The National Western Stock Show welcomes the Catholic faithful


The National Western Stock Show is a historical event that has been celebrated in Colorado since 1906.

For over 100 years, the stock show has presented many activities and shows for family enjoyment, among them livestock, horse, trade shows, exhibitions and rodeos. Twenty-five years ago, the fair organizers decided to add a Mexican Rodeo, and that was the beginning of The Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza.

In 2019, the National Western Stock Show is supporting various Catholic ministries. If you would like to attend the Catholic Families Night which will be celebrated at the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m., buy your tickets with the promo code: (Catholic). To support the Black Catholic Ministries by attending the Black Cowboy Rodeo, which will be celebrated at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Rodeo on Monday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., use promo code: (ARCHDEN).

Gerardo (Jerry) Diaz, known as El Charro de Corazon, was assigned as the producer of the Extravaganza.

He spoke with the Denver Catholic about charrería, his faith and his friendship with Father Tomás Fraile.

“First, I want to say that I am very honored that God has given us the blessing, and the ideas to make this beautiful show, which is the most festive and colorful of the Stock Show,” said Diaz.

Jerry is a man of great faith and he brings God to every one of his presentations. As part of its tradition, “From the very first show [celebrated 25 year ago], 20 minutes before the show, we gather together — everybody, the charros, dancers, riders, even the president and the coordinators of the fair —and we pray. We always invite a priest or a deacon to lead the blessing. It’s in our hearts, as people of God. I never start any show without the blessing of God. Without God one is nothing,” he said.

Gerardo places great importance on family and, following the example of his father, Don Pepe Diaz, introduced the tradition of charrería to his son. Nicolas Diaz debuted as the fifth generation of charros in the NWSS arena a year after his birth. He has performed for 14 years next to his mother Staci Diaz.

The Archdiocese of Denver is thankful for the families that participated last year, contributing to the fundraiser with the purchase of their ticket. We hope to see you again at the rodeo!

Buy Tickets

Enter promo code “CATHOLIC” on top of the page for the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza or promo code “ARCHDEN” for the MLK Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo. For more information visit

COMING UP: Art: A needed sacrament of faith

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A sacrament is an outward, material sign of an inward, spiritual reality. The seven sacraments are signs instituted by Jesus to communicate his grace to us. In addition, we have sacramentals, signs and practices that draw us more deeply into our faith. We do not have an abstract faith; it is sacramental and incarnational, centered on the coming into the flesh of the Son of God and his continued presence in the Church through the Eucharist.
Art, following this sacramental identity, expresses our faith, draws us into prayer, and mediates divine realities. In a time of relativism, which shuns proposals of truth and goodness, we need to rely more upon the witness of beauty. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this opportunity and need: “I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.”

Does this approach actually work for evangelization? Elizabeth Lev details one example, the crucial role of art at a time of crisis in the Church, in her book, How Catholic Art Saved the Faith: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art (Sophia, 2018). As core Catholic doctrines faced opposition from Protestants, the Council of Trent called for the creation of art to assist in renewal. The Council said that art should instruct, help to remember and meditate divine realities, admonish, provide examples, and to inspire the faithful to order their lives in imitation of the saints (4). Lev adds her own synthesis of how art assists the Church, asserting that “art is useful in evangelization…. can bring clarity…. [and] is uplifting” (6). The Catholic Reformation and Baroque periods, particularly in central Italy, were ages “of unprecedented art patronage from the top down, effectively a very expensive PR campaign meant to awaken the hearts and minds of millions of pilgrims who were making their way to the Eternal City” (5).

And it worked. It was not art for art’s sake that led Catholics to stay true to the faith, but art’s ability to express the deep spiritual vision of the Church as articulated by the great Catholic reformers. Lev lists the main protagonists of this cooperative work:  “The spiritual insight of Charles Borromeo, Robert Bellarmine, Federico Borromeo, St. Philip Neri, and Paleotti fused with the creative talents of Caravaggio, Barocci, the Carracci School, Lavinia Fontana, and Guido Reni, making for a heady cocktail designed to entice the faithful into experiencing mystery” (16). Lev provides a masterful overview of the key theological issues at stake and how artists were commissioned to visualize the faith in these areas, including the sacraments, mediation of the saints, purgatory, and practices such as pilgrimage.

Developments in technique enabled art to come alive, actively mediating faith, by using theatrical characteristics that invited the viewer into the drama of the scene. Altar pieces beckoned down to the action of the altar, pointing to the reality occurring there, such as Caravaggio’s The Entombment of Christ (37), and others drew the viewer into the scene, as with Frederico Barocci’s extended hand of St. Francis bearing the stigmata, inviting an imitation of Christ (145). Other paintings inspired religious sentiments such as contrition, as found in Reni’s St. Peter Penitent, who models how to weep for one’s sins and to beat one’s chest in repentance (45), and Titian’s good thief who reaches out to Christ as one would do in confession (52). The book beautifully presents the artwork, and Lev seamlessly combines art criticism and religious commentary.

The time period of Lev’s book bears some striking similarities to contemporary struggles. Many Catholics continue to question the faith, and we have experienced a return to iconoclasm in the last fifty years, bent on the destruction of the Church’s sacramental vision. We, too, need the inspiration of art, which calls us to renew our faith: “Art no longer allow[s] the viewer to stand at a safe distance, as a passive recipient of grace, but exhort[s] everyone to act” (180). For the success of the New Evangelization, we need a return to beauty. This will require us to invest in a renaissance of the arts, knowing that this investment will support the Church’s efforts to communicate the truth of our faith, for the salvation of souls.