Thursday, April 16, 2015
May the peace of the Risen Lord be with you!
Having taken a break for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, I would like to continue to look at the 12th of the Fifteen Diseases of Roman Curia as described by Pope Francis. As I have said to you each time, while it is easy to point to the Vatican Curia and to think that this is only applicable to them, each of us can be afflicted with one or more of the Fifteen Diseases. May Christ the Divine Healer – heal us!
The Twelfth of the Fifteen Ailments of the Roman Curia – “The Disease of the Funeral Face.”
It is the disease of people who are ‘scowling and unfriendly and think that, in order to be serious, they must show a melancholic and strict face and treat others – especially those who they think are inferior – with rigidity, harshness and arrogance.’ In reality, adds the Pope, ‘theatrical strictness and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity about themselves. The apostle must strive to be a polite, serene, enthusiastic and joyful person…’ Francis invites people to be full of humour and self irony. ‘How beneficial a healthy dose of humour can be!’
One of my favorite books to go back to is The wit and wisdom of Pope John XXIII. Pope John had a tremendous wit and a great sense of humor. So did Pope John Paul II who as a young seminarian used to mimic some of his seminary professors. Are we living a balanced life? Are we able to laugh and have a developed sense of humor? Do we take ourselves too seriously? One of the greatest Catholic Evangelists, Archbishop Fulton Sheen was a master at humor and self irony. Take time this week to listen to some of his talks!
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Palm Sunday 2015!
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week. I would strongly encourage you not to treat Palm Sunday and Holy Week as any other “ordinary” week in your life. I would encourage you not to fill up this week with things that you “normally do,’ but spiritually focus on each of the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
An old, now worn out book that I always go back to is “Characters of the Passion” written by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In his book, Archbishop Sheen carefully looks at the characters of the Passion – Peter, Judas, Pilate, Herod, Claudia and Herodias, Barabbas and the thieves, and the Scars of Christ.
To give you one example from his book, Archbishop Sheen looks at the character and characteristics of Peter. He describes five stages that led to Peter’s fall. The are 1. Neglect of Prayer, 2. Substitution of action for prayer. 3. Lukewarmness. 4.The satisfaction of material wants, feelings and emotions. 5. Human Respect (when we deny our faith, or are ashamed of it under ridicule or scorn). I would encourage us all to do an examination of conscience this week on these five areas. Are we men and women of deep prayer, or do we neglect our prayer life? Do we act without taking time to pray? Are we lukewarm? Are we trying to satisfy ourselves with material wants, feelings and emotions – or does our soul yearn for you Lord and you alone? Have we denied our faith?
Archbishop Sheen then carefully points out the four graced steps that led Peter back. 1. Disillusionment. 2. Response to grace. 3. Amendment and 4 . Sorrow. Hopefully in our lives we experience God’s graces found in the midst of our own disillusionment with how far we have wondered from God. Hopefully we then respond to the gift of the grace from God, work towards amending our lives and truly express our deep sorrow for our sinfulness.
This is a quick summary of one of the Characters of the Passion described by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Let us carefully reflect on how we follow Christ on this Palm Sunday and into Holy Week.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Fifth Sunday in Lent!
This Fifth Sunday of Lent is the last of the Three “Scrutiny Sundays.” It is a holy time in which we continue to deeply scrutinize our lives. This week we continue our journey with our Holy Father Pope Francis as we look at the 11th of the 15 ailments of the Roman Curia – The disease of indifference towards others. As I have reminded you each week – we should not just look at these ailments as something that simply affects others, but we need to deeply look at how these ailments are present in our own lives. Only when we admit that these are present in our own lives, and turn to Our Lord for healing –then our hearts will yearn for the Lord alone!
The 11th of the 15 Spiritual Ailments: “The disease of indifference towards others.”
“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person only thinks about himself and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge at the service of less expert colleagues: when out of jealousy, or cunning, one experiences joy in seeing another person fall instead of lifting him up or encouraging him.”
I would encourage you each day this week to take one word from the definition above and prayerfully meditate on the word.
Disease – do we feel dis –ease , uneasiness when around others – especially around those who we are not comfortable being with, those who we do not like, or not at ease with what to say or do in particular situations.
Indifferent – are we indifferent in our lives, or indifferent to the sufferings of those around us. Are we like Lazarus in the Gospel Story – indifferent to those begging at our door?
Self Centered – are we only considered with ourselves – who is number one in our lives?
Sincerity – Are we sincere? What does this word mean? (hint –“ without wax”)
Warm personal relationships – do we cultivate those warm personal relationships or are we alone, cold and bitter?
Do we delight in feeling joy at seeing someone else fall?
Encourage – do we encourage or discourage people? Read Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s story on the Cruets that were dropped and shattered?
Lot’s to think about as we carefully scrutinize our lives in this 5th Sunday in Lent and walk deeply into Holy Week.
Blessings, Fr. Brad
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
The Fourth Sunday in Lent!
The 10th of the 15 Ailments of the Vatican Curia.
As we continue our Lenten walk to greater holiness in our own lives and a deeper relationship with the Lord, we continue to look at the 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia that our Holy Father Pope Francis described. Again, we should not be so proud as to think that those ailments only apply to “them.”
The 10th of the 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia – “The sickness of deifying leaders.”
“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honoring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only what they might obtain and not what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by fatal selfishness.”
WOW! These words should give us plenty to think about over the next week. Have we ever been mean, unhappy and inspired only by our own fatal selfishness? Have we ever met people, or co-workers, or members of some fraternal organization who “pandered” to those in power, who courted their superiors with the hope of receiving their benevolence? Were we “sickened” or “fascinated” by observing this behavior? If we have been mean, unhappy, or selfish – go to Confession! If we are enamored by careerism, and have been opportunistic in the pursuit of things of this world and not of the things of Heavenly pursuits – go to Confession!
Only when we recognize our own sickness and have the humility to ask the Divine Healer – Jesus Christ for his healing touch, then our healing may begin!
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Third Sunday in Lent!
Today we celebrate the Third Sunday in Lent. We begin the “Scrutiny Sundays. It is not only a time for the RCIA Candidates and Catechumens to deeply scrutinize their lives prior to them coming in to the full sacramental life of the Church at Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday – it is a time for each and every one of us to deeply scrutinize our own life!
This week I am going to ask you to continue our deep reflection on the 15 ailments of the Vatican Curia, as addressed to by Pope Francis. Again, it is easy to pretend that his words are only applicable to the Vatican Curia, but his words are also very much applicable to each and every one of us.
Number 9: Chatter, grumbling and gossip:
“This is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly, who not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs.”
For our prayerful reflection this week, I would encourage you to cut out this reflection and post it on your refrigerator. Meditate each day on the words that you see there that are in bold.
Begins Simply: Oh how simply this starts, how seductively this starts. It begins by us simply “chatting” about something in the life of the church and then does it take the lives of people over.
Sowers of Discord – like Satan: How quick we are to sow the seeds of discord, in something that we are not happy about. Yet reflect about how those seeds of discord grow, choking out the good seed, overtaking fields, communities, organizations…And yet how we never realize that we have become “agents of Satan.” It is so easy for us to fall into the scam, or trap of the devil, with our own justification for our own misdeeds.
Cold blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren: Pretty strong language, and yet that is the reality of what we become when we gossip!
Cowardly: Again, pretty strong language, yet we are truly Cowards when we do not have the courage to speak directly to the people involved and instead speak behind the back.
As one who cares for your soul here’s my direction to you:
Don’t fall for the seduction or trap of gossip.
Stop being sowers of discord and agents of Satan.
Do not kill others and their reputations.
Stop being Cowards and speak to people face to face. Deal with issues and not personalities.
And if you have committed this sin and become an Agent of Satan – go to confession, repent, do penance and sin no more.
With great love, Fr. Brad
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
The Second Sunday in Lent!
This Second Sunday in Lent, we continue our journey of carefully, introspectively, looking at the 15 ailments of the Roman Curia. Again, while this was addressed by Pope Francis to the Roman Curia, we need to prayerfully and critically look at these 15 ailments in our own spiritual life and the life of our Parish, the Knights, or organizations that we belong to. So this week we look at the Eighth of the 15 ailments.
“Existential Schizophrenia” ‘The sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.”
I think that we all need to look very carefully at our own life. Are we living a double life –“supposedly pius, holy people while in the Church Sanctuary”, but outside of the Church building “not Catholic in their actions”… Are our actions consonant with our faith? I always find it sad when I hear the “parking lot stories.” How this person who just received Holy Communion, uses swear words or gestures in our parking lot while exiting the parking lot. How this person is in the parking lot – gossiping about some parishioner – causing scandal to some other parishioner who overhears it walking by. I have seen it in priests who live a double life, trapped by the addictiveness of some addictive behavior. Remember that the priest who doesn’t pray – fails. Catholics who do not have a deep prayer life – will fail. It is only with a deep prayer life that we can withstand the empty times.
Lent is a time of deep introspection, a time of asking Almighty God to remove from all aspects of our life – anything that would cause us to give scandal, or cause us not to have our lives totally focused on the Lord. “My heart yearns for you and you alone” said Saint Augustine after his great conversion. May we experience such a deep conversion in our life!
Stay close to the Lord – Strive to be Saints!
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!