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‘What color is God’s skin…’

Thus says the chorus of the popular Spanish-language song by Ivonne and Ivette, “El Color de la Piel de Dios” (“The Color of God’s Skin”), which many Spanish speakers may well know and have probably sang before. The song says that God’s skin contains all colors: “black, yellow, red and white: All are the same to the eyes of God.” As the bright light, in its passing through a prism, expands into the spectrum of colors, as in rainbow, so is God’s family; so is the Church. We all proceed from the same Divine Light, which is God our Father, but upon the reception of that light, we lay it out in a multitude of skin colors, of cultural and devotional traditions, of music and song, of languages and of our expressions of the love of God.

Much has been said about the Hispanic and Latin-American community in the Catholic Church, among the American community that has received us. Yet, in the Archdiocese of Colorado there also other Catholic communities that make our Church beautiful and rich in tradition and traditions.

For example, in our Catholic Church and parishes live and pray the Native-American community (St. Bernadette Parish); the Polish community (St. Joseph Parish); the African-American community (Cure d’Ars Church); the Vietnamese community (Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs Church); the African community (Queen of Peace Church); the Italian community (Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church); the Korean community (St. Lawrence Parish); the Hmong community (All Saints Church); the Lebanese community (St. Rafka Church). Also, making our Catholic Church in Colorado even more colorful and beautiful, are the different liturgical rites, such as the Maronite (St. Rafka Church), the Byzantine (Holy Protection of the Mother of God Church); the Ukrainian (Transfiguration of Our Lord Church); the Roman (which the Hispanic community belong to) and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (or the Old Rite, in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Littleton).

The Catholic Church (which means “Universal”) is truly a feast of colors, sounds, languages and traditions, of which we must be proud – all united as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of one, same Father.

On Oct. 29, the Lord gifted me with a beautiful spiritual experience. I celebrated Mass for the African Catholic community of Denver at Queen of Peace. As I prepared my homily, I discovered that the African peoples have a very profound sense of the presence and action of God in everything that happens; great love for life and family; appreciation for nature and a grateful respect for the elderly and their authority, among other values. Their liturgical participation is dynamic, as when they bring up the gifts for the Mass, walking with devout and beautiful cadence. Their songs are full of life and rhythm and, in a away, express a unique spontaneity and connection with life. The joy of the liturgy is felt in every aspect. I also had the opportunity to partake in the reception, made up respectful greetings, colorful dresses, beautiful dances performed by children and youth, and a delicious meal with numerous dishes.

This last Nov. 5, I had the opportunity to celebrate and share with the Italian community at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Although now the majority speaks mostly English, we celebrated an Italian-language Mass, and they responded very well in Italian. They prayed as we pray, yet their love for their Italian roots was evident, as their love for their language and that Catholic faith embedded in the Italian soul and family. Their warmth, openness and delicious dishes of the Italian cuisine make you feel in Italy, even though the parish is in the heart of Denver! There I listened to the story of this immigrant community, also ingrained – as that of today’s immigrants – with nostalgia for their homeland, difficulties of hard labor, poverty and discrimination. But also with much faith! With that faith and love for the Church, they were able to build a beautiful church, as that of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

May we always keep in mind the beauty of our Catholicity, learn to appreciate the different forms of being a Church and loving God, and maintain the unity of the same faith we profess and the same Eucharist, which allows us to acknowledge all as sons and daughters, children of the same Father; in Christ, our Savior; and in the Holy Spirit, who unites us all in the love of God. One God, whose skin color is expressed in the skin color of his children, who reflect the light of God when they are united.

Bishop Jorge Rodriguez
Bishop Jorge Rodriguez serves as auxiliary bishop of Denver.
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