our fear, our injustices are ultimately resting in God. We entrust ever aspect of our lives to the quiet within today, on Holy Saturday.

Before we celebrate Easter, let us realize that we let go of our illusions in Triduum. The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus allows to finally rest in the complications of life. Life does not always turn out as we had planned. Sometimes it totally surprises us with ecstatic hope.

Before we celebrate Easter, let us understand who we are in God. Our following has brought us this far. We shall walk toward this unknown grace with steady and purposeful hearts. Our second birth may bring us toward mercy, love and understanding and then we shall bear the quandary of how to accept such a gift.

Before we celebrate Easter, let us quiet everything that remains restless within us. Let us come to the place where our hearts know for certain that love is not lost.

Before we celebrate Easter, let us be aware that these days are not a three-act play from the past, but a grace that invites us to follow more completely, more lovingly, with a greater depth of hope for our world and even for ourselves.

Questions to consider:

 In the liturgical stillness of this morning, for what do you truly wait?

In this quiet of your heart, what illusion do you need to let go of?

In this hope for new birth, what do you pray for in our world?

In this Triduum, what have you experienced, what have you noticed, what has surfaced within your emotions and heart?

 

Good Friday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

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“Heart of Hope” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Good Friday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

 I have walked among many families through a cemetery to a gravesite to bury a family member. The journey always brings pause and tears. The journey is emotionally taxing and full of darkness and light. The journey always highlights division among family members and holy memories that compel people to wake up the following morning and live their futures. The journey also reveals how many people do not believe in God or no longer believe the mystery of the Church and how many people cling to such hopes. The journey from our cars to the cemetery often seems long, even endless, and yet, the journey is for everyone. We all carry within us to the gravesite, the dark and the light.

We read John’s (18:1-19: 42) account of the Passion today. We feel the darkness of betrayal from Jesus’ friend, the love he experienced on the journey, the loneliness he faced heading to his place of death. Today, we lift up all the is dead within us, all that seems lost and hopeless, all that is cumbersome and overwhelming, all that is unjust and horrific, all that seems unaccounted for and all that rouses fear within us. Today, we walk with Jesus to his death once again, waiting for the light within us to blink a sign of hope for us that faith alone shows us the way for a better tomorrow.

Today, we bring with us to the cross of Jesus the world’s suffering. We leave nothing out. We pray for people who are starving to death around our world, starving for food and for equal rights, thirsting for clean water and basic respect. We pray for our prisons behind bars and for our prisoners who live behind the bars of ignorance, hatred, violence and terrorism. We pray for the grieving families who lost a child in recent school shootings and we pray for a Christian interpretation of peace where love is our only weapon. We pray this day for those who live in outrage because of political systems of injustice and those who survive unjust power and abusive control.

We pray for the many children in our world who are tortured and controlled for sex, for those who are trafficked among nations and cities along our freeways. We pray for affordable housing and for people who live in their cars or in tents. We pray for all who are addicted to false power, to pain medications and heroin, to alcohol and gambling. We pray for immigrants around the world and those who are condemned because of skin color and language. We pray for the injustice within our Church, for people who are marginalized in our cities and in our pews. We pray for all that we carry within us that remain dark, waiting for light. We lift up all that is broken, lost and weary within our lives on this Friday we call Good.

Questions to consider:

What in this Passion narrative strikes your heart today? As you read or listen to the gospel, what opens you to further reflection?

What in your heart is in need of redemption and forgiveness?

What injustice or tragedy do you especially lift up on this Good Friday?

What does it mean for you to die to self?

How is God calling you to surrender to his love? How is Jesus calling you closer to himself in this Holy Week?

What does your heart ache for on this Good Friday?

 

 

 

Holy Thursday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

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“Heart of Hope” Painting By: Ronald Raab, CSC

Holy Thursday 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

In John 13:1-15, Jesus gives the disciples the heart of his mission. He shows them that they must learn how to receive his love by allowing him to wash their feet. This very human and tender act shows us still that we must allow Jesus to love us and to teach us how to serve other people in the messiness and confusion of life.

I always find it fascinating that in John’s account on Holy Thursday, he does not mention the Eucharist. This is the gospel of deep theological reflection and we would expect high interpretation of what the bread and wine becoming his Body and Blood would mean for us. John’s gospel does not even mention bread and wine. Instead, foot washing becomes a deeply moving and compassionate act, an act of his Real Presence. The meaning of this gesture is broad and even in our day and time; the holy action becomes a rich source of reflection.

What does it mean for us to wash feet from Jesus’ command? We learn to care for an infant and to wash his or hers body out of love. We learn to wash the body of a grandparent or spouse who is ill or dying, surely with love and tenderness. We wipe the nose of our kindergartener on his first day of school from the love we have for him in his nervousness. We bathe our teen with cancer. We care for people in nursing homes and hospitals, in daycare centers and in our own homes.

Jesus asks of us to step out of our patterns of comfort and familiarity. He asks of us to bend down to serve those who are trapped by our prejudice. He asks of us to go another mile for our children who are trafficked. He begs us to reach out to people whose disease we think comes from their weakness, like drug and alcohol addiction. He invites us with profound tenderness to wash feet of people we do not know or even people we do not get along with or people who have hurt us. He asks of us to cleanse the feet and heal the lives of prisoners and orphans, of widows and people marginalized by economics, race and language.

Foot washing is healing. It invites us into communion not separation. We cannot blame people for their dirty feet or the situations in which they find themselves. We cannot judge or bind. We are called to wash the immigrant and the elderly, the baby addicted to cocaine. We are challenged to wash the feet of our enemy. We are asked to walk in the shoes of a stranger, even when they do not have socks or shoes. Jesus invites us to wash when we would rather shun, to wash and dry when we would rather judge or condemn.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus at Eucharist and we remember him on the night before he died. This Real Presence is also demonstrated in the action of foot washing. This profound and tender act coming from Jesus is sacrament for us. His action binds us to love and this love calls for us to give love and service to other people.

Holy Thursday links Eucharist and justice, prayer and service. In this ancient Mass, I find my home this night.

Questions to consider:

How do you receive the love Jesus has for you? Can you accept his actions of tenderness toward you, his willingness to wash your feet with mercy and forgiveness?

Whose feet is Jesus asking you to wash? Whom is he asking you to forgive?

What does Holy Thursday mean for you? Can you sit with its many layers of meanings and find a home in Jesus actions of Eucharist and service?

How would you articulate the link of prayer and service in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper?