Saint Matthew, Feast 2016

My reflection on Saint Matthew from 2016. How is God calling us into a life of hope and love for others? How is the gospel of Christ being written in our hearts and actions?

Broken But Not Divided

img_1421 “Saint Matthew” Painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

Painting: My illustration of Saint Matthew includes some of the classic images usually associated with Matthew and his role in the Church as an Apostle. First, the three coins on the left side illustrate Matthew’s old life, his livelihood. He was a tax collector and because of this profession, he was marginalized by the community. He was not trustworthy in the eyes of the people. The coins become an image of how Jesus uses our weakness or sin or past offenses to show that conversion and change is possible. The three coins also show us the value of his new call, the three images of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Second, the wing on the right side refers to the classic symbol of the winged man or angel from Revelation that guided the hand of Matthew. In all the early paintings or…

View original post 255 more words

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin Column

Version 2

CLICK here for full bulletin. We are publishing the bulletin every other week during this autumn. 

September 22, 2019

Dear Believers in the Christ,

All of life is a gift. This reality is difficult to acknowledge on many days. We all struggle to survive. We work to make sure our children have what they need and that our aging parents are comfortable. When we are stressed, we may think the entire world rests upon our shoulders. We then carry the heavy burden of other people, losing sight that all is gift to us while we are here on earth.

I love watching families interact with their children. I can see all the subtleties of love and misunderstandings, of control and compassion, of stress and sheer enjoyment. With every person comes a different personality in how we live and what we think is important in life.

From today’s gospel, Luke 16:1-13, we are given once again an opportunity to reflect upon our stewardship. Good stewardship of the gifts of the earth will lead us into becoming stewards of God’s presence in the world. We are stewards of earth and of heaven. So how can we reflect on what is given to us by God?

This first place we need to look is toward the people we love. God enjoins to us real relationships. He is offering us life and the ability to be in right relationship. God is the source of all life and all life is vital to God. I invite you to take stock of your relationships. How is God calling you into caring for those you love and but smothering them with control? How is God allowing you to live in freedom with fidelity toward people who care for you?

Our stewardship from God then reaches far and wide. We are stewards of the earth, the food we raise and the care of our natural resources. The earth is a God-given gift and our challenge is to live upon this planet caring for it for the next generations. How can be better the soil, the air, and the resources for our children and our children’s children?

We are also caretakers of human life. All life is of God. So we stand among people to help them keep their children from womb and beyond. We rush to hospitals and jail cells, from homeless shelters to school cafeterias all because we believe that life has value and that all life has meaning. We work to dismantle racism because of the true value of all human life. We work in the center of all injustice because we must rely on God to show us how incredibly beautiful life is meant to be on earth.

As Christians, we are stewards of the many gifts on earth. We do so because God has entrusted all aspects of life to us. We are caretakers so that God will show us the value of the Kingdom, where we know we shall find our place and our ultimate home.

Our true wealth is in God. May we search our hearts to protect all matters of life on earth. We cannot serve both God and mammon.

May peace flow on earth,

Fr. Ron

 

 

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows: Prayers of the Faithful

IMG_0397

Our Lady of Sorrows: Image from Sacred Heart Church, 2018, by Ronald Raab, CSC

Sunday September 15, 2019

Our Lady of Sorrows

Let us pray for Pope Francis and all leaders of our Church. May they strive to comfort the weary and find hope for the grieving by their ministry and service.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to live the example of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows by standing next to those who suffer. May we serve others with compassion, those who live with only broken hearts.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the Congregation of Holy Cross as they celebrate their Patroness, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. May our priests, brothers and novices strive to lift up the poor and carry the burdens of the lost as they stand next to suffering.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to bring God’s mercy to the unemployed, the ill, the hungry and the prisoner. May Our Lady of Sorrows show us how to live our faith in daily life.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to stand among people who face uneasy questions of life. May our search for faith bring us new hope for all people on earth. Let us work for clean water, adequate housing and available health care.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our beloved dead. May we learn from Our Lady of Sorrows who held the wounds and death of her son, Jesus. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows: Sunday September 15, 2019, Bulletin column and painting

fullsizeoutput_14cb

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC, 2018

September 15, 2019

Dear Followers of the Crucified,

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, offers us a tender image of faith. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stood next to the cross of Jesus. Zachariah foreshadowed such a death after Jesus’ birth. Mary spent her entire life lifting up the suffering of Jesus. She was unable to change the course of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. She beheld for the rest of us that pain and suffering leads us to Kingdom love. Her motherhood gives hope even today.

I have lived my priesthood deepening this image of Mary in prayer. She speaks to me. She consoles me. This image offers me a healing balm when my own life is unsteady and unsure. She speaks loudly across the generations. All mothers seem to understand such a place and posture in their lives with their children.

I remember as a child my own mother coming to the bathroom in the middle of night when I was sick. She held my forehead. I still hold such a gesture in my heart. This was truly a mother’s place in the course of raising a child. I can still feel her hand on me when I am ill today.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is the Patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. She gives us consolation and helps us witness to the suffering of people. At Sacred Heart Church, there are several images of pierced heart of Mary with seven swords. The Seven Sorrows in the gospel reveals the many times Mary witnessed the suffering of her son.

I cling to the image that Mary stood next to suffering. This has become one of my sure foundations for ministry. I claim this posture in my priesthood when I anoint a child who is dying or steady my thumb to anoint a dying parishioner who I know has given his or her entire life to raising children and believing in Jesus.

I remember my twenty years of ministry among people with HIV/AIDS. In those early years, it was the mothers who would reach out me to pray with their child. The mothers wanted the best for their child who was suffering, especially when they felt so powerless because there was no remedy or cure. I have walked with many mothers to the graves of their children. They not only rely on Mary for help but also have become such witnesses in our world.

I pray for our children sleeping on concrete at our boarders, perhaps we can go beyond the political and see them as Mary views them. Perhaps we can see again our children being trafficked around the world. We can really see the mothers and daughters who survive the violence of war or the starvation from poverty.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is not a pietistic notion of faith, but she is a real model for how to live our lives in Christ Jesus. She becomes a radical mother bringing mercy and tenderness to lives when suffering cannot be changed. She could not fix Jesus. She could not take his pain away. However, she gives us the joy of putting our faith into practice among the vulnerable and lonely.

Lean into the mystery of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,

Fr. Ron

 

 

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Prayers of the Faithful

Version 3

Sunday September 8, 2019

Let us pray for our Church Universal. May we strive to bring the gospel alive in every community and nation.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our family members about whom we worry the most. May our children find answers to their questions and may our extended families find employment, healing, satisfaction and peace.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for family and friends who live with pain and anxiety every day, especially the survivors of hurricane Dorian.  May our loved ones find healing in mind, body and spirit.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for prisoners in every county in Colorado and beyond. May the incarcerated find emotional healing and comfort.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our children who are trafficked for sex in our nation. May these prisoners be released and may they find solace once again in life. May all children find protection.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our beloved dead. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Gospel reflection

Version 2

September 8, 2019

Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,

Christians believe that everything comes from God. Every possession is used for the common good. This is certainly how the early Christians lived their lives. Everything we purchase, every item of clothing in the back of our closets, and even every unnecessary purchase reveals the dignity of God. God longs to make room enough in our hearts to abide with love and kindness. However, sometimes our lives are just too full notice God’s healing presence or satisfying love. Sometimes we hide behind our possessions only to make us feel important or in control.

Today’s gospel, Luke 14:25-33, invites us to evaluate our possessions, even our possessions of family and all of our earthly relationships. God certainly seems selfish sometimes. However, God desires our entire beings. He wants to rest in our souls. He desires us. He wants to remain housed in human hearts that long for him. So, we have to be careful not to give our own lives away, to selfishness, to pride and ambivalence and a heart filled with chaos and jealousy.

I am sure many of you have heard of “The Minimalist” movement. It is a fresh view of having only the possessions we really need and use. Being a minimalist takes on many forms. However, the extent of how it is lived includes our use of money, how many possessions we own, how we take care of our bodies, and how we pay our debts. The point of the minimalist life is to live with purpose, intentionality and in relationship with the world amid climate disintegration, world hunger and injustice. The movement includes how we use our talents and gifts to better the world. It seems that many people have reinterpreted the message of this gospel for our modern day apart from the Church. Our possessions tell others what we really value. They speak to people about how we live in fear or freedom.

Jesus invites us to live an intentional life in today’s gospel. He asks us that when our children or families get in the way of faith that even those important relationships need to be evaluated. Perhaps as we begin a new school year and look forward to autumn, we may consider what it means for us to live within our means, to show our respect for our families by not putting them in debt, and consider the healthy ways we care for our bodies, and support the charities that most need us.

I find it interesting that one possession that Jesus will not let us throw away or rebuke or shun is the cross. His life within us means that we carry within the bruises of our hearts the hope that our relationship with Christ Jesus will be our true riches. Perhaps we can consider this week our priority to face God with our real lives, not hiding behind earthly possessions, but with the honesty of bearing the weight of his love within us.

Peace on the journey,

Fr. Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Prayers of the Faithful

IMG_1150

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us pray that the Church may serve with humility and not arrogance, with vulnerability and not haughty power. May we bring Christ Jesus to the margins of society.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for wisdom in our decision making in serving our families, our communities and our own lives. May God’s love abound within us.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for the weak and forgotten. May the weary find strength, the poor find the richness of love and the hopeless discover the beauty of the Kingdom.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our planet earth, that we may work diligently for clean water, the conservation of forests and debris-free oceans. May we all learn to labor on earth for all God’s creation.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray that we will not discriminate because of skin color or language, education or family heritage. May we welcome all people to dine with us.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our beloved dead. May our loved ones be assured of a place at the table in heaven. In this Mass…

 

 

Article from Give Us This Day: Published by Liturgical Press, August 2019

Version 2

Article based on today’s gospel, Matthew 25:1-13 

This article is published in Give Us This Day from Liturgical Press, August 2019.

Awake to Grace

Every morning I find myself among the foolish. I want to stay awake for God but my human intentions are weak. My regrets and fears make me drowsy. I pray among all the foolish for God’s open door. With all of my emotional and spiritual obstacles, I understand that others cannot help me on such a path. I cannot borrow virtues as a cup of sugar from a friend. I must face God in the truth of my life.

The oil in the story of the wise and foolish virgins cannot be duplicated or given away. This oil is grace itself, offering us a place in God’s love. Each of us is responsible to God by showing up in our own life. This is wisdom. No other person can take this risk for us. No spouse or child can show us how to let go of the past or to surrender to the love of God in our sin or infirmity. When five foolish virgins beg for oil, the others cannot give them such gifts of readiness, prayer, or atonement. We all wait with our own gifts and foibles for the door to be opened.

God longs to awaken us today to love and gratitude. God’s holy name becomes our thankfulness. On many days I want be among the wise, changing my clumsy motivations. Today, I search for love within my own heart, accepting the dying and rising of Christ Jesus. For this I long to stay awake.

Fr. Ronald Raab

Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs. Learn more at http://www.ronaldraab.com.