Father Jacques Hamel was killed yesterday as he celebrated Mass in a small town in France. His throat was slit by ISIS terrorists. Father was 84 years old and was beloved by his parishioners. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Last Sunday’s first Scripture Reading and the Gospel brought up two important themes – Hospitality and Prayer. Prayerfully reading those particular Scriptures should cause us to pause and ponder how we exercise the gift of hospitality to others and how do we pray. Abraham in the first reading – sees the three men in the distance, runs to them, bows to them, invites them to stay, washes their feet, has the choice steer prepared for them… Martha in the Gospel, runs to meet Christ, then becomes so burdened with the details of serving the Lord that she becomes very unhappy that Mary her sister is not helping. Mary is sitting at the feet of the Lord listening to him.
Prayerfully reflecting on these two readings –should lead us to carefully look at two questions:
1. How are we as a parish exercising the gift of hospitality to those who visit? What are they ways in which we are truly and genuinely showing Hospitality? What are ways in which we are not showing true and genuine hospitality? What have been some of your good experiences of receiving hospitality in other parishes that you have visited? What have been some of your not so good (or bad) experiences of not receiving hospitality in other parishes that you have visited?
2. Are we a parish of prayer? Dan Henderson wrote in his book “Old Paths New Power, Awakening your Church through prayer and the Ministry of the Word”. He asked a well known Pastor – what does prayer look like in your church and staff? The Pastor replied “We are really not into that…” At St. Francis parish are we “really into prayer?” What does prayer look like at St. Francis of Assisi in Castle Rock? What are the ways in which both private devotional prayer and public devotional prayer is encouraged? Is Saint Francis of Assisi Parish a place of prayer and refuge from the stressors of daily life? If so, what are some of the elements that make it a place of prayer, a “house of prayer?”
If not, what are some of the elements that we can improve on to truly make this parish a place of prayer, a “house of prayer”, or as Pope Francis calls parishes “an authentic school of prayer.” Do our kids and teens in religious education taught how to pray deeply, including how to prayerfully read the Bible? Are parish groups like the Saint Vincent de Paul, the American Heritage Girls, Stephen’s Ministers, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities rooted deeply in prayer, or do they/we like Dan Henderson says “ use prayer to simply open and close a meeting.” Are we simply like Martha, too busy and stressed to pray? Burdened by the demands of hospitality, but seething in anger and bitterness inside?
I would really like to hear from you. Please take time to ponder these questions. Email me back email@example.com
As Abraham and Sarah received a blessing from the Angels who visited them, may you and your families receive a blessing for both your hospitality and your depth of prayer!
God works through not only the extraordinary time is our life, but also in the ordinary times of our life!
Sometimes we hit this 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time and we can feel a little deflated. After all we had a profound Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Holy Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi! Lots of Sacraments – bringing the RCIA Elect and Candidates into the Church! Bishop was here to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to a large group of our Eighth Graders! We had lots of our kids receiving First Holy Communion! So much life in this very vibrant parish!
Now it is easy for us to say, in an almost depressed way – it’s Ordinary Time. And yet we should never forget that God is at work in the ordinary events of our life, as well as in the extraordinary moments. Our Blessed Mother was a great example of faithful living in the ordinary events, as she watched Jesus grow in those “Scripturally unrecorded years“ from the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple to the beginning of his public ministry at 30. God is at work in the ordinary times.
I would encourage you each week as you prepare for Sunday Mass by reading the Sacred Scriptures beforehand, to prayerfully look at how God is calling us to live a closer walk with Jesus in the ordinariness of the day. Remember that God is with you each day. I pray that he gives you many graces, including the grace of perseverance, especially when things seem just “ordinary.”
Today is a great day in the life of our Catholic Faith as we celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday! It is the day in which give thanks for the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist! It is the day in which we give great thanks for receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord during the time of the Mass in which we receive Holy Communion. I would encourage you to take time to read about the Eucharistic Faith of Actor Clarence Gilyard. You will remember him from his appearances on Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger. See how the Eucharist changed his life! Being near the Eucharist made Clarence intensely aware of the presence of God, he explains, “It is all about the presence of God in the consecrated host.” When you read his story, he joined the Catholic Church through the RCIA and developed a hunger for the Eucharist. As he lives his life, the Eucharist is food for his journey.
Read the lives of the Saints and the Blesseds! Think of Saint Tarcisius who died protecting the Eucharist. Blessed Imelda Lambertini who longed to receive the Eucharist as well as Archbishop Fulton Sheen whose Eucharistic devotion was influenced by a 13 year old Chinese Catholic Girl Martyr who died protecting the Eucharist!.
Take time to read books on Eucharistic Miracles, or simply research them on your search engine.
Receive the Eucharist with great joy when in the State of Grace. Receive it carefully as you are holding in your hand, or receiving it on your tongue- the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ!
Today we as a church celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension. The Bishops of the Province of Denver, the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming; the Archdiocese of Denver, the Diocese of Colorado Springs and the Diocese of Pueblo several years ago transferred this beautiful Solemnity in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter. In celebrating the Ascension, we have to remember – as the Bishops stated in their letter years ago, “that Christ does not exit time, he becomes its center!” It is a good week to prayerfully reflect on – Is Christ the center of your life?
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Graduation of 13 of our parishioners from the Denver Catholic Biblical School. To graduate from this School, one must study all aspects of the Bible and Church teachings for four years. I am very proud that we now have 13 of our parishioners who are “Scripture Scholars!” Congratulations to Marilyn Eisele, Linda Fox, Mary Hart, Michael Kilman, Sheri Kilman, Tim Kilzer, Arline King, Lynne Liotta, Wendy Logue, Mary Ann Rasmussen, Debbie Ray, Nancy Stockmoe and Mary White. Congratulations on your graduation! As Saint Jerome reminded us “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
I know that there are others who have formally studied the Sacred Scriptures, so please email me with your studies. It would be our hope that we can begin to offer “mini courses” in Sacred Scripture along with the many other Scripture Classes offered here on a ongoing basis. I am very grateful to Jamie Crane, who is a graduate of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and to Jan Redmond for her fidelity to organizing and teaching Sacred Scripture Classes throughout the years. Thanks to all of you who regularly participate in studying Sacred Scripture
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Happy Second Sunday of Easter! – Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!
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.