Archbishop Aquila invites you to Encounter the Risen Jesus

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! 

Brothers and Sisters, 

A very blessed Easter! Look inside the tomb with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, and recognize that the greatest news the world has ever heard is astonishingly true: He is not there! He is risen, as he said! Let your hearts be gripped with this incredible proclamation: he has conquered sin and death. Our Lord has descended into the very hell of all that would seek to enslave us and has triumphantly risen from those places, bringing us life and life abundantly. 

We are witnesses of a reality that should cause us to tremble in awe and wonder; Christ has risen, and he wants to extend the grace of this resurrection to all. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.” (1 Cor 15:20, 22) 
I write you this letter to introduce the Encounter the Risen Jesus resource. Over the past eighteen months, as I have prayed on our desire to set up the archdiocese for a time of apostolic mission, I have been convicted that Jesus’ remarks to the apostles at the Last Supper in John 14-17 are foundational Scripture passages for how we think about mission. I created this resource as a way of praying with these chapters, and a few others, because I want all the faithful to allow the Word of God to shape our minds and hearts. This guide is intended to help with that by inviting all to focus twenty minutes of prayer every day for a week on each of these chapters, with additional reflections on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), the gift of the Eucharist (John 6), and the Ascension/Pentecost (Acts 1-2).  

This resource becomes even more timely as I and the bishops of Colorado have prayerfully discerned that Pentecost, May 23, is the right time to restore the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days for the faithful who lack a serious reason which would prevent them from attending in person.  Providentially, just as we are being led back to this invitation from God to encounter him at least weekly in the Mass, my prayer had also been moved to specifically highlight the essential role the Eucharist plays in the life and mission of the Church in this guide. Let us also pray for those who may have become distanced from the Church during this pandemic, and how the Holy Spirit might use us to help bring them home. 

Many of you already joined me in our three invitations this Lent: to encounter the lens of the Gospel, to pray and fast for renewal in the Archdiocese of Denver, and to form our consciences, and I thank you for your participation. I consider this resource to be the follow-up, “part two” of my pastoral note, Our Apostolic Moment (archden.org/our-apostolic-moment), that issued those invitations. As I wrote there, I believe the critical question in front of us right now is, “How do we build an archdiocesan culture that is set up for and focused on a time of apostolic mission?” I sense deeply that the whole people of God in northern Colorado are being sent on mission to compellingly proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Mission is a calling in every baptized Catholic’s life; none of us are excused from this preeminent priority of the Church. It is why she exists. Before strategic deliberations or practical considerations, mission is first about a spiritual conversion, a new way of seeing. Without the new vision this fresh encounter brings, no going out will be possible. Mission begins first with our encounter with God, an intimate relationship and friendship with Jesus Christ. From this relationship springs a profound realization that the deepest truth of who we are, our very identity, is that we are first beloved sons and daughters of the Father. From this place of awareness of our own “beloved-ness,” we are then capable of joyfully going on mission.  

Some have used a helpful acronym to remember this truth: R.I.M. – Relationship, Identity, Mission. This progression is the driving vision behind this guide. It is meant to assist you in coming to a more intimate relationship with Christ this Easter season so that you are confirmed in your identity in the Father and are prepared to go on mission to engage the minds and hearts of every soul that resides in northern Colorado.   

Here is how I would like you to use your guide and what I invite you to this Easter season. As your archbishop, I ask that you take twenty minutes each day, either during your regular prayer time or at an additional time, and open your hearts to what God is saying to you in Scripture. If you have not been in the habit of taking a daily time for personal prayer, this would be an excellent opportunity to begin! You may join me in doing this by focusing on passages of the New Testament that I believe contain wisdom that God wants to speak to our local Church at this time. To assist us, we will be utilizing the ancient method of lectio divina, which offers a simple structure for praying with Scripture. Lectio will help each of us hear the Lord address us personally through praying with the Word of God.  

I am recommending only one chapter a week because I want you to pace yourselves. The repetition of praying with only one chapter each day will give space for us to really “chew” on each passage, pondering the insights contained therein and letting them change our minds and hearts. Lectio divina is not so much about “getting somewhere.” It is about being quiet to go deeper into the heart of Christ; it is a way of listening closely to the still, small voice of God present in Scripture.   

Thank you for journeying with me on this Easter season through this Encounter the Risen Jesus. I will be praying that he reveals himself to you in a new and life-changing way.  

God bless you this Easter season, 
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila

Visit archden.org/easter2021 to follow along with the Encounter the Risen Jesus guide over the next seven weeks.

COMING UP: From rare books to online resources, archdiocesan library has long history of service to students

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National Library Week, observed this year from April 4 to April 10, is the perfect occasion to highlight the essential role of libraries and library staff in strengthening our communities – and our very own Cardinal Stafford Library at the Archdiocese of Denver is no exception.  

Since 1932, the library has served as a religious, intellectual, and cultural resource for seminarians and students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As the library of the seminary, we are always responsible for the four dimensions of the priestly formation of our seminarians. The library is charged with being responsible to all the divisions of the Seminary: the Lay Division (Catholic Biblical School and Catholic Catechetical School), the Permanent Deacon Formation Division, and the Priestly Formation Division, said Stephen Sweeney, Library Director. 

In addition to being one of the main resources to the seminary, the Cardinal Stafford Library serves the needs of other educational programs in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the St. Francis School for Deacons, the Biblical School, the Catechetical School and the Augustine Institute. While the library is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously open to anyone, giving people access to more than 150,000 books, audios, and videos. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library was named after Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican and former Archbishop of Denver from 1986 to 1996. He was a dedicated advocate of the library and of Catholic education.

In 1932, the library was established by two seminarians, Maurice Helmann and Barry Wogan. While they were not the first seminarians to conceive the idea of establishing a library, they are considered the founders for undertaking its organization.  

Since its founding, the library has grown and compiled a fine collection of resources on Catholic theology, Church history, biblical studies, liturgy, canon law, religious art, philosophy, and literature. Special collections include over 500 rare books dating back to the early 16th century and many periodicals dating back to the 1800s. The oldest publication in the library is a book on excommunication published in 1510. The Cardinal Stafford Library is also home to various relics and holds bills personally written by some of those saints.  

Over the past few years, the library has undergone a process of beautification through various renovations that include improvements in lighting, flooring, and even furniture restoration. During these difficult times, libraries are doing their best to adapt to our changing world by expanding their digital resources to reach those who don’t have access to them from home. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library provides a community space; we subscribe to about 200 print journals and have access to literally thousands more through online resources available on campus computers, Sweeney added. “I have been the Library Director for almost 11 years. I absolutely love my work, especially participating in the intellectual formation of the faithful from all of the dioceses we serve”.  

For more information on the Cardinal Stafford Library, visit: sjvdenver.edu/library 

Featured photo by Andrew Wright