Friday, December 31, 2010

The solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

By Julie Musselman

The Church commemorates the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of God on January 1. The Feast falls within the octave or eight days of Christmas.

In our second reading from today’s Mass, St. Paul writes, “When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman.” Galatians 4:4

Can we really understand the fact that God decided to become Man through a woman? That the creator of all things became human, like a creature? And to do so through Mary, a young maiden, who gave her yes to the mighty plans of God?

When Mary gave her “fiat”, her “yes”, she was launched into a whole new life. We can imitate Mary and continue to give a yes to God, day in and day out. He has great and wonderful plans for us. We can take them or leave them. But when we do give our yes, with full love and devotion, amazing things happen. We can be launched into a whole new life.

I love that on the first day of a new year the Church gives us this feast, with Mary as our model, for a fresh start. This enables us to dedicate the entire year to Jesus through Mary. We can start anew.

Father Tim Sherwood pointed out in his homily for the Solemnity that Mary witnessed glorious things at the birth of Jesus. She saw kings bow down to Him and present Him with gifts. But then she returned into the ordinary. She set out to raise up her son, like millions of other mothers before and after her. Let us, who have witnessed the glories of Christmas, go back into our ordinary lives and raise up Jesus, proclaim him and make Him known to all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord

The Adoration of the Magi, 1617-1618, Peter Paul Rubens.

By Dr. Scott Hahn

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In this Sunday’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in Sunday’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise – one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David, the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth.”

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob.

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth.” Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon.

One greater than Solomon is here. He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Dr. Scott Hahn is professor of theology at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. He was formerly a Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. You can spend the day with Dr. Hahn on January 29 at Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

January 2, 2011
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Matthew 2:1-12


When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

CCW plans Pack Rat rummage sale


You have to opportunity to begin the new year burdened with less "stuff" if you donate unwanted or seldom used items to the upcoming rummage sale.

Or you could end up with more "stuff" if you buy at the rummage sale.

Or you could end up with different "stuff" if you donate your unwanted items and buy some of the incredible treasures that are bound to be there.

In any case, you'll be helping.

The St. Raphael chapter of the Council of Catholic Women will hold its Annual Pack Rat Rummage Sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 22, in the Parish Center.

Setup and drop off will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 21 but there is some limited space for storage ahead of the event.

Transportation arrangements are being made for those who may need items picked up.

Volunteers are needed for advance pick up of donations and for setup and sorting on Friday, January 21. Volunteers are also needed for the sale and cleanup on Saturday, January 22.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to support CCW projects.

If you have questions, donations or wish to volunteer, call Denise DeBord at (727) 526‐7580 or send her an email at wdebord727@yahoo.com

Pope honors Mother Teresa's order


"Charity is the true force that changes the world," he said to those who helped Missionaries of Charity and to the religious who celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the birth of their founder, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pope Benedict's Christmas message


In his Urbi et Orbi message delivered Christmas day, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful and all men and women of good will everywhere that only those, who are open to love are wrapped in the light of Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

At Christmas, a reflection of family

Adoration of the ShepherdsAdoration of the Shepherds, 1622, Gerard van Honthorst.

Christmas is a special time for families. Loved ones gather to participate in the time honored rituals of the season – sharing meals, giving gifts, worshiping God and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, His son.

It is also a time for reflection and for keeping in touch with family members who are far away. For many years now, parishioner Bob Musselman has composed a Christmas letter for family and friends.

The Musselman family on an outing at Steinhatchee.These letters are, first and foremost, summaries of a family's progress over more than a decade. But they also contain a certain spirituality that transcends their immediate accounting of the events of a 12-month period. They are, perhaps, a reminder of the fleeting precious moments in all families and of the special focus on families at this time of the year.

Bob's wife, Julie, shares those Christmas letters on her blog, A Catholic Home Journal. Bob and Julie Musselman have six children.

Also, she shares some of the process of preparing St. Raphael for Christmas, a family activity in preparation for the Holy Family.

Photo: The Musselman family on an outing at Steinhatchee.

What all those names in Matthew's gospel mean

"... Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz..." Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z


Michelangelo's DavidBy Lynn Denson
Ever wonder if Father is trying to put us to sleep with this Gospel reading at Christmas Eve Mass? (Matthew 1:1-25) He's not! Here are a few interesting tidbits that I learned in Our Jeff Cavin’s Bible Study on the book of Matthew on this reading that you will hear Friday evening.

* The author of Matthew's gospel is writing primarily to a Jewish audience who is expecting the Messiah to come from the line of King David. This lineage shows that even through the Babylonian exile, the line of King David was preserved.

* To Jewish readers, numbers are very important and all numbers have meaning assigned to them. The number seven is the number of completion and fullness.

* Matthew groups this blood line into three groups of 14 generations (thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is 14, from David to the Babylonian exile is 14 and from the exile to Christ is 14 generations)

* So three groups of 14 generations when divided in half, gives you six sets of seven generations that have passed.

* Now begins the seventh set of seven generations with the birth of Christ. Christ is the seventh seven, or the Completion and fullness of time! A Jewish audience would understand the significance of this.

* Notice that only four women are listed in the genealogy before Mary is listed. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba) These four women were "shady ladies."

* Tamar pretended to be a prostitute, Rahab was a harlot in Jericho, Ruth was a Moabite (Moabites had hostile relations with the Israelites) and Bathsheba had an affair with King David.

* Why include these women of questionable background? God is showing us the inclusion of sinners into the people of God. God can make good out of ALL things no matter how bad it may seem to us.

Merry Christmas! Hope you and your family have a wonderful 2011!

Parishioner Lynn Denson wrote this for the Saint Raphael Messenger. She participates in Wednesday Morning Bible Study, which meets at 9 a.m. in Room B. All parishioners are welcome to join the group.

Photo: David by Michelangelo

The Gospel for Christmas Day

December 25, 2010
The Nativity of the Lord

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

• Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Gospel for Christmas Eve -- Midnight Mass

December 25, 2010
The Nativity of the Lord

Luke 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

• Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Gospel for Christmas Eve - Vigil Mass

December 24, 2010
The Nativity of the Lord

Matthew 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

• Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Catholicism video series extended preview


Soon you can discover the rich heritage of the Catholic Church in an epic media experience. Word on Fire Catholic Ministries offers a vision of the Catholic Faith, which has never before been seen. This vision seeks to explore, through a global journey, the living culture of the Catholic Church. From the lands of the Bible, to the great shrines of Europe, to the shores and heartland of America, to the mysteries of Asia, to the rich landscapes of Latin America, to the beating heart of Africa - and beyond, witness the passion and glory of the faith that claims over a billion of the earth’s people as its own. Now in production. Ten part series for TV and DVD: Production to be released Fall of 2011. Learn more about the project.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ "

– Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23
By Julie Musselman

In Sunday's first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we have the original prophecy of the sign that God will give to show His faithfulness to His promises to Abraham and David.

Ahaz the King of Judah, in the line of David, has not been faithful to the covenant. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he won't. Yet God is ever faithful and to show His faithfulness, God Himself will provide the sign.

St. Matthew's gospel then quotes this passage from Isaiah and shows how in the most difficult circumstances of an unplanned pregnancy, God has now fulfilled the prophecy from hundreds of years before.

Many people today look for signs. Our faith is weak. We want to know for certain. We want a message, a confirmation, a plan, a sign. But Jesus is really the only sign we need. God became Man, Creator entered into creation. He came and fulfilled perfectly all the Old Testament prophecies. He is the sign that God so loved the world that He sent His only son.

And yet, God knows our weakness and so He does give us other signs. Sometimes the sign comes in the form of a phone call, a friendship, a happy event that comes to pass. And sometimes a sign comes in the form of a difficulty, a broken relationship, an illness, a death. When we look at the events in our lives with the eyes of faith, we can see these signs. May we keep our eyes on Jesus, The Sign, and look around for the other smaller signs too.

A Christmas message from Bishop Lynch

St. Raphael's Baby Mice take on The Nutcracker

They were ferocious little Baby Mice under the leadership of the Mouse King and St. Raphael students who participated in the cast of The Nutcracker seemed to find it easy to stay in character as they engaged in battle in the Christmas ballet classic at the Palladium this week. St. Raphael parishioner Tonia Fahey captured moments backstage at the show.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we hear of the virgin birth of Jesus and we reflect on the period of waiting for both Mary and Joseph, her bethrothed. It was a time of uncertainty and great difficulty for them, and we see in Mary a great faith in God and acceptance of her role to be the mother of Jesus. In Joseph, we see a steadfast and faithful man who learns of God’s plan in a dream and obeys. It is all in fulfillment of a prophesy by Isaiah. Joseph takes Mary as his wife and thus begins the greatest story ever told. We await in eager anticipation the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas/New Year's Mass schedule

CHRISTMAS EVE VIGIL MASSES
Friday, December 24
4 p.m. – Children’s Mass
6 p.m.– Praise Band
(Praise Band Concert 5:30 p.m.)

“MIDNIGHT “ MASS – 11 p.m.
(Choir Presentation 10:30 p.m.)

CHRISTMAS DAY MASSES
Saturday, December 25
9:30, 11:30 a.m.
(11 a.m. Traditional Choir Presentation)
(Note: No 5:30 p.m. Mass)

NEW YEAR’S EVE/DAY MASSES
Friday, December 31
8 a.m.
Vigil Mass – 5:30 p.m

Saturday, January 1
9:30 a.m. & 5:30 p.m.

The Gospel this Sunday

December 19, 2010
The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Father Tim's homily - Third Sunday of Advent

Traditional Choir prepares for Christmas Eve


Photographer Jane Winstead recently attended a rehearsal of the St. Raphael Traditional Choir amid preparations for the upcoming performance on Christmas Eve. Choir director Marie-Claire D’Arcy accompanied on piano as choir members ran through vocal exercises and sang hymns, frequently stopped by their director, who gave animated instruction.

Marie-Claire D'Arcy, the new traditional choir director and organist for St. Raphael, can't get over how friendly people are in Florida.

The New York state native is effusive in her admiration of the warm reception she has received since moving to the Sunshine State, and it has far less to do with the weather than it does with the welcoming people she has encountered here.

Trained in organ performance at Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, Marie-Claire left music for many years to work in the fashion beauty industry in New York City.

But eventually she returned to her first love – organ music, serving as director of music for St. Mary Cathedral on Ogdensburg, N.Y., hard by the St. Lawrence Seaway and a stone’s throw from the Canadian border.

After a stint as primary caregiver for her ill father, Claire came to Florida to live with her sister in Lakeland. A member of St. Joseph parish there, she was immediately taken with the friendliness she encountered at the church.

It takes years to reach the same level of comfort and acceptance in her home state, she notes, even in the small towns. But not in Florida, she says. The level of welcoming and positive energy she found at St. Raphael was very gratifying.

Claire has been working with the St. Raphael Traditional Choir in preparation for their performance on Christmas Eve. In rehearsal, she exhorts her new charges to rise to their very best selves and become a cohesive musical unit. She explores with them techniques for breathing, pacing and pronunciation, all aimed at producing traditional hymns as prayer to enhance the Mass.

Claire sees as her challenge a quest to build the Traditional Choir, which at the moment has but 11 members, many over 70 years old. Although they bring good experience to the choir, she says, for the long term, she is determined to attract more voices, especially younger ones who can sustain the choir for many years to come.

The following is a Q&A interview Marie-Claire D’Arcy conducted with herself, showing that in addition to her music abilities she has a sense of humor.

Can you tell us something about yourself?
That might be boring. Let me say something about music ministry.

Uh, okay. What do you like most about working as a music minister?
I think my favorite moments have been when the assembly – by the power of the Holy Spirit – is singing full-throated, really getting into praising God. Of course, it helps if the hymn is an old favorite like, let's say, Holy God We Praise Thy Name. But we can't use that tune all the time.

Other than boredom, why not?
Well, we try to choose hymn texts that somehow relate to some aspect of that day's readings without necessarily quoting the Scripture almost verbatim. It helps us to reflect on the Scripture, sort of like a homily, but not as directed or explicit. Singing requires us to say the words a little more slowly than we usually speak them.

Well that sounds like a good idea, but doesn't the assembly get lost in learning a bunch of new music every week?
Not really. Let me explain. In Advent, we will be moving to a new format for our hymns and Psalms.

New? Oh no!
Let me finish. We will be using Worship Aids at the anticipated, and 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Masses. This permits us to legally print hymns from many resources.

Yeah, but still tons of new music!
Not so. Most of these texts are "metered texts," which let us match them the appropriate metered hymn tunes – ones we already know very well, like the OLD HUNDREDTH, which is the music for Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow. Everybody knows that one, so there's nothing new to do but pray the text.

"Pray the text" – don't you mean "sing" it?
First of all, every good text is a prayer. Read them sometime without singing them, you'll see what I mean. And there is that old but true quotation attributed to St. Augustine that "singing is praying twice."

Never made any sense to me.
Well, go ahead and recite the words of Happy Birthday To You the next time your loved one's birthday comes along. It'll go over like a lead balloon. But singing does more than just fluff up the words. Remember, the text is the prayer, the important part of the hymn. But there is the reason I mentioned above that singing helps us to ponder a little better the words of that prayer, and we – as a culture – tend to sing for the important events. The event becomes more important.

Yeah, like when they sing or play the National Anthem at the Olympics when our girls and boys compete – it puts a lump of pride in my throat!
Now you're getting the idea. Music helps to underline what is happening; makes us remember why the event is important. And what is more important than praising God? Oh sorry, gotta run! Cantor rehearsal, you know.

The St. Raphael Traditional Choir will perform at Midnight Mass beginning at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and at the 11 a.m. Mass on Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gaudete Sunday! Rejoice!

By Julie Musselman

This Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice." Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.

The first reading and gospel reading at Mass fit so beautifully together.

The first reading is from Isaiah Chapter 35. We read in verses 5 and 6: "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing."

In St. Matthew's gospel from Chapter 11, the disciples of John the Baptist are questioning Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"

Jesus replies by reference to Isaiah 35:5-6: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus' answer may seem cryptic to us. Why doesn't He just answer the question yes or no?

We have to remember that Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience who would have been very familiar with Isaiah and the Old Testament scriptures.

By referring them back to Isaiah 35, which is predicting Israel's deliverance from foreigners, Jesus is very specifically answering them.

By referring to the outward healings that Jesus is performing, He is fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would restore and heal. And all of these outward physical healings are pointing to the internal deliverance and healing from sin that Jesus can perform any time for everyone of us.

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we all are healed from the sins that weigh us down. (Download PDF: How to make a good confession)

We have the opportunity for confession every Saturday from 4:30-5:15 p.m. and also this Tuesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. in the new church. There will be several priests available on this night. Confessions also can be made by appointment. Call the office at (727) 821-7989.

Daily confessions are heard downtown at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The church is at 515 Fourth Street South in St. Petersburg. Daily confessions also are heard at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle following the 11 a.m. Mass.

Photo: Pope Benedict XVI in rose vestments.

Julie Musselman has been a parishioner at St. Raphael’s since 1994. She and her husband Bob have six children. Julie is the Florida-Georgia Regional Manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media, a not-for-profit organization that distributes inspiring books and talks on CD by dynamic Catholic speakers. She enjoys writing about the Catholic Church, the liturgical year, the saints and the reality of trying to live the Catholic Faith. Visit her blogs Lighthouse Catholic Media and A Catholic Home Journal.

The Gospel this Sunday

December 12, 2010
The Third Sunday of Advent

Matthew 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A journey in music at St. Raphael Catholic School


The Music Department at St. Raphael Catholic School will present a Christmas Concert at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 16 in the Parish Center. All parishioners are welcome. Band and music students are currently rehearsing for the concert. Photographer Jane Winstead attended a recent rehearsal to produce the photo essay above. Below is a letter to parishioners from Joy auf dem Kampe, the director of the music program.

Dear Fellow Parishioners,
I have been invited to share the “journey” of the Music Department at St. Raphael Catholic School with you by writing an article for the Saint Raphael Messenger. It is my pleasure to do so.

Volker and I moved our family to St. Petersburg from Germany in 1987. Our two children, Chris (10) and Becky (6), were enrolled at St. Raphael Catholic School, and we became parishioners at St. Raphael Catholic Church.

We had decided to make a change in our professional lives, after teaching at the Hofheim Conservatory of Music for 15 years in Germany. Soon after we settled in, Volker and I attended nursing school and upon graduation began working in many local hospitals. We had effectively put the world of music behind us and were enjoying the new challenge that nursing was providing.

Chris and Becky loved attending St. Raphael Catholic School and made many memories over the school years. We were always very impressed by the curriculum standards, the faculty, the athletic department and the nurturing atmosphere the school provided.

We discovered, however, that the school did not have a music curriculum that satisfied the needs of our young musical children! After our first Christmas in the United States came and went, we realized that the school did not stage Christmas Concerts for the children or any other musical opportunities.

I made an appointment with the principal to discuss the situation and was told that the school had no performance groups, therefore concerts were not possible. After further inquiries, I was also told that the music curriculum only included singing.

My husband and I strongly supported the arts in our careers in Germany, and we were very sad to hear that our children were not receiving the musical standards that we supported at the Conservatory. After much discussion at home, I returned to the principal with suggestions regarding the curriculum. What happened next is the “JOURNEY”!

The principal at St. Raphael Catholic School at this time was Patricia Coyle. On the day I visited Mrs. Coyle with suggestions to improve the quality of music education at the school, she had an entirely different agenda!

Her concept was very simple: “If you want something done correctly, do it yourself”! I was literally in shock when she reached into her desk drawer and tossed me two teaching contracts across her desk; one for me and one for Volker! I quickly explained that I did not NEED a job and that I was not LOOKING for a job!

In short, she didn’t care about any or all of the above! She wanted changes in the Music Department and she wanted us to literally write a new curriculum for the school.

I returned home to my family, and over dinner shared the latest developments regarding the meeting with Mrs. Coyle. Jokingly I said: “Can you believe she wants us to take this job”? I could have never anticipated the response that sentence would illicit from Chris and Becky!

They thought the concept of their parents being the new music teachers in the school was absolutely AWESOME!!! So Volker and I decided that we would take on the challenge and build a program for the school. We stated up front that we would leave the position when our youngest child, Becky, graduated from eighth grade. (That was 15 years ago and we are still here!)

I have asked myself and God so many questions regarding this momentous change in our lives. Volker and I were settled in our new nursing careers and never intended to return to the world of the arts. How did we end up doing the exact same thing we had given up when we moved to the U.S. from Germany? I have been told that this was “God”s Plan,” and slowly over the years, I have to admit that I stopped questioning and became accepting of the new journey He was providing.

Our students at St. Raphael Catholic School have become amazing musicians over the years. The new curriculum we introduced so long ago gave the students the opportunity to explore the world of music.

We begin teaching note-reading in Kindergarten, offer Bell Choir in second grade, Recorder Karate` in third, beginning Band in fourth, and Advanced Band to grades 5-8. Non-Band students participate in the Orff Ensemble.

Grades K-4 also form the school’s Elementary Choir, and the gifted recorder students play in the Angel Choir. Every child in the school performs at two concerts annually; the Christmas Concert and the Spring Concert.

We have had many students audition and receive placement in the Pinellas All County Band, Florida All State Band and the Pinellas Youth Symphony. Many of our former students have gone on to play in their high school bands and orchestras. We have also had students win music scholarships and choose to major in music in college!

In closing, I would like to share a personal insight I have received after being the “silent witness” to this musical journey in our school. It is easier not to question God’s will, and much simpler just to follow His lead. This has been truly the biggest journey of my lifetime, and I will be forever grateful to have been allowed to be a small part of St. Raphael Catholic School’s students’ lives!

May God bless you and your families! We would love to see you at our Christmas Concert on December 16 at 7 p.m. in the Parish Center!

Joy auf dem Kampe, director of bands/music, St. Raphael Catholic School

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are you on our Facebook page yet?

If you are on Facebook, come by and join your fellow parishioners on the special group – Saint Raphael Messenger -- St. Petersburg. It's a special gathering place for members of St. Raphael parish and people who are interested in our activities.

You'll get quick alerts directly in your News Feed whenever there's something you should know about on Saint Raphael Messenger, the blog, plus other information exclusively on Facebook designed to help you in your faith journey.

It's easy. Just visit our page on Facebook and request to join. Your request will be granted quickly, often within a few minutes, never more than a few hours. Sometimes instantly.

Many of your fellow parishioners are already on our page on Facebook and getting regular updates along with the items coming from their friends.

Click the image above to see who's on our Facebook page already.

2010 Christmas ornaments on sale

Photos by Jane Winstead
Jonathan Campbell, director of youth ministry, is all smiles with Melissa Jenner (left) and Bradley Scarpino hoping you'll buy a 2010 St. Raphael Christmas ornament. Click photos to enlarge them.

The St. Raphael Youth Ministry is offering a special annual Christmas ornament that's just right for the season. The special ornament is inscribed with the name of the parish and the year. If you purchase the $20 ornament, you will be helping the Youth Ministry raise money for its summer trip to Steubenville, Ohio, for the Summer Youth Conferences. Watch for the display in the narthex.

Santa Breakfast coming up this Sunday

Don't miss the 11th annual Santa Breakfast right after 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, December 12 in the Parish Center.

Cub Scout Pack 219 will prepare and serve pancakes, sausage, eggs, juice and coffee for the festive occasion.

Tickets are $6 for adults and children 12 and older and $3 for children under 12. Toddlers 2 years and younger are free.

A $25 donation will cover larger families with children. However, larger donations will be gratefully accepted if you feel generous. Proceeds will benefit local charitable organizations.

Breakfast will be served until noon.

There will be activities for children, including face painting and crafts. And, of course, there will be a visit from You Know Who, so bring your camera.

For tickets and reservations, e-mail taranewsom@hotmail.com or call (601) 918-7276.

Photo: Hannah Beggins (left), whose brother is a scout and Cub Scout mom Tara Newsom were selling tickets at Masses last Sunday. | Photo by Jane Winstead.

Father Tim's homily - Second Sunday of Advent

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Wednesday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a holy day of obligation. It marks that Mary was conceived free from original sin because God chose her as mother of the Savior. The dogma was declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854 but during the Renaissance many paintings were made of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, including the one above.

About the painter: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a Spanish Baroque painter best known for his religious works. He painted Esquilache Immaculate Conception about 1650, when he was about 33 years old. He was influenced by Flemish and Italian masters as well as by Spanish painters Francisco de Zurbarán, Jusepe de Ribera and Alonzo Cano.

Masses
Vigil Mass – Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – Wednesday, 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Making a difference with The Giving Tree

Photo by Jane Winstead
Parishioner Tara Kipp chooses ornaments from The Giving Tree with her daughters Trinity and Mina. | Click on photos to enlarge.

The tags on The Giving Tree tell the stories of hard times, of too few dollars to keep the lights on or the water flowing, or to keep a roof over the family’s heads.

They tell of little girls and little boys who wouldn’t have anything come Christmas morning if it weren’t for the generosity of strangers.

The tags tell of the need and St. Raphael parishioners respond. Traditionally, St. Raphael parishioners have supported the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul throughout the year, but are especially generous at this time. It is the way Catholics help the poor.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a 177-year-old organization created to provide financial, material, educational and spiritual support for those in need.

Italian scholar Frédéric Ozanam founded the organization with five other students in Paris in 1833. He began studying at the Sorbonne in 1831 and soon became the Catholic “voice” in a city where poverty reigned. Ozanam contended that the role of the Catholic Church was to help the poor with clothing and food.

He and fellow students put their beliefs into action. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Notre Dame de Paris in 1997.

In Pinellas, the Society has been active since 1931. Local Vincentians visit thousands of homes as well as prisons, hopsitals and nursing homes to provide help for those in need.

And so, The Giving Tree stands tall in the narthex, festooned with ornaments.

The Giving Tree ornaments are tags telling the needs of local people who can be helped by the generosity of St. Raphael parishioners. Already gifts are appearing under the tree, beautifully wrapped with the appropriate tag attached.

Gifts are still needed.

Want to help?: Please take an ornament off and return the specified gift, wrapped, and with the ornament attached to the outside by Sunday, December 12. Please drop gift certificates or checks into the St. Vincent de Paul Box next to The Giving Tree.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Immaculate Conception

By Paul Turner

“The Immaculate Conception” is a title for Mary, the mother of Jesus. The expression means that Mary was conceived without sin. The conviction that Jesus was born of a virgin is a distinct belief, even though many Catholics erroneously think that the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus.

Contributing to the confusion is the celebration of the Immaculate Conception during the season of Advent. While the faithful are preparing to honor the birth of Jesus, we commemorate the conception of Mary. The choice of Dec. 8 for the Immaculate Conception does not directly relate to Advent; it corresponds more to the traditional date for the feast of the birth of Mary, Sept. 8., which coincides with the dedication of a Jerusalem church in honor of the mother of Mary. The feast for the conception of Mary is backed up from that day nine months. In a similar way we celebrate the Annunciation on March 25, nine months before the birth of Jesus.

Belief in the Immaculate Conception asserts that God preserved Mary from all sin from the moment of her conception, thus preparing a pure vessel for the incarnation of the Son. This belief is not expressly contained in the Scriptures, but it enjoys a widespread following in the church’s tradition. Although the Immaculate Conception of Mary has been affirmed since the earliest centuries of Christianity, it was not formally proclaimed a dogma of the church until 1854.

Dec. 8 (Wednesday) is now a holy day of obligation in the United States, which is placed under Mary’s patronage with this title.

When Mary is depicted as the Immaculate Conception, she is often shown wearing a crown of stars as the woman in Revelation 12 and standing on a snake, reversing the temptation of Eve. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the exalted queen of heaven who manifests God’s power over sin.

Image: The Immaculate Conception (1767-69) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a Venetian painter and print maker who received commissions to paint many churches.

Copyright © 2003 Resource Publications, Inc., 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505, Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, Mo.

The Gospel this Sunday

December 5, 2010
The Second Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree


Photos by Jane Winstead
Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 219 are offering North Carolina Fraser Fir Christmas trees for sale in front of the church. The trees stored under tents to protect them from the sun. Scouts are tending to them to keep them well hydrated so they don't dry out. Scouts will custom cut the trunks so they'll fit into the stands easily. And those Boy Scout knots are coming in handy as they secure trees in the customers' vehicles.

New Web site features school music program


Old Northeast - Downtown St. Pete Patch
St. Raphael Catholic School’s music program is featured on a new Web site that highlights local news for downtown St. Petersburg and Old Northeast, including Snell Isle. There is also video of a rehearsal included with the article. The video in embedded above.

Writer Taylor Tepper of the Old Northeast – Downtown St. Pete Patch interviewed the school’s music teacher, Joy auf dem Kampe, about the program that she and her husband Volker started nearly 25 years ago when they moved here from Germany.’

Principal Valerie Wostbrock is quoted giving high praise to the couple. "The auf dem Kampes bring the best out of the students by setting high expectations," she said. "They have become intertwined in the fabric of St. Raphael."

The article also mentions the auf dem Kampes’ daughter, Becky Wahlberg, who directs the Children’s Choir and plays in the Praise Band.

St. Raphael Catholic School Christmas Concert is Thursday, December 16 at 7 p.m. in the Parish Center.

For CCW, a Christmas Breakfast –– and more

The Christmas season is always so busy and this one is no exception ––especially for the St. Raphael chapter of the Council of Catholic Women. The annual catered December CCW Christmas Breakfast is on Saturday, December 11 but there’s more than eating on the agenda.

It’s about giving. The CCW is collecting gifts for the Shore Acres Nursing Home residents.

Nursing home residents need shirts, sweaters, robes, slippers, lotion and other clothing and toiletry items. Participants should bring a wrapped gift with a tag marked with the item and its size.

The goal is to have enough gifts so that each of the more than 100 residents receives at least one present.

There also will be a member gift exchange at the breakfast. Participation is optional but if you want to be included bring a $10 gift to be exchanged.

All women in the parish are welcome at the CCW event. Make reservations for the event as soon as possible. Parishioner and CCW member Celeste Brown is cooking so you know the meal will be delicious.

Send your check for $7 per person (payable to CCW) to Louise Barrrett, 820 24th Avenue N, St. Petersburg FL 33704 or drop it in an envelope marked “CCW Christmas Breakfast” and put it into the collection this Sunday, December 5.

See St. Raphael students in The Nutcracker

Students from St. Raphael Catholic School are performing in this year's presentation of The Nutcracker, the traditional Christmas ballet. All parishioners are invited to attend the show.

The students include Abby Fahey, Selma Henricksson, Skyler Krampitz, Mariana Monforte, Stella Monforte and Mia Newsom. They have spent many hours rehearsing for their performances.

The Nutcracker will be presented Dec. 9-11 by the St. Petersburg Ballet Company and the Academy of Ballet Arts at the Historic Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Proceeds benefit the Academy of Ballet Arts. Tickets can be purchased online at the Academy of Ballet Arts or at the door.

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet originally staged in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892. It features the music of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (left), whose well known works are favorites of classical concertgoers everywhere.

The Nutcracker tells the story of a little girl’s dream on the night before Christmas.

In it, gingerbread soldiers battle mice led by the Mouse King. Toy soldiers and dolls come alive to enter the fray, the Nutcracker is transformed into a Handsome Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy dances and sweets from around the world delight the senses.

Though it was not very popular when it was first performed, The Nutcracker gained considerable attention and following after the renowned choreographer George Balanchine staged it in New York in 1954. (Balanchine also was from St. Petersburg, Russia.)

Music from The Nutcracker has been used in television commercials from Cadbury, IHOP, GMC Sierra, Garmin GPS, and Planters Mr. Peanut. Movies such as Home Alone and The Santa Clause, and TV programs like The Simpsons and numerous other animated shows have featured music from The Nutcracker, too.

Alastair Macauley, dance critic for The New York Times, called The Nutcracker “an American institution.”

It's beginning to look a lot like Santa Breakfast time

Make plans now to attend the 11th annual Santa Breakfast right after 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, December 12 in the Parish Center.

Cub Scout Pack 219 will prepare and serve pancakes, sausage, eggs, juice and coffee for the festive occasion.

Tickets are $6 for adults and children 12 and older and $3 for children under 12. Toddlers 2 years and younger are free.

A $25 donation will cover larger families with children. However, larger donations will be gratefully accepted if you feel generous. Proceeds will benefit local charitable organizations.

Breakfast will be served until noon.

There will be activities for children, including face painting and crafts. And, of course, there will be a visit from You Know Who, so bring your camera.

For tickets and reservations, e-mail taranewsom@hotmail.com or call (601) 918-7276.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lighting the Advent candle

Photo by Jane Winstead
Father Dominic lighted the Advent candle during the 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, November 28, to mark the beginning of the Advent season and the anticipation of the celebration of Christ's birth at Christmas.

The First Sunday of Advent
Watch a slide show of the 9:30 a.m. Mass
Watch a slide show of the 5:30 p.m. Mass

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dr. Hahn on Catholic teaching



There is still time to register for a special all-day session in January with Dr. Scott Hahn, a former Presbyterian minister who converted to Catholicism in 1986. If you are unsure whether you'd like to attend, listen to this compelling talk by Dr. Hahn on Catholic teaching. It is only audio. The image is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are links below for the other parts if they don't come up at the end of each video.

Dr. Hahn is a popular speaker who has given more than 800 talks across the country and overseas. He is one of the featured speakers for Lighthouse Catholic Media. His books and CDs are available in the narthex at church.

Here is an article with the details about Dr. Hahn's visit to Light of Christ Catholic Church in Clearwater on January 29.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The First Sunday of Advent

This is the beginning of the new liturgical year. It is the first of four Sundays leading up to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

video
It is a time for preparation, penitence and anticipation. The Advent wreath is a sign of the anticipation of the birth of Jesus. Traditionally, one candle is lighted this week, two next week and so on.

In addition, this is a season for anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As we prepare for the Christmas celebration we are mindful of the wait for Christ's return.

Although Sr. Judy Zienlinski, OSF, of the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania, OH, may be experiencing temperatures cooler than we find in St. Petersburg, her reflections on the First Sunday of Advent may still be helpful to us.

This video is provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Liturgy notes: Advent: We hope, we prepare

The Gospel this Sunday

November 28, 2010
The First Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Maggie Moren receives medal

Parishioner Maggie Moren received the St. Jude the Apostle Medal on Sunday for her work in St. Raphael parish and in the diocese. Photographer Jane Winstead captured scenes at the Cathedral during the presentation. Father Tim accompanied Maggie as she received her award from Bishop Lynch.

Maggie Moren, St. Jude Medal recipient
The work of Maggie Moren
The Saint Jude Medal

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Maggie Moren, St. Jude Medal recipient


Photos by Jane Winstead
Slide show depicts some of the work of Maggie Moren at St. Raphael.

On Sunday, November 21, parishioner Maggie Moren will receive the St. Jude the Apostle Medal for distinguished and outstanding service in St. Raphael parish and the Diocese of St. Petersburg.


In August, when Maggie Moren received the letter from Bishop Lynch about the St. Jude the Apostle Medal, she read it, put it down on the dresser and left the room.

She was flabbergasted.

Why me? she wondered. What did I do? “It was a surreal, ‘take your breath away’ moment,” she says. “Wow!”

She went back and read the letter again. Still in awe, she told her husband, Rod.

Little of that initial shock has worn off. Three months later, she still questions why she should be singled out for her work in the parish.

“I’m just a little spoke in a big wheel,” she says. “Why me?”

Parishioners who know Maggie know exactly why. Maggie Moren is one of the busiest members of St. Raphael Parish, with numerous ministries that keep her moving in service to God almost full time since she retired in 2000.

Maggie is head sacristan, serves on the Liturgy Committee, is a reader and altar server at weekday and weekend Mass, is an extraordinary minister of holy communion, an organizer for 40 Days for Life and an active member of CCW, has served on the RCIA team and much more.

The work of Maggie Moren

It is a volunteering habit honed during her years with Target stores as a manager in the human resources department. Target’s good neighbor policy allowed her to be involved in her communities in a big way, doing everything from planting flowers at schools to helping Habitat for Humanity build houses.

“It was an awesome part of my job,” she says.

But if her workplace volunteerism helped prepare her for her contributions today in St. Raphael parish, it was her professional experience with a solid work ethic that prepared her to handle the myriad activities in which she finds herself involved. She reflects on a question about her work background and what she does now.

It is the melding, she says, of the business ethic and the Christian ethic, admitting that she hadn’t really thought of it that way before. “I am using the blessing that God has given me.”

As a self-described Type A personality, Maggie Moren is given to spotting a task that needs to be done and just doing it – whether it’s planning and organizing CCW events or cleaning up and washing dishes afterward – or preparing the altar for Mass as the head sacristan.

It is the sacristan duty, though, that holds special appeal.

“I love being a sacristan,” she says, “You’re preparing for the Lord and you don’t want to make any mistakes.”

Then she relates how unsure she was when Monsignor Cavalry approached her about taking over the duties. It was one Sunday after Mass. She had remained in the pew praying. She felt a tap on her shoulder. It was Monsignor.

What did I do? she thought, wondering if, perhaps, there was a problem.

“He said that he would like me to be a sacristan. You can’t argue with Monsignor when he has his mind made up.” She wasn’t at all sure she would know what to do or do it well. Nevertheless, guided by the Holy Spirit, she took up the challenge.

“It was another ‘take your breath away’ moment.”

Her formative years in post-World War II Kansas City, MO, first at Christ the King Elementary School and later at Bishop Hogan High School undoubtedly shaped her strong faith. Schooled by nuns from the order Sisters of Charity, BVM, Maggie became devoted to Jesus Christ in elementary school and rarely wavered, though her energetic personality might have given the nuns some pause.

“I was a little brat,” she says, but adds that in those days of strict discipline you didn’t misbehave because the stern nuns in their traditional black and white habits didn’t put up with it. One time in college, though, she skipped biology class and stayed home. A nun called home to report the absence to her mother, who didn’t happen to be home at the time. Maggie answered. Oops!

Her return to school the next day was full of mea culpas.

One time the strong-willed Irish lass decided to stop going to Mass. That lasted for about three months, she says, then the pull of the Lord was too great and she returned to regular Mass. As a girl, she went with friends to other churches sometimes but never considered going to another denomination.

“We have the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Why would I want to go anywhere else?”

Not only does she revel in her faith, but she wants to share it with others. When she was on the RCIA team, the joy bubbled over.

“The treasures that the Church has – you want to share with others and you want them to love the Lord, and you hope you are helping them to do that.”

Still, there are perils for the devoted parishioner doing God’s will every day. It is possible, Maggie says, to become so busy that it cuts into your prayer time.

“You can be in the hands of Jesus but you have to talk to Him every day and be with Him every day.”

It’s why she attends daily Mass: “I need all the help I can get.”

The work of Maggie Moren

Reprinted from the Council of Catholic Women November newsletter

The Saint Jude Medal was established in 1999 by our Bishop Lynch to recognize the contributions of laity throughout our diocese. The individuals (who are recommended by their Pastor) have given “exemplary service and shown extraordinary dedication to their parish”.

Congratulations to CCW member Maggie Moren, who will be awarded the 2010 St Jude Medal for St. Raphael Parish on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 21. Maggie has served St. Raphael since 1995.

Maggie’s working background is in Human Resources both at John Knox in Missouri, and Target in both Missouri and Florida (She helped open 10 stores in Florida.) She also worked for four years as a parish administrator at St. Patrick Church in Tampa when her husband was transferred to this area.

Maggie began working almost full time as a volunteer at St. Raphael after she retired in 2000, later volunteering to help at Catholic Charities and Pregnancy Plus Medical. She and her husband Rod have four grown children and three grandchildren.

At St. Raphael, Maggie worked many years as an RCIA team member. Maggie now serves as head sacristan and is on the liturgy committee.

She has been a CCW member since 2002, and has held several offices in the group. Maggie has cooked, shopped, set up, organized and cleaned up for numerous CCW events. Maggie has been a part of St Raphael Bible studies.

Maggie is also an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, altar server and reader at weekday and weekend Masses. Maggie is part of the Adoration ministry, Communion to the homebound, and the Rosary ministry. Maggie has taken Holy Communion to those at Shore Acres Nursing home and helped with the monthly Mass there for many years.

She has been the Respect Life co‐chair, believing firmly in the dignity of life from the womb to the tomb. She has organized the Baby Bottle fundraiser at St Raphael and at other parishes and helped organize baby showers for Pregnancy Plus Medical and Mary's Outreach.

Maggie was a major organizer of our Parish/Diocesan 40 Days for Life Program, connecting with other Catholic Parishes and Protestant Churches.

In addition, Maggie volunteered at Catholic Charities after Hurricane Katrina helping those who came to the St. Pete area as refugees. Maggie was so effective that she was hired as a temporary staff member for the relocation project.

Maggie has been on the board of Pregnancy Plus Medical for the last three years. She is now able pursue one of her dreams by returning to her love of art. Maggie uses oils and pastels. Some of her beautiful works have been donated to the charities she supports.

We are honored to have Maggie recognized for her faith-filled love and service to St Raphael and the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Past St Jude’s Medal Recipients include Bernadine Quartetti (09), Don and Ruth Mattick (08), Vivian Frank (07), Lu Perrin (06), Ofelia Hoeppner (05), Terry Hamm (04), Bernadette Bailey (03), Celeste Brown (02), Truus Stuimer (01), Ginny Hansen (00), Jeanette Bolich (99).

St. Jude the Apostle Medal

On Sunday, November 21, parishioner Maggie Moren will receive the St. Jude the Apostle Medal. Here is a description of the award from the Diocese of St. Petersburg Web site:

Established in 1999 by Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Fourth Bishop of St. Petersburg, the St. Jude the Apostle Medal is awarded to a lay member of a parish for distinguished and outstanding service.

Cast on the medal are the Diocesan Coat of Arms (first image) and the image of St. Jude the Apostle, Patron of this Diocese (second image).

During evening prayer, on the Feast of Christ the King Sunday, November 21, at 3 p.m., at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle, Bishop Lynch will recognize 102 recipients from 78 Parishes and Missions and one Diocesan recipient.

Through their generosity and loyal service to their parish and communities, these lay men and women have contributed greatly to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The work of Maggie Moren
Maggie Moren receives medal (slide show)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Solemnity of Christ the King

In 1925, with the rise of dictatorships in Europe, Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King to remind the faithful that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds and bodies.

At that time, Mussolini was the dictator in Italy and respect for Christ was diminishing, a problem that remains with us today. For many, personal wants and needs take precedence over God. Christ’s authority is rejected in favor of individualism.

Pope Benedict XVI has said that Christ’s kingship is based on loving and serving others, not on “human power.” He noted in 2006 that “the cross is the ‘throne’ from which He demonstrated the sublime regality of God-love.”

"After all the enemies – and in the last instance, death – have been defeated," the Pope said, Christ’s kingdom will be fully realized on earth. Until then, Christians should “freely accept the truth of God’s love,” he said.

The Virgin Mary’s humble and unconditional acceptance of God’s will in her life was the reason that “God exalted her over all other creatures, and Christ crowned her Queen of heaven and earth,” Benedict said.

The logic of Christ is not based on “criteria of efficiency and of human power,” he said, but on love and service to others.

The Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. It is followed by the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year. A solemnity is a principal holy day.

• Parishioner Julie Musselman offers a personal perspective in A Catholic Home Journal