Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel, Luke 2:41-52, illustrates a parent’s worst fear, a missing child. With much miscommunication, Jesus stayed behind to preach in the temple without the knowledge of his parents, Mary and Joseph. We can all imagine the fear that ran through the minds and bodies of Mary and Joseph as they searched diligently for Jesus in the caravan.
Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple. Jesus does not seem concerned that his parents are frantic. This gospel begins to outline his death and resurrection, even though he is still a youth. First, he is lost and then his parents find him after three days. This refers to his passion, death, and resurrection. After three days, he becomes a new person. Well, we see this visibly in the temple where he is preaching and answering questions. In other words, his real identity emerges, his place among the leaders of faith. He was lost but now is found among those who hear his message of peace.
How ironic that as we celebrate the Incarnation during the Christmas season, today in the gospel the real presence of Jesus is already lost. Jesus asks his parents, “Why are you looking for me?” Jesus assumes that his parents would know that he is in the temple doing the work of the Father. I want to hold on to this question because so often I do not fully understand why I search for him. This question from a youth is a deep question for all people, no matter our age. It is also a question that in the Christmas season is essential for our spiritual growth, “Why are you looking for me?”
We need to be honest about why we search for Christ, the person of Jesus. We cannot live the mystery of our lives apart from Jesus. He is our hope when we are lost, when we get caught in personal sin, heartache, and ill will. He is our direction when we believe we have all the answers, when we are confident that we can do life on our own. Jesus is our creative life even when we feel lost in our jobs or unimportant in our families. Jesus is the place we rest when we are tired and emptied from beating ourselves up when things just do not go the way we planned. We pursue Jesus because he desires us; we already belong to him.
I wonder how we would answer the question Jesus poses to his parents? I desire with all my heart to find my way to his side, to his creative love for our world and for me. This Christmas season is just another step in our awkward search for Jesus, of being lost and found. Yet, Jesus makes a home within us. We already have what we desire, the love God has for each of us. Christmas is creating a home within our hearts to find that Jesus is not lost, but living among us today in all that we do.
The gospel tells us that Mary, the mother of Jesus, held all these things in her heart. She pondered the mystery of his sorrows as well as his goodness. I hold on to the life of Jesus in this Christmas season within my heart, as I know we all long to do. For the mystery of the Incarnation is teaching us still how to love and how to live together. We seek the Holy Family since we find our home in such a mystery.
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor
Fundraising for Saint André House
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
I am deeply humbled by your response to remodeling the former rectory. I am so grateful for the funds raised so far in our campaign. This is the next step to our continuing to update our parish buildings in preparation for our 100th Anniversary. I am very excited about finishing this project. The building should be finished by March 2022.
I realize not all of you can contribute to this project. It has been quite a year. Amid a worldwide pandemic, there are so many loose ends to our next phases of life, school, and family relationships. However, I am so pleased that you have trusted us in this pandemic to provide a safe place for worship and education. I am so grateful to see so many people returning to Masses on the weekends. Thank you for being here at our parish.
As we have said, the reason for the remodel is that the building has not been used for its intended purpose for 25 years. I can’t continue to justify not caring for our goods, our resources, and our buildings here on this block. Many may not know that it would have been too expensive to demolish the old rectory and build something new because of the water issues along Colorado Ave. I am happy to keep the historical building which will now provide handicap accessible restrooms and extra meeting space. Currently on Sunday mornings, our Faith Formation is cramped in the Parish Center. With the addition of the Saint André House, we will have some room in the new building for coffee and donuts and two classrooms upstairs. I am sure when the building is finished, we will have to adjust our use of the building. We will take one step at a time and experiment to find the best combinations of use for the Parish Center and for Saint André House.
People have also asked why I don’t live there. Over 25 years ago, the parish decided not to have the priests on site. The building is too exposed and unsafe for people to live there. At night, the grounds become littered with needles, bottles, and folks sleeping around our buildings. I am very aware that our neighbors need a place to sleep. I felt it would be too much for priests to live in the old rectory. We would never have privacy if a light was on at night. Also, I don’t think it is good for our Holy Cross community life to live so close to where we work. We are on call 24 hours a day; we also need so time to rest.
When I arrived here as pastor in 2013, there were no obvious signs or mention of the Congregation of Holy Cross at the parish. It was not in the bulletin and there were no images on the walls. Since I arrived, I have tried to introduce you to the spirituality of our religious community, Holy Cross. We now have a Cross and Anchor in the church lobby and a first-class relic of Saint André Bessette in the new altar. And now, one of our buildings will reflect the name of Saint André Bessette. He is the first saint in our religious community. His spirituality of prayer and service, I pray, will continue to teach us at Sacred Heart how to include the example of Saint André in our own lives of prayer.
Saint André House. I love the name and even more the spirituality of service his name stands for in our community. We will continue to strive to extend God’s love beyond our parish block. The pandemic has limited some of our outreach services, but we shall prevail.
Our fundraising efforts will end in February 2022. Thank you for all you have offered this project. I am deeply grateful. Now, we need to continue our efforts. The costs have fluctuated because of code issues and the availability of goods. I know you are as confident as I am that this project will be for our common good. It will be such a great complement to our restored church. I have tried my best to restore our buildings. I want this community to last more than just 100 years. There is more to come. I can’t wait.
Please, if you have not yet contributed to the restoration of Saint André House, please do so. Please know of my prayer for you as we grow, change, develop and pray. I am so happy to be your pastor as we continue to move through the pandemic and the upkeep of our community and its buildings.
Blessings to you all in this Christmas season,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor
The Longest Night. Tuesday December 21, 2021. 5:30pm. Colorado Springs, CO. Ronald Raab, CSC
Tonight, we enter the longest darkness.
We wait together for promised light.
We wait to clearly see the meaning of life
As we remember the deaths of our sisters and brothers.
Tonight, our memories recall
Steve Handen, our brother, who stood on this ground
For so many years, inviting us to become light,
So that others may be warmed by our fire.
He challenges us still to breathe deeply into
The justice we long for, the hope
That awakens in the darkness.
Tonight, we breathe the mystery of life.
We see our breath in the cold
And we hear our words of grief
That come from quivering lips.
Our shallow breaths hold sustained grief.
Tonight, in long darkness, we weep,
For our nameless who died alone.
For our neighbors who died without comfort, care, or affection.
For our people whose stories were not known to us.
For our sisters who huddled under doorways, fearful of being raped.
For our brothers who were too mentally ill to cry out their need.
For our friends who curled up near campfires to stay warm as cold slayed them.
For the stranger who huddled under a bridge taking his last breath.
For people who starved to death.
For a mother who died because she could not afford healthcare.
For a brother who could not tame his inner voices of suicide.
For our adults who were abused as children and never recovered.
For our brothers who carried their belongs on their backs and died of exhaustion.
For those who closed their eyes for the last time never seeing justice or tenderness.
For those who died of fright, whose bodies never relaxed on earth.
For our brothers who died on the street corner in daylight.
For acquaintances who drank themselves to death in a cold tent.
For our sisters who never found love.
For our brother who died covered in feces and filth after years of depression.
For our neighbors murdered in homeless camps.
For our brother who died of bladder cancer without a change of clothing.
For a friend who died waiting for a tender lover.
For our brothers who found acceptance at the end of needles.
For those who waited for a second chance and died in regret.
For over ninety marginalized human beings who died this year in Colorado Springs.
For thousands of people in our nation who will not be remembered in darkness or daylight.
So, we huddle at this columbarium.
The loose ends of life are not ours to tie up.
The uncertainty of tomorrow is not ours to control.
The loss we know in grief cannot be measured or healed.
The love we experience here opens light for our future.
Tonight, we grieve as lovers.
We hope because every breath matters.
We love because we stand on the shoulders of those who loved us.
We work diligently because love is imbedded within us.
Love rouses hope.
Hope ignites justice.
Justice brings us to dignified life.
And life is beautiful.
Let us pray:
God, beyond our imagining,
Receive our dead,
Embrace every soul,
Recall on your lips the names we know not,
Save a place at your table,
For our sisters and brothers who were not welcome in our world.
Hold forever our hearts that grieve,
And receive us all home.
In the words of Psalm 17:
Keep me as the apple of your eye,
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face.
On waking I shall be content in your presence.
This Wish List was published in 2014. I keep believing, wishing, and praying. What is your list?
A Christmas Wish List for the Church
I pray that when we place the infant Jesus in the manger in all of our parishes that we will also work hard to find adequate placements for foster and orphan children and learn to receive children running across national boarders trying to escape poverty or war.
I pray that when we decorate our sanctuaries for Christmas that we will also use our resources to find housing for mothers and children who face domestic violence especially in our suburbs.
I pray that when we set up our manger scenes in our churches that we will also tell the truth about families torn apart from generational alcoholism, about the truth of loneliness in family life on Christmas Eve.
I pray that when we celebrate the Word-Made-Flesh, we will also acknowledge and affirm all of God’s people, men and women, gay and straight, rich and poor, housed and homeless and then remove all of these labels in our prayer and service well beyond the Christmas season.
I pray that when we celebrate the three wise men traveling to the place of the Child, we will go out of our way as a Church to discover the real stories of our people lost in war, hatred and violence across the boundaries of nations and find again a star of hope that leads us to Christ Jesus.
I pray that when we celebrate Mary, the Mother of God, we will also acknowledge and care for the many mothers who abandon their children because of mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction and poverty and realize that we must mother the lost and forgotten.
I pray that when we celebrate the Flight into Egypt, we will begin to take our dreams seriously to protect our families. We need to pray for fathers who no longer act on their dreams for their families. I pray that the Church might flee into the night to save our runaway children, the children lost among heart-numbing poverty.
I pray that when we take down the dried trees and the dead poinsettias and put away the nativity scenes that we will then get to work in a new way for the dignity of family life, for the health and welfare of youth and parents who live in terrifying addictions, for children coming home from war and work hard to care for grandparents who will die alone this new year.