Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Cover and my column

August 19, 2018 Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers,

Forty years ago this month, I entered the Novitiate in the Congregation of Holy Cross. I was one of twelve that began in 1978-79 in Cascade, Colorado. I was part of the first class at Marigreen Pines. The Indiana Province moved the Novitiate from Bennington, Vermont. At the time, we had two Novitiates in the United States. Four of us were ordained priests in 1983. Three of us are still members of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Life is amazing and we never know the beautiful plans of God.

Fr. Nicholas Ayo, CSC was our Novice Director in 1978. Sacred Heart Church now owns his gold chalice. In fact, Bishop Sheridan celebrated the Mass with his chalice at the Dedication of Sacred Heart Church on May 23, 2018. Fr. Ayo now lives at the University of Notre Dame and remains one of our wisdom figures in our religious community. I am so grateful that his chalice is with us as a great reminder of the first group of Holy Cross men in this area. I am so proud to be part of our history in Colorado.

The Congregation of Holy Cross has now served in this area for forty years. We have served at Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Holy Rosary since 1984. I am grateful for also being part of the first pastoral team staffed at the parish in 1984.

This weekend we welcome Fr. Randy Rentner, CSC as our new Associate Pastor. Fr. Randy entered the Novitiate in Cascade in 1985-86. I am grateful for his willingness to serve in Colorado at this time. Let’s welcome Fr. Randy this weekend at Sacred Heart and at the parish picnic Sunday afternoon.

We also welcome the thirteen Novices who begin the forty -first class at our Holy Cross Novitiate in Cascade. These men enter a year of discernment and prayer and then prepare to profess vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience next year in July. They have been in formation at Moreau Seminary at Notre Dame during this past academic year.

On Saturday, July 28, 2018, our six Novices from last year’s class professed vows in the newly restored Sacred Heart Church. The cover of this bulletin shows pictures of the ceremony with our new Provincial of the United States Province of Holy Cross, Fr. William Leis, CSC.

In these transition days for our Novices and for Fr. Randy, I invite you to pray for the members of our religious community. We are extremely blessed to have our Novices serve on Sundays at all three of our churches. They are signs of hope for the future of our Church.

We all have much to learn from one another. I encourage you to share your stories of faith and the reasons you continue to worship in our three churches. Please pray every day for the discernment of our Novices, that they will discover their lives of vocation. As our Holy Cross motto declares, “The Cross is Our Only Hope.”

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Ron

 

Mary, Mother of the Church: Weep for Us

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“Mary, Mother of the Church: Weep for Us” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC

My heart is very heavy this week in light of the new sex crimes of my brother priests. and the continuing cover ups from bishops and leaders.  I do not know where to turn except to Mary, Mother of the Church. I share this litany of prayer and you may want to continue this prayer with your own requests and questions. I painted this image of Mary, Mother of the Church this afternoon. 

 

Mary, weep for us who were abused.

Mary, weep for us who covered up crimes.

Mary, weep for us who believe power is more important than people.

Mary, weep for us who struggle to stay within the Church.

Mary, weep for us who want to hold on to false power.

Mary, weep for us who have lost hope in the Eucharist.

Mary, weep for us who have yet to listen to your Magnificat.

Mary, weep for us who have yet to listen to the poor and hungry.

Mary, weep for us who will not let go of privilege.

Mary, weep for us who do not know what to tell our children.

Mary, weep for us who are priests at the altar of God.

Mary, weep for us who are frustrated and fearful of institutions.

Mary, weep for us who think we have all the answers.

Mary, weep for us who do not even know what questions to ask.

Mary, weep for us who want to love your Son.

Mary, weep for us because trust in your Church is far from home.

Mary, weep for us who question whether the Eucharist is worth our time.

Mary, weep for us when we have lost our way.

Mary, weep for us in this valley of tears.

Mary, weep for us when our way is exploitive.

Mary, weep for us who struggle with the truth.

Mary, weep for us who fall under the burden of leadership.

Mary, weep for our leaders who cannot face their crimes.

Mary, weep for the parents of our abandoned children.

Mary, weep for us when our emotions are raw.

Mary, weep for us when we are exasperated.

Mary, weep for us when scandal fills our Church.

Mary, weep for us when we cannot bear the sorrow.

Mary, weep for us when we lose hope in Jesus’ presence.

Mary, weep for us when hatred overwhelms our future.

Mary, weep for us who struggle to live simple and beautiful lives.

Mary, weep for us who are poor in spirit.

Mary, weep for us who live in the swirl of constant bitterness.

Mary, weep for us who desire healthy sexuality in the Church.

Mary, weep for us who will never heal from sexual abuse.

Mary, weep for us who cannot admit our crimes.

Mary, weep for us who are threatened by the truth.

Mary, weep for us who run toward your Son, Jesus.

Mary, weep for us who have given up on prayer.

Mary, weep for us who ache to be forgiven.

Mary, weep for us who live in sex addiction.

Mary, weep for us who live in sin and division.

Mary, weep for us when our hearts are broken.

Mary, weep for us as we carry the burden of healing.

Mary, weep for us when our eyes are full of tears.

Mary, weep for us when we are bent low.

Mary, weep for us when we have no place to turn.

Mary, weep for us when we are crushed with dread.

Mary, weep for us who have been sexually assaulted by priests.

Mary, weep for us who are too numb to pray.

Mary, weep for us and open your arms to embrace us all.

Mary, weep for us and offer us love.

 

“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.