Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021: Bulletin Art, Column

Dear Followers of Jesus,

In Mark 4: 35-41, we have the privilege of entering a scene with Jesus in a boat loaded with fearful disciples. In the center of a storm, they fear for their lives and are frustrated with Jesus who is asleep. In the center of the chaos, the presence of Jesus is calm and trusting. 

I remember some years ago I had lunch with Fr. Clem (Fr. Leroy Clementich, CSC) when I served in Portland, Oregon. We had served together here at Sacred Heart. I remember talking on and on about some crazy thing I was disturbed about. He listened patiently. Then he turned to me at the lunch counter and said, “Oh, Ron, be at peace. Ron, Ron, just be at peace.”

His kindness runs through my veins all these years later. If my faith was true and lasting, peace would flow. Within this gospel text, I find the tale of Fr. Clem and I sitting close together on stools in a diner in downtown Portland. My fret could not shake his faith; my worry could not disturb his peace. I realized how often I am tied to such fear outside of my own life rather than gazing upon the face of Jesus curled up in the corner of my heart. 

This gospel is remedy for the fear that rocks all of our boats. The disciples were beside themselves with anxiety. They could do nothing about the storm but ride the waves. The chaos did not even awaken Jesus. We all face much fear in our daily lives. However, I wonder if we ever gaze underneath our fear and find the person of Jesus who has been guiding us all along. 

Sometimes faith is seen as adhering to a set of guidelines that make us prideful and sets us apart. Faith is not something we memorize, or think is written in stone. Faith is utter trust in God. Faith is absolute belief that all will be well by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This trust is not blind, but deeply rooted in our lives of intelligence and reality. The disciples learned in this situation that they could do little but ride the waves of the storm. They had to work the best they could to be safe, and in the end, they realized Jesus does not keep them from the storm, but is in the center of the storm all along. This is crucial to our lives of faith. 

The disciples deepened their wisdom in the boat in this scene of the gospel. We also must learn what to fight for, what to worry about and how to serve in the various storms that rock us on a daily basis. In the end, we have very little control over many of the storms that shake us up. Faith is not about relying on Jesus to keep the storms of doubt, grief, and hopelessness away, but to trust that he is within our hearts in every moment of life. 

Let us cast our worries on the Savior. Let us take our place among those who have believed before us, and even among the great mystics, that all will be well. The divine question that floats to the top of this gospel is so important in how we live and how we believe, “Why are you terrified?” This challenging question remains a lifeline in the chaos that gets us down on a daily basis. 

I pray we may listen to Jesus and to Fr. Clem. “Ron, Ron, just be at peace.”

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus 2021: Art, Prayer

Sacred Heart of Jesus,

In your heart, we find ours.

In your heart, we know love.

In your heart, we sing of your miracles.

In your heart, we experience healing and home.

In your heart, steady mine.

In your heart, wash away fear.

In your heart, caress my loss.

In your heart, speak to me.

In your heart, suffering is named.

In your heart, justice is known.

In your heart, freedom is lived.

In your heart, you are found.

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021: Bulletin Column, Art

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Today’s gospel, Mark 4:26-34, invites us deeper into an image of the Kingdom of God. A small seed becomes a place of shelter, protection and new life for others. If we examine this image of seed as our hearts and lives, we shall awaken to new growth and perspective and even imagination about our lives of faith. 

I often hear parents tell me that the summer growth spurts of their children are such a wonderous gift of life to them. They say, “our children are growing like weeds.” Our children take on a life of their own, their own identity, their own talents and gifts, and it all happens very quickly, as if during the night such growth happens. Parents seem so delighted that their children become what God is inviting them to be. For some parents, of course, this is a real time of adjustment to let them flourish and to not smother such gifts. 

I admit that I also love to see young people with a beginner’s mind and a kernel of faith. In the riches of their own hearts, added with naivete, and much grace, young people begin to form a trust that the seed of hope given to them by God will flourish in the world. I adore watching the seed of faith grow and blossom into a life steady on the earth in trust and love. 

The seed of faith given to our young needs help to flourish. We all have to trust that the Kingdom of God is at hand in ways we can’t even imagine. We cannot grow bitter or angry as elders when we see the gifts of our young people change the world. Allowing a tree to grow takes patience, tenderness and good will. This also takes on our part, the ability to trust God and the next generation. Learning to trust our children is never easy, at least that is what parents tell me since they always want to be the parent of a child whom they have raised and loved. 

This image of the Kingdom of God is beautiful and offers us a garden of hope if we can learn to trust in life itself. The Kingdom can sprout up in the most unexpected places. The Kingdom is here even when we are so often blind to the process of life. The Kingdom changes us and what it offers us is a new way of seeing ourselves and the world. This gospel today invites us also into a new way of being in the world. The Kingdom reveals everything, even the smallest seed can grow and influence the world in so many ways. The Kingdom leads to truth, to fidelity, to solid hope, to a life of gratitude. All we have to do is stand back and watch it happen and trust in God who is always restoring life and hope in our world. 

Please take some time this week to pray for our children and our children’s children. In doing so, we may even see hope spring up in our lives fashioning within us a place where the Kingdom of God will surprise us. 

“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants…”

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

Saint Andre House Capital Campaign 2021

We announce the beginning of our capital campaign for the restoration of our former rectory at Sacred Heart Church. The renovated building will provide restrooms accessible for all people, a reception area for parish gatherings after Mass, and two classrooms.

We hope to begin construction in late summer and to be completed early next year. This is Phase 2 of Restore Our Heart Campaign for the celebration of our 100th anniversary on July 16, 2022.

For more information, go to our parish website: CLICK HERE.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2021: Bulletin Column, Art

Dear Followers of the Christ,

During this year of pandemic, we have all learned a great deal about food. At times, we have not been able to share a meal indoors with family and loved ones at a restaurant. We have been alone for many holidays that normally are brimming with food, drink and conversation. We have all watched on television or on the internet the long lines of people waiting for food distribution in various parts of the country. Many people who have never asked for food before, have been in those meandering lines because they lost jobs during this past year. We have also witnessed on various social media platforms many people who have served food to others, especially celebrity chefs who have given away their own money in order to feed people. We have learned much about food insecurity and hunger across the globe during our shut-in months from our global pandemic. Issues of food are still everywhere. 

We have also been distant from the Eucharist. Many people have not received communion in over a year. Many folks miss the Real Presence, and many have given up on returning. The Eucharist that we celebrate today is food for today, for tomorrow, and for all eternity. We celebrate today, the Body and Blood of Christ, commonly referred to as Corpus Christi. This is our real food. 

Today’s gospel, Mark 14: 12-16, 22-36, brings us into the tight quarters of the Upper Room. On the night before Jesus died, Jesus gathered those he had chosen to share a meal. In this intimate setting, Jesus shared his desire to be with his disciples forever. It was a meal unlike anything the disciples had shared before. In the midst of sharing a meal, he broke bread with them and told them he would be in the world forever. He held a cup of wine and repeated such empowering words. Through his suffering, his death and resurrection, he would remain always as food for people in despair, in loss and in the joy of life here on earth.  

In the context of the meal in the Upper Room, something else happened. He also took a basin and washed the feet of those who were with him. This act of generativity, of service, of extending the meal to help people is the beginning of sharing the actions of prayer and service. This action is key in the mission of the Church. The Eucharist is not just a meal or offering in the church sanctuary, but the Mass becomes a way of life for every Christian. 

We have celebrated forms of this mystery throughout the world ever since the Upper Room. As we lift up the Body of Christ at the altar, we also lift up those who are hungry for God, the sick, the lonely, and the tormented. As we lift up the Blood of Christ, we lift up those who sip the Cup of Salvation who are longing for sobriety, for release of doubt and sin and for a new sense of belonging. The Eucharist is action among us, transforming our hearts into the message of love that is the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is right now, here before us on earth. 

The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is not a personal piety alone. This feast celebrates us on earth since we are also named the Body of Christ through our baptism. We, as Church, are witness to what we celebrate at Mass. We also become what we celebrate. The Church challenges us to live this mystery as a people redeemed in love. We are the Body of Christ and we break open our lives in service and in integrity for other people, just as the host is broken to be shared among us. The Eucharist makes sense when the poor are fed, when the sinner is forgiven and when the oppressed find justice. The Eucharist makes sense when we are all brought into communion, into unity with God and one another. 

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

Video: Discussion with John Kyler and Fr. Ron on The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All, May 23, 2021

On Sunday May 23, 2021, John Kyler and I spoke at Cottonwood Center for the Arts about my art exhibit. John is the editor of the book, The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All. This video is the unedited presentation and discussion. I appreciate John traveling from MN for this important conversation. About 130 people attended the two hour presentation. I am grateful for Sandy and John Goddard for their support in making this exhibit possible. The art exhibit ends tomorrow at Cottonwood.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 2021: Bulletin Column, Art

Dear Followers of Jesus,

As we enter the church, we once again dip our fingers into the baptismal water. We fling water over our bodies, marking them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We often do this gesture without thinking, our hands not quite reaching our forehead, chest and shoulders. 

We continue this gesture before mealtime prayer or when we tuck our children into bed. This gesture has been handed down to us for generations. This gesture, of marking our bodies with the Sign of the Cross, is a profound action of our belonging to God and to one another. This gesture identifies us as Christians. This witness to Christ is from our baptism. We use this gesture of the cross on Ash Wednesday or during the Sacrament of Confirmation as well as the Anointing of the Sick. The cross on our bodies identifies our lives in Christ’s dying and rising. 

On this Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate the union of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This mystery seems so otherworldly and often confusing. However, at the essence of this celebration, lies the deep communion of God. This profound unity of the Trinity teaches us how to become people of God on the earth.

Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. The liturgical readings express our union with God and our call to be in union with one another. From the Acts of Apostles, we heard that people could understand one another even though they were all speaking their own languages. This understanding of one another came from the Holy Spirit.

We are called to live in unity on earth. This unity reflects our heavenly home. We are living in fragile times. We are experiencing cultural unrest and disunity. Violence rises when our voices are not heard, when our unity of humanity is threatened. 

As Christians, we are challenged to enter the chaos. What we have to offer is a voice that needs to be heard by all sides, by all people, by all generations. What we have to offer the world is a voice of continuity that all human beings share the same value, no matter our race, no matter our political backgrounds. Our voice of unity falls upon deaf ears when we are not living lives with integrity. We easily fall into thinking that God must be on our side because we have power, authority, riches, wealth of respect, and that our opinions are always correct because of such power. 

We are called as believers to live with humility. We need to learn how to be citizens in our culture that invite people together, not shun them, or make fun of the lowly, or cast blame upon people who we think do not have cultural power. It is so easy to blame the weak for anything we do not want to take responsibility for. So often, we want to dominate life and culture because of skin color and language, because of educational background and ethnic history. 

We are called to gather people into unity, just a God lives. The Trinity gives us a template as how to live. Three persons in one, this is the model for us even here on earth. We are challenged to listen to people who feel they have no voice. We are challenged to explore speaking a language of peace no matter who we are or how we live. We are challenged by faith to end violence, racial divides and most of all to continue to discover our common humanity. We are one in God, just as God longs to be in relationship with God’s people. 

Throughout our centuries, we have used flimsy images of the Trinity. The triangle or the shamrock have been held up to express the image of unity. The real image of The Most Holy Trinity is when we face divisions and allow God to heal them. The authentic images of God on earth are when we work toward living our faith and bringing all people into authentic personhood with cultural voices and equality. We are challenged in these weeks to work for the end of racial divides and follow The Most Holy Trinity by living among people with peace. 

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor

Discussion with John Kyler on The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All

On Sunday May 23, 2021, over 130 people gathered at Cottonwood Center for the Arts for a discussion with John Kyler, editor of The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All. John and I discussed the story of this project from Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. Rev. Paul Turner authored the text. These are John Goddard photos. The art exhibit ends this week on May 29.

Pentecost 2021: Bulletin Column, Art

Sunday May 23, 2021

Pentecost

Dear Followers of Jesus,

COVID-19 took away the breath of hundreds of thousands of people in this past year. The ventilator has become an image of hope during this virus. We struggle to catch our breath while wearing a mask. We stop our breath and hold our mouth as we hear of the next person who has died or who has lost a job or their life in racial conflict. “I can’t breathe”, is a very familiar sentence we cannot forget from our last year.  Breathing freely is our hope for those stricken with disease, conflict and racial tensions. Breathing. Jesus invites us into such a mystery.

In today’s gospel, John 20: 19-23, Pentecost is revealed behind locked doors, only hours after the resurrection. “Peace” is the first word uttered from Christ’s resurrected breath. Peace becomes balm for fear. His breath becomes our new life in the Holy Spirit. His breath remains with us beyond the closed room. His breath renews our lives and offers consolation for the world for all eternity. His breath uttering peace is the desire of our souls.

Pentecost refreshes our understanding of what life is about. Pentecost is the Church taking a deep breath and realizing that our breath is what we have in common with those whom we think are completely different from ourselves. Our breath holds the Holy Spirit within us. Our breath is a reminder we are born again in Jesus’ dying and rising. The Holy Spirit does not fade away or given partially or in increments. There is no golden age of the Spirit. We receive the same breath of hope, the same miracle of joy, as did the disciples.

Many people will glaze over such a feast. We may think Pentecost is only something the Church celebrates dressed in red that remains contained in the sanctuary. Yet, Pentecost becomes the container where we ask ourselves some important questions. For in our hearts, God dwells. Pentecost is the birth day and the birthday of the Church.

 We have an opportunity to ask such questions as: What if we breathed in genuine hope for the first time? What if this hope could change our perspective toward people on the margins of society and Church? Could this breath sustain our young so hopelessness and meaninglessness would not penetrate them? Could this breath teach us how to care for the earth, feed the hungry, and provide adequate pay to the people who teach our children, and who care for our elderly parents?

What if breathing deeply into the life of the Holy Spirit could change how we view our own lives? Could Pentecost teach us not to hate so to offer the world non-violence? Could we settle our differences by taking in the breath of God rather than holding our breath in rage, indifference and violence? These questions become our spiritual work and reflection.

Our way out of the pandemic is God’s initiative in you and me. The Holy Spirit is trying to teach us something as we live in our bodies. We cannot remain stuck in our heads. Change is a dirty word for many people. Pentecost is the source of change. Pentecost is an opportunity for people to understand the suffering of the human race. This feast pushes us out of the nest of Easter and into the world to live the consolation and peace of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit compels us to get to work and to quit moaning about our lives. This breath of life drives us into union and communion with our brothers and sisters.

Pentecost is more than adhering to regulations in the Church, hoping they will give us eternal life. Pentecost is a breath of fresh air that reveals meaning, depth and purpose here on earth. We all carry a responsibility within our human bodies to breath in the gift of faith, hope and love.

The Holy Spirit pushes on our chests so we may breath deeply in love and forgiveness. The Holy Spirit then pushes us out into the world so we may become people of integrity. We are to love and not cave in to despair. We are to act in kindness and not resort to holding our breath in cynicism or apathy.

Pentecost opens new possibilities about who we are and what God wants us to become. We know Pentecost is real when we receive the stranger in midst and listen to their story before Mass. Pentecost opens doors and softens hearts. The Holy Spirit helps us hold the hand of the dying or the newborn child in joy. Pentecost promises life forever in God.

The Holy Spirit guides us to stop worrying about our futures and helps us pursue the task of serving other people even when a pandemic threatens to take our breath away.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

God give you peace,

Fr. Ron