Monday, August 12, 2013

The Catholic Defender: God's Country

This past week I have been blessed to visit my wife, Gigi, who is in Rangely Colorado.  Among the first places I found was the local Catholic Church, St. Ignatius of Antioch.

When you visit this Church, it will remind you of a small church located on the frontier.  It is surrounded by mountains and sand.

Do you remember "HeeHaw"? Rangely population 2351 at an elevation of 5230 feet above sea level.  (Salute)

Moving around up here can cause you to work on your breathing.

St. Ignatius of Antioch is one of my favorite Saints because he was a sure tie to the Apostles in his Ministry.  He was a disciple of St. John the Apostle and ordained as the third Bishop of Antioch by St. Peter.

St. Ignatius would be taken to Rome under cruelty by Roman Guards where ultimately he would be thrown to wild beasts in the Coliseum.  On this trip he wrote seven letters which are very important to the Early Church.

"Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest — Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1"

"Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptize or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid. — Letter to the Smyrnaeans" 

At Mass this past Sunday it was a real joy to meet several people many of whom worked with and knew Gigi at the local hospital.  Plus there were several young adults who attend a local college near by. 

The Priest's name is Father Geronimo, a great preacher who travels through three Parishes, St. Ignatius here in Rangely, Holy Family in Meeker, and St. Michael in Craig Colorado.  This particular Sunday he was driving to Denver for a Pastorial Meeting.  I was raised in Southern Missouri where Catholic Priests do the same thing as Father will travel many miles to bring the Eucharist to the scattered faithful.

The roads leading to Rangely Colorado are very beautiful and scenic but very dangerous.  At times you have a 15 MPH speed limit moving up and down these mountain passes. 

Especially the mountain pass known as "Douglas Pass".  In winter time this pass is sometimes impassable, your going to be stuck in the area until they clear the roads.

It is very moving when you travel through this pass.  Gigi brought me home from the Grand Junction Airport 88 miles away. 

I had visited Colorado and skied there at Winter Park in 1976 and 77 actually obtaining college credit.  That was really great to be able to ski and learn the environment.  But this is totally different. 

As we drove this route through the mountains I couldn't help but think of the early settlers who traveled this pass by wagon train. 

Much of the scenery has not changed much in the wilderness.  There are still American Indian rock paintings found in this area giving you a sense of rich history here.

Traveling this route at night is particularly dangerous because there are large elk, deer, black bears, wild boars, they would totally destroy our 2006 "hampered" BMW should I hit one of them. 

We would park the car so I could take some of these pictures which cannot be fully captured on the camera.  I was literally standing at the edge of the Clift which was a daunting view.  It was a drop off of hundreds of feet.  There was no safety rail so I just kind of inched my way to the edge.

Consider Jesus words, "Because of your little faith, For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible."

I also remember Isaiah 42:11, "Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains".

What an opportunity to do so here in the highlands of Colorado just a few minutes away from Utah!

That Catholics of Rangely Colorado have something even more wondrous to behold, the King of the Universe, the Lord of all creation is truly present in the Eucharist here at the Church of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

Not only are we to shout it from the mountain tops, but "Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Luke 12:3)

I'll let Hebrews 13:9-14 close this article out: "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. The bodies of the animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the gate, to consecrate the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp bearing the reproach that he bore. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come"..


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