Thursday, June 30, 2011

A yoke for the childlike

By Dr. Scott Hahn

Jesus is portrayed in Sunday’s Gospel as a new and greater Moses.

Moses, the meekest man on earth (see Numbers 12:3), was God’s friend (see Exodus 34:12,17). Only he knew God “face to face” (see Deuteronomy 34:10). And Moses gave Israel the yoke of the Law, through which God first revealed himself and how we are to live (see Jeremiah 2:20; 5:5).

Jesus too is meek and humble. But He is more than God’s friend. He is the Son who alone knows the Father. He is more also than a law-giver, presenting himself Sunday as the yoke of a new Law, and as the revealed Wisdom of God.

As Wisdom, Jesus was present before creation as the firstborn of God, the Father and Lord of heaven and earth (see Proverbs 8:22; Wisdom 9:9). And He gives knowledge of the holy things of the kingdom of God (see Wisdom 10:10).

In the gracious will of the Father, Jesus reveals these things only to the “childlike”—those who humble themselves before Him as little children (see Sirach 2:17). These alone can recognize and receive Jesus as the just savior and meek king promised to daughter Zion, Israel, in Sunday’s First Reading.

We too are called to childlike faith in the Father’s goodness, as sons and daughters of the new kingdom, the Church.

We are to live by the Spirit we received in baptism (see Galatians 5:16), putting to death our old ways of thinking and acting, as Paul exhorts in Sunday’s Epistle. Our “yoke” is to be His new law of love (see John 13:34), by which we enter into the “rest” of His kingdom.

As we sing in Sunday’s Psalm, we joyously await the day when we will praise His name forever in the kingdom that lasts for all ages. This is the sabbath rest promised by Jesus—first anticipated by Moses (see Exodus 20:8-11), but which still awaits the people of God (see Hebrews 4:9).

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

July 3, 2011
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rays-Red Sox Tailgate Party July 16

Plans for the Rays-Red Sox Tailgate Party are shaping up, says organizer Eric Foreman. The party starts at noon on July 16. The first 100 cars with four occupants park free. There will be live entertainment. Eric has 110 tickets, with 70 of them on the TBT Party Deck and 40 of them in the outfield. Game time is 4:10 p.m.

Eric says help is needed in setting up, lots of coolers with ice, food to share, a couple of small grills, folding chairs and umbrellas and pop-up tents or 20-foot tents.

He already has lined up two pop-up tent, a beer keg trailer, a 40-foot RV (see photo) with electric power for fans, blenders and more, a first aid kit, and air conditioning for anyone suffering from the heat. There also are three port-potties, a sound system, a five-piece rock band, karaoke and two Weber Q grills.

Call Eric Foreman at (727) 641-9981 for tickets and information. Call Marty Foreman at (727) 894-7766 for more information.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Angels in Africa update

Seminarians Bob and Dan Angel write of their experiences in Africa this summer working with Catholic Relief Services. Bob is in Sierra Leone. Dan is in Liberia. Read their blog, Angels in Africa. Latest update was today (Friday).

Don't forget the babies!

Photos by Jane Winstead
Jesus and Lily Morales (center) with Jesus' parents, Wanda and Jorge Antunez, and children, from left, Aidan, Alejandro, Azariah and Ariel. Mom is holding Anthony James. | Click to enlarge photos.

The photos of Jesus and Lily Morales and their family (above) and Wendell Winstead and Maggie Moren (below right) on Father's Day at St. Raphael parish serve as a reminder for parishioners to return the baby bottles to Mass this weekend filled with donations to help pregnant women and their families in need.

It's part of the diocese fund raising project Baby Bottle Boomerang. Parishioners throughout the diocese were asked to take an empty baby bottle from those distributed at Masses last weekend. They were asked to prayerfully fill the bottle with loose change, extra dollar bills, or a check with a generous donation.

Proceeds go to support Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center, a ministry of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The center was previously called Pregnancy Plus Medical and Pregnancy & Parenting Support Service. There are center offices in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties.

Foundations of Life is a comprehensive program ministry providing services to women and families experiencing unplanned or "crisis" pregnancies. Mothers and families can obtain much needed services and support through the pregnancy centers.

The centers' adoption services offer a life option that allows ta birth mother or birth parents to make a long-term care plan for their child. The Foundation of Life Villa provides mothers with support and a safe and secure place to live during their pregnancy.

The Foundations of Life name change provides an umbrella name for the pregnancy centers, adoption services and residential pregnancy program in the diocese.

Wendell Winstead is a member of the St. Raphael Knights of Columbus chapter. Maggie Moren is active in the diocese Respect Life program.

St. Raphael Eight Grade Graduation

Photos by Jane Winstead
Here are photographs from the St. Rapahel Catholic School Eighth Grade Graduation. Here is an article about the graduation.

Word of the ‘Living Father’


By Dr. Scott Hahn

The Eucharist is given to us as a challenge and a promise. That’s how Jesus presents it in Sunday’s Gospel.

He doesn’t make it easy for those who hear Him. They are repulsed and offended at His words. Even when they begin to quarrel, He insists on describing the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood in starkly literal terms.

Four times in Sunday’s reading, Jesus uses a Greek word—trogein—that refers to a crude kind of eating, almost a gnawing or chewing (see John 6:54,56,57,58).

He is testing their faith in His Word, as Sunday’s First Reading describes God testing Israel in the desert.

The heavenly manna was not given to satisfy the Israelites’ hunger, as Moses explains. It was given to show them that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

In Sunday’s Psalm, too, we see a connection between God’s Word and the bread of life. We sing of God filling us with “finest wheat” and proclaiming his Word to the world.

In Jesus, “the living Father” has given us His Word come down from heaven, made flesh for the life of the world.

Yet as the Israelites grumbled in the desert, many in Sunday’s Gospel cannot accept that Word. Even many of Jesus’ own followers abandon Him after this discourse (see John 6:66). But His words are Spirit and life, the words of eternal life (see John 6:63,67).

In the Eucharist we are made one flesh with Christ. We have His life in us and have our life because of Him. This is what Paul means in Sunday’s Epistle when He calls the Eucharist a “participation” in Christ’s body and blood. We become in this sacrament partakers of the divine nature (see 1 Peter 2:4).

This is the mystery of the faith that Jesus asks us believe. And He gives us His promise: that sharing in His flesh and blood that was raised from the dead, we too will be raised up on the last day.

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

June 26, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Corpus Christi Sunday

John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

Honoring the fathers

Photo by Jane Winstead
In recognition of Father's Day, Father Dominic asked all fathers to stand at the end of 9:30 a.m. Mass. He offered a special blessing for all fathers.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How God loves

By Dr. Scott Hahn

We often begin Mass with the prayer from Sunday’s Epistle: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” We praise the God who has revealed himself as a Trinity, a communion of persons.

Communion with the Trinity is the goal of our worship —and the purpose of the salvation history that begins in the Bible and continues in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church.

We see the beginnings of God’s self-revelation in Sunday’s First Reading, as He passes before Moses and cries out His holy name.

Israel had sinned in worshipping the golden calf (see Exodus 32). But God does not condemn them to perish. Instead He proclaims His mercy and faithfulness to His covenant.

God loved Israel as His firstborn son among the nations (see Exodus 4:22). Through Israel—heirs of His covenant with Abraham—God planned to reveal himself as the Father of all nations (see Genesis 22:18).

The memory of God’s covenant testing of Abraham—and Abraham’s faithful obedience—lies behind Sunday’s Gospel.

In commanding Abraham to offer his only beloved son (see Genesis 22:2,12,16), God was preparing us for the fullest possible revelation of His love for the world.

As Abraham was willing to offer Isaac, God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all (see Romans 8:32).

In this, He revealed what was only disclosed partially to Moses—that His kindness continues for a thousand generations, that He forgives our sin, and takes us back as His very own people (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 9:29).

Jesus humbled himself to die in obedience to God’s will. And for this, the Spirit of God raised Him from the dead (see Romans 8:11), and gave Him a name above every name (see Philippians 2:8-10).

This is the name we glorify in today’s Responsorial—the name of our Lord, the God who is Love (see 1 John 4;8,16).

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

June 19, 2011
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

John 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

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

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pentecost Sunday: A mighty wind

By Dr. Scott Hahn

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today’s Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a “mighty wind” sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as “a strong, driving wind” to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today’s Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today’s Epistle (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a “new creation” in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity - fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

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

June 12, 2011
Pentecost Sunday

John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Class of 2011 graduates with hope

Photos by Jane Winstead
The St. Raphael Catholic School Class of 2011.

Under a theme of hope, eighth graders at St. Raphael Catholic School were honored in a Graduation Mass and Commencement Ceremony on Monday in the church. “ ‘For I know the plan I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” read the quotation from Jeremiah 29:11 on the cover of the commencement program.

The 20 students wore red caps and gowns for the ceremony, which included a special Mass, presentation of awards, speeches from several of the students and the presentation of diplomas.

Richard Morrow welcomed parents and visitors to the event. The students processed in to the strains of Sir Edward Elgar's traditional Pomp and Circumstance.

Students giving thank you speeches included Heather Finster, Kaitlyn Taylor, Madison Fernandez, Tanner McNulty, Amanda Sherwin, Kathryn Vigrass, Gabriella Crespo and Alexa Ozkan.

Father Tim Sherwood and school principal Valerie Wostbrock presented the diplomas.

The Class of 2011 includes Gabriel Bennett, Oliver Bennett, Gabriella Crespo, Matthew Dyndul, Madison Fernandez, Heather Finster, Jordan Hallsted, Isabella Henriksson, Michael Knapp, Hunter Matirne, Pamela McFarlane, Tanner McNulty, Richard Morrow, Joseph Musselman, Alexa Ozkan, Amanda Sherwin, Cole Smith, Kaitlyn Taylor, Kathryn Vigrass and Tiffany Walker.

Click on photos to enlarge them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pray for Chris and Terry Winstead family

Please pray for parishioners Chris and Terry Winstead and family. Charlie Lutes II, Chris' son, (right) died in an automobile accident on Friday.

There will be a visitation from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 at Anderson McQueen Family Tribute Center on Dr. Martin Luther King Street North at 22nd Avenue North. The visitation will be followed by a service at 7 p.m.

Charlie Lutes was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He enjoyed spending time with his family and took a lot of pride in his appearance. He had an outgoing personality and was loved by all. He will be missed.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Charles William Lutes. He is survived by his father, Charles Robert (Marella) Lutes; mother, Christina (Terry) Winstead; brother, James Michael Lutes; grandparents, James and Patricia Woods; grandmother, Estelle Lutes; step- brother, Derek Winstead; step-sister, Danielle Winstead; cousin, Autumn Lopez; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

The Winstead family requests that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

More details are available at the Anderson McQueen Web site.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seeing God in a new way

The Ascension of Our Lord celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, so it falls on a Thursday, however, in most dioceses in the United States, the celebration of the Ascension has been transferred to the following Sunday, six weeks after Easter 2011.

By Father Charles Irvin

God the Father inaugurated His presence among us when Abraham responded to Him in faith. The Nativity of Our Lord inaugurated God the Son’s presence among us when God’s self-expression became flesh and was born among us as one of us. This Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven inaugurates the time of God the Holy Spirit’s presence among us. Jesus Christ ascension into heaven opens the door to the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within those who have been baptized into the Body of Christ.

Our Blessed Lord’s Ascension into heaven challenges us to see God in a new way. Christ’s ascension is not an ending, it’s a beginning. On the surface in appears that Christ’s Ascension is a departure, but actually it is not. Spirit-filled in His resurrection, Christ now comes to us in a new way – in His Holy Spirit.
It is a new beginning. Christ in His humanity is now taken to a new status, the highest of all states of being. Now at the right hand of the Father in the fullness of divinity, Christ comes to us in the power of the Holy Spirit -- particularly in His Sacraments. He will always be with us, He will never leave us.

The cycle has now come full circle. God has come to us in Christ; God has given Himself to us in Christ; God is now at work among us again, sweeping us up into Christ's glorious, resurrected, and Spirit-filled humanity. Through Him, with Him, and in Him we are now in Christ’s ascended humanity returned back home to our Father. The scope of this panorama is stupendous, awe-inspiring, and really beyond human comprehension or mortal human words. It is Mystery in the full sense of the word mystery - mystery not in the sense of reading a "Who Done It?" novel, but mystery in the sense that we are gazing into a reality that far exceeds the scope of our ability to depict it or put into words.

To be honest with you, if I were standing in that group of apostles and disciples at Christ's Ascension I would have been dismayed. I would have been quite intimidated. I would have thought: "Are we to lose Him again?" Timidity would have engulfed my heart and soul. But Pentecost would follow and my timidity would have been erased.

To confess the truth, at times I feel some timidity even now. Our Church in recent years has been racked by scandals. Some priests have abused our children and some bishops have not done their duty. Furthermore, in our highly secularized culture, Christianity is on the defensive. Additionally, as Americans we stand betrayed by our basic institutions, having in recent years faced betrayals from government officials in high office, corporate executives, and accounting firms that have not accounted. We have suffered betrayals from those in our legal and medical institutions, a divorce rate that seems to know no limits, and so on. Everywhere we turn we face losses of varying sorts and degrees of depth.

Will terrorism ever end? Is our economy truly recovering? Will there ever be an adequate supply of jobs? Will our sources of energy dry up? Will there ever be peace between Arab and Jew, Palestinian and Israeli? Will there be an even greater increase in prejudice and hostility toward believing Christians? These and other worrying factors eat away at our courage, our sense of well-being, and our hope for lives lived in peace. We have been intimidated -- made fearful and timid.

It is into this sort of world that God sent His only ­begotten Son, not to condemn us but to save us. The post-resurrection message, repeated so often by Christ, is: "Fear not! I am with you. I am with you even to the end of the world."

The infallible sign of His Presence among us is love. We can love even in a world such as ours. We do, in fact, love in a world such as ours. The power of God's love is being made manifest among us. You are making that powerful presence felt in your lives and in the lives of those whom you cherish. You are making the presence of the resurrected and ascended Christ real in the lives of those around you.

If there is one sentence I want you to take home with you today it is this: Everything and everyone you love is being redeemed. Those whom you love are being redeemed not just by your love, but by Christ's love within you that reaches them. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven is at work through you, with you, and in you. He has not left us orphans - He is here. Because of His ascension He is here!

To be sure I face intimidation, as do you. To be sure we all have our moments of being shy and even afraid. But soon, and very soon, Pentecost will burst upon us. God's powerful and life-giving Holy Spirit will come roaring upon us like a mighty wind from the heights of heaven. The fires of your passions will be re-ignited. For we, you and I with you, have a fire in our bellies, the fire of God's great and Holy Spirit.

And when He comes we will be enabled to throw off our timidity. We, filled with Christ's gift of courage, will be able to go out in public and boldly live in the face of whatever challenges life and the people in it throw at us. For Christ Jesus, now at the right hand of our Father, is at work in us bringing order out of chaos, meaning out of absurdity, good out of evil, and life out of death.

The days of Pentecost and all of the days thereafter are at hand. We have a Savior who loves us, a glorious Redeemer who at the right hand of the Father intercedes for us, and the Spirit of God at work in us. By your faith, in your hope, and because of your love, all of the God's gifts are at work in you, and our world has the promise of being made into a much better place. Because of the Ascension of Christ we are given the task of revealing God’s kingdom here on earth. Christ has established the kingdom. Ours is now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the task of revealing God’s kingdom in all that we say and do.

“Behold,” declares God, “I make all things new.”

Fr. Charles Irvin lives in active retirement in DeWitt, Michigan, on the grounds of St. Francis Retreat Center and has traveled extensively, including five pilgrimages in Europe and the Holy Land. He is the founding editor of Faith magazine in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. His homilies appear on

About the painting: The Ascension by Benjamin West, 1801. West was an Anglo-American painter who lived during the Revolutionary War. He was the second president of the Royal Academy in London.

The Gospel this Sunday

June 5, 2011
Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Matthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

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