Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 2019: Bulletin cover art and column

April 14, 2019 Bulletin Cover

Dear Believers in Christ Jesus,

On this Palm Sunday, we listen to the Passion of Jesus Christ from Luke 22:14-23:56. The Passion narrative invites us in this Holy Week. We listen to the fundamental aspect of why we are Christians— Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

This week invites us into the nitty-gritty of the end days of Jesus’ life. This is not about the past however. It is not about what Jesus did; it is about what Jesus is still doing. In other words, the redeeming death and resurrection of Christ Jesus is still happening within our lives, calling us deeper to trust in his real presence for the world.

Holy Week is central to our Church. The Paschal Mystery is the foundation of who we are, for we are built upon suffering, death and new life. Jesus is the core of our lives in the world. We call ourselves Christians and we remain connected to his passion, death and resurrection through our baptism. Lent is the time in which we examine our commitment as baptized people, so to renew our baptism at Easter.

Holy Week is not a reenactment of the past. The mysteries we celebrate this week become active grace for us, for our conversion in faith as members of the Church. If you only have time to pray in one week of the entire year, I hope it will be this one. This week offers us a renewal of faith and the hope on which to build our lives and the Church.

I invite you into Holy Week. The Triduum, the liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are central to our faith. These liturgies change hearts. These liturgies are celebrated as one event. Please consider participating in these liturgies of prayer, of silence and song, of fasting and communal ritual. I invite you to change your heart.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday invites us to make the connection of Eucharist and justice. For we wash the feet of twelve parishioners as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. We also process with the Eucharist to an altar of repose (in the gym) for adoration on this holy night. This gesture of leaving the church symbolizes Christ going to his death. The physical church will be empty of his presence.

The Passion of the Lord on Good Friday celebrates our life in the Cross of Christ. We reverence the wood of the cross with a kiss or bow or genuflection. We listen to Christ’s Passion from John’s gospel and we leave in silence just after receiving communion that is consecrated on Holy Thursday.

The Easter Vigil breaks open our hearts, as we now are ready to renew our baptism. We bless fire and the new Easter Candle. We hear many readings from our salvation story. We bless water to baptize our new adults and children. Alleluias ring out from our hearts for the first time since before Lent. It is a night of newness, beauty and miracles.

On Easter morning we celebrate our life in Christ Jesus, renewed by the Lenten season and the intense liturgies of Holy Week. Know of my prayer for all of you this week.

In peace,

Fr. Ron

Thirty-Sixth Anniversary of Priesthood, April 9, 1983: Poem, “Before my limbs fail”

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Before my limbs fail

 

The entwined roots of ordained generations

Steady my posture

At the rock of sacrifice

As my body becomes unfeigned presence

 

I extend my arms from my trunk

As sturdy limbs from an old oak

Reaching to lift up broken souls

The snapped twigs fallen upon earth

 

My two branches exposing

Thirty-six rings if cut

Fixed naturally with palms toward the sky

To catch grace as raindrops

For my beggar’s lips

Parched from unanswered pleas

 

My arms outstretched endure the weighty lives

Of sojourners hollowed out by sorrow

Or seekers rotting by disease or grief

 

Before my limbs fail

The yearning of the orphan

Or the cry of the widow

My heart longs for springtime

 

So once more standing in cruciform

I sing of healing and exhale for justice

Crying out on behalf of the starving

Over today’s bread

 

 

 

Doc - Jun 15, 2012 3-08 PM

Saturday April 9, 1983 John and Rosemary Raab Bishop William McManus

The Third Scrutiny: The Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 7, 2019

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The Third Scrutiny: The Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 7, 2019

Response: Christ in me, arise

 

From the torment of anger and rage…

From the torment of resentment and blame…

From the torment of shame and guilt…

From the torment of cheating and lying…

 

From the torment of our unbelief and pride…

From the torment of our negative behaviors…

From the torment of ignoring the stranger…

From the torment of judging and labeling other people…

 

From the torment of condemning and mistrusting others…

From the torment of not loving our family…

From the torment of jealousy and jumping to false conclusions…

From the torment of envy and resentment…

 

From the torment of political corruption …

From the torment of hostility among nations…

From the torment of indifference to the suffering of others…

From the torment of hatred toward our neighbors…

 

From the torment of violence and war…

From the torment of our lack of attention toward the ill…

From the torment of our lack of concern for the elderly…

From the torment of our lack of care for people with disabilities…

 

And from all evil…

And from all evil…

And from all evil…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Prayers of the Faithful

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April 7, 2019

Prayers of the Faithful

 

Let us pray to gain Christ Jesus and be found in him. May we consider all else as loss, and may our sufferings be conformed to his death so to seek his radiant face.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us not cast stones of blame toward one another, but to lay them down at the feet of our Savior. May our wicked opinions of others be wiped away in the sands of mercy and forgiveness.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us gaze upon the love and concern Jesus has for the outcast and the sinner. May our Lenten journey bring each of us closer to the healing miracle of Jesus Christ.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for people wearied by the darkness of doubt, the pain of illness, the silence of regret and fear. May we all find the tenderness of Jesus’ forgiving spirit.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our family members who heap burdens of blame on one another. May we all discover a new relationship with Christ Jesus and the surefooted love of family.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our catechumens and candidates in their last days of preparation for the glorious Easter sacraments. May we learn to hear the questions of our new members.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our dead in our Lenten season. May they see the radiant face of Jesus Christ. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Bulletin cover art and column

April 7, 2019 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

John 8:1-11 is proclaimed at Mass this weekend. I love this text. This story is ultimate spiritual freedom and forgiveness. I hope you can find your way into this story this week. The Church needs you to know the mercy of Jesus Christ, to become a follower of Him who leads you, tenderly invites you, and shows you the way into your real life.

An anonymous woman is caught in adultery. The obvious first question is, “What happen to the man?” We don’t know. The more I sit with this text the more I come to the conclusion that the man involved will never know forgiveness and mercy because he does not know Jesus.

The woman is in a circle of men, a circle of perceived power and authority. This power-circle caves in very fast. Jesus is near, doing what he always does— changing the status and place of power. He invites the men to self-reflect. That is the first miracle. So those without sin should be the first to cast a stone. The men begin to understand. They put down the stones of condemnation, the stones that were going to kill the woman who is steeped in sin according to the men in the power positions.

Jesus is stooped down to the ground. He is writing something in the sand. No one really knows what he is doing. Even centuries later, no one knows for sure. What I love about his place in this story is that he is detached from the power scene. He claims his own power by literally drawing new lines in the sand that erase the boundaries between sinners and saved. Jesus is revealing to everyone that there is a new authority; there is a new way of viewing the past. Jesus squats down to doodle a new story in the sand that washes hopelessness away and restores the dignity of the woman. The men are faced with their own truth, which is truly humbling for them.

Forgiveness is a miracle we all seek, especially in the Lenten season. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own sin that we think Jesus could not forgive us. Sometimes we even believe that our sin is so strong and divisive that it could not possibly be forgiven. We hold it as a badge of honor and never let it go. I am not exactly sure what possesses us to believe that our own sin is so darn important, but I experience it in people all the time. “God could not possibly forgive me!” Not true, just listen to this story.

I pray we can put down the stones we want to cast at others. We need to put down the stones that condemn and push others away. Sometimes those stones come from our mouths and sometimes they come from a cold shoulder. Sometimes we blame others for what is not going well in our own lives. Sometimes our stones become sheer hate. Whether our stones are guns or words in an email, our blame hurts people.

Let’s pray to find Jesus bending down in the sand to forgive us, to erase the boundaries of our hatred. Let’s find him face to face.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

The Second Scrutiny: The Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 31, 2019

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The Second Scrutiny: The Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 31, 2019

Response: Christ in me, arise

 

 From being lost to indifference to family…

From being lost to impatience with our children…

From being lost to manipulation in our relationships…

From being lost to overt pride and selfish attitudes…

 

From being lost to self-centered power and blatant control…

From being lost to sexism and racism…

From being lost to sarcasm and mockery…

From being lost food addiction and self-hatred…

 

From being lost to bigotry and prejudice…

From being lost to our past mistakes and bad choices…

From being lost to put-downs and rage…

From being lost to resentments and cynicism…

 

From being lost to judging other people…

From being lost to compromising our gifts and talents…

From being lost to devaluing ourselves…

From being lost to stereotyping other people…

 

From being lost to hoarding our time and energy…

From being lost to keeping our eyes cast down in shame…

From being lost to God’s desire to love and heal us…

From being lost to the love of our friends and family…

 

And from all evil…

And from all evil…

And from all evil…

 

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2019: Prayers of the Faithful

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Sunday March 31, 2019

Prayers of the Faithful

Let us pray that our Universal Church may deepen as a school of love. May kindness, fairness and hope find a home in us.

We pray to the Lord

Let us pray to become bearers of forgiveness among people separated by family disputes, arguments over politics and varying life values. May acceptance flow from our mouths and hearts.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for people who feel stuck and unappreciated in family life, for family members who have lost their way and who bear their pain silently. May mercy fill the downhearted with joy.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for siblings caught in rivalry, for family members lost in pity, and for teens tormented by bullying. May the old pass away and comfort find its home in us.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for people living fragile lives from disease, from chemotherapy, from the bruises and frailness of how life has turned out. May we be found in the arms of mercy.

We pray to the Lord.

Let us pray for our loved ones who have entered eternal life. May they be found in God’s embrace and forgiveness. In this Mass…

We pray to the Lord.

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2019: Bulletin column and cover art

March 31, 2019 Bulletin Cover

Cover painting: Ronald Raab, CSC

Dear Followers of Jesus,

Today, on this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we proclaim Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32 at Mass. This is one of my favorite stories during the Lenten season. Most of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. If we are not, the story bursts with love and forgiveness and is well worth our effort to enter into its mystery and grace.

There are three characters in the story, a father and his two sons. The younger son thinks he deserves the best and is aching to gain a new freedom apart from his father and brother. The amazing thing is that the father gives him his portion of the inheritance and lets him go. The young son squanders the money and grows weak, hungry and helpless. The son begins to wake up to the reality that his life was pretty darn good the way it was, so he goes back home. He admits to his father that he has really messed up.

We all understand sheer restlessness for such freedom. We desire our own voice, our own place in the world. Sometimes we get it and sometimes it eludes us. We struggle to get our way and we may become addicted to drugs, pride, violence or alcohol in our newfound freedom. We cling to self-sufficiency, self-righteousness and anger just to get our way. No one can tell me what to do. We want to make our presence felt. We definitely know the life of the young son. Some of us live it every day.

The loving father stands near the road waiting for his son. The father runs toward his beloved. He runs, which was unheard of for a Jewish elder. He runs to greet him and offer him forgiveness. He offers forgiveness and wants to have a banquet in the son’s honor. The father gives his love away easily.

We also know the father’s love and forgiveness. Our children may very well be lost and we wait for their arrival home to self and to the family. The father is an image of God and his love in the world, waiting to welcome all of us who are lost and forgotten and unhappy.

The second son is so jealous of his brother. He has kept all the rules and has always done what the father expected. He has seen his life in lockstep to the father. Our lives may very well fit in the category of the second son. We are faithful, keeping all the rules of the Church, never straying, never challenging. Yet, we find our lives so full of regret and hatred, we can hardly stand our ground and find peace in our daily lives.

This gospel becomes an invitation to explore forgiveness and mercy within our lives. We find our lives in all three characters if we take them to heart. Pray with each of the three characters and see in this Lent where you can identify. We thank God for loving mercy and tenderness, no matter where we fit into our relationships and the world. God loves us, indeed.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron