Posts by Cathy Raffaele

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: February 11, 2018, 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46     1 Corinthians 10:31-11:2     Mark 1:40-45

As we embark on the Lenten Season St. Mark presents us with an unusual story in the healing of the Leper. In many healing stories we learn that healing actually begins with faith. Faith is believing God can change things and with that Jesus performs miracle after miracle showing that He is the Lord of life.  For the Leper the most important thing was not his illness, but that he had faith that he could overcome.

This is very important in our own lives. For many illnesses perhaps we can not get a cure, but we can have faith in the possibilities. Often a spiritual healing is much more important than a physical one. Even if the leper had not been cured the rest of his life would have been spent praising the Lord, for he knew he was loved and was cared about.  As we go about our daily responsibilities we must understand this in our own life and in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Indeed God puts us here to take care of each other in good works.

This coming Wednesday we embark on a spiritual six week journey of Lent. It is a journey that we take together. The most important thing is not what we give up or our fasting during Lent, but how these have the possibility of changing us. Let us make the most of this in our spiritual growth during the Lenten Season. The leper asked to be cured. We ask to grow closer to the Lord and one another during this most holy time.

May you have a blessed and peace-filled Lenten Season.

 

Bishop George Murry: “eradicating this plague” of racism”

The chair of the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism charged that American Catholics have shown a “lack of moral consciousness on the issue of race” and urged bold action by the church to “break the silent complicity with the social evil of racism that has marred the past and continues to mar the present.”

Click here to read “Brothers and Sisters to Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Racism1979”

 

 

In Memoriam: Karen M. Buban

 

Karen M. Buban, sister of Maureen Guth,

d. February 3, 2108

May she rest in peace.

 

National Day of Prayer for The African American and African Family: February 4

 

Fr. Jim Goode, OFM, in 1989, founded this National Day of Prayer For The African American and African Family (February 4) to place their needs before the Lord.

To help celebrate this day all are asked to Share the Journey, worship together at the Eucharistic table and pray as a family for our African American and African families.
Or come together and tell your family story. For more information and join in solidarity visit Share the Journey.

 

From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

“Those Healings That Restore”

Job 7:1-4, 6-7    1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23    Mark 1:29-39

Today’s Gospel story is a continuation of last week’s Gospel. It all happens on the first day of Jesus public life. Jesus announces the kingdom in the synagogue and casts a demon out of a man.

Then, without delay, Mark drags us in Jesus’ wake to the house of Peter’s sick mother-in-law. There isn’t time to draw breath. He arrives, they tell him immediately that she is ill, he goes into the room, takes her by the hand and, without a word, lifts her to her feet – healed! Only then do the men sit down to a meal, with the mother-in-law serving.

A Word with power

This is a message with power. The message causes things to happen. It’s not meant primarily to be heard, but to be experienced. It’s an event. It changes things. The message that God is acting to transform this world into the Kingdom of God is not just an announcement, but God in action!

The day has been eventful – Jesus’ first day out in his ministry – and already, by evening, they’re bringing him the sick and the demon-possessed. What is going on here?

Mark is telling us about the Good News. The coming of the Kingdom that Jesus announces means that a new power – the power of the Spirit – is loose. It is the power of liberation, because it breaks the hold of those things that imprison people: evil spirits and illness. Mark is telling us that a conquest has begun.

What he does is simply offer a no-strings-attached invitation in his message to ‘Repent!’. “Repentance” is the appropriate response to God from us. And in the face of the Good News of the Kingdom, we need to respond with joy – to reach out and grasp the gift.

You have to wonder what’s wrong with our preaching today…with mine this morning or evening. Why we are not being similarly mobbed by needy people who hear and experience the preaching of the Kingdom as the Best Possible News? Or just, why isn’t it enough to even get people to get their backsides into our pews?

I suspect it has to do with the fact that our Good News isn’t good enough. Or clear enough to get through all the other ‘good newses’ blaring out there today. Or maybe it sounds too otherworldly, doesn’t bring that immediate healing or relief or joy that it did when Jesus preached it with that clarity of healing and restoration.

Healing and restoration

There is an important social significance to Jesus’ healings and exorcisms. Both possession and illness does more than mess up the lives of those who suffer. They excluded the sufferers from participation in family, social and religious life. It’s not that Peter’s mother-in-law is ill and feeling poorly that is at stake, so much as that she is excluded from all that is happening – particularly from this special meal.

Look, and you will see how Jesus’ healings and exorcisms have this constant emphasis — restoration to the community. In other words, the message of liberation that Jesus preaches and enacts is not focused on making individuals feel better in themselves, but about restoring and creating a genuine community for those excluded by the system.

Where the outcasts are reconnected with genuine community, the kingdom takes on reality. Illness or disability alone don’t hinder people from living a full life. There is no suggestion in the gospels that a sick person can’t be a whole person. It’s not the illness per se from which people need Jesus’ liberation, but the prison of social exclusion. Individual life has meaning within the wider network of relationships, and it’s this exclusion that Jesus overcomes.

Jesus brings us together, he bridges barriers, exclusions, prejudices Note how Jesus concentrates on the meaning of the illnesses rather than the illnesses themselves. He pays almost no attention to the symptoms. He focuses on the effects of the illness. Jesus is a healer – someone who creates wholeness – rather than a curer.

And it’s when we grasp this significance that we will break out of the sterile debates between those on whom the whole significance of Jesus’ miracles is lost, and the others, whose only concern is whether or not we can believe that Jesus can do “magic”.

Small wonder, then, that Paul in our second reading is so motivated, excited and passionate about the gospel! This is the best news ever! It is something that he can’t keep to himself. He is determined to do everything he can to ensure that everyone hears the Good News. But, you see, ‘hearing’ is not just about words. Paul is well aware of the factors that can either hinder people or help them to “hear” in such a way that they encounter the Good News as something that converts and changes lives. He knows that the messenger is often the single greatest barrier to a good message! And so he sets himself the task of being, as far as possible, “all things to all people”.

This isn’t some sort of cynical sales pitch, or marketing ploy. It is about completely absorbing the message and, more importantly, genuinely identifying with those who hear it. Just as Jesus became a human being to identify with the hearers of the message, so Paul seeks to be in solidarity with his hearers. It means setting aside all the privileges life has given him. The Good News takes him to places and people he would never have dreamed of going. More importantly, it changes him. To identify with those to whom he preached — the Gentiles, the outcasts of his Jewish world — transforms Paul. That he did this effectively and sincerely is evidenced by the Christian communities that he founded – churches where the most impossibly different people manage to live together in genuine community.

Certainly those communities had problems, sometimes serious ones, in getting along. But the focus of the reading from Paul today is on Paul’s conviction that Christian communities ought to reflect God’s passionate concern for everyone, starting with the least first. His churches weren’t the collections of like-minded people from similar social, ethnic and national backgrounds that our churches too sadly, often are today.

The recurring image that Paul falls back on is of a body – different, but equal, with each of us as a vital part in building up the body as a whole. Church is about genuinely inclusive communities that contain such radical differences that it can only be the result of the Holy Spirit’s activity. It’s the new community that springs out of the announcement of the Good News, news of what God is doing in Jesus – news that we cannot possibly keep to ourselves.   (Lawrence Moore)

Disappointment and Acceptance

When we look at today’s Gospel, it is disappointing to see that Jesus is already beginning to disappoint his disciples. They do not hear Good News. They’re anxious for him to raise the flag of rebellion and to use his power to drive the Roman occupiers out of their land.

But he goes off instead to a quiet place to commune with his heavenly Father. He has come to preach the good news of salvation through the power of love and sacrifice, rather than through the military power and domination that they see as the way things get done..

Life Implications

We don’t need to look far to find the reality of chaos and dissension in our world today. In fact, the forces of chaos seem at times to have the upper hand today, as nations are consumed by ethnic and religious hatred, communities are divided by strife and families are often torn apart by internal rivalries. Sometimes the chaos enters our own psyches as we struggle to see the meaning in our lives.

God is fully aware of these troubles and he has sent Jesus to give us the wisdom of loving concern, which is the only thing that can bring us peace and happiness. Jesus not only taught this wisdom, he lived it fully in how he cared for the sick and the possessed, and ultimately, in how he gave his life for us.

We, like the disciples, are all for destroying our enemies to achieve our purposes, but Jesus goes away to pray. This doesn’t mean that he telling us to ignore working to do good and overcome evil. But it does mean that, ultimately, it is only prayerful attainment of inner peace, trust in the power of the Lord and sincere love of others that will heal and restore the beautiful world that God has entrusted to us. Only a prayerful spirit can bring the peace and harmony that Jesus came to offer us.     (Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.)

Readings: February 4, 2018, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from The Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Job 7:1-4, 6-7

        There’s Nothing to My Life

Human life is a struggle, isn’t it? It’s a life sentence to hard labor. Like field hands longing for quitting time and working stiffs with nothing to hope for but payday, I’m given a life that meanders and goes nowhere — months of aimlessness, nights of misery! I go to bed and think, ‘How long till I can get up?’ I toss and turn as the night drags on—and I’m fed up!

My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles, and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life! “God, don’t forget that I’m only a puff of air! These eyes have had their last look at goodness.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23

Brothers and sisters: if I proclaim the Message, it’s not to get something out of it for myself. I’m /compelled/ to do it, and doomed if I don’t! If this was my own idea of just another way to make a living, I’d expect some pay.But since it’s /not/ my idea but something solemnly entrusted to me, why would I expect to get paid? So am I getting anything out of it? Yes, as a matter of fact: the pleasure of proclaiming the Message at no cost to you. You don’t even have to pay my expenses!

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people.

I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

  • Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.

That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn’t let them say a word.

     The Leper

While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”

Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: February 4, 2018, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job 7:1-4, 6-7    1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23    Mark 1:29-39

One of the big challenges we have today in the church is that there is more recognition that we are called to be evangelizers showing others how Jesus operates in our life. It’s not so much a thing of winning converts, but in sharing our faith with others.

It does not take a lot of education and talent to be able to evangelize. We all have good news to tell, and we all have great stories on how God has made changes in our lives. Others need to hear it. This is especially true today when there is so much hatred, bigotry, and people seeing things only for themselves. We cannot be as Paul says, “be all things to all people,” but we can learn from others, as well as teach others.

Since we are getting close to the Lenten Season, maybe this is one thing to keep in mind,  how the Lord is using us to teach and share the good news that we have. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was indeed a healer, but He wasn’t just healing physically. He was healing spiritually as well. We are healers of one another. So much good in this world can happen if we realize this and put it into practice.

Message from Fr. Taylor

Dear Parishioners, I want to take this opportunity to thank you so very much for the wonderful cards greetings, prayers, and gifts that you gave to me over the Christmas Season. As you are aware there has been so much going on within our parish this year, vandalism, break-ins, and buildings breaking down from plumbing and cold. Then the large numbers of funerals that have come our way in both parishes this January. So if I have not sent you a personal Thank You it is not because I am not grateful, but I have not had any time to do it. In the meantime I always appreciate, and I am thankful for all the goodwill, love and affirmation that you show me and the parish.  May God continue to bless you.   

Father Taylor

Paul Titus: Allegheny County Bar Association Homer S. Brown Division’s “Drum Major for Justice Award”

Paul Titus, member of St. Charles Lwanga Parish, received the  Allegheny County Bar Association Homer S. Brown Division’s “Drum Major for Justice Award” on January 15, 2017.

For decades, attorney Paul Titus has worked tirelessly behind the scenes, donating his time to help Pittsburgh-area youth in predominantly African-American communities gain hands-on experience in the legal field.

Click here for more details.

 

From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

“The Super Bowl in a Culture of Dominance”

Deuteronomy 18:15-20    1 Corinthians 7:32-35    Mark 1:21-28

2.1.15If what a nation watches on television makes a statement about that nation’s values, then Americans value their football. The Super Bowl spectacle draws huge numbers of viewers still usually the most watched tv program in US history, the television event of each year. The commercials and halftime shows certainly boost the numbers as well.

At the same time, many find it harder to watch professional football now than ever before. We know more about the damages caused by head injuries, the sport’s classic cavalier attitudes toward them, and the National Football League’s longstanding refusal to admit the problem. The franchise near the nation’s capital stubbornly refuses to engage in Debate about how to honor native peoples. Those who run the league showed themselves as ignorant (at best) or enabling (at worst) when it comes to addressing the seriousness of domestic violence committed by its members The recent DeflateGate scandal might come as a welcome distraction for league executives right now.

Football’s Values as Cultural Values

Americans enjoy football because, to a degree, football reflects the values of strength, courage, strategy, self-discipline, teamwork, and celebrity that American culture holds dear. It’s also refreshing to watch someone else get crushed by a 260-pound linebacker after you’ve had a lousy week at work.

The problem develops when we let football (or other sports, or a military, or Wall Street or the board room or other forces) define strength in terms of dominance. It has to make us pay attention when three college students beat up a man in a restaurant and then chant ‘California football rules!”

I’m not trying to dump on football. I love football. I am at times obsessed with football. I’m just noting that it’s a game largely devoted to imposing one’s will on another. That competitive value can be fine on a field, but when it seeps into our society, neighborhoods, our streets and our homes and families, we should be wary. Because when dominance is the name of the game, there will be victims.

The Super Bowl might prompt us to consider the hazards of an ethical outlook in which rewards go to those who say “We take what we want” and follow through on it. I believe that the Super Bowl and the Bible have very little in common. One thing they share, though, is an ability to make us ask the question: What’s the proper use of strength? For many Americans, football defines a notion of power and virility; its players represent the epitome of ‘manliness’. In fact, the words ‘virility’ and ‘virtue’ have come from the same latin word: ‘vir’, for ‘man’.

The Bible’s authors repeatedly talk about a God who uses power, subverts power, becomes subject to others’ power, and shares power. What do these dynamics of power look like for us, in our culture? A culture in which the strength and dominance we’re enticed to celebrate express themselves in both selfless heroism and arrogant abuses of others’ dignity?

It’s something to think about, before the fighter jets fly over the stadium, the commercials for Bud Light and American Sniper roll, the guy at the bar makes another tasteless joke about underinflated footballs, and Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz take the halftime stage. But the truth is, as St Paul says, arrogance ‘puffs up’ while love ‘builds up’. Just think of a time when you saw concern of other people prove to be healthier that someone being right or than someone having things go his or her way.

There are ways in which strength can be a virtue for individuals and a society. But, sometimes so can weakness. Look to the cross. The real question is, what promotes unity, and what harms it, when people try to respect each other’s freedoms and moral convictions without controlling one another. That, not strength itself, shows the real presence of God.