New angels stationed at Little Sisters’ Mullen Home (UPDATED with photo gallery)

Julie Filby

The Little Sisters of the Poor have installed a unique set of Stations of the Cross on the grounds of their Mullen Home for the Aged at 29th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard in northwest Denver.

“Many of our homes have Stations outside,” explained Mother Patricia Mary, L.S.P. “The thing that’s striking about these Stations is there is an angel in each.” {Story continues below}

The bronze Stations inlaid in light-colored brick were created by contemporary liturgical sculptor Lynn Kircher. Kircher crafts sculptures for churches nationwide, including several in the Archdiocese of Denver, and lives in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.

“As Lynn said, ‘Angels don’t come into our lives and leave,’” Mother Patricia Mary relayed, “’but remain with us throughout it.’”

About 40 people gathered under blue skies—including residents, sisters, supporters and Kircher—on the afternoon of June 6 as the Stations were dedicated by Archbishop Samuel Aquila. The group traveled from station to station as the archbishop led them in prayer.

“Almighty everlasting God, who do not forbid us to carve or paint likenesses of your saints, in order that whenever we look at them with our bodily eyes, we may call to mind their holy lives,” Archbishop Aquila prayed. “And resolve to follow in their footsteps.”

Since the Stations were installed along a walkway in the side yard last year, residents and others praying them have been moved by the love and compassion of the Lord’s gift revealed in the sculptures, Mother Patricia Mary said. Each Station was sponsored by a donor family, many of whom attended the dedication, including a family that traveled from Chicago.

“On behalf of the residents and all at Mullen Home, we extend a heartfelt thank you to the many people who generously support this beautiful memorial of the Lord’s Passion,” Mother Patricia Mary said.

The Stations are available for Mullen Home residents and all who would like to come and meditate on the Lord’s Pasion, she said. Mullen Home for the Aged is located at 3629 W. 29th Ave.

COMING UP: Recovering a sense of celebration

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With the seemingly ever-increasing number of days dedicated to celebrating various causes or events, the Church presents us with the season of Advent, a time of preparation that can help us recover a true sense of celebration.

More than 100 years ago, no less than Friedrich Nietzsche, the frequent critic of traditional values, warned that people were losing the ability to truly celebrate. “The trick is not to arrange a festival,” he said, “but to find people who can enjoy it.”

As a society, we have found so many occasions to celebrate that one digital marketer created the Days of the Year website to keep track of everything from Flossing Day to more serious things like Native American Heritage month. This flurry of partying is amplified by social media posts, likes, and shares, but one is hard pressed to give convincing reasons for commemorating things like Squirrel Appreciation Day.

As a culture, we need to recover the reasons we celebrate and feast, and that must start with one of the greatest events in human history, the moment when God entered human history as a man, which we celebrate at Christmas.

Truly celebrating an occasion, according to the theologian and philosopher Josef Pieper, involves more than just having a good time. It involves participating in “the utmost perfection to which man may attain … the partaking of the utmost fullness that life has to offer.” In other words, through our celebration we connect with and express our longing for the eternal, to be with the God who is love, truth, and mercy for eternity.

Pieper explains this in his book In Tune with the World by saying, “to celebrate a festival means: to live out, for some special occasion and in an uncommon manner, the universal assent to the world as a whole.” And the most radical assent to the world and creation, he says, is to praise God for it, to recognize the gift and beauty of creation.

Pope Francis picked up the theme of celebration in his 2015 series of reflections on the family. During his August 12 general audience, the Holy Father defined celebration as “first and foremost a loving and grateful look at work well done. … It’s time to look at our home, our friends we host, the community that surrounds us, and to think: what a good thing! God did this when he created the world. And he does so again and again, because God is always creating, even at this moment!”

In just a few days, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For many people, the holiday is focused on family, the food, drinks and entertainment rather than the reason for celebrating – giving thanks to God for his provision and blessing. But if we can reconnect with the reason for celebrating, we will experience a deeper, more authentic joy.

Advent, which begins on December 3, presents us with another period of time to direct our hearts and minds toward the great gift of Christ’s coming at Christmas and his eventual Second Coming, when the longing of all creation for eternity will be satisfied.

Pope Francis has noted that the family “is endowed with an extraordinary ability to understand, guide and sustain the authentic value of the time for celebration. How beautiful family celebrations are, they are beautiful! Sunday celebrations in particular.”

Some of the ways that families and individuals can prepare for joyfully celebrating these great gifts include, using an Advent wreath, celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas, blessing the Christmas tree, reciting the “O Antiphons,” celebrating the Marian Feasts of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of the New Advent, and making sacrifices in pursuit of spiritual growth. All will lead us to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ!

During this holiday season, I encourage everyone to rediscover the reasons we celebrate, which open us to the transcendent and help us become people who can truly enjoy the feast.