April 27, 2014

On the Canonization of John Paul II

Last summer, in 2013, the Shrine of Saint Anne in Arvada, Colorado invited me to provide a lectures series on the Wisdom of the Saints.  The last lecture for this series was filmed by Stephen Keating and edited into short video segments.  The Blog Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction (rcspiritualdirection.com) has generously made these videos available.  Click here to access part one.

EWTN's Register Radio also interviewed me about John Paul II.  To access this podcast click here.

April 26, 2014

Some thoughts on Saint John XXIII

The National Catholic Register asked me to review John XXIII's Journal of a Soul.  His interior life is intense and beautiful.  Perhaps this is the secret to the fruitfulness of his life.  Click here to read more. 

April 17, 2014

A Note of Thanks From Archbishop Aquila - the beginning of a journey

From Archbishop Aquila:

Thank you for your prayers and witness!  See the story in the DCR. 

Dear Friends,

As I said yesterday after we prayed together on the steps of the State Capitol, I had no idea how much impact my letter would have on the people of Colorado. In just a few days we are able to raise a united front in opposition to Senate Bill 175 and in defense of unborn children, the most innocent of all people. Congratulations to the people of good will throughout Colorado who listened to God's call to be active in politics and to defend life at every stage! You are the ones who made a difference!

Thank you to all the families that came out in support of life, particularly mothers who came with their young children. Thank you to the seminarians, my brother priests, and the women religious who came to pray to Our Lord for his intercession. And of course, thank you to all the people of various faiths who work each and every day to be a leaven in society for the common good. We need you! Keep up the good work!

I also want to extend my deep gratitude to Father Ambrose Omayas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, who joined me in a particularly moving way on the steps of the State Capitol to pray and bless the people present. Thank you to my brother bishops, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs and Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo, who joined with me to write a letter to all the State Senators. Additionally, thank you to Regis University president Fr. John Fitzgibbons, for publicly opposing SB175.

Holy Week is the time to turn our attention to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These holiest days of the year are a very important moment of memory. For the Catholic Christian, living the 'memory' of Christ is not like remembering some completed event that's now relegated to history; rather, the memory of Christ is someone present in our midst - in the sacraments, in our communities - and is the same as remembering who we are, and whose we are. He is our strength and our hope and the one who brings joy to the human heart!

Our hope lies not in the powers of government, nor the laws of man, but in the Resurrected God-Man who conquers the grave and never ceases to be present among us, His followers. This is not the end of a political battle, but the beginning of a journey together in the Archdiocese of Denver. Let us continue to be people of hope. Let us continue to be a leaven in society. Let us continue to seek the Kingdom of God, helping one another, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

May God bless you and your families this Easter,
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila Archbishop of Denver

April 12, 2014

Archbishop Aquila's Call for Prayer and Action

An Open Letter from Archbishop Aquila:

Open Letter to Catholics in Northern Colorado
SB175: Pray and Act!

To all people of goodwill in Colorado:

I am writing to you today with a very important request. Weekends are busy for all of us, but I am asking you, as a believer in the sanctity of human life, to pray for 10 minutes and take one of the actions that I will mention at the conclusion of this letter.

If you haven’t yet heard, there is a very troubling bill being debated in the Colorado State Senate next week. Senate Bill 175, touted as the “Reproductive Health Freedom Act,” passed on a party line vote in committee this past Thursday. I am grateful to every person who showed up to oppose the radical bill.

This over-reaching piece of legislation would essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again. More than that, it enshrines the “right to abortion” into Colorado law. It’s being praised by anti-life organizations such as NARAL and ThinkProgress as “the first of its kind” in the country and “ambitious.”  It enshrines the culture of death into law and ignores science.

This bill would prevent lawmakers from enacting laws such as ultrasound requirements, which we all know—particularly from the work of the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative here in Colorado—have done so much to give mothers vital information about their pregnancy, and thus save countless children from imminent death.

It prevents common sense regulations like waiting periods, restrictions on abortion pills (particularly for minors), and parental notification policies. Advocates of this bill seek the absolute “right to abortion” for girls as young as 10 or 11 without a parent’s knowledge, guidance or advice. Parents are seen as unfit in the moral guidance of their children.

Pope Francis affirmed on April 11, support for parents to decide their children’s moral and religious education, while he rejected “any kind of educational experimentation with children.”

He further stated, “The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of ‘only one form of thought.’”

This bill would protect the “only one form of thought” that Pope Francis warns against and undermine the freedom of one’s conscience to promote the dignity of human life and the unborn child.

Finally, this bill would eliminate abortion clinic health code regulations, which pro-abortion advocates label as “burdensome.” Remember Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, and the horrific images and stories of women nearly dying on the abortionist’s table? That is what an unregulated abortion clinic looks like! This bill is not good for the women and girls of Colorado!

I am prayerfully asking every person of good will to spend 10 minutes this weekend in prayer. Plead to Our Lord for His intercession on behalf of life in Colorado. Also, pray for our politicians on both sides of this issue, particularly for those who work tirelessly and often without recognition to promote life-affirming legislation in our State Capitol. Pray for the conversion of the heart and mind of those who support such irrational, unscientific, and a denial of conscience legislation.

But don’t stop there. As a conclusion of your prayer, ask Our Lord what action he wants from you. You are called to be a leaven for good and for life in society. 

Here are some ideas of concrete actions you can take this weekend.

Contact your Senator. It would be a beautiful testimony on the part of the people of Colorado who support life if each senator in Colorado would wake up on Monday morning with hundreds of emails asking them to oppose SB175.

Please contact the Colorado Catholic Conference to learn more about this bill or to get contact information for your Senator. Call 303-894-8808 or visit their website: www.cocatholicconference.org.

Contact the media. Call your newspaper, your television station and your radio station. Ask them to cover this bill. Let them know that they are letting down the people of Colorado by allowing this bill to pass without a true public debate!

Spread the word. If you have a Blog, or are active on Facebook, Twitter or one of the other social networks, spread the word! Invite others who may not have received this letter to pray and act!

Be people of hope! Many of you have lost faith in politics, but remember that attitude is not of God and is of the evil one. The devil confuses people and discourages them.  Pope Francis in his April 11 daily homily reminded us, “The devil is here…even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be na├»ve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”

Christians are a people of hope! No action taken in defense of life is meaningless, particularly if it comes from a place of prayer and the Gospel.

I leave you with some thoughts on the importance of Christian witness in our times. Remember that Vatican II called every Catholic to serve as leaven in society and “work for the sanctification of the world from within.”

“Since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs,” the document “Lumen Gentium” states, “it is their [the laity’s] special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may … continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer” (LG, 31).

My brother bishops and I have sent a joint letter to all Colorado Senators, now I ask you all to do your part to sanctify society. Together we can make a stand for life here in Colorado!

May God bless each one of you abundantly!

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

April 5, 2014

The Spiritual Liberty of Holy Obedience

Saint Hildegard von Bingen contemplated the origin of evil in terms of disobedience.  Satan believed he could begin what he wished because he presumed he could finish what he had begun.  He invented his own schemes and programs against the plan of God because he did not believe he needed the Lord for his existence.   Because he was not open to God's will, Satan is entrapped in a lower existence, imprisoned in currents of unredeemable chaos below this world.  Hildegard sees how the Ancient Adversary is at work to lure and coerce into this same pit all those whose lives he invades and touches.

Obedience begins with the realization that one cannot bring into completion the work God has begun.   The ambiguity surrounding this life is beyond human capacity to understand or master, and left to ourselves, we are always at risk of being mastered by it.  Following our own whims is not enough because even the whims of the heart are subject to this confusion.  Our dignity, our integrity, our existence require firm ground on which to stand, or they all fall.  This understanding, this saving truth is found somewhere beyond our natural capacities, from Someone above us, who comes down to us, who calls to us and who waits for us to welcome Him.

Rather than allowing oneself to be consumed with the confusion of doing what one wishes, we only begin to redeem the ambiguity of life by searching out the most appropriate way of serving the Lord who reveals Himself to us.  He does not coerce or manipulate or threaten in anger.  He humbly invites. He gently warns and patiently corrects.  He thoughtfully questions.  He appeals to our holy freedom because our free decisions to love delight Him more than anything else.

He who yearns for the free response of our humanity works through human freedom, inviting his friends to help us hear His voice.  He who is Love Himself reveals Himself through those whom He has entrusted with preaching the Gospel, teaching sacred doctrine, and directing us with His authority.  Ministers of the Gospel, spouses and parents, missionaries, catechists, and so many others share in this great work.  Through these frail human instruments, His divine power is manifest.  If we persevere in trusting Him to show us Himself through them, our life becomes the very prayer He taught us to say: On Earth as it is in Heaven.

To be obedient in this sense is to learn to listen, to hear the voice of God resound in our hearts and to act on it.   Obedience here is a matter of being vulnerable to the mind of God revealed on the tongues of men and women, allowing His mind to call into question one's own mind on things through their words.  The paradox of this obedience to what God reveals through frail human instruments here below is that the Word of the Father who is from above lifts up those who cling to Him into divine freedom.  This spiritual liberty of holy obedience delights in an unvanquished glory that rules over all the ambiguity and confusion in this world and below it.  Even when such love is subject to every kind of trial and hardship, it is subject only to God.