Scripture Safari 2017 is about to begin! Our theme this year is "Fruits of the Spirit - Ours to Share." So that you can participate in Safari at home, our Safari reflections for adults are available here in their entirety and on our Facebook page each day.
Blessed are the peacemakers….
Having been born at the height of the peace movement, it’s no wonder that my favorite songs growing up were “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” or that Peter, Paul, and Mary still hold a place of honor on my iPod playlist. My early years were filled with psychedelic peace sign stickers, and I went around chanting “Make Love, Not War” long before I knew what that phrase even meant. Yet growing up in a conservative military family, I also knew that there was a controversy surrounding peaceniks, peace freaks, and hippies. There was something divisive about peace, something scandalous about the movement I found so attractive.
I was to experience this polemic again as a young adult during the first Gulf War. As a student at a Jesuit school which had ties to Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan (who were two of four churchwomen martyred in El Salvador in 1980) I was encouraged to study their lives and the writings of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Here was a man who spoke powerfully of the duty and responsibility of Christians to make peace. In his last homily, the one given moments before he was shot to death at his own altar, Romero again called on the fighters to lay down their arms and join in the celebration of the Eucharist, to engage in the rite of peace. For me, the power of his words lay not in his martyrdom, but in the fact that he said them knowing his martyrdom was inevitable. With great conviction, I joined with a handful of other students to start a chapter of Pax Christi on our campus. We had little to suffer other than a few eyerolls from those who did not take our protests seriously, and to be honest, we accomplished little as well, but it was a learning experience for me.
I learned first that peacemaking is not popular. Whether it’s making a plea for peace at a protest rally or at the lunch table, peacemakers are always seen as the ones disturbing the status quo. It’s as though the world has a vested interest in conflict and resolving differences peacefully messes with that. Second, it takes courage to be a peacemaker. Standing up for peace doesn’t just make one unpopular, it makes one the target of whatever rage is fueling the conflict. And third, as Christians, we aren’t just invited to be peacemakers, we are expected to be peacemakers. Romero said we are called to be the “voice of the voiceless.”
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Then he went on quickly to say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so people persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?” These four verses tell us exactly what I learned as part of that little Pax Christi group. As children of God, we are expected to be peacemakers. It is part of our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ. Through our peaceful actions and by spreading the call to peace, we make the Kingdom of God visible and tangible in this world. This is our mission as the “salt of the earth.” Sometimes, that’s a thankless job, but Jesus makes it clear that if we are to follow in his footsteps, peacemaking is our duty.
~ by Lisa Lenard
Archdiocese of Cincinnati Statement Concerning Maribel Trujillo
April 6, 2017
The Trump Administration has repeatedly announced that its approach towards immigration enforcement would focus on public safety and removing criminal elements from our communities. Today, we plea to our political leaders and law enforcement to live up to that in the case of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a devoted wife and mother and outstanding member of her church and community.
Maribel, a wife, a mother of four and an active member of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton, fled Mexico in 2002. She currently has a pending asylum case, based on the situation that her family has been targeted by Mexican cartels because they have refused to work for them.
Last year, when Maribel was close to deportation, thousands of Catholic faithful and other supporters throughout Butler County and Cincinnati sent letters, pleading for her to stay. Immigration officials then responded by granting her prosecutorial discretion, considering her too low of a priority and no threat to public safety. Maribel has been reporting regularly since then to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as instructed. At her check-in appointment on Monday, she was told that she could remain at home as her asylum case was further reviewed. Suddenly yesterday, ICE arrived at her brother’s house as she prepared to go to work, taking her into custody for imminent deportation without having the chance to say goodbye to all her children. This is cruel and unacceptable.
Maribel has made a life in Ohio based on positive contributions to her church and her community. She has no criminal history. She is a lay leader at her parish, whose members are surrounding her with prayers that she be permitted to remain with them and her family. Maribel’s children, ages 14, 12, 10 and 3, are all U.S. citizens. Her 3-year-old daughter has recurring seizures and requires the attention and care of her mother.
We urge that prosecutorial discretion for Maribel be extended. We fully respect the Department of Homeland Security’s duty to enforce our immigration laws, and we recognize that this is not an easy task. At the same time, it is clear that the common good cannot be served at this stage by separating this wife and mother from her family. Our community gains nothing by being left with a single-parent household when such a responsible and well respected family can be kept together. We urge that our elected and administrative officials exercise mercy for Maribel.
I want to begin this reflection with two contrasting images:
First, the statue of Mary, serene and peaceful, standing on the snake she has vanquished.
Second, my grandmother, hoe in hand, beating the living daylights out of a snake, while she hollers in desperate tones, "Gene! Jack! Somebody help! There's a snake!"
I actually picked this beatitude to write about, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God", and subsequently remembered that "pure" has been a huge challenge to me. I saw Mary in the statue mentioned above as the very essence of purity. And, in fact, the distinction is made that Mary is described as pure, not chaste, because chaste implies a struggle with temptation, which Mary was considered to be above. I, on the other hand, am much more like my grandma, flailing madly, hollering for help; only the snakes keep putting themselves back together and presenting themselves for fresh battle. I don't know if I can fully articulate this, but I am wanting to say something to you about the contrast between pure as a noun, and a state of innocence; and becoming pure of heart as a process of change in which we are both active participants and passive recipients of grace. When I think of "pure," I think of children...the purity of innocence, the purity of Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall, the purity of virginity...all of which suggests something already gone, long gone. In my earliest memories I was already not pure, already aware of things a really pure child would not know, assailed by feelings that a pure child would surely have been above. Only 4 and already jealous and greedy and a little sneaky. I was drawn to the purity that I imagined Mary possessed, and lived in hope that confession could restore me to purity. Maybe it did, but my humanity would resurface quickly. In high school it seemed particularly cruel to me that confession was only available on Saturday, leaving me to navigate cautiously through Saturday night, that most treacherous of adolescent nights, if I hoped to arrive at Mass on Sunday still pure. Now I am more drawn to "purifying", the verbiness of that versus the static, nounness of pure, and I think that I am in a constant state of being purified...and that the process of being purified will always be continuing. In the fire of honest engagement with my heart I see all my messiness, and if I acknowledge it and bring it to God with humility, through the fire of that painful admission, I can become more pure of heart, more single in purpose. The first step of this (and the one I seem to be always engaged in) is simply the willingness to acknowledge that the snakes are there. This purity is more about aligning myself over and over again with Christ, than it is about some elusive perfection. If I am like my grandma, flailing madly, then I need to acknowledge this and not try to pretend I am Mary, standing on a snake that I am pretending is dead while in fact it is crawling up my leg. Fr. Kramer spoke recently about rooting out all that is contrary to the Gospel of Christ. Amen. But first we have to acknowledge what is contrary, not hide the fact that it is there. Paul Tillich spoke about false faith which is putting our absolute concern in something less than the Absolute. True purity of heart is putting our deepest concern in line with the deepest call. When I am aligned with that deepest call, the call to love without reserve, I can feel that flow of love, that generosity of the Holy Spirit and my life does flow on "in endless song". In that flow it is absolutely true that I see God. I am far more receptive to His presence all around me, and I am empowered by His presence within me.
~by Lou Ann Horstman
Today’s Old Testament reading is from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Is 49:8-15). It speaks of the limitless love we receive from our God. The prophet asks: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” And then God reassures us that even should a mother forget, God will never forget us.
There is no limit to God’s mercy and love.
This reading reminds us that God’s mercy is not just some abstract theological concept.
It is real; it can flood our hearts and change our lives.
Blessed are the merciful – those who give away what they have received from God.
Maybe today is the day to forgive a neighbor or reach out to an estranged family member.
Maybe today is the day to seek God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Maybe today is the day to focus on Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father forgive them......”
Maybe today is the day to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive......” and mean it.
Maybe today is the day to open our hearts to both extend and receive the bounty of God’s unconditional love.
~ by Fr. Bill Kramer
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Some years ago my sister and her husband decided to tear down their 150-year-old house and rebuild it. A contractor was found who drew up a good set of blueprints,
and from these plans a beautiful house was designed and built.
If we are to live a worthwhile and righteous life we too need a set of blueprints, a set of guidelines for ourselves.
Early in his ministry Jesus gave us a clear set of “blueprints” or principles for living the Christian life. These Beatitudes are not a nine-step program for ethical perfection,
or a sure plan to get us to heaven.
But the Beatitudes challenge us to look at all people and all sides, perhaps even those we would rather not see or deal with.
From his vantage point on that mountain, Jesus saw people of his day who had been overlooked by the so-called righteous elite,
He looked at them and called them by a name no one had ever called them, a name they would never have dreamed of calling themselves.
He called them, “BLESSED!”
If we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness, this beatitude challenges us to look at all people the way Jesus did, with eyes of love.
I therefore find it outrageous and appalling that our government would even consider removing over 20 million people from government-sponsored health insurance for the poor,
at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthy.
It seems to me that like hunger and thirst, the need for basic health insurance is a fundamental right of all our citizens.
As Catholic Christians we are called to reach out to the less fortunate. A basic tenent of Catholic Social Teaching is the preferential option for the poor.
We are told very clearly in Matthew 25 that we will be judged by what we have done to reach out to the less fortunate.
As we follow Jesus’ blueprint for our lives, may we hunger and thirst for righteousness for all our brothers and sisters.
Blessed are you who do this,
“be glad and rejoice,
for your reward in heaven is great!”
Deacon John Collins
The eight points of the Maltese Cross represent the eight Beatitudes
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Most translations use the word meek for the third Beatitude. This word is challenging for me. I am an extravert. Meek would not be a word that I would think of in describing myself. Meekness is not a word that appeals to me. It seems dangerous to be meek. A meek person would not stand up for what is right. They would be taken advantage of. However, the two Bibles that I use with the youngest of our community come from the Good News Translation, which chooses the word “humble” in place of meek. Humility is a virtue that I see value in cultivating. A humble person does not boast. They do not seek fame. They do not put themselves above others. You may feel that this is just semantics and these phrases would also describe a meek person, but please allow me to go further into humble- the word that speaks to me.
I have been reading “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. This book was written by Douglas Abrams while conducting a week long interview with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (It is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend). One of the Eight Pillars of Joy that they identify is humility. I would like to take some pieces from that chapter to break apart. Archbishop Tutu explains, “Humility is the recognition that your gifts are from God, and this lets you sit relatively loosely to those gifts.” This fits well with the Beatitudes. We are humble because although we may have done a lot of work cultivating our gifts; the gifts were first given to us. I love the image of “sitting loosely” with my gifts. Take a moment a picture what that would look like for you. Maybe if we can “sit loosely” we won’t be so invested in our own success. The Archbishop goes on to say, “Humility allows us to celebrate the gifts of others, but it does not mean you have to deny your own gifts or shrink from using them.” Living the Beatitudes takes away the competition; we want the best for all. That may mean I follow you or that you follow me. Probably it would be a little of both and a lot of walking side by side. Lastly, the Archbishop said, “God uses each of us in our own way, and even if you are not the best one, you may be the one who is needed or the one who is there”. That is a humbling thought. Just because you are the one being used, it doesn’t mean that you are #1. God didn’t call the best of the best. He calls all and uses who answers.
Whether you long to be meek or humble if we live out these virtues we are promised a great reward. In the beautiful song, “We are the Light of the World” the songwriter, Jean Greif, used both meek and humble. I would encourage you to listen at https://youtu.be/77Qa7iOLdMU. If you want a less contemporary version there are others available on youtube.com.
An online version of our 2017 Lenten Retreat is now available. You can set aside about three hours to work through the retreat all at once OR work your way through the retreat in 15-20 minute segments.
Blessed are they who mourn
For they will be comforted.
This beatitude is hard for me because I feel like I have not mourned my parents George and Norma who have both passed. They are wonderful and loving parents.
In my life this be-attitude gets translated into “blessed are those who get to be around, share with, those who mourn.” In my role at St Joseph St Raphael I am blessed to walk with those who mourn. God is love and I powerfully experience love (God) directly in those who mourn. I can see love all over them, in their faces; feel love in their energy and the way they move. I am drawn to those who mourn because I feel in them Jesus who is “the way the truth and the life”. People who mourn seem much more real and alive to me. They are focused on the things that matters, that are real and last. It pulls me out of my unreal thoughts. Mourning is the result of and a precious part of love. A love that ‘never fails” Corinthians 13:8. You cannot miss, long for that which you never knew, experienced or loved. Our lives are a flowing whole that cannot be separated out into particular moments. Mourning means we love and we are blessed because God who is love will comfort us. This is a statement about God and who God is on our lives. Just like there is no mourning without love, there is no mourning without comfort. People often say “you will get over it”. When you lose someone you love that space, that emptiness becomes a part of you. That never gets filled up. You do not replace love because it never goes away it just changes. People who love would not and cannot have it any other way. Nine months, five years, 25 years that love is still there. We carry it in our hearts until we are fully united with that love. This makes sense of our own passing as a going home, deeper, lasting home. This is “the way, the truth and the life”. John 14:6
~ by Deacon Norm Horstman
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:3
I’ve always loved the beatitudes, and the promise of deep blessing for the those who experience the brokenness of life most acutely. And yet, despite that love and connection, I would gloss over the blessing for the poor in spirit. I felt sorry for those “poor in spirit,” who had to wait until heaven for some relief. I didn’t understand the phrase, and I pictured these poor souls with grey skin and enlarged eyes, poor in body as well as spirit. It was a phrase that made me shudder.
Then my second son was born, and he would not sleep, which meant I didn’t sleep either. In the long nights, as I begged God for some relief and some rest, I heard a whispered reply to ask instead for “poverty of spirit.” I brought this surprising longing to my spiritual director, who helped me to see that I was being invited to ask for the grace I had already received: the poverty of spirit that comes when you have reached your physical limits, when you realize the fragility of your humanity, when you see how little you can do on your own and how much you are dependent on God. I entered a season of praying a colloquy, or conversation, with Jesus on the cross. It was there in the very limits of his humanity that Jesus showed me how he had lived the virtue of poverty of spirit, up to and especially in his dying.
As I have lived into my own poverty of spirit, years after those restless, sleepless nights, I’ve come to realize that poverty of spirit is always present. We are, each of us, the poor in spirit, limited in our humanity, wholly dependent on God. We just don’t always know it. We run from our poverty, hiding it away in the trappings of life and the mask of busyness. We make the mistaken assumption, like I did, that poverty of spirit is something “out there,” in others, to be either fixed or avoided.
Lent, this season when we journey with Jesus through his life and to the cross, is an invitation to inhabit our poverty of spirit, to breathe into our poorness. This is uncomfortable and challenging, a pulling of ourselves into the broken interior spaces we instinctively avoid. Mercifully, we know that we are journeying not just to the cross, but to the resurrection. And we have the promise that, as we are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is ours.
~ by Lauren Burdette
Reflection on the readings for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 29, 2017
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Let me start by saying that I am not here to give you “alternative facts;” I am here to give you the Gospel truth.
How do you become a success? According to the standards of the world success is measured by your wealth and the power or prestige you enjoy. Some people preach the “Prosperity Gospel.” This view of the gospel says that when everything is going well for you, when you have good financial and physical health it is obvious that you are favored by God.
The prosperity gospel and the way the world measures success would be completely foreign to the gospel Jesus preached. All of the readings that we are given today tell us the real way of measuring success – God’s way.
The prophet Zephaniah preached at a time in the history of the people of God when things were not going well. The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen and the southern kingdom of Judea was about to fall. The faith life of the people and the political choices they were making was the direct cause of their defeat.
Zephaniah gives the people warnings and promises. The warning in today’s reading says: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth…seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.” In other words, turn back to God before it is too late.
The prophet then gives a promise. “I will leave a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly.” In the Old Testament we are told that no matter what happens to the nation there will always be a remnant faithful to God and from these he will once again build up his people. Then the prophet describes the characteristics of the remnant. “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue”. God’s way to success is opening up for us.
St. Paul continues in the same vain by telling us that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something so that no human being might boast before God.” Remember that Jesus told us to enter his kingdom by the narrow gate. Many of those who as Paul suggests “are something” are really something in their own mind. They need to be careful – their heads might be too big to get through the narrow gate!
So far to become successful in the eyes of God we must be lowly, always seeking humility and justice, and always speaking the truth.
As we turn to the gospel we hear the familiar words of the Beatitudes. The wonderful words of Jesus are the marching orders of the faithful Christian. Jesus is saying to us if you want to be happy in this life and in the life to come live out these principles in your everyday life.
“Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit…” You do not have to be in poverty to be poor in spirit. People who are poor in spirit know the proper place of “things” in our life. Material possessions cannot make us happy. If they could why do we keep getting more and more stuff? Those who are poor in spirit always have their eyes opened to the needs of others and if they see a need they are willing to give up what they have to help.
“Blessed (happy) are those who mourn...” We all have things to mourn about in our lives. It might be a death in the family, a lost job, a relationship that goes wrong. Certainly we want others to comfort us in difficult times, but what about the times things are going great for us. Jesus is telling us to open our eyes to the suffering of others. Do we mourn for the person who dies in a car accident today? Do we mourn for those who shot to death on our streets? Do we mourn for those who are caught in war torn areas of the world? Do we show the compassion of the Lord when we see these tragedies unfold? Do we do anything to help? Remember a characteristic of a successful person in God’s eyes is one who seeks justice and seeks to relieve suffering.
“Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice)…” The blessed or happy persons, in the eyes of God, are those who have their eyes open to the injustice in our world and when they see it they take action. As disciple of the Lord we should always be ready to help the poor, to work against discrimination, to be a voice for the voiceless.
“Blessed (happy) are the merciful…” Pope John XIII said: “See everything; judge little; forgive much.” How merciful are we toward others? Do we forgive others or do we hold grudges? How compassionate are we? What about those who would like to come to our country just to be able to live and raise their families in peace? What about those who helped our military and are now in danger? What is our attitude when some in authority in our country want to take the natural resources of another country just because we can? What do we think about when we hear over and over “America First?” Do we understand that the constant teaching of Jesus is that God must be first and our neighbor must be second? God gave us so much as a country not to keep it all to ourselves but to share with those in need – here and abroad. With much blessing comes much responsibility. We are reminded by St. Matthew (Mt 25: 31-46) that at the end of our lives, when we stand in judgment, we will not be asked about our sins (because if we are smart we will have already repented of our sins). We will be asked how we loved God above all things and how we loved our neighbor as ourselves.
“Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers…” How are we at peace making? In our homes, our work places or any place we find ourselves do we strive to get along with others? Are we always critical of others? Are we always ready to stir the pot? Jesus isn’t telling us to have peace at any price but he is telling us that when there are problems, the successful person in the eyes of God, is always ready to listen and be charitable toward those with whom they disagree.
“Blessed (happy) are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness (justice)…” The way of Jesus is not an easy way of life – his life cost him the cross. When we stand up for our sisters and brothers we may have to suffer the scorn of those who do not know Jesus. We need to realize that is part of our cross – remember Jesus always ask us to follow him.
When we try to make humility, justice, peace, truthfulness, and compassion part of our lives we become a success in the eyes of God. We will also hopefully realize the truth with which Jesus concluded the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Our call from the Lord is to follow him. None of us is perfect but I might suggest that we get up every day and ask for the grace to follow the Lord better than we did yesterday – the true measure of success.
~by Fr. Bill Kramer
The deadline for submitting applications for the Archbishop Karl J. Alter Scholarship is Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The Archbishop Alter Scholarship Fund was established in 1964 to promote African American Catholic leadership. Its purpose is to assist graduating senior high school students in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who are African American and Catholic to attend a college or university. A scholarship recipient may choose to attend a parochial, private or public institution. The Archbishop Alter Scholarship is a four-year renewable grant (paid twice a year.) Scholarship candidates are urged to attend a four-year college/university. Scholarship candidates who choose to attend a two-year college or university will be considered. A scholarship candidate must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in order to renew the scholarship. For more information, please contact Deacon Royce Winters of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at 513.421.3131x2640, or on the Archdiocesan website.
The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which includes Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati) has issued the following statements in the wake of the Executive Order concerning the admission of refugees and immigrants to the United States.
Like a beautifully laid mosaic floor, the Holy Spirit has brought together members of the Springfield community to welcome the Mesa family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. St. Joseph/St. Raphael parish is blessed to be among the tiles.
Mr. Mesa has already served our country for 20 years by working in the U.S. Embassy in the Congo. He and his family will be arriving in their new hometown in March.
While they already have temporary housing which is furnished, they will soon be in a place of their own and need basically everything to set up house-keeping. Also, since they are very limited in what they can bring with them, they will need many personal items for Mr. & Mrs. Mesa and their 5 children.
Their needs will be more than material as they will also need help acclimating to their new community, learning how to grocery shop, make doctor appointments, get a library card, and learning many other daily tasks. Due to our very limited public transportation system, they will also need a number of rides (including rides to mass) until Mr. and Mrs. Mesa learn to drive in the U.S. and save for a car.
There is already a tutor in place to teach the children English and help Mrs. Mesa increase her English vocabulary, but interpreters who speak French will also be needed in the early days after their arrival.
Please prayerfully consider how you can help welcome the Mesa family to their new home. Do you have furniture to donate? Could you buy a mattress set? Do you have extra kitchenware or small kitchen appliances which are taking up too much space in your own cabinets? Could you stock their bathrooms with toiletries? Are you willing to give the family a ride to mass on Sundays or one Sunday per month (two cars will be needed)? Do you have gently used toys for the younger children ages 8, 9, 10, and 13? Would you like to help throw a shower for the family within the first few weeks of their arrival?
The ways to help and be blessed by this family are endless. If you feel the Holy Spirit leading you down this path, please comment below & you will be contacted or call Lisa at the parish office at 323-7523.
With torture being a subject we are hearing about frequently on the news, Fr. Kramer and our pastoral staff thought it would be good to refresh our understanding of the Church's position. Below are a number of resources which define and explain the Catholic Church's teaching on torture.
Does the Catholic Church condemn torture? This article from the American bishops summarizes the Church's position.
This statement was issued in 2014 ahead of a meeting between the Holy See and the United Nations Committee on the Convention Against Torture. This article from the Vatican News Agency emphasizes the Holy See's strong commitment against torture.
The Second Vatican Council taught in the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (No. 27): "Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit…all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator." This article explains why torture degrades both the victim and the perpetrator.
"What is the significance of Jesus' Crucifixion for the issue of torture? The cross is an instrument of torture. The fact that our Savior was tortured to death should never be far from Christian discussion about torture.
In the Crucifixion God has absorbed the violence of the world and not given it back. God has taken on the position of the tortured in the world, the position of the victim. And if we don't see the whole world through those eyes, then we've missed something crucial about what it means to be Christian. I think it was civil rights activist Dick Gregory who said that if Jesus had been around today, we'd all be wearing little electric chairs around our necks instead of crosses. We've just gotten so used to the cross that we often lose touch with its true significance. It was an instrument of torture reserved for common criminals in the Roman Empire." Link to the article from which this excerpt was taken here.
Please remember our local Parent Infant Center during this Christmas season.
Just as the wise men brought gifts to the Christ child, we bring gifts to those children in need in our community.
ear thermometers, washcloths, bath towels, baby lotion, diaper cream, baby shampoo, diapers and wipes, infant sleepers, newborn and small onesies, infant toys such as teethers and rattles, nail clippers, brushes, socks, crib sheets, and any other baby items are appreciated.
Return items to the Giving Tree in the back of each church on Epiphany Sunday, January 8, 2017.
Our St. Joseph/St. Raphael Lector Retreat, held in October, gave us valuable insights on the Holy Scriptures. Now this retreat is online and available to all. National Bible Week is a great time to set aside some time to go through it. The retreat takes about 90 minutes and is best with a partner, but you can do it on your own, too.
In honor of National Bible Week, the USCCB is offering 7 days of scripture meditations delivered to your inbox.
Need some ideas for incorporating Scripture into your life or into the lives of your children? Not sure how to choose a Bible or look up Scripture passages? Want to find a good method of meditating on the Bible passages you read? Here are pdf some helps (175 KB)in honor of National Bible Week, Nov. 13-19, 2016.
To celebrate National Bible Week, why not spend some time delving into the Word of God? The Diocese of Little Rock, in conjunction with those who publish the Little Rock Scripture Study, has made a 13-part Scripture study on the Jubliee Year of Mercy Available online.
In honor of St. Martin’s Day, you are invited to a special viewing and reflection of the PBS documentary:
Sunday, November 6
in Hoban Hall
(the basement of St. Raphael Church located at 225 E. High St. in Springfield)
Pam Long, the regional director of the Archdiocese’s Catholic Social Action office, will lead a discussion after the film. We encourage everyone to share their insights, observations, and stories. Our annual St. Martin’s Day potluck luncheon will take place at the same time. Contact Lisa Lenard at 323-7523.
Slavery By Another Name:
“Challenges one of America's most cherished assumptions --
the belief that slavery in the United States ended with
Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation --
by telling the harrowing story of how a new system of involuntary
servitude took its place in the South with shocking force…and the legacy it has left us.”
Season of Caring for Creation
1 September – 4 October
Starts: September 1 – World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis recently proclaimed it as a day of prayer for creation, as
the Orthodox Church has done since 1989, to “draw from our rich
spiritual heritage the reasons which feed our passion for the care of
Ends: October 4 – Solemnity of Saint Francis of Assisi
As our Seraphic Founder, Saint Francis gives us a model to imitate,
celebrate and reflect on as the Patron of Ecology and author of
the Canticle of the Creatures.
Pope Francis uses the phrase ‘integral ecology’ and warns against a narrow scientific
focus on the modern environmental crisis. It might best be seen as a type of package to
guide our daily living. Focused first on Christian worship of the Creator of all, Integral
Ecology has implications for choices in the human journey, our life style and values -
to confront the impact of ‘dictatorial economics’ on the world’s poor and the earth
itself. The Pope invites us to revisit the integral connection between Justice, Peace and
Integrity of Creation.
One of our parishioners wanted to share this story of how she was overwhelmed by the blessing of being used by God to answer someone else's prayers.
"As summer wound down, I decided to help my daughter go through her closet. Over the last several months, I accumulated a couple of bags of clothes and shoes to which we added more. As we continued to go through clothes, she decided she no longer needed her uniform items. My oldest daughter joined in and brought me her old uniform items as well. Clearly, I thought I was clothing 6 kids with uniforms from all of the items we found. Many of the uniform shirts were still in the plastic! Being the planner that I am, I clearly bought uniforms ahead and then forgot I bought ahead and bought more so I had an abundance of uniform items. Blue shirts, oxfords, skirts, jumpers, pants, etc. Catholic Central has a uniform exchange, so I intended to take the items to the school to help families there.
It was Friday morning, I carried all of the bags to the van. I intended to drop the uniform items at Catholic Central first, but as I loaded up the kids to do some school shopping I decided to go to St. Vincent DePaul first because it was closer to where I lived. As I was unloading the bags for donation, a woman who just pulled up in a car asked me if I happened to have any school clothes in there. I said, “You don’t happen to need uniform items, do you?” Her eyes got big and very enthusiastically, “YES, I DO!” I asked her what size. She was not sure, so I said, “Come with me.” She said, “OH, you are kidding me!?”
“Nope, come on.”
She followed me to my van and as I pulled things out of my uniform bag, she told me how her daughter had just called her frantic because she needed uniforms for her daughter (the woman’s grandchild) but was unable to afford them. The Grandmother continued to pull money from her pocket and say, “I was able to scrape together $26.00 to try to find something for my Granddaughter.” I asked her to give me a hug, which she did. As I continued to pull items we thought she could use out of my bag, she kept telling me how she was praying to God all the way over to the store. Once we got everything out that she felt she could use, she told me how she was good with a needle and thread and would fix anything that needed it. She now had an armload of uniform items which she began to carry to her car saying, “I am going to hide these in my car so I can surprise my daughter.” Just then, a friend came out and said, “She is in there freaking out because she can’t find any…..Oh my! Where did you get all of that!?” She explained that this “nice lady” had some uniforms she gave to me. The friend encouraged her to go in and show her daughter. Before we parted, the lady asked for another hug which I gladly gave her.
I walked away from that encounter on cloud 9. So happy that I could help someone with all of those uniforms I purchased. My overabundance allowed another person to save the $26.00 she had to scrape together for uniforms for her Granddaughter. I got to feel the overwhelming honor of being a vessel that allowed God to answer someone’s prayers. When I think of all the decisions made that brought the two of us together at that moment, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in what happened. I am reminded that Father asked us to think about the Our Father when we pray….”Give us this day, Our daily bread...” I pray that others will open themselves up and allow the Spirit in to move them to be in service of others. The awesomeness of the power of God and the Holy Spirit can be found in even the smallest of gestures. In that moment, I felt chosen and unworthy and loved more than words can express."
Water in Short Supply – Well Needed at St. Lucy’s:
Sr. Dorothy Stang is buried at the St. Raphael Center near Anapu in Para Brazil. The center is a major gathering space for the people of St. Lucy Parish. The St. Raphael Center is a large, covered space with shallow wells from the nearby river. With the climate change in the region, those wells are drying up and there is not clean water for people to drink when they gather. This has become a very important community issue that needs to be addressed so that the community can continue to meet and be of support for each other. The solution is that a semi-artesian well needs to be dug and then set up to deliver that water.
On June 23, on behalf of the people of St. Joseph/St. Raphael Parish, Pat Wickham presented Sr. Rebecca Spires, SND a check for $3,236.73 to be used for the well project. This money came from the Advent & Lenten Alms cans and the monies collected at Scripture Safari over the past year. We wish to extend our sincere gratitude to all who used alms can or made donation during the Lenten Advent Seasons as we prepared to celebrate the birth Jesus and His death and resurrection. Jesus continues His saving mission here on earth for and through all of us. Money collected at this year’s Safari will also go towards the well project.
On Wednesday, the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, along with their teen and adult helpers and Safari Gold, cooked up a meal for 200 people at the Springfield Soup Kitchen. The 4th, 5th, and 6th graders chopped lettuce, green onions, cucumbers, green peppers, and tomatoes for a huge amount of salad. Teen and adult helpers sliced cantaloupes and watermelon. Safari Gold browned hamburger for sloppy joes. Working together, we made a meal for 200 in just 2 hours time and gained a new appreciation for those who cook for 200 people twice a week! To top off that meal, we had asked our parishioners to bring in pies and ice cream, and the desserts rolled in all morning! Pre-K even helped by baking pans of brownies.
Many thanks to all who worked chopping and frying and to all who donated pies and ice cream. A special thanks goes out to Catanzaro's for donating all the produce and to the family who donated all the buns.