I personally love the traditions and seasons of the Catholic Church! Today we begin a new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent.
Advent has a two fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ Second Coming at the end of time.
We begin lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath depending on the particular Sunday of Advent.
The Priest and Deacon wears purple, except for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) where the color rose is worn.
The Gloria is not sung on the Sundays in Advent.
The Scripture readings on Sunday are from the A cycle – The Gospel of Matthew! It would be great to read and study the Gospel of Matthew this year!
The daily Scripture readings are taken from Year One (odd number years).
Beginning on December 17th we use the “O” antiphons.
I would encourage each family to purchase and use an Advent Wreath and to use a Catholic Advent Calendar! Both are great as a teaching resource for kids.
Advent is time to recall the cry of the early Christians: Maranatha! “Come Lord Jesus.” It is a good time to go to the Sacrament of Penance (Confession/Reconciliation) either on Friday evening from 6:30pm – 7:30pm/ Saturday afternoon from 4pm – 5:15pm/ or at Saint Francis of Assisi Advent penance service with multiple priests on Tuesday December 13th at 7pm. Of course you are most welcome to call and make an appointment for confession with either myself or Father Ricardo.
Don’t forget to attend Lessons and Carols!
My personal prayer for each of you is that this new church year of grace is a profound time of spiritual renewal and a time of a greater commitment to follow Jesus Christ more closely as an intentional disciple of Christ!
Since we are in the Month of November in which we are called to pray for our deceased loved ones and to remember the dead, it would be good for us to revisit Funerals in the Catholic Church. First if you haven’t received one already, see me for a copy of a little brochure Funerals in the Catholic Church, published by the Diocese of Colorado Springs. I would ask you to take time to read this little brochure.
I would also encourage you to read the recent Instruction “Ad resurgendum cum Christo” (to rise with Christ), which recently was published by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. While most in there is not new, there is a prohibition in there that the cremated ashes may not be divided amongst family members, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. Please remember that it is against church law to do what is mentioned above.
Also please know that when the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law. Also please remember that Ashes of a body need to be laid to rest and that the conservation of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Again, please read the instruction for all of the details.
Finally, A word about Last will and testament. Please update your will. 70% of people who die are without wills. Your will determines where you want your assets to go. Please put in your will specifically that you want a Funeral Mass said following your death and with your body present in a casket (preferred) or with the Ashes present. I have unfortunately met families who in spite of their loved one’s deep catholic faith, because they are not catholic have chosen not to have a funeral Mass said.
Please also when preparing your last will and testament with your attorney, please remember the Church in you will. It is a great legacy gift that you leave to your church and it enables us to continue to do the work of Christ. By the way you should update your will annually, or at least every 5 years.
With ballots coming in the mail, or the opportunity to vote on this upcoming election day, I would ask you to please take a moment and watch the video below from Archbishop Aquila of the Archdiocese of Denver, Bishop Sheridan –our Bishop, and Bishop Berg of the Diocese of Pueblo.
Thanks, Fr. Brad
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
What does it mean to be an Intentional Disciple of Jesus Christ?
That’s a great question. Sherry Weddell in her book Forming Intentional Disciples describes three concurrent journeys:
1. The personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.
2. The ecclesial journey into the Church through the sacraments of initiation.
3. The journey of active practice (as evidenced by receiving the sacraments, attending Mass, and participating in the life and mission of the Christian Community). I personally would include in this Ongoing Formation. That being formed as an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ does not end with the completion of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, but is a life long process that we gladly look forward to.
During my homily at last weekend’s Masses, I stressed how it is important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude.” We saw that in the beautiful Gospel story of the 10 lepers. Only one came back to say thanks. Do we in our own life, every day, come back to say thanks. Do we every moment have an “attitude of gratitude”, or do we cling to an “attitude of entitlement.”
Unfortunately in the life of the church I sometimes encounter people who seem to believe that they are entitled to this or that, because of something that they may or may not have done in the life of the Church. In his book “Rebuilt,” Father Michael White talked about the complaints that he heard on “family friendly Fridays” when people complained about the food (the Free food!) Are we unhappy when we do not get what we want, when we want and how we want?
We must always be as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ, people of great gratitude, of great thanks and appreciation. Saying thanks all day long to others whom we encounter and always saying thanks to Almighty God!
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers! (Ephesians 1:16)
In Christ, Fr. Brad
Monday, September 12, 2016
The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Tragic Events of September 11th.
I ask each of you to please to take time for prayer both today, tomorrow and this week as we remember the fifteenth Anniversary of the tragic events on September 11th in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. In a special way focus on the many stories of bravery, self sacrifice and courage that we witnessed in the lives of Law Enforcement Personnel, Firefighters, EMS, Military Man and Women and Civilians.
Today, I want to in particular remember two Chaplains who are now in the hands of God.
We all know the story of Fr. Mychal Judge. He was the FDNY Fire Chaplain who was the first recorded death of the tragic events of September 11th. What I personally liked about Father Judge was his constant availability to walk with firefighters and their families. He reminded us all that while in a 100 years, no one would remember our names, but that for now the baton was passed to us and that we are one in a line. This is a great reminder for each of us, every day, to go out there and do our work with dedication and excellence.
Chaplain David McPherson was deployed to New York right after the tragic events. He ministered to firefighters and their families and to civilians. He later became a Colorado Springs Fire Department Chaplain, but unfortunately died a few years ago. What I miss about David is that he had a great heart and a great intuition for service. During the Castle West Fire in COS he realized that there was a need for dry sock for the firefighters and he ran out and bought socks for the firefighters. That was his gift. That was part of his legacy. Firefighters remembered his great kindness.
Let’s never forget the lessons of courage, self sacrifice and bravery that we saw fifteen years ago.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.