Tuesday, February 24, 2015
The First Sunday in Lent!
Lent is a very holy and introspective time! It should be a time when we scrutinize all of our actions and all aspects of our life and work to conform ourselves more closely to the Lord. For the last six weeks we have been carefully looking at each of the Fifteen Spiritual Ailments of the Roman Curia. Those same ailments can (and are) found in each and every one of us if we are truly honest with ourselves. The Seventh of the 15 ailments of the Roman Curia and ourselves is:
The ailment of rivalry and vainglory.
This occurs when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life…it is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism.
This trap can certainly affect any of us. History is filled with stories of good, honest, hard working people who once a particular office is bestowed upon them, are given the particular privilege of wearing some special robe, or uniform insignia, be the recipient of some honour, sadly change for the worse. I have seen that with some of my brother priests who when bestowed on a particular office, or honour sadly change. We need to carefully look at our own life. Do we chase after honours to fill up some emptiness in our life, or because our own self esteem is so low? As leaders, is our aim to be servants–leaders and to wait to be last to have our needs met. I recently came across a quote from an old US Cavalry sign – The Horses eat first, the enlisted men eat second and the officers eat last. Or, is our motto “Rank has its privileges”.
May this holy Season of Lent bring us authentically closer to Christ!
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Sixth of the Spiritual Ailments: “The disease of spiritual Alzheimer’s”
The Sixth of the Spiritual Ailments of the Roman Curia – which also very much applies to us in our own lives and in the life of our parish!
“The disease of spiritual Alzheimer’s” Our Holy Father used these words to describe this. “That is a progressive decline of ‘spiritual faculties’ which causes ‘severe disadvantages to people, ‘making them live in a ‘state of absolute dependence on their, often imagined, views’ We can see this in those who have ‘lost their memory of their encounter with the Lord,’ in those who depend on their ‘passions, whims and obsessions.’”
It is a rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of their personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: We see this in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”
I would invite us all this week to reflect on this deeply and to see if there are things that we have forgotten. Have we become so hardened by the trials of this life that we have forgotten the faithful presence of the Lord in our life? Has life become so routine and monotonous that we have forgotten the first feelings of deep love that we have for our Lord? Have we forgotten our roots? Sometimes in the life of those who go through RCIA there is such great feelings of love and a passion (or thirst) for the faith that somehow over time diminishes or disappears. Have we forgotten where we have come from? In parishes sometimes they have lost those core values that were important to them and sadly drift into something called “maintenance” [maintaining current structures, ways of doing things]and away from “mission.”
Many years ago when I worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Company to pay for my college, I was employed for two weeks when I was called into the Plant Manager’s office. I went up there with great apprehension as I thought that I must have done something terribly wrong. The Plant Manager, John Heinrichs, invite me in, and said that it was important for him to hear from the newest employees what they were seeing in terms of the operation of the plant. It was a great lesson for me. We can be so caught up in our world that we do not see the “forest’ for the “trees.”
I would encourage us to reflect on the call that God has for each of us individually and to rediscover that call if it has gone lost. I would encourage us to look deeply into not only our own lives, but the life of our parish to see how we are doing. If there is a progressive decline in our spiritual faculty to pray and be in love with the Lord, may there be a rapid re-awakening of this in our life.
The Fifth of the Fifteen Diseases: “The Disease of bad coordination”
This week we continue deepening our walk with Jesus Christ by looking at the Fifth and sixth of the Fifteen Diseases of the Roman Curia. As I have said each week, while it is easy for us to just say that our Holy Father was referring to the Roman Curia, these same diseases can certainly be present in our own life, the life or our parish, of fraternal organizations such as the Knights, or to the relationship of priests and deacons working with their Bishop in Dioceses (or lack thereof).
The Fifth of the Fifteen Diseases is “The Disease of bad coordination.”
It is the disease of members who ‘lose the community among them, and the Body loses its harmonious functionality’ becoming ‘an orchestra producing undisciplined noise because it’s members do not cooperate and do not live communally and do not have team spirit.” [another translation says that the sickness of poor communication develops when the communion between members is lost and the body loses its harmonious functionality and temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony… Cacophony means a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds, “a cacophony of deafening alarm bells.”]
As I reflected on this- I thought of the scene from the movie Sister Act where Sister Mary Clarence is named the new Choir Mistress. She carefully rearranges them after carefully observing them and then has them sing a chord. They did a great job singing in harmony that chord. After which Sister Mary Patrick says “ We did it! We actually san a chord!” Sister Mary Clarence then says “Yeah. You sang a chord for two seconds. The next thing that you have to do is listen to each other. That’s a big key. Big key. You must listen to each other if you’re going to be a group.”
This week read 1 Corinthians 12:4-31. How are we as members part of the one body of Christ? Are we part of the Body of Christ working together with all of the other members of the Body of Christ, or are we strictly on our own. How well are we communicating and coordinating with each other – as husband and wife – as a parishioner in a parish – within and between parish organizations and staffs – between priests, deacons and laity? Are there areas for improvement? If yes, what are they? Are we listening to each other?
Enjoy this deepening of our walk with Jesus Christ!
Friday, January 30, 2015
The Ailment of excessive planning and functionalism
This week we continue to grow spiritually in our journey to great holiness by looking at the Fourth of Pope Francis’ 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia. Each week we are taking time to prayerfully look at one of the 15 ailments and examine our conscience and our actions. This week we look at the Fourth Ailment “The Ailment of excessive planning and functionalism.”
The Ailment of excessive planning and functionalism.” When the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that by perfectly planning things, things progress effectively, thus becoming an accountant. Good Planning is necessary but without falling into the temptation of wanting to enclose or steer the freedom of the Holy Spirit… it is always easier and more convenient to fall back on static and unchanged positions.”
As I read this, I remembered being on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group of pilgrim, one of which wanted everything so perfectly planned out. She was so unhappy when our tour guide instructed the bus driver to take a side road and not follow the other busses. Our tour guide by veering from the “schedule” took us to one of his favorite places – “The valley of the Shadow of Death”, which we hear about in the 23rd Psalm. Are we so perfectionistic and overly planning that we fail to give God the ability to work in us. When things do not go “according to our meticulous plan – do we and others around us, experience the effects of a melt down? Do we fall back on our own “static” and “unchanged positions?”
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth thy Spirit and renew the face of the earth!
Let’s continue to examine our lives and truly be transformed by Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening
This week we continue to spiritually deepen ourselves with a look at the third of the Ailments of the Roman Curia. Again, it may be easy for us to say that this applies to the Roman Curia, but the reality is that these ailments can, and do afflict us all.
This week we are called to look at “The sickness of mental and spiritual hardening”: “that of those who along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to week with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ.”
As we deeply reflect on this – Have we become “hardened?” Have the disappointments in life, the tragedies of life that we have seen and experienced cause us to be hardened? Are we burying ourselves in paper and activity to avoid some pain or burden that we have experienced in life? Have we lost the ability to “weep with those who weep, or rejoice with those who rejoice?” A great reflective question for us to prayerfully consider this week is “What were the sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ?”
Wishing you inner serenity and inner peace, and encouraging you to be vivacious and bold witness of Jesus Christ, Fr. Brad
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Second Ailment: “Martha-ism or excessive industriousness:”
The Fifteen Ailments of the Roman Curia by Pope Francis
Second Ailment: “Martha-ism or excessive industriousness:”
The sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting the ‘better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one has brought his mission to a close is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously; in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything.’
As we clergy, staff and parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Parish reflect on these words, Are we making time to rest, and for refreshment? Do we take time each day to sit at the ‘feet of Jesus’ to listen to him, praise and adore him, and to reflect on his Words found in Sacred Scripture. Are we just running around – from project to project without time for prayer and time for rest. When was the last retreat that we had? Remember that a priest who does not have cultivate a depth of a prayer life – will fail, and so will lay Catholics! In the work that we do, are we internally angry that others are not helping as Martha did in the Gospel Story.
I would encourage you to prayerfully consider the words of our Holy Father. Perhaps re-read the Gospel Story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and perhaps read “Dies Domini” by Pope John Paul II which talks about the importance of the Day of the Lord. You can find that online.
Next week – Excessive planning and functionalism.
Be not afraid to deeply follow the Lord!
Monday, January 5, 2015
The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal, immune or indispensable
In December our Holy Father Pope Francis gave a talk to the Curia which is the Vatican’s governing Leadership. Rather than being a “State of the Church” talk, our Holy Father chose to spiritually look at 15 ailments of the Roman Curia. By extension we need to examine ourselves deeply to see if any of those 15 ailments have crept into either our parish, our into our own spiritual life. I want to look at one of these for the next 15 weeks.
The first one is “The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal, immune or indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up to date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body… It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks that he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service.
This week I would like to ask us all – both you and I to prayerfully reflect on the words of the first one above. Do we consider ourselves in any way to immortal, immune (from accountability, criticism…) or indispensable? Are we up to date in our operations, in our studies of the Bible and of Theology, or are was the last time we studied either the Bible, or Theology prior to our receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation? Can we do things in the life of our parish better? Do we consider ourselves to be superior to others rather than of being at the service to others?
During our prayer time and time before the Blessed Sacrament this week, let’s prayerfully consider this first of the Fifteen ailments. And if we discover that we are either out of date, not self-critical, not seeking to better ourselves, or feeling superior to others and not the servant of others, now is the time to make a mid-course correction.
Do not be afraid to follow the Lord deeply and always open to a deeper conversion to him. Fr. Brad
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
May the joy that resonated throughout the world at the Birth of Jesus Christ on that Holy Night, be with each and every one of your families! On behalf of Father Carlos, Father Bill, Deacon Tom, Deacon Richard, our extraordinarily hard working staff and their families – We want to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Thanks for all that you do to make this parish the vibrant parish it is! Thanks for being such great people of faith, humbly trying to follow the Lord!
God Bless! Fr. Brad
Thursday, December 18, 2014
A celebration of 15 years as a Priest!
Today I am very grateful to celebrate my 15th anniversary as a Priest. I was ordained by Bishop Hanifen at Holy Apostles Catholic Church on December 18, 1999. Probably one of the last ordinations in the that millennium. As you can see by the picture I was smiling, was thinner and had much more black hair. Today, 15 years later – I still smile. I am indeed very blessed to be a Priest and a Fire Chaplain. I think that anniversaries such as these are great times to stop and reflect on the way in which God has blessed your life. I am very richly blessed.
The Morning of my ordination, Bishop Hanifen, Msgr. Don Dunn, Fr. Paul Wicker and I met at 8am at Bishop Hanifen’s residence and spent an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in the Bishop’s private chapel. That hour before the Blessed Sacrament really helped me to focus. My first assignment as a priest was with Fr. Paul as his associate pastor. My second assignment was a Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Parish in COS and then on to here. I have been very blessed with great assignments.
Prior to my ordination I was blessed to begin volunteering as a Chaplain with the Colorado Springs Fire Department and those deep friendships continue to grow. I continue to serve Springs Fire and am blessed that I also get to work with the fine men and women of the Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Department. I also get to work with Police Officers as well and a lot of great Fire and Police Chaplains. One of my great friends is Jack Pope of Denver Police Department and I get to spend time with the “Pope” every month!
I personally want to say thanks to all of the members of my great staff here! Each of you daily goes above and beyond in terms of providing excellent customer service to our Parishioners! I personally want to say thanks to all of our parishioners here for making my life so blessed. I also want to say thanks to all of the Knights of Columbus for letting me walk with them as their State Chaplain this year. It continues to be a very blessed walk.
Keep Smiling and Count your blessings each day!
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Happy Second Sunday in Advent!
Wow! Our very vibrant parish is in the midst of this wonderful, holy Season of Advent! Advent is truly a time of intense preparation for the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as well as preparation of the remembrance of the Birth of Christ at Christmas!
Please join us for our Parish Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday December 11th beginning at 5pm with prayer, and traditional music and folk dance. Mass is at 9pm and food and refreshments will be served afterwards.
One of the great traditions of this parish is the “Festival of Lessons and Carols.” This will be held this Friday December 12th at 7pm here in our Main Sanctuary. I personally always love this beautiful tradition as it always provides great spiritual consolation and always lifts up my spirit! Please come and join us!
Many thanks to our teens who worked so hard last week and served Breakfast with Santa and sold handmade crafts! You teens are great!
Thursday, November 27, 2014
I wanted to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Every thanksgiving and every day of my life I always take time to practice what I call “Moments of Thanksgiving!” I do this a lot and it helps put things into perspective in my life. So let me give you some examples. I am thankful that I am a Catholic Priest. I am so very thankful that I am a Fire Department Chaplain and work with Firefighters. I am thankful that I am a Pastor. I am thankful for having a caring Bishop. I am thankful for having really great brother priests. I am thankful for the gift of each of my parishioners. I am thankful this morning that I got to celebrate Mass with a lot of parishioners attending. I am so thankful for the gift of living in the Town of Castle Rock. I am thankful and grateful that I was with a family at the hospital last night whose love for Ron was phenomenally beautiful. I am thankful that I have two great dogs Simi and Suzie. I am thankful that I drive a really cool 67 Ford Mustang that the Firefighters restored as a gift. I am thankful that I now get to restore a 1951 Mack Firetruck. I am thankful that ever since we received the gift of a Bell Tower that I can hear the Bells. I am thankful that I get to work with a Fr. Carlos, Deacon Tom, Deacon Richardl, Fr. Bill and a truly remarkable staff.
I would encourage you each day to practice “Moments of Thanksgiving!” and to have an attitude of gratitude for the many gifts that our God graciously pours out over us.
Thanks to each of you for making my life such a great life. You are a real blessing in my life!!!
Have a great Thanksgiving meal and somewhere along the line – take a nice nap!
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
My Beloved in Jesus Christ!
My Beloved in Jesus Christ!
I hope that you enjoyed the back to back Catechetical Homilies. Father Carlos’ homily two weeks ago was on Purgatory and my homily last week was on The linkage between our belief in Purgatory and Catholic Funerals. While our Diocese of Colorado Springs is now reprinting the brochure “Funerals in the Catholic Church” , I remembered that you can get it online. Go to our webpage www.stfranciscr.org and on the home page, you will see a box called “My Estate Manager” Click on the link. You will see a well put together site that has lots of great information about End of Life care and managing items after the death of a loved one. Click Start Managing Now, and Click “Managing a Traditional Funeral.” You should see this link and you can download the entire brochure.
I would encourage you to take time to visit this well put together “MY ESTATE MANAGER” website. It has lots of great information on it such as Estate Planning, leaving a Legacy Gift, Medical Advanced Directives, a wonderful pamphlet on the Sacrament of the Sick, Funerals in the Catholic Church and so much more. I was recently on the site to pull out forms for Advanced Directives.
As always if you have any questions on any of these important issues – please let us know!
Monday, November 3, 2014
Purgatory – The Forgotten Church
This past weekend, Father Carlos preached at all Masses on Purgatory. Here at Saint Francis of Assisi Parish we are committed to this year having more “catechetical homilies” that deals specifically with a part of the Catholic Faith that may not be talked about a lot. Father gave a wonderful catechetical homily and I have asked our webmaster to attach it. We also have a dvd available to borrow out of the office on Purgatory called – Purgatory – the forgotten church. It is a phenomenal dvd and gives you the scriptural and tradition sources for Church’s teaching on Purgatory. We have to remember that we believe in the division into the 3 churches of the Catholic Faith – The Church Militant, The Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant. The Church Militant is us. We as Catholics needs to know and articulate our faith. As I have said so many times – An educated and articulate Catholic is our best Catholic! The Church Suffering are those in Purgatory and we need to daily pray for them. The Church Triumphant are the Saints! We thank God daily for their heroic witness!
Enjoy Father Carlos’ great homily. Study the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. Pray for the souls in Purgartory.
This coming weekend, I will be preaching at all Masses on the Funeral Rites of the Catholic Faith!
Keep growing in the faith! I am proud of you!
Sunday, October 12, 2014
The Gospel of Life!
The Gospel of Life!
October is in the life of the Roman Catholic Church a month in which study and remember the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding Respect Life. One of the best sources for a complete understanding of the Church’s teaching on the many issues concerning Respect Life is the Encyclical Letter on Abortion, Euthanasia and the Death Penalty in today’s world. The title in Latin is Evangelium Vitae, or in English, The Gospel of Life. Pope John Paul II did a beautiful job writing this very important Encyclical. I would strongly encourage each Catholic to either buy the book or you can download it from Kindle or any E-Books. It is an easy to read, foundational primer on Respect Life issues. Pope John Paul II clearly articulates the Scriptural Basis for the teachings of the Catholic Church as well as he cites where in the Tradition of the Catholic Church the sources of the teachings. He masterfully shows the Call of Jesus Christ for a Culture of Life, and talks about the prevalent Culture of Death especially in today’s society.
One of the Sources of tradition he cites is the Didache. I would encourage you to use your search engine and to look at the original copy of the Didache. The Didache as he describes it is “from the beginning, the living Tradition of the Church- as shown by the Didache, the most ancient, non-biblical Christian writing categorically repeated the commandment “You shall not kill”: There are two ways, a way of life and a way of death; there is a great difference between them…In accordance with the precept you shall not kill…you shall not put a child to death by abortion, nor kill it once it is born…The way of death is this:…they show no compassion for the poor, they do not suffer with the suffering, they do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause God’s creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering, they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin.
The Didache concludes this paragraph by saying “May you be able to stay ever apart, o children from all of these sins!”
The Didache was written between the 1st and 2nd Century. Sadly and unfortunately, some of those same sins are still happening today. May we truly turn to God, Repent and Proclaim the Gospel of Life against a Culture of Death!
Do not lose hope. Next week we will look at the Gospel of Mercy and look at the many ways in which the Lord and his Church provide mercy, healing and love for those who have sinned!
In the love of Christ!
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Happy Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi!
Today we as a parish celebrated out patronal feast day with a special Mass on the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi. We also celebrated the third anniversary of the Dedication of our new Church! We were blessed to have Father Larry Brennan from the Diocese of Colorado Springs as the main celebrant and homilist as well as many Deacons from the Diocese of Colorado Springs who were here for Mass and for their monthly meeting. It was great to have them with us.
Father Larry gave a phenomenal homily during which I realized that we need a system to tape and share these homilies! He first shared with us his joy of being with us for our anniversary of the dedication of the new Church. He shared about a wonderful talk that he had heard about dedicated sacred space –“ That our worship space was dedicated to God as a Sacred Space and a place in which we encounter the Holy.” Listening to Father Larry, it brought me back to the dedication of our new church three years ago and the beautiful dedication ritual so beautifully done by Bishop Sheridan. Father Larry went on to talk about holy places that he had visited like Lourdes and Assisi and how when you entered into those holy places, you could sense the holiness and the Presence of Almighty God.
Father Larry share some wonderful stories of Saint Francis of Assisi. He talked about how we remember Saint Francis of Assisi for the very familiar stories – Francis speaking to the birds, Francis’ encounter with the wolf of Gubbio… He talked about seeing Francis’ original habit being on display and who it was all patched together and worn. Since I had not seen that during my visit to Assisi many years ago I was able to find the image online. He then talked about how you could sense the holiness of God in him and how it radiated out of him. Fr. Larry also spoke of how that radiance shown out of him with the stigmata that Francis received. .
It was a great homily on Saint Francis and one that had me wanting to listen to more. Isn’t that what a good homily should do!
From the bottom of my heart on this our patronal feast – Thanks to all of you who make our parish so vibrant, a place of genuine warmth and love, a place of peace and a place of the Sacred! Thanks to all of you who have sacrificed to make our dream of a new church a reality! You’re the best!
Pax et bonum! (Peace and Goodwill)