Be an (April) fool for Christ

Aaron Lambert

The Denver Catholic would like to announce it will not be partaking in April Fool’s Day. In other news, the Pope has decreed Denver Catholic the greatest Catholic publication in the history of the world.

Ok, you got us.

Everybody loves April Fool’s Day. It’s a free pass to play pranks and openly engage in tomfoolery, and who doesn’t love a good prank — or tomfoolery?

The truth is, if you’ve ever pulled a gag or caused mischief on April Fool’s Day, you have the Catholic Church to thank, according to some historical accounts.

It was Pope Gregory XIII who, in 1582, would unknowingly give rise to the world’s silliest holiday. He issued a decree ordering that all Christian nations adopt a standardized calendar, called the Gregorian calendar. This moved the new year from the end of March to the first of January, causing a great deal of confusion for some. Those poor saps who were ignorant to this new tradition or simply didn’t want to observe it were mocked as “fools.”

And thus a day practical jokes – most done in good fun, and some admittedly not – was born, one that endures to this day.

In many stories, the literary archetype of the “fool” is often portrayed as a bumbling, clueless jokester who lives up to his namesake. Being a fool is not an admirable thing to strive to be; quite the contrary, in fact. Why would anybody desire to make a fool of themselves? It’s a perplexing thought.

As it were though, the entire Christian faith is founded on the life of one man who was thought by many to be just that: a fool.

The Christian life, it could be argued, is a call to foolishness. As Elvis Presley once sang, “If I’m a fool for loving you, then that’s just what I want to be.” If anyone can lay claim to be a fool (and justifiably so) for loving a particular person (or in our case, group of people), it’s Jesus Christ. His teachings were radical – foolish, some might say – but as the human embodiment of God the Father, loving like a fool is what he came to teach.

When was the last time you loved like a fool?

Perhaps we’ve been thinking about April Fool’s Day all wrong. Instead of being a fool to someone, why not be a, as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, a fool for someone; namely, Christ. Don’t put a “kick me” sign on your wife’s back; put a “kiss me” sign on your forehead. Yes, April Fool’s Day is done in good fun and is not bad in and of itself, but as with any other day, let it be an opportunity for conversion, that our hearts might be more conformed to that of “Christ the Fool.”

COMING UP: Catholic Charities joins with St. Raphael Counseling to increase services

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Two Catholic counseling agencies serving the Denver Archdiocese have united to expand services to the community, officials said. The change was effective May 1.

St. Raphael Counseling, founded in 2009, has partnered with Catholic Charities’ Sacred Heart Counseling (formerly Regina Caeli Clinical Services), which was established in 2011. The two are now one ministry under Catholic Charities of Denver sharing the name St. Raphael Counseling.

Licensed clinical psychologist Jim Langley, co-founder of St. Raphael’s, will serve as director.

“Frankly, it seemed kind of silly for two entities to be doing the same thing from the same pool of resources,” Langley told the Denver Catholic.  “I reached out to [Catholic Charities] … to see about removing obstacles. It really must have been from the Lord because there weren’t any big obstacles.”

The combined resources mean clients seeking care aligned with Catholic values will now have access to more therapists and locations: a total of 18 clinicians at 11 offices and six schools across the Front Range region, including Denver, Littleton and northern Colorado.

In the coming months, St. Raphael’s will accept more insurances and will introduce diagnostic testing for behavioral and learning disorders and Autism to families at affordable cost, Langley said.

“We are excited to welcome the team of psychologists from St. Raphael Counseling to Catholic Charities,” said Amparo García, interim president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver. “Under Dr. Langley’s guidance, and with his expertise and business acumen, the team has built a trusted and professional counseling service that is faithful to the Church and compassionate to those in need.

“We are optimistic that offering expanded services in a combined organization will provide an added benefit to the community.”

St. Raphael’s offers individuals, couples and families clinical counseling services for issues ranging from depression and anxiety to grief and addiction. It also offers marriage preparation, school counseling, psychological evaluations for seminary applicants, and counseling for priests and religious. It provides outreach and education through presentations and retreats that integrate psychology and spirituality.

St. Raphael’s is named after the Archangel Raphael, who in the Old Testament Book of Tobit is sent by God to help the young man Tobias confront nature and evil. Raphael helps to bring healing to Tobias’ family. Of Hebrew origin, Raphael means “God heals.”

“The name was chosen very deliberately,” Langley said. “We [as therapists] are only instruments of God’s healing, God’s medicine; it’s ultimately God who heals.

“One of the ways the Lord has given us as a path to holiness is through our own brokenness,” he added. “We all have emotional wounds and the healing of these wounds helps us to become the saints God made us to be.

“We work with individuals and families to help them face their woundedness, their brokenness. We do it in a way that is supportive of their Catholic values and can leverage all the awesome, beautiful things about Catholic spirituality that can help us grow as people.”

The recent suicides of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade show that no one is immune from depression and suicidal thoughts, Langley said.

“Even St. Therese [of Lisieux] said there were moments when she was tempted by the medicine bottle on the nightstand,” he noted about the saint who was named a Doctor of the Church in 1997. “We think of her as being a joyful saint, yet she too struggled immensely with depression.

“If people are struggling, they need help,” Langley said. “But counseling isn’t just for people with big issues. It’s also for those who have normal issues and are trying to have a healthy family life.

“There’s nobody who doesn’t need support and good human relationships.”

RAPHAEL COUNSELING

Visit: straphaelcounseling.com

Phone: 720-377-1359