Jesus is not optional

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Sometimes I decide what I’m going to write about. And sometimes God does.

I just came back from the FOCUS conference in Phoenix. It was awesome, incidentally, and I highly recommend that you all look into it for next year. Yes, it is sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. And yes, there are a lot of college kids there. But there is also a marvelous adult track, with wonderful speakers and fabulous activities. 

But I digress. The very first speaker was Father Mike Schmitz, and the theme of his talk was that Jesus is not “optional.” It was a wonderful talk and gave me so much spiritual food for thought.

I wrote “Jesus is not optional” in my little column ideas list.

Then I came home and went to a movie. The movie, A Hidden Life, was about Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian conscientious objector who was executed by the Nazis in 1943. Also highly recommended. In the movie, there is a scene where Franz is talking to a man who paints frescos in the church. He’s talking about how he paints Jesus as nice, unthreatening. He says he does it because “[W]e create admirers. We do not create followers. Christ’s life is a demand. We don’t want to be reminded of it.”

Similar message strikes me twice? That’s my message from God. And it’s my column.

So, let’s talk about Jesus.

I don’t think, in our culture, you’ll find a lot of people who openly regard Him negatively. Even the Doobie Brothers said that “Jesus is Just Alright.” (Which, in the parlance of the day, meant that He is “cool.”) It’s kind of a form of weak virtue signaling to speak highly — but vaguely — of Him. Of course, the “Jesus” to whom people frequently refer bears little if any resemblance to the actual Jesus who walked the earth — the one whose life and message are recorded in Scripture.  No, He is mild and pleasant and somewhat feminized, and He just wants everybody to get along.

I actually read a Facebook post the other day (I don’t remember the context) in which a woman was lecturing someone about how Jesus’ message was all about UNITY and EQUALITY. Apparently, she never got to the part about how a father will be divided against his sons, and a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law.

We all see “outsiders” shape-shifting Jesus to fit their own agendas. But what about those of us who call ourselves Christian — followers of Christ? Where does Jesus fit into our lives?

I maintain that a vast majority of “Christians” probably fall more into the “admirer” category than the “follower.” We speak of Him, occasionally, but always in reverent tones. We put his picture in a corner of the house somewhere. Perhaps we even quote Him when his words bolster our argument.

But is that what He asks of us? Did He say “Join my church, and give me lip service every once in a while”? Did He say “As long as you’re a basically good person, you really don’t need to pay too much attention to me”?

No. He said “Follow me.” Actually, technically, it was “deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow me.” He invited us to lose our lives for His sake. He commanded us to love Him with our whole heart and soul.

What does it look like to follow Him? It looks like St. Teresa of Calcutta, who never worried about funding her ministries, but prayed for an hour every day and the funds arrived when they were needed. It looks like St. John Paul II, who risked his life pursuing the priesthood in an underground seminary in defiance of the Nazis. It looks like Bl. Franz Jagerstatter, who refused to swear allegiance to the murderous dictator Hitler, even when it led to his execution.

It also means you and I strive to put Him first in our everyday lives. It means we read his word and ponder what He is telling us through it. It means we work to live lives of service instead of merely comfort. It means we see his image and likeness in every person we encounter. It means we stand up for his truth in our own little ways, even when doing so will cost us popularity or business or “likes.”

But that can be unpleasant at best, and can cost us our lives at worst. Why do we have to go through it all? Are these just the hoops we are supposed to jump through so we can get to Heaven?

No. We bother not because He needs us, but because we need Him. We need Him at the center of our lives. We need him because, as Father Mike said in his talk, we are not “fine” without him. We are desperate, in need of a savior, to save us in this life and in the next.

Also, lest you think I am preaching at you from some high spiritual perch where I have attained this incredible one-ness with him, think again. I’m just the girl who heard a reminder twice in a week and had to take a good hard look at her own life.

Let’s all make a commitment to take Him out of the corner in 2020. Let’s put Him first. Let’s make sure his voice is the first one we seek in the morning, and that his word informs our every decision. Let’s ask Him to shine his love through us. Let’s recommit to his sacraments.

And then we can show the world who He really is.

COMING UP: Knights of Columbus Fish Fry Fridays are back

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Lent is just around the corner, which can mean only one thing: Knights of Columbus Fish Fry Fridays are back.

For a full list of local Knights fish fry’s, scroll to the bottom of this post.

For decades, the Knights of Columbus have gathered every Friday during lent to provide non-meat dinner options for the community committed to fasting. They also benefit parishioners through the spiritual enrichment of praying the Stations of the Cross and support many programs within the community.

“As part of building the domestic church while strengthening our parishes, we support many programs that pertain to faith, life, family and community by putting our faith in action,” said Clark Musser, State Programs Coordinator of the Knights of Columbus. “The dinners are just one way we can involve almost all aspects of our Faith in Action Initiative in one evening.”

By hosting these dinners, the Knights of Columbus make it easier for parishioners to participate in the Stations of the Cross during Lent by freeing up their meal preparation time and allowing them to bring their family to Church to attend Lent services.

“As Knights, we are Catholic men that support our clergy and church. This is just one way we can help bring families together and strengthen the faith of not just us Knights but of the parish and community also,” Musser said.

Everyone is invited to attend a Fish Fry dinner. While most Knights of Columbus councils serve Fish Fry’s, some of them serve soup for a minimal fee to cover expenses or even just a donation at some parishes.
For Musser, the dinners are more than just a Fish Fry, “It’s a faith, family and community building event.”

Fish Fry Fridays have become so popular that the Knights have their own recipe for the batter. The Knights of Columbus invite all to enjoy a delicious lent dinner, support their local parish, and strengthen their faith at the Stations of the Cross.

Below are all the fish fry’s we could find. Special thanks to the Knights of Columbus for helping us compile this list!

Arvada Spirit of Christ 7400 w 80th ave Spirit of Christ March 6, 27 5pm
Arvada Shrine of Saint Anne Saint Joachim Starting March 13, all Fridays after that
Aurora Queen of Peace Catholic Church  13120 E Kentucky Ave Bishop Evans All Fridays
Aurora St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church 19099 E Floyd Ave Archangel Council All Fridays
Breckingridge St Mary Our Lady of the Summit Soup Dinners – all fridays
Colorado Springs St Patrick’s St Patrick’s Council Feb 28, March 6 6pm
Colorado Springs Saint Francis of Assisi Mount Saint Francis All Friday’s
Colorado Springs / Saint Mary Cathedral / Saint Mary Cathedral March 6, April 3, 6:30
Colorado Springs Divine Redeemer Divine Redeemer All Friday’s
Colorado Springs St. Paul’s St. Paul’s Feb 28, March 6, 13, 20
Colorado Springs Our Lady of Guadalupe Our Lady of Guadalupe All Friday’s
Colorado Springs St. Joseph  St. Joseph the Worker March 6 and 20th
Craig Saint Michael’s 678 School Street  Saint Michael the Archangel Feb 7th, 28th March 20th
Denver Church of the Risen Christ Roman Catholic Church 3060 South Monaco Parkway Our Lady of the Luminous Mysteries Council 5-7 before stations of the Cross
Florence Saint Benedict’s Florence Council Every Friday, except for Good Friday. Soup dinner
Foxfield Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church  18000 E Arapahoe Rd Our Lady of Loreto Feb 28, March 13, 27
Ft Collins St Joseph Fort Collins March 27, April 3
Ft Collins Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Every Friday
Greeley St Mary Parish FR BUD RANEY COUNCIL All Fridays 5-7
Greeley St Peter parish FR BUD RANEY COUNCIL Feb 28, April 3 5-7
Highlands Ranch Pax Christi Rev. Robert F. Houlihan, S.J. Feb 28th, March 13 and 27 7pm
Johnstown St John the Baptist Holy Trinity III March 27th, 5pm
Lakewood Christ on the Mountain Parish, Christ on the Mountain All Friday’s, 5 – 7
Littleton St. Francis Cabrini Parish Arch-Bishop James B. Casey All Friday’s, 5 – 7
Littleton Light of the World  Parish Father Francis Syrainey All Friday’s, 5 – 7
Loveland St John the Evangelist Big Thompson All Friday’s, 5 – 7, in the Knights Hall
Longmont Saint Francis of Assisi Longmont Every Friday 5pm
Longmont St John the Baptist St John the Baptist Council Every Friday, 5pm
Mead Guardian Angels Our Lady of the Angels Every Friday, 5pm
Northglenn Immaculate Heart of Mary Archbishop Fulton J Sheen All Fridays 4:30-6:45
Pagosa Springs Immaculate Heart of Mary Immaculate Heart of Mary All Friday’s
Parker Ave Maria Ave Maria Every Friday. 4:30
Pueblo Christ the King Parish North Pueblo Every Friday, except for Good Friday. 4-6:30
Salt Creek St Joseph 1145 S. Aspen Road Rev. Charles Murray SJ Council 9456 Feb 28th only
Security St Dominic 5354 South Highway U.S. 85 Holy Family March 20 6pm
Silverthorne Our Lady of Peace Our Lady of the Summit Fish – all fridays
Steamboat Springs Holy Name Fr. Printer
Thornton Holy Cross Holy Cross All Friday’s, soup dinners with a Fish dinner on the last Friday before Good Friday.
Westminster St Marks St Marks All Fridays 4:30-6:45
Windsor Our Lady of the Valley Our Lady of the Valley March 6, 13 5-7
Woodland Park Our Lady of the Woods Teller County Ash Wed, Every Wed after soup dinners

Saint John XXIII Council at Saint John in Ft Collins,  2/28, 3/6, 3/13 & 3/20

Guardian Angeles at Guardian Angels Denver April 3 Soup Dinner

Mother of the Church at our Lady Mother of the Church in Commerce City, Feb 28, March 13 and 27 5-7

Coronado at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Denver, All Fridays except March 20