Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin column

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Dear Followers of Jesus,
       “Lord, open the door for us.” This sentence from Luke 13:22-30 invites us into deeper relationship with God. Let’s explore what this sentence says to us and how it might be one of our most profound prayers.
        This sentence intrigues me. It is like a song, a one-line poem of longing. It speaks of an experience that has been passed on for us to live. There is a core truth imbedded in these words that rings within our souls. Our life on earth is entrusted to God and without this relationship we are lost and alone.
        The door stands as a divide between God and us. In our prayer, God does all of the initiating. Not only does God open the door for us to be in union with him, but he also opens the door for us to experience possibility, wonder and awe. I beg God to open the door so we may understand that we belong, and in time, all will be revealed to us.
         This sentence invites us to surrender. We are called to rest in the love that God has for us. The door is a reminder of our own obstacles that keep us from such union. Our pride, our ego, and our stubbornness keep us from putting our shoulders on the door of God. We are called to live in God, and through God, and with God. The door that separates us from God is simply our sin, our own false assurance and life’s illusions.
         I long to see what is revealed on the other side of the door, on the other side of my resistance to surrender in prayer. This longing is what keeps us all knocking and asking. For we all understand that beyond the door of our resistance lies God’s eternal love for us.
        Sometimes we stop knocking or asking because we are afraid we may get what we are asking for. Sometimes we have trouble absorbing God’s love and faithfulness toward us because we do not feel worthy or good enough. I pray God’s love may burn away such notions within us.
       This line also invites us to pray for others. God longs to be in communion with us. However, we live in physical pain and emotional need. Our human bodies and relationships need healing. We seek comfort when our pain overwhelms us. When such pain stops us in our tracks, it is time for others to also pray for us. We are called as Christians to ask God to open the door to new life for all who are ill, for all who wait for mercy, for all who face tragedy and loss. We are invited to trust in Divine life for all on earth.
       As we walk in the communion line at Mass today, we pray for such profound union with God. Let us ask God to open up miracles, new life, and hope that lies un-known for us behind human doors.
Blessings,
Fr. Ron

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Bulletin column

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Dear Followers of Jesus,
We proclaim and listen to Luke 12:49-53 at Mass. In this text, Jesus does not like a feeble approach to his teachings. Instead of a fearful, even bashful acknowledgment of his healings and miracles, he desires fire within his disciples. He wants not only his followers, but also us to pursue the miracles and the music of his presence and magnificent touch to human concerns. He wants fire in water, a baptism that will set the world ablaze with hope, mercy and kindness. He wants the Kingdom to sprout from our fear, the hope of the Father to be made known in every action we make and in every syllable we speak.
I can’t say I blame him. His death was for us. His resurrection was for our eternal home in heaven. He deserves our complete attention to such mystery and the hope that a small piece of heaven will be here on earth when we reach out to people lost along the way or when we offer a sip of water to the faint of heart. A fire is not just smoke. We need true motivation from the fire we find within our hearts.
Our hearts are where the rubber meets the road. A fire within cannot be given from a pulpit or a confessional. A fire within cannot be roused from a helicopter parent or inherited from a grandfather’s estate. A fire within can only be fanned with the grace of God and the openness of God’s people. This fire is the warmth of love when we feel lost and alone. This fire is mercy when we know we deserve much less. This fire is hope when we are lost like the forgotten and lonely sheep of his day. Fire within takes prayer, courage and a new way of life. This is Luke’s challenge for us today. I am not sure many people will take heed or notice that the fire is for them. Most likely, many of us will remain frozen from fear and discouraged by life. We might even blame God for all the tragedy that remains caught in our hearts and consciences.
So Jesus wants fire. I think we should find out what that means. We cannot give what we don’t have. We cannot rouse in others what is dead in us. So the fire starter is the Holy Spirit. The flames that begin come from the debris that is stacked so neatly in our hearts, the debris of anger, rage, dis-appointment, and maybe even the old stacks of despair. Let’s do some fanning our selves; let’s shake things up and recognize that faith is about our relationship with the Divine so that we can bring the Divine to our dying world, our world in need of tenderness and relationship.
Does anyone have a match? Let’s make sure children are fed today and mothers have clean water to nourish their new-born. Let’s work together to welcome strangers and find a place for migrants to flourish in life as they flee the tortures of poverty. Let’s work for healthcare and just insurance for our elderly. Let’s set a blaze of hope for people who rebuild from the devastations of storms and floods. Let’s set a blaze on earth by learning how to pray more profoundly and to serve without cost. This is fire on earth.
Peace,
Fr. Ron

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 8:00am Homily and Prayers of the Faithful

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Homily from 8am Mass today: CLICK HERE

 

Prayers of the Faithful:

August 15, 2019

Let us proclaim the greatness of God as we search for integrity within our Church and among those who lead us. May we become true prophets.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us proclaim the greatness of God and model our lives on Mary’s prophetic witness. May we voice our faith among the weary.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us proclaim the greatness of God even when fear overwhelms us and loss forms our days. May we voice our confidence in God.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us proclaim the greatness of God and search for hope when life disappoints us. May Mary model for us integrity and service.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to proclaim the greatness of God who lifts up the poor and fills the hungry with good things. May hope abound in the lives of the poor.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray to proclaim the greatness of God who welcomes home our loved ones in death. May they rest in the peace of Christ Jesus. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

 

Solemnity of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2019

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“The Assumption of Mary” Watercolor by: Ronald Raab, CSC August 2019

 

READ THE GOSPEL: CLICK HERE

Prayer/poem based on today’s gospel, The Magnificat. On this day we shall hear that God’s promises to Mary are also for us. Today, we sing at the top of our human voices for a home in heaven. 

 

 

And we shout out-and-out:

 

Souls and bodies sing

Of God and miracles

And we can’t stop

 

For God has looked me in the eyes and

I have not shied away this time

 

His name is far reaching

Beyond my imaginings and abilities

 

Every day he comes to me in the dark

Untying fear

Surrendering 

I am part of his loving plan

 

His body is my strength and his bounty fills me

He shuns those who think they’re cool

He doesn’t tolerate those whose noses are long

Raised eyebrows reveal their disdain 

 

God counts me among the needy when

I get over myself

 

My stomach sings after last week’s bread

And he hears me every time

 

God is no slot machine of hope

No one has enough coins any way

 

He remembered my grandpa and

His earthly blood flows

Even within me

 

Mercy is medicine and I just got

An insurance card

He loves and heals me too

 

This I ache to text my kids

I know he waits for me in

Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maximillian Kolbe 2019

 

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Saint Maximillian Kolbe: Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC(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 that the painful pieces of wire in the concentration camp became a rhythm of prayer for him. The wire knots of the fence became a sequence of prayer so that he could keep his faith alive. As the artist, I hold on to this notion. 

The brown shirt: Fr. Kolbe was a Franciscan priest. He dedicated his life to the proclamation of the gospel; the passion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. The red mark represents the martyr of martyrs, Jesus. 

The prisoner uniform: At the same time, he was a prisoner and his number was, 16670.

The drops of blood on his face: There were ten people put to death by lethal injection. The blood stains represent those who died with him. The blood comes from the martyrs crown. He took the place of a man who had a wife and children. That man was then present at this canonization in 1982. 

The green background: The green background represents hope for the people who died and hope for the people who lived through such anguish and suffering. The green backdrop invites us all into our own suffering and the realization that “everything will be all right.” I believe this message is the key to his priesthood. I know it is the eternal message of my own priesthood. 

The gold halo: Maximilian’s halo is hope to us all, that our faith in Jesus, in the suffering of this world, leads us safely home. 

 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019: Prayers of the Faithful

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August 11, 2019

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us bury our fear and allow God to possess us in love, mercy and courage to live our lives here on earth. May we be vigilant for God.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us bury our fear and pick up new possessions of integrity of leadership, hope for our families and courage for every believer on earth. May we be vigilant for true treasures.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us bury our fear when faced with dishonesty and a lack of integrity with our leaders. May we possess only hope for our way to God’s love.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us bury our fear when we are faced with hardship and the suffering of people. May the weak find strength and the hopeless discover joy.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us bury our fear and become true servants of God. May we proclaim the gospel with compassion and fearlessness when we face severe loss.

We pray to the Lord

Let us bury our fear even when we are faced with the death of someone we love. May all our dead find a home in heaven. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019: Bulletin Column

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Dear Followers of the Savior,
            Luke (12:32-48) is really serious about how we live our faith. This passage heralds a message of urgency; it quick-ens our heartbeat. It rings with a rhythm of Advent under our skin. The passage is meant to capture our lives, our attention and even the ways in which we live.
            Today is my 40th anniversary of my first profession of vows. I still feel I am a novice, a beginner. I pray there are many years ahead for me to get it right, my life of prayer and my ministry. I am grateful there are parishioners whom I knew 40 years ago that are still in our community.
            The line from today’s gospel that strikes a chord is this, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” This line is not from a Hallmark card and it is not sentimental. This sentence is to be taken seriously. Only through maturity can we discover this treasure. Only through admitting our human frailty do we begin to turn toward God who invites us deeper into love, forgiveness, compassion and intimacy.
            As children, we tend to think of faith as a set of rules. We may think God’s job is to condemn us for not following these basics. This notion of God is limited. We may believe God punishes and remains slow to offer reconciliation and seldom generates hope. This notion of God may keep us only as obedient children. We may think we have our treasure all figured out by just doing what we were told to do.
           However, when we begin to realize our human life is not black and white, we begin to acknowledge God’s fidelity toward us. Our notion of God may then become too small for us. We may have experiences of not fitting in or be-coming disinterested in the Church. This is the place of real maturity and growth. This is where we develop an actual relationship with Christ Jesus and a new relationship with our own lives. Our growth in Christ takes many years. This maturity takes much discernment, compassion, faith and a willingness to go deeper into the mission of the Church.
            God alone reveals our treasure. God’s initiative is the core of prayer and shows us the beauty and wonder of relation-ship. We discover the treasure of God’s mercy only when we grow up and discover that we are not God. We are not in control. God is God and we are not. We also grow up when we struggle in life and in faith, when we finally take seriously our relationship with the Divine.
            As we mature with God, the mercy of God catches us and desires the best for us. We enter into the intimacy of God, not just following a rule to get our reward in heaven. God’s love desires us on earth. God longs to have an intimate and personal relationship with every aspect of the human heart. This is our real treasure.
Blessings along the way,
Fr. Ron

Canaanite Creed 2019

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“Canaanite Woman” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2017

Today’s gospel: Click here

 

Canaanite Creed

I believe the Canaanite woman’s plea for pity.

I believe Jesus overthrows demons.

I believe we all wait for Jesus to speak.

I believe the marginalized are still silenced.

I believe her faith in three words: 1. Jesus. 2. Help. 3. Me

I believe people are lost until found in his presence.

I believe a scrap of faith is enough.

I believe the outcast teaches us how to believe.

I believe in ripping down barriers between peoples.

I believe in the healing breath of Jesus.

I believe his words remain for all people.

I believe we become whole listening to the weary.

I believe the mind of Jesus was changed by her love.

I believe her daughter’s healing is a miracle.

I believe we have nothing to prove when we ask Jesus for love.

I believe that hour is now.

 

 

The Transfiguration 2019

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“Transfiguration” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC 2016

Gospel LK 9:28B-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up a mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
Prayer:

Jesus, let us see you as you really are.

Let us not be silent after we behold your presence.

 

Transfigure hatred into offering cups of water.

Transfigure self-loathing into self-offering.

Transfigure guns into hammers to build shelters.

Transfigure bullets into nails to support walls that house.

Transfigure words of hate into sentences of kind action.

Transfigure hopelessness into meaningful employment.

Transfigure violent spaces into pastures of repose.

Transfigure apathy into full embrace of the stranger.

Transfigure screams of blame into silent listening.

Transfigure xenophobia into lands of acceptance.

Transfigure scarcity into abundant communion.

Transfigure denial into communities of hope.

Transfigure fists into open-handed trust.

Transfigure politicians into doers of justice.

Transfigure laziness into actions of grace.

Transfigure us into people of genuine faith.

 

Jesus, let us hear and behold.

Let us seek and find your face.