However before we get to some words about the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday – I need to say THANKS! THANKS! THANKS!
Thanks to all of you who made this Lent such a great and holy time! Thanks to all of you who came to confessions, participated in the many Stations of the Cross, thanks to all of you who participated in the Best Lent Ever Program, thanks to all of you who followed the Lenten Black Books, thanks to all of you who participated in the Forty Days for Life prayer program and thanks to all of you who participated in the Lenten Rice Bowl Program. This really was the Best Lent Ever with so many of you participating in these great programs and availing yourselves of the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
Thanks to all of you who made the Triduum and Easter Sunday so beautiful! Thanks to Don Billings and the Triduum Choir – you were magnificent! Thanks Gloria, Joe and the Environment Team for making the Church look so beautiful. Thanks Don Billings and family for putting up the white cloth on the Outside Cross. Thanks Staff, Fr. Ricardo, Holy Deacons, Acolytes, Lectors, Altar Servers, Hospitality Ministers and Parking Lot guides for all of your hard work and dedication to detail. Thanks also to the crew that came in and moved the wooden altar and the many chairs! Thanks Dana and the RCIA Team, New Catholics and Candidates for all of your great work! Welcome Home! You are awesome! The Triduum and Easter Sunday was amazing! Thanks parishioners, your family members and visitors for making those days so special.
The Second Sunday of Easter and the Feast of the Divine Mercy is a great time to reflect on the incredible mercy of the Lord! Please take time to participate in the special Divine Mercy Sunday celebration at 3pm.
Again, this is an awesome parish because of each and everyone of you! Keep being Catholics of Easter joy!
Two days ago we heard a great homily by Deacon Richard that was focused on the life of St. Peter, as we experience this Lent as a time of deep self-searching and repentance. We are spending this particular Lent looking through the eyes of individuals who encountered Jesus in their life. During his homily, Deacon Richard referred to one of the great books written by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen called “Characters of the Passion, specifically his first chapter on the life of St. Peter.
Archbishop Sheen articulated that there seemed to be five stages in Peter’s fall. They are
Neglect of Prayer
Substitution of Action for prayer
The Satisfaction of material wants, feelings and emotions
Deacon Richard and I would like you to prayerfully and carefully look at each of these stages to see if they are present in our life. You have heard me say many times “if a priest fails to pray, he will fail.” The same is true for every Catholic layperson. If you fail to pray, if you fail to cultivate a deep life of prayer, – you will fail. You will become bitter, angry and walk away. The second stage naturally follows – substitution of action for prayer. Rather than following the model of Jesus Christ – deep prayer first – then action, sadly some priests and some laypeople follow Peter’s model and get so busy into action – that they neglect their prayer. Again, bitterness, and anger follow. They become like Mary the sister of Lazarus – upset and anxious. Take time this Lent to buy the book and carefully look at the five stages that led to the fall of Peter.
Deacon Richard reminded us that there were four steps that led Peter back to the Lord. They are:
Response to grace
May we experience as Peter did an awakening of conscience through the disillusionment of sin, and allow the Lord to fill the void.
Like Peter, we should never yield to either despair or listen to thoughts (or others) who would say that God will never take us back because of what we have done. Never yield to despair and bank on the love of Jesus who will always take us back home.
During this most holy Season of Lent we as a going to embark on a time of deep self searching and repentance! Each week we will look at Lent through the eyes of individuals who encountered Jesus in their life.
This particular week let us look at the life of Augustine of Hippo. Let’s start by watching this short video on his life and the moments of his experiences of dissatisfaction and his turning back to God. As you watch the video, think about your own life. What is holding you back from following Jesus Christ completely?
Do not be afraid to follow the Lord daily who calls us to deep inner conversion!
Next week the Five downward steps that led St. Peter away from Jesus and the Four steps that led him back to Christ.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Attendance at Mass through the eyes of two National Football League Legendary Coaches!
With the NFL Playoff games in full swing leading up to the Super Bowl, sometimes I hear that parishioners choose to watch the “big game” rather than fulfill their Sunday Obligation to attend Mass. Let me take some time to look at Attendance at Mass through the eyes and lives of two National Football League Legendary Coaches. At the end of the Super Bowl, the winning team is presented with the “Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy.” So let’s start with Coach Lombardi.
Coach Lombardi was Catholic. He begin he coaching career as a coach for a small Catholic School. He went to Mass every day. He continued to attend daily Mass every day including during the NFL season. Why? It gave him strength, wisdom, clarity and perseverance. In fact a lot of the time during the off season, he would actually serve at Mass in which he attended as the altar server. In spite of his very busy schedule, he made time to go to Mass each day.
The second NFL legendary coach is Coach Don Shula. Most of you remember that while I was born and raised in New York, around 5th grade my family and I moved to Hallandale, Florida, just north of Miami. I attended Biscayne College which at that time was the training home for the Miami Dolphins. In my senior year I lived on campus and one day while I was walking over to daily morning Mass on the sidewalk coming from the Dolphins training camp was Coach Don Shula. Since the sidewalk intersected, I wound up walking with Coach Shula to attend Mass. He was remarkable. He asked this very nervous college student (me) my name and every time I saw him he always said “Hi Brad!” It is that deep faith and love for the Eucharist that has helped him weather the bad times (including the death of his lovely wife Dorothy) and to enjoy the good times –like the 1972 Perfect Season!
The game of football teaches us some profound lessons – like the fact that our lives like a football game have a time limit. We should play each moment well. If we get knocked down, get up take a deep breath and get back into the game. Another lesson is that we are part of a TEAM – The letters in the word TEAM stand for Together Each Achieves More. If you get into the Red Zone – focus! These are just a few lessons. Coach Lombardi and Coach Shula, as well as my father taught me the importance of Mass attendance.
Sadly, this morning we received notification from the Dominican Friars of the Central Province that Father George Reynolds, O.P. passed away. Father George served here as Associate Pastor along with Father Herb Hayek, O.P. Many of our parishioners remember Father George for his great sense of humor and his great sense of pastoral care. He was certainly very kind to me during my transition here. His funeral will be at Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in River Forest, IL. , on Thursday January 21, 2016. The picture below is when he was interviewed for the National Retired Religious Collection.
Eternal Rest, Grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in Peace. Amen.
On behalf of Father Ricardo, Deacon Tom, Deacon Richard, Deacon Jacob, our instituted Acolytes, and our very hard working staff – I would like to wish both you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, holy, prosperous and peaceful 2016!
We hope to see you, your families and your friends at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Masses. Our Mass Schedule is:
Christmas Eve: (12-24)
4pm Mass – Main Church
4pm Mass – Douglas County Event Center
7pm – Main Church
9pm – Main Church
Christmas Day: (12-25)
8am – Main Church
10am – Main Church
12noon – Main Church (Spanish)
Saturday Vigil (12-26) and Sunday Masses (12-27) are on our regular schedule.
Many thanks to our Parish Environment Committee for making our Church Sanctuary so beautiful!
May I ask all of you join with our Bishop, the Priests and Deacons, and all of the Lay Faithful in praying this special novena as we get ready to receive our New Diocesan Plan from our Bishop on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Many thanks, Fr. Brad
I would invite you this week to take time to re-read today’s Gospel passage from Mark 12:38-44. I always have had an affinity for the story of the poor widow who put in her two small coins. Jesus observes her and points her out to his disciples. “She, from her poverty had contributed all that she had, her whole livelihood.” I always think that this would be a great epitaph – something to add to our modest gravestone. I would be a great summary of our life. That at the end of our life – we gave everything back to God. That we entrust our whole livelihood to God. There have been times in my own personal life that I have given everything back to God (like the story that I have told several times about my last 20.00) – and how God gave back to me in multiples.
I want to personally thank you so much for your most abundant generosity. You are great people of faith and trust. I hope that God gives back to you in multiples as well. Thanks to all of you who contributed so that Father Ricardo can receive his own chalice! You were most generous! Thanks for your generosity in taking care of the School that Father Kizito spoke about. You were most generous! Thanks for building this beautiful church sanctuary that is a beacon of hope for the Castle Rock Community! You are most generous!
You are also most generous with your giving of time – serving others, caring for others, reaching out to show God’s hospitality to the poor, the widows, the sick and suffering and those visiting. You are most generous in giving of the time and talents entrusted to you by God.
You guys are the best! Keep doing the great work that you are doing. Blessed are the poor in spirit!
Monday, October 19, 2015
monitored smoke alarm system and a Fire annunciation system
As your probably know our second church building was constructed around 1966 with an addition added that now houses our offices, classrooms, and the kitchen. One of the things that was sorely lacking in this wood framed constructed building was a monitored smoke alarm system and a Fire annunciation system. Over the last several months we have been working closely with members of our Staff, Finance Council, Pastoral Council and Parish Emergency Response Committee who strongly recommended to me that we work towards having such a system installed in these older sections of our building. Working very closely with a company called System Group and the Castle Rock Fire Department we were able to design a system that would take care of both needs – a monitored smoke alarm system as well as a Fire Annunciation System. With over 1,000 kids and teens in religious education as well as many activities during the week, we wanted to make sure that the safety of our visitors and parishioners was taken to a better level.
Installing wires and controls is usually a better process in new construction as it happened 4 years ago when we built our beautiful new church sanctuary. Installing wires and controls in a building almost 50 years old tends to be more complicated. I am very grateful for the team of Cassandra, Kalib and Zach from Systems Group who did a phenomenal job with the complex installation. Thanks for a job well done!!!
In the coming week we will be working with our Parish Emergency Response Committee and others to place Fire Evacuation plans in all of the classrooms, offices and meeting spaces. As you can see in the parking lot we already have installed the Emergency Assembly Area Signage thanks to FastSigns of Colorado Springs.
Since we are counting on monies received from Returning God’s Gifts to help pay for this very important project, along with monies from our Capital Improvement Account (not to be confused with our Capital Campaign Account –which is only used to pay down our debt and loan payments), please if you have not contributed to the Returning God’s Gifts – please do. Deacon Tom, Alfredo, Andrea or I will be happy to explain how to do this. Remember that monies donated to the RGG help our Diocese and a portion comes back to the parish.
This weekend we welcomed back a guest preacher Deacon Tim Walsh! Deacon Tim had graciously volunteered to preach at all of our Masses. The Scripture readings today are so rich and I would invite you to take time to read them again and again. Our First Reading is from the Book of Wisdom 7:7-11. Our Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 90:12-17. Our Second Reading is Hebrews 4:12-13 and our Gospel is Mark 10:17-30.
When we read Sacred Scripture each day, it should be forever fresh. Reading the Holy Scriptures should cause us to be challenged, to reexamine our priorities in the light of Gospel Truths!
The line that jumps out from me in Hebrews is “No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Since nothing is concealed from our God – are you, am I ready to render an account of how we have lived our lives, of how we have lived our lives, of how we have been stewarding the many gifts that God has entrusted to us during our time here on earth?
The line that jumps out from me in the Book of Wisdom is “I prayed and prudence was give me; I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” What a great gift that God gives us when we pray is Prudence and Wisdom! Wisdom and Prudence certainly help us in times of trial or discernment to help us see what the correct path to take is. We should always follow the path to life – sometimes it’s the little worn path, rather than the wide path that leads to our destruction.
This week I want you to prayerfully look at the story of the Rich Young Man presented in the Gospel of Mark 10:17-30. Note the words of the Gospel –“ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. follow me.” Note the action words – Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him…Go sell what you have and Give to the poor.. and follow me. What was the Rich Young Man’s response –“ He went away sad, for he had many possessions. “
The question for you and I for the week – Is there anything “possessing you” that you can’t let go, that keeps you from following Jesus Christ totally? The work for this week is to answer, Why can’t I let it go? What is so supremely important about it, why am I so attached to it that I can’t or will not let go? Jesus is calling us to follow him completely.
Unless you visited my former parish of Saint Patrick in Colorado Springs, you probably never met Carla Neal. For the past 13 years, Carla served faithfully as the Parish Receptionist there at St. Pat’s. I hired her many years ago to fill this very important position. To be a receptionist in a Catholic Church takes a lot of skillsets. One is to be able to multi-task. One is to be able to be Christ like to all who come into the office, regardless of whether they were Christ like to you. One is to be able to kindly answer the phone and have an incredible listening presence. There as so many other things that this important position demands. Finally, one should have the heart of Christ and a prayerful spirit. (By the way we are truly blessed to have Margaret and Andrea here at this very vibrant parish who fulfill what was just mentioned.)
At the age of 60 Carla had certainly gone through a lot in life. She did have a rich prayer life and a depth of faith that certainly got her through a lot. Sadly her daughter who was pregnant with child was shot and killed and the baby unfortunately died. The gift of Carla was that she was able to allow others to walk with her through those very difficult times and in the years following, especially as the trial and conviction happened.
Carla certainly had the heart of Christ when it came to those visiting the office and would take time to know the name of the person requesting assistance and to find out about their story in an authentic way. She also would also offer to begin to pray for someone and to add them to her prayer chain. She truly believed in the power of intercessory prayer.
Not wanting a lot of attention to herself, Carla in what turned out to the last week of her life, went to the ER as she was having breathing problems and following a diagnosis of both inoperable lung cancer and a throat tumor peacefully asked the doctor what was the next step. He said that there was nothing more to do and that he would refer her to inpatient hospice on the 4th floor of the hospital. Carla, being herself gathered her few possessions and walked upstairs and into the hospice. She died the next day surrounded by her family. Before taking her last breath, she told her family that she loved them, to take care of each other and that she was going home to God.
What impressed me was that every day, she specifically prayed for the grace of a happy death. She certainly received that particular grace. I would encourage you to pray each day for the grace of a happy death. In the work that she did for the last 13 years as a humble receptionist, Carla touched a lot of lives and deeply prayed for them. May we imitate her life of deep faith, deep prayer and deep care for others. May she rest in Peace. Amen.
During my homily on Labor day this morning, I spoke about a beautiful Encyclical written by Pope Leo XIII on “The Condition of Labor” in Latin called Rerum Novarum. Pope Leo in 1891 wrote about and defended principles for workers including; the inherent dignity of the worker, labor is not a commodity, the right to unionize, just wages, a shorter working day, the Sunday rest, the abolition of child labor, universal application of labor standards and factory inspection, among other principles.
During the homily I spoke of dynamic young priest who lived in those very same times, being born in 1852 and passing away in 1890 by the name of Father Michael J. McGivney. Father McGivney had a great heart, a great pastoral sense and walked very closely with his parishioners and those in need. I would encourage you on this labor day to watch this short Youtube video on his life. Father McGivney was the founder of the Knights of Columbus. Father McGivney was ahead of his time.
Enjoy this great video.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Congratulations to Father Carlos Gallardo and Father Jason Keas!
As you know I have been on the road for the past few Sundays! On Sunday August 23, I traveled to Saint Catherine Parish in Burlington, Colorado for the installation of Father Carlos Gallardo as the new Pastor of both Saint Catherine Parish and also Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Stratton, Colorado. As you know Father Carlos was here at our Parish for over 4 years as our Parochial Vicar (associate pastor). It was a great experience watching Father Carlos being installed as Pastor and I know that he will do well there. Father Carlos was so helpful for me here at the parish and it was great to watch him grow. Please keep him in your daily prayers as it is an awesome responsibility to be the Pastor!
This past Sunday I traveled to Sacred Heart Parish in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado for the installation of Father Jason Keas as the new Pastor of both Sacred Heart parish and also Saint Augustine Parish in Kit Carson. We were blessed to have then Seminarian Jason here at the parish for two years and then to have him with us as a transitional deacon. I am very proud of Father Jason who up to recently was assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Paul’s Parish in the Broadmoor. It was great having breakfast prior to the installation with his parents and family whom I have known for many years. Please keep Father Jason in your daily prayers as well.
Two Seminarians from our parish have returned to Saint Gregory the Great Seminary for further studies. Please pray for Seminarian Matt Kane and Seminarian Brandon Allen. Rev. Mr. Erin Kochivar and Rev. Mr. Sean McCann should be traveling back to Rome. Please continue to pray for all of our Seminarians.
This week I encourage you to read and study the beautiful Gospel of John 6:1-15. Here we have the very beautiful story found in all of the Gospels of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes. I’d really like you to look at this beautiful Gospel story from a variety of angles. First the traditional site of this miracle is Tabgha. First of all use your search engine to see pictures of the site. One of the pictures that you will find is a picture of this beautiful mosaic
This beautiful mosaic showing the loaves and the fishes is one of the earliest images of Christianity that used to designate Christian churches. The image of the fish used to be used as an early Christian identification for burials as well. In fact as you travel throughout the Holy Land you can purchase different bowls, cups and postcard with this beautiful mosaic on it.
I would encourage you to read some Biblical Commentaries – widely available on the web – to look at the beautiful elements of this Gospel Story. Prayerfully look at each commentary. Is there a particular element that draws you to look at further. One of the elements for me is that Our Lord feeds us physically and spiritually each day when we receive Holy Communion. When we receive the Eucharist we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. What a great gift that the Eucharist is. Our Lord, in his great love for us, still feeds us and cares for us. One of the elements for me that I reflect on is at the end where the people seeing a source of daily physical food – (bread and fish) want to make him “King” or provider of their daily physical food. He withdraws from them. The Ordo says it so well on its small commentary “The miracle performed by Elisha finds its perfect fulfillment in Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. He opens his hands and satisfies our deepest needs. In him we form one body.”
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Best wishes Father Carlos on your new assignment! You will be greatly missed!
This weekend is our last weekend with Father Carlos as our Associate Pastor. Beginning on July 1, 2015 he has been named as the new Pastor of Saint Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Stratton, Colorado and as Pastor of Saint Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Burlington, Colorado. In addition to those two parishes he will also oversee a Roman Catholic Cemetery and will also take care of several correctional facilities. While I am personally very happy that he has been named as the Pastor of these two parishes with a lot of responsibilities, I am personally very sad to see him move on. Words cannot adequately express my deep appreciation and gratitude for his assignment here for the last four years as well as his being my brother priest here. A few years ago I was so sick and Father Carlos went above and beyond to take care of not only me, but also take care of the parish.
We have traveled a lot by car together going to help hear confessions, or going to conferences or dinners. I very much appreciate Father Carlos’ very keen mind and the wisdom that he has when it comes to pastoral situations and decision making. I also very much appreciate Father Carlos’ great pastoral heart and his willingness to get in the car and go on pastoral emergencies at all hours of the day or night.
I personally ask each and every one of you to pray daily for Father Carlos as he makes this very important transition in his life and ministry. I know that he will do very well in this new assignment.
God Bless you Father Carlos!!! You will be greatly missed!