Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping up with the Angels

seminariansOff to Africa with Catholic Relief Services: Daniel Angel, Christopher Mertens and Robert Angel.

St. Raphael seminarians Bob Angel is in Sierra Leone for eight weeks as part of his training to become a priest. He is working with Catholic Relief Services there. His brother Dan, also a seminarian, will go to Liberia in June on a similar mission. Bob and Dan are publishing a blog, Angels in Africa, to keep friends and family updated on their activities.

In his blog, For His Friends, Bishop Robert Lynch discusses the invitation he extended to the Angel brothers and to Christopher Mertens, of Palm Harbor, a junior at Notre Dame University, to participate in summer internships with Catholic Relief Services.

Alive in the Spirit

Detail of Confirmation by Nicolas Poussin, 1645

By Dr. Scott Hahn

Jesus will not leave us alone. He won’t make us children of God in Baptism only to leave us “orphans,” He assures us in Sunday’s Gospel (see Romans 8:14-17) .

He asks the Father to give us His Spirit, to dwell with us and keep us united in the life He shares with the Father.

We see the promised gift of His Spirit being conferred in Sunday’s First Reading.

The scene from Acts apparently depicts a primitive Confirmation rite. Philip, one of the first deacons (see Acts 6:5), proclaims the Gospel in the non-Jewish city of Samaria. The Samaritans accept the Word of God (see Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) and are baptized.

It remains for the Apostles to send their representatives, Peter and John, to pray and lay hands on the newly baptized — that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of our sacrament of Confirmation (see Acts 19:5-6), by which the grace of Baptism is completed and believers are sealed with the Spirit promised by the Lord.

We remain in this grace so long as we love Christ and keep His commandments. And strengthened in the Spirit whom Jesus said would be our Advocate, we are called to bear witness to our salvation — to the tremendous deeds that God has done for us in the name of His Son.

In Sunday’s Psalm, we celebrate our liberation. As He changed the sea into dry land to free the captive Israelites, Christ suffered that He might lead us to God, as we hear in today’s Epistle.

This is the reason for our hope — the hope that sustains us in the face of a world that cannot accept His truth, the hope that sustains us when we are maligned and defamed for His name’s sake.

Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit, Paul tells us today. And as He himself promises: “Because I live, you will live.”

Exodus and Easter

Israel’s exodus from Egypt forms the background for many of the readings we hear in Easter.

On the Third Sunday, both the Gospel and Epistle describe Jesus “redeeming” or “ransoming” Israel (see Luke 24:21; 1 Peter 1:18). The Greek word in both is only used elsewhere to refer to Israel’s redemption from Egypt (see Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 7:8). In the First Reading, Jesus is said to work “mighty deeds, wonders and signs” (see Acts 2:22) - the same words used to describe Moses’ work (see Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

Moses told the Israelites not to fear but to trust that God would go before and find them a place in the promised land (see Deuteronomy 1:29-32). Jesus uses the same words in the Fifth Sunday’s Gospel. He also quotes Moses to claim that His words are God’s words and His works are God’s works (see Deuteronomy 18:18; 34:10-12).

There is much more exodus imagery in this month’s readings. The point is to show us that Jesus’ death and resurrection marked a new exodus (see Luke 9:31). The Christian life is like the sojourning of the Israelites in the wilderness. We have passed through the waters of Baptism and are now fed with bread from heaven as we make our way to the promised land of eternal life (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; 1 Peter 1:4).

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. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

May 29, 2011
Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

St. Vincent de Paul Italian Night

Photos by Jane Winstead
St. Raphael parishioners turned out in hungry droves on Sunday for the St. Vincent de Paul Society Italian Night dinner in the Parish Center. Proceeds from the event will be used to help a parish family in need.

An evening of fine arts at St. Raphael

Photos by Jane Winstead
Students at St. Raphael Catholic School performed in the Spring Concert on Thursday to a happy crowd of concertgoers, who heard renditions of an amazing selection of music. The performance included gospel music, pop songs, Broadway tunes, folk songs and classical. It was a night of fine arts with the school's Fine Arts Exhibit 2011 displaying the artwork of all students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Plenty of activity for the Bake Sale

Photo by Jane Winstead

There was plenty of activity around the Bake Sale tables Sunday after 9:30 a.m. Mass as St. Raphael youth helped raise money to contribute to the St. Vincent de Paul Society fundraiser to help a family in need in the parish. Parishioners bought homemade cookies, cakes and brownies to aid the effort.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Building His house

St. Stephen is Consecrated Deacon by Vittore Carpaccio, 1511

"… they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism."

By Dr. Scott Hahn

By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

His Father’s house is no longer a temple made by human hands. It is the spiritual house of the Church, built on the living stone of Christ’s body.

As Peter interprets the Scriptures in Sunday’s Epistle, Jesus is the “stone” destined to be rejected by men but made the precious cornerstone of God’s dwelling on earth (see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16).

Each of us is called to be a living stone in God’s building (see 1 Corinthians 3:9,16). In this edifice of the Spirit, we are to be “holy priests” offering up “spiritual sacrifices” - all our prayer, work and intentions - to God.

This is our lofty calling as Christians. This is why Christ led us out of the darkness of sin and death as Moses led the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

God’s covenant with Israel made them a royal and priestly people who were to announce His praises (see Exodus 19:6). By our faith in Christ’s new covenant, we have been made heirs of this chosen race, called to glorify the Father in the temple of our bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 12:1).

In Sunday’s First Reading, we see the spiritual house of the Church being built up, as the Apostles consecrate seven deacons so they can devote themselves more fully to the “ministry of the Word.”

The Lord’s Word is upright and all His works trustworthy, we sing in Sunday’s Psalm. So we can trust Jesus when He tells us never to be troubled, but to believe that His Word and works come from the Father.

His Word continues its work in the world through the Church. We see its beginnings today in Jerusalem. It is destined to spread with influence and power (see Acts 19:20), and to become the imperishable seed by which every heart is born anew (see 1 Peter 1:23).

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. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

May 22, 2011
Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm
– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Rehearsal for School Concert

St. Raphael Catholic School students were rehearsing Tbursday for the Spring Concert in the evening under the direction of Joy and Volker auf dem Kampe. The evening performance featured the Junior and Senior Bands, Orff Ensemble, Elementary Choir, Recorder Karaté Class and Angel Choir.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Italian Night to help a family in need

Don't forget the Italian Night and Bake Sale this Sunday, May 22, in the Parish Center. It's sponsored by St. Vincent de Paul Society to benefit a parish family in need.

There are two seatings: 5 p.m. or 6:45 p.m Food is provided by Mazzaro's Italian Market.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. Maximum $30 per family.

Call Bonnie Condon (727) 580-1238 or email

Friday, May 13, 2011

May Crowning and more

Photos by Jane Winstead
Students at St. Raphael Catholic School celebrated Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day with a special Mass at 8 a.m. Eighth graders constructed a special Mary Altar and processed in with the statue of Mary, which was crowned with a traditional wreath of flowers. St. Raphael Children's Choir had prepared several songs for the occasion. Guests were invited to visit the classrooms after Mass.

What do we do now?

"I am the gate for the sheep."

By Dr. Scott Hahn

Easter’s empty tomb is a call to conversion.

By this tomb, we should know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah, as Peter preaches in Sunday’s First Reading.

He is the “Lord,” the divine Son that David foresaw at God’s right hand (see Psalms 110:1,3; 132:10-11; Acts 2:34). And He is the Messiah that God had promised to shepherd the scattered flock of the house of Israel (see Ezekiel 34:11-14, 23; 37:24).

As we hear in Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is that Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34; Numbers 27:16-17). He calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off from Him - to whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice.

The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the restful waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist, as we sing in today’s Psalm.

Again on this Sunday in Easter, we hear His voice calling us His own. He should awaken in us the response of those who heard Peter’s preaching. “What are we to do?” they cried.

We have been baptized. But each of us goes astray like sheep, as we hear in Sunday’s Epistle. We still need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to separate ourselves further from this corrupt generation.
We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Shepherd of our souls. By His suffering He bore our sins in His body to free us from sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we should learn patience in our afflictions, to hand ourselves over to the will of God.

Jesus has gone ahead, driven us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb - the verdant pastures of life abundant.

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. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel the Sunday

May 15, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Read the first and second readings and the Responsorial Psalm
– United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Blogger is functioning again!

For many hours over the last few days, Google's Blogger has been out of commission. That meant that it was not possible to make updates to blogs, including the Saint Raphael Messenger. However, Blogger is now functioning again. So updates will begin to appear again later tonight and tomorrow. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

The St. Petersburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Convention in Tampa Monday featured a murder mystery. CCW members from St. Raphael parish portrayed the suspects. Photographer Jane Winstead captured the frivolity in the slide show above. The culprit was unmasked, we hear, but the solution to the murder mystery may be known only to those present for the performance.

In the meantime, for the edification of the sleuths among us, Saint Raphael Messenger, through no fault of its own, has obtained what has been labeled PS to the Murder Mystery.

PS to the Murder Mystery

The following cleverly color-coded statements, purportedly from the suspects in the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater presented at the St. Petersburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women convention in Tampa on Monday, have been obtained by the Saint Raphael Messenger (through no effort of its own, we might add). Perhaps they shed some light on said murder mystery. Perhaps not. In any case, they most assuredly are supplemented by the slide show from the convention.

From Jade: Well, well, well, Quite a fun little night you had, didn't you, Ms. White? To think, your guests thought I was the one to do our beloved Black in....Ha! You weren't the sweet little socialite they thought you were after all! Well done. XO

From Violet: And to think I was on everyone's hit list!! They hadn't a clue that I would be the next Mr. Black. I do miss you all!!! Remember to take your Benefiber daily!!! Love and Blessings

From CC to Violet: Mr. Black?!! Is your next operation to be a sex change? At your age I should think you could live out the rest of your life as MS. Plum unless you're plum crazy.

From Jade:Oh my goodness, VIOLET, how could I have forgotten to mention you in my email. Or is it that I've chosen to put the hemorrhoid queen behind me, hmmmmm. ;-)

From Ms White:To Prudence Buffy Violet Jade and CC and Rose, I guess by now you know that I have been released from custody but what you don't know is I am with Black spending his billions. He of course was just pretending to be dead with a little help from a few good people we pulled it off .SO LONG SUCKERS !!!!!!!!!!!! Mrs. BLACK aka Ms White

From Buffy: I have decided to relocate to St Pete FL permanently since Uncle Black eloped with White, and I just couldn't see going back to NY by myself. I really have grown quite fond of Jade, Rosy, CC, Prudence, and even Violet (She would be so proud of me, I took my fiber by eating cheetos tonight) I know White and Black will be back one day, and perhaps they will stay at my home from time to time, if they dare... BTW Uncle Black bought me a GORGEOUS house before he left (through Brophy Realty, of course), but it is RIGHT next door to a fire station and there are fire alarms in every room....They also bought my McMansion close to St Raphael's Church in hopes that I might stumble in those doors and become a NEW person. Yes, there is hope for someone even as messed up as me... Maybe Black will start an the Film Production company and we will all live happily ever after, no more crime or violence????

From Ms White/Mrs Black to Buffy: Dear Buffy, will you ever forgive me. I am so sorry that I gave you away at birth but my parents made me do it as it would have been a social disgrace to have you out of wedlock. Your Dad (Black) and I want to make it up to you. We have changed our will and you are our sole heir. the only reason I was so mean to you was to hide my love for you.We want you to come live with us and make up for lost time. (the only rule is no matches or lighters) I can plan a huge coming out ball for you and I have arranged with a plastic surgeon friend of mine to get you laser treatments to remove your tattoos. Please find it in your heart to forgive me and give me a chance to be the mother you deserve xxxMom (Mrs. Black aka Ms White)

From Black, who surprisingly enough is not dead after all: To my gang, I hope all of you are enjoying yourselves and staying out of trouble; of course that doesn’t apply to Buffy who seems to always be in the thick of things. Buffy is always looking for a party as you all know. I am enjoying my time away from the gang and enjoying my water view property, but there may come a time when I request all of you to be present for another job. Especially due to your unique skill sets. In fact, Black’s Film Production maybe a place that calls upon those unique talents that all of you possess. However right now I am enjoying some much needed peace and relaxation. Furthermore, although I am a patient man, never forget that you’re dealing with a genius who foiled your plot for my demise. Trust must be re-established and an oath of loyalty must be reaffirmed before I take any of you back, but then I always have been a quite forgivable and loving Boss. Sincerely, Mr. Black

From CC: Dear Buffy, As a former security agent for both Mr. Black and Ms. White, I would warn you not to get too close to either of them. You can trust what they say to be the exact opposite to what they mean.

From Ms White/Mrs Black to Buffy: My Dearest Buffy, Please do not pay any attention to a thing C.C. says as she is green with envy, full of jealousy and just plan MAD that my Husband(black) and I are finally doing the right thing. xxxxxooooMom P.S. look in your driveway as you will find a late 25th Belated birthday present from your Dad and I. YES it is a brand New Mercedes convertible

Emmaus and us

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, 1601.

By Dr. Scott Hahn

We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in Sunday’s Gospel. Downcast and confused they’re making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

They know what they’ve seen–a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for–that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don’t know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

They can’t even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Note that Jesus doesn’t disclose His identity until they they describe how they found His tomb empty but “Him they did not see.” That’s how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.

How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to Him. In Sunday’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan” – foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in Sunday’s Psalm–whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.

After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples–exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14-20).

In every Eucharist, we re-enact that Easter Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

The disciples begged him, “Stay with us.” So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist–as at Emmaus–we know Him in the breaking of the bread.

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. Lighthouse Catholic Media has many of his talks on CD or for download.

The Gospel this Sunday

May 8, 2011
Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Divine Mercy Sunday 2011

Photos by Jane Winstead
Pope John Paul II granted the Feast of Mercy to the Universal Church in 2000 when St. Faustina was canonized. St. Faustina was a nun in Poland to whom the Lord appeared in 1931. This is what she wrote in her diary for February 22:

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"

Later, the Lord spoke to her again:
"The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. ... Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."

First Communion 2011

Photos by Jane Winstead