Love your Motherboard: Colorado-based company is unifying Church and skate

Aaron Lambert

Let’s face it: When it comes to skateboarding culture, there could be a little less skull and crossbones, and a little more Sacred Hearts.

Five years ago, Lisa Fixler had this realization when her son and his friend, both of whom are avid skaters, came into her house with a skate deck that had the image of a skull plastered on the bottom of it. 

“I look down at the ground and I’m like, ‘what is that doing in my house?’  I was just repulsed,” Fixler said “I started talking to my husband and we’re like, ‘why does it have to be that way?’ Go into any skate shop and look at the designs that are available for kids. They are horrifying.”

Having already founded the local Catholic gift company Full of Grace USA 10 years ago, Fixler has extensive experience in creating quality products with a Catholic bent. So, she decided to do something about the skateboard conundrum that had made its way into her home, and thus, Motherboards was born.

Motherboards is a Catholic skate company that also deals in other extreme sports such as snowboarding and surfing. They enlist the talents of artists around the country to create traditional Catholic images with a bit of an edge to adorn their decks and boards. It may seem a bit unusual at first glance, but dig a little deeper and it’s obvious that Motherboards is trying to do something different, both in the extreme sports world and on the evangelization front.

“If you’re at the skatepark riding and someone looks at your deck, and it’s a picture they don’t understand…maybe it’s the Immaculate Heart of Mary and they say, ‘wow, that heart is really cool. What is that?’  Well, that’s your open door to evangelize,” Fixler explained. “It’s not in your face. It’s just answering a quick question. And you can answer that question in a way that tells them about their fate or the kingdom of God… Whatever it may be, it just makes it easy.”

Brother Gabriel Cortés is a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate based out of Bloomington, Ind., but he’s becoming known more commonly as the “skating friar.” Brother Cortés rides for Team Motherboards. (Photo provided)

Motherboards already has a team of talented skaters and snowboarders who are representing their brand and starting conversations.  One of their skaters is Brother Gabriel Cortés, a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate based out of Bloomington, Ind., and affectionately referred to as the “skating friar.” Few things compare to watching Brother Cortés tear it up in his grey Franciscan habit.

After a long day of prayer, devotion and his other duties as a friar, Brother Cortés frequents a skatepark near his friary where he’s built strong friendships with some of the regulars.

“I can talk to them about anything. It’s an avenue that I have access to that a lot of people don’t have access to,” Brother Cortés said. “They know me well. And some of these guys, I can tell they have nothing in their lives. Nothing…even moral compasses are kind of absent.”

Brother Cortés admits that extreme sports culture can be a bit off-putting to those who don’t understand it, especially Catholics. 

“The skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing culture is all very, very similar, even though the sports are quite different,” he said. “There’s a bit of a subculture that exists in these in these groups, which is not very wholesome, is kind of dark.”

That’s all the more reason, Brother Cortés said, for Catholics and other people of faith to become more immersed in that world and help break down those walls that separate “us” from “them.” 

“If you think about it, we’re the custodians,” Brother Cortés explained. “Catholics look at it from the wrong way,” he said, like we don’t fit into the skateboarding or extreme sports world. “No, it’s ours. It’s our stuff. They’re playing with our toys. We just need to introduce them to the right way of playing with our toys.”

Fixler recently opened a retail storefront in Arvada called The Retro, where both Full of Grace and Motherboards products can be purchased. But the interest in Motherboards has already expanded far beyond Colorado.

“We get e-mails from people all over the world who are interested in our products. It’s unbelievable. It’s really turned into a worldwide thing,” Fixler said. “It’s super fun for us for shipping off [complete boards] to Australia or to Belgium or to France. We just think, ‘oh my gosh, we’ve got just this teeny little idea and we’re targeting a really narrow group of extreme sport enthusiasts who may or may not be Catholic.’ But we’ve been blessed completely.” 

Visit Motherboards online:

COMING UP: Five tips for reading the Word of God

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Sunday, Jan. 24 marks “The Sunday of the Word of God,” instituted by Pope Francis last year and to be held every year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time. This may strike us as odd, as we might think to ourselves, “but isn’t the Bible read at every Sunday Mass?” Certainly so. Not only that, but every daily celebration of the Mass proclaims the Word of God.

What’s different about “The Sunday of the Word of God,” however, is that it’s not just about hearing the Bible read on Sundays. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notes, it “reminds us, pastors and faithful alike, of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy: ‘As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, inflicted as we are by so many forms of blindness.’” This gives us a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on the Sacred Scriptures. 

There are two means by which God Divinely reveals truths to us: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As such, the Bible is not merely a human document, nor simply a collection of amazing stories that call us to do heroic things, or a collection of wise sayings. Rather, the Scriptures are “inspired.” St. Paul has a beautiful teaching about this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.” By “inspired” we mean that God is the principle author of the Bible.

Certainly there were different men who physically wrote the words on the papyrus. Yet these men were influenced by the grace of inspiration to write, not just their own words, but God’s. And so the Scriptures are a mysterious congruence of Divine and human authorship – the human writers capably made full use of language, literary forms, creativity, and writing style to communicate their message, yet they did so under the grace of Divine inspiration. This means that while they wrote in such a way that they had full freedom to write as they wanted, what they wrote was also, “to a tee,” exactly as God wanted written. God is the principle author of the Bible, the human author its secondary writer. Such inspiration is how, despite the various human authors, events, and historical and cultural contexts behind the 73 Biblical texts, we’re still left with only one story since they all have the same one primary author. 

Given that the Bible is the written word of God, I’d like to offer a few “tips” for reading the Bible, since it certainly cannot be read like any other text. 

1. Pray! We must pray before opening the Scriptures for enlightenment from God. We must pray after reading in thanksgiving to God. And we must pray throughout reading in order to encounter God in Scripture and apply it to our life. Of course, the tried and trusted practice of praying the Scriptures is Lectio DivinaThe Ladder of Monks by Guigo II is the ancient resource for Lectio Divina, while a helpful book to get you started is Dr. Tim Gray’s Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina

2. Remember that you are in no rush. The important point is encountering Christ in the Scriptures, not racing through them. Speed reading isn’t reading, after all, much less when applied to the Word of God. It’s not about getting through the Bible, but encountering Christ therein. That may be a few chapters at a time or may actually be only one verse that you pray with. Whatever the case, slow and steady wins the race, as Aesop reminds us. 

3. We have to read the Scriptures regularly, daily if possible. We read in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Meditating day and night. A good way to start would be to read one Psalm a night as a part of your nightly prayer. Ever better would be praying that one Psalm with your spouse, if married. 

4. Do not worry about starting on page one and reading from cover to cover. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the text. We all know about Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Moses and the Plagues. But how many understand animal sacrifices in the Book of Leviticus or its purity laws? It’s very easy, starting from page one and flipping straight through, to lose sight of the story of salvation history. Start from page one if you’d like, but don’t feel like you can’t start with whatever book (especially the Gospels) that you find yourself drawn to. 

5. Come take classes with the Denver Catholic Biblical School! In chapter eight of the Book of Acts, we read of an Ethiopian Eunuch reading from the Prophet Isaiah. When the Deacon Philip asks him if he understands what he’s reading, the Eunuch responds, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” This is what we at the Biblical School are here for – to guide you in your encounter with Christ in the Sacred Scriptures. We’re in the middle of our Scripture classes already for this year, but we always start new classes in the fall every September. And in the meantime, we have plenty of things still coming for this year – a class on Catholic Social Teaching that begins on Jan. 27 a lecture series for Lent that starts on March 1, a conference on the Sacred Heart being offered on May 15 and Aug. 28, and a six-week class on St. Joseph in the summer starting in July. We have something for everybody – just reach out to us!