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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday of Holy Week 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

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

Wednesday of Holy Week 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

Today’s gospel, Matthew 26:14-25, reveals much of our human condition. Judas betrays Jesus with a few silver coins. This betrayal brings Jesus closer to his cross and death. This moment for Judas is raw and exposing, even carving him a place in history with this one act toward his friend Jesus.

In our human condition, sin settles into us with a sure fit. We stumble over ourselves with words of hurt toward other people and viewing others only in light of blame and jealously. Even our betrayal of love and connection becomes a story that we tell ourselves over the real story of how love itself brings us to friendship and harmony. So often in our lives hatred and bitterness are the things we remember and hold on to rather than the real connections of love, hope and fidelity.

Our sin against others is real. Yet, the real story of Jesus’ involvement with our hearts is that we also make a home for his love to settle into our hearts. How easy it is for us to forget this truth. Love changes us only when we invite Jesus into our lives to change the stories we tell ourselves about our darkness and lies.

As we move toward the Triduum, we bring with us the stories of our lives into the great story of Jesus’ passion and death, his resurrection. We bring everything to him, leaving nothing astray. We offer the darkness within our hearts, the stories we carry of our loneliness and pain. We offer again to him, the times we have severed such love because of our ego, our sin, our heartaches, our loneliness and especially our fear.

Jesus heals every aspect of our lives, every single aspect. All we need is to cooperate with his fidelity toward us. He will melt away all the betrayal within our hearts, all the hopelessness we carry about the future, all the pain that colors our hearts dark and dreary.

Jesus becomes for us the full measure of reconciliation in the Easter event.

 

Questions to consider:

How have you severed relationships that used to provide life and hope for you?

Have you betrayed people in the past?

How have others betrayed you?

Are you willing to change your story about these friendships today?

Can you bring healing to them with Jesus’ help?

What is the sin that you hold on to in your life?

Can you allow Jesus’ forgiveness to become greater than your sin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday of Holy Week 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

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

 

Tuesday of Holy Week 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light

In today’s gospel, John 13: 21-33: 36-38, we listen to Jesus tell his disciples that Judas will betray him and Peter will deny him. Also in the scene John, the Beloved Disciple, rests his head on Jesus’ chest during the meal.

We all hold within our human hearts the duality of betrayal and love. We experience both with people we love. We have betrayed our loved ones. We have experienced such betrayal from someone we love. Our hearts have an amazing capacity to love and hate.

In this Holy Week, we all are invited to examine our human hearts to sift through the sin, the doubt, the denial, the rage, the anger, the injustice as well as our ability to love. Holy Week invites us into the truth, the truth that we may not always want to admit.

As we ponder the gift of the gospel today, I invite you to consider your divided heart as a place of radical love and unbelievable denial. We all hold this tension of being human. In this place, God beckons us into new and amazing life. The great healer of our souls waits for us with abundant grace and mercy.

Many people wish to cover up such divisions. We hold tightly to the rigidity of our denial and never want to admit that our hearts have the capacity to hold such turmoil. We tend to justify our negative thoughts against a thoughtless boss. We hold revenge toward to a spouse or an adult child. We may think that a negative choice of a child reflects on our lives and we hold anger. Jesus invites us to explore what we carry within, the dark and the light.

Today, this day within Holy Week is worth the effort and time to examine the multiple layers of our attitudes, our approaches to others, and our verbal blame to others, our misfortunes, and our inability to accept responsibility for our actions. Our hearts are restless in this week until we realize that only Jesus offers us the truth, wisdom and love that we are looking for in our lives.

Questions to consider:

How have you betrayed people you love?

How have others betrayed you?

Are you willing to find forgiveness within your own heart?

What relationships or images within today’s gospel speak to you?

For what denials in your life do you need Jesus’ forgiveness?

How can you hold within your heart the tension of love and denial?

How does Jesus begin to set you free from such tensions and insecurities?