Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and Column

July 23 bulletin cover

Cover art by: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Last week in a casual conversation, I asked one of our Holy Cross Novices who will be professing vows next Saturday to name one thing he learned in the Novitiate. He told me that he realized in a deeper way the seed of God’s presence within him. He went on to say that he would spend his life cultivating that seed, that real presence of God within his heart and life. That is his real vocation, to find that seed of love and hope and learn to share it with others.

The gospel today, Matthew 13:24-43, exactly demonstrates this point, searching for the Kingdom of God as small as a mustard seed. Hope is within each one of us. Every person has within his or her heart the seed of God’s miraculous presence, care and love. Everyone spends a lifetime searching for this hope, realizing this miracle and discovering love amid the calamities of life.

Hope is sometimes hidden. Hope is that mustard seed of faith that needs to be cultivated within our lives. Sometimes we lose our way in the tense struggles of daily life. Hope can wither when a new diagnosis of cancer falls upon our ears. Hope can be diminished when we do not get our dream job or do not get accepted to the college that best suits our career plans. Hope hides in tall grass when we lose our sobriety or send our child off to war. Hope shuts a door on us when a child is sick or our aging parent is diagnosed with mental illness. We all want to discover the seed that sprouts with new life and courage.

We find this mustard seed of hope when we finally surrender to prayer. Prayer is not saying formulaic words at certain times of the day, but a deep humility of surrender in reliance on God’s love and compassion. We do not have to go to a Novitiate to discover such a mustard seed. We just need to realize that God is God and we are not. Our prayer is the deep conviction that we are loved in the Kingdom of God right here on earth.

My experience teaches me that many people are afraid to pray. We fear even the tiniest seed of love. Prayer is always the first thing that fades away on a busy day. What we are really saying is that we are afraid to receive and claim the love that we know is ours. God waits for us, yet we turn away. We hesitate to engage in God’s fidelity toward us because then we will have to change. This change however, becomes a life of compassion, love and hope all the days of our lives.

Here are some things to ponder this week:

Jesus, help me rely on your presence within me so that…

God, you are present within my heart, but I stubbornly resist you because…

Holy Spirit, guide us toward hope in this life so that…

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

Saint Mary Magdalene, Feast

On the Feast of Mary Magdalene.

Broken But Not Divided

IMG_1361 “Saint Mary Magdalene: Apostle to the Apostles”: Pencil, Ronald Raab, CSC

But go to my brothers and tell them, “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20

We celebrate Saint Mary Magdalene today. We honor her as the “Apostle to the Apostles”. Mary peered into the empty tomb. She saw and believed. She proclaimed the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection to many people and towns. She also believed because Jesus cured her of seven demons. Mary believed in Jesus’ mercy, forgiveness and healing powers.

Mary Magdalene is often portrayed holding a red egg. One legend tells the story of Mary going to Pilate and proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus. He told her as he faced a bowl of eggs that he would only believe in the Resurrection if one of those eggs turned red. She went to the bowl of eggs…

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On the Margins: Matthew 13:24-43

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 23, 2017

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Gospel  MT 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Rev. Ron Lewinski, Priest and Mentor

Father Ron Lewinski

CLICK here to read more about Fr. Ron

In the summer of 1986, I was part of a team that invited Fr. Ron Lewinski to lead an RCIA retreat at the Julie Penrose Center in Colorado Springs. The Diocese of Colorado Springs was only two years old at that time. I had started school at the University of Notre Dame that summer and flew back to Colorado to help with the retreat. It was difficult to leave summer school for a week and yet I had know idea how the RCIA retreat would change my life.

In June of 1987, I was leaving Colorado for a parish in California. I had all my possessions packed and ready to go to California. On the day before I left, Fr. Ron called me at Sacred Heart Church in Colorado and asked me to interview for a position in the Office for Divine Worship as Director of RCIA for the Archdiocese of Chicago. I told him that I was already assigned to California. He would not take “no” for an answer. I went to my summer session at Notre Dame and interviewed in Chicago with the approval of our Holy Cross provincial. In August of 1987, I moved to Chicago to begin my new position with Fr. Ron and an incredibly talented staff.

Fr. Ron always supported younger people in ministry. I watched him over and over again invite talented musicians, artists, liturgists into the circle of leadership. He wanted to hear the voice of a younger generation and to offer us opportunities to own the Church’s mission. I am so grateful that he offered me the opportunity to be part of the largest office of worship in the world at that time.

Fr. Ron was an instrument and true priest of the Second Vatican Council. He wanted the best for the Church and desired to implement the transformative and significant Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults. He wanted us to find Jesus and to live that mystery with a new heart and vigor. He longed for the Church to be an agent of justice and integrity in our world through our conversion and change.

I was ordained only four years when I joined the Office for Divine Worship. I stood in awe of Ron’s commitment and understanding of the Liturgy. He led with courage and passion even in difficult times. He led us and educated us in faith and with purpose to live the gospel with joy.

I admired Fr. Ron throughout the years and I pray he knew how grateful I was to be part of his staff. Fr. Ron loved to laugh even in the complexities of his role. He supported me and gave me a voice that I still am grateful for today. Now, I publish articles about prayer and service because of Fr. Ron Lewinski.  Ron challenged me to be a professional within the Church in the United States.

Fr. Ron, rest in the eternal liturgy, with saints and angels, the grateful voices of praise and love. Jesus, receive our brother, Ron.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and Column

2017 07-16

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My Dear Believers,

Casting seeds of hope is never easy. I cannot image what it feels like when a parent scatters seeds of tradition, good choices and even how to tie a shoe, just to have everything disregarded as old-fashioned and ill-fitting for a child today. I cannot image what it is like for a wife to desire a husband to hush his criticism for their teenager and the spouse ignores such a request. I cannot image when a teacher strives to cast pearls before swine, to pass on to a new generation how to work for peace and find satisfaction in it, but hears boos in the last row and gun shots out the school window. Casting love beyond your own experience may become an experience of restlessness, frustration and aggravation.

Today’s gospel is such an experience of casting love as far as we can throw it. Matthew 13:1-23 shows us that faith is cast by love. I think that we all have the hope that we can produce fruit thirty or sixty fold. Today, let us pray that the good planted within our lives may find its way to the light, to produce fruit and hope, love and peace, goodness and mercy well beyond the size of our own hearts. The good that is planted within our lives by the gospel needs a place to land, to let go and to bud forth in our generosity and passion.

We are recipients of various words being flung our way every day. Facebook, Twitter, text messages, twenty-four hour radio and television strive to get our attention and can easily be tuned out. We have choices to make, tune in or tune out.

We have many excuses not to listen to God’s Word. We don’t understand it. We have heard it before. We don’t really care. We don’t have time. We have to do our laundry. Whatever the excuse, we are missing an important tool for our conversion and inner life. God’s Word longs to make a home within our hearts. God’s Word is planted within our hearts, lives and imaginations when we finally get the point in our lives that we need God. This need or desire or openness becomes an ache within us that is only satisfied by God’s message of peace and hope. Planting, listening and receiving all take time and patience.

Here are some questions for you to consider this summer while you take some quiet time to listen to God’s Word:

What are the words that really grab your attention in any given day? How do they really affect you? How can you listen to God’s Word? How can you receive God’s consolation planted in the gospels? How can you receive God’s challenging words? How can you share God’s word with others?

Cast love as far as you can throw it.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 13:1-23

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, Oregon

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Gospel MT 13:1-23

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. 
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

 

Article from “Give Us This Day”

Give Us This Day Magazine has published this article on today’s liturgical readings.

Scars, Tenderness, and the Heart of Faith

Kateri Tekakwitha, an Algonquin-Mohawk woman, was baptized in 1674 at age nineteen. Her face scarred by smallpox as a young girl, she carried in her heart a faith-filled relationship with Jesus. She died at age twenty-four, bearing the tension of scars and tenderness within her body.

We all carry ugliness and beauty, despair and hope, insecurity and faith. We are deeply, profoundly human and yet long for the freedom and love only Jesus can offer us. We are sent into the world to bring joy to the dark places of people’s lives. We are to witness the Kingdom of God no matter the threats we face each day.

When we believe in the love of Jesus, we will be in conflict with the world. The heart of faith rouses mistrust, fear, and anger in a world that is threatened by love and gentleness. We carry the scars in our vocations, within our commitments to serve. Yet we possess within our hearts the voice of Jesus that provides food and hope for our journey.

St. Kateri roused conflict among her people when she converted to Christianity. The fire of her heart sent her fearlessly into faith, relying only on the love of Jesus. She endured until the end. Witnesses reported that within minutes after Kateri’s death, the scars on her faced were healed. The love of her heart prevailed.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will grant you your heart’s request.

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.

 

 

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin cover and column

July 9

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Dear Believers in the Compassionate One,

Today’s gospel has to be on your summer reading list. In fact, if this is the only gospel you read all year, it will probably bubble up enough grace to last you for the rest of the year. Don’t just listen to my recommendation; read it for yourself.

Here it is: Matthew 11:25-30. I cannot imagine how you will feel when you read this. It is deeply challenging, but it goes even deeper into consolation and satisfaction. Jesus acknowledges how gosh darn stubborn we are!

We so often think we have the bull by the horns. We think we have a plan for our lives if we are just left alone to accomplish it. We think we carry wisdom easier than a sack of potatoes home from the grocery. We think wisdom is bottled up in technology, ego and our education. Sometimes we think if we plan well enough, outline specifically enough and make more lists, we can find a protective layer of “self” and that should be sufficient wisdom. Wrong again.

Jesus says that kids have more sense than we do. He says once again that wisdom is often innocent and raw. Wisdom is seeing, really seeing. I mean really, really seeing as Jesus does. This takes lots of prayer time and more unwinding than an old clock. To be wise is to undo so much of what we have been told. Wisdom bears its beauty in our humility, kindness and gratitude. Gosh, I pray for wisdom every day.

So Jesus invites us to himself. He shoulders all the weight of our mistakes. He bears the brunt of our broken hearts. Jesus carries our trash out to the dumpster. He desperately wants our burdens. Holy cow, imagine that! He wants you. He desires you. He wants our community and the Church to rest in his heart. If you read this gospel and are not changed, I am not sure what is wrong!

Did you really read this? “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves…” I’m not sure about you, but I know that I accumulate a lot of burden in my heart. Where should I go with it all? My heart tells me it is in these words.

Resting in Jesus’ treasure house of love is so often seen by most people as soft. Well, in this hardened world, I am not sure where else to go. If you are facing depression and anxiety, try Jesus’ medicinal heart. If you are missing love in your marriage, turn to Him before you end the entire relationship. If you cannot find peace, then sip tea with Jesus in your prayer time. If you are facing surgery or illness, rest your burden at Jesus’ feet. If you cannot sleep at night, discover the remedy of his humble heart.

If there is one gospel to read this summer, find rest for yourselves in these words of Jesus today.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

On the Margins: Matthew 11: 25-30

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On the Margins from Mater Dei Radio, Portland, OR

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel MT 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin Cover and Column

July 2--church closing

Full Bulletin: Click Here

Dear Followers of Jesus Christ,

Jesus is far from the center of most people’s lives. So many of us tend to believe that if we keep the ritual action of Mass once a week, we will be fine. Others believe that if we can memorize the Catechism, Jesus will open the eternal gates to us. Still others hope that if we can protect the Church from sinful people such as immigrants, homosexuals or women who have made a decision for abortion, things will go well and our self-righteousness will take us first class to heaven.

Jesus challenges all these approaches. He wants our hearts and every aspect of our lives to become a fountain of love. Jesus wants us, just as we are in the real world, in every action and thought.

Our gospel today, Matthew 10:37-42, challenges our relationships with Jesus. He says to us that our human relationships are nothing compared to our intimate friendship with God. He heals, forgives, loves and provides hope. This is a great promise for us in our daily lives. Jesus invites us to take up our human suffering in his cross.

Many people are not interested in learning more about Jesus, about coming to terms with our human hearts and our priorities. Somehow, we need to break through our reluctance to find Jesus. Many people are bored with the Church and deaf to it’s teaching and weekly preaching. Jesus aches to be in touch with our human suffering, our heartaches and our hopes for a better life. He wants to rip open our short attention spans and capture our imaginations.

Here is where the rubber meets the road. Jesus said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” This is radical and provocative. What does he mean? No wonder why most people do not care about Jesus! He wants us to lose ourselves into a deep, intimate relationship with him. Love really changes us; it really does. It is a lot easier to cling to our possessions, our past hurts and our own path, the one that we think is really, “it.”

Instead, let’s fall into Jesus’ care and protection by offering a cup of cold water to someone in need. Let’s fall head over heals into a new relationship with God and offer what little we have: our self-reliance, our security systems, our power and greed, our malfunctioning hearts and puffed-up egos. Let’s allow Jesus to enter our pride and transform us into generous, self-giving people we call the Church.

Heck, all this in exchange for a cold cup of water! Not a bad trade off. Go for it. See what happens. Love releases love releases love releases love. Love pours out hope.

How can you enter more deeply into meditation, prayer and gratitude during these summer months? How can you rely even deeper on God’s sustaining love for you? How does offering a cold cup of water change you?

Blessings,

Fr. Ron