"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. " (Ps 127:1).
One of the mixed blessings of living in Denver is its crazy spring weather. We’re a mile above sea level, so April’s showers consist of snow. And for us, it is May that comes roaring in like a lion, with blustery winds and late frosts. There’s a benefit to having a late spring, however, which is that our Lenten weather is appropriately wintry and during the fifty days of Easter the earth rejoices.
This year, the green hills, flowering trees, and singing birds are all the more welcome because they are the backdrop of a beautiful pageant: God’s holy people returning to his temple, coming home to worship him again every Sunday.
We all know that Jesus promised to be with us whenever “two or three are gathered in my name” (Mt 18:20). And we know that God has visited his people one-by-one: coming to Samuel while he slept, to Elijah on Mount Carmel, and to St. Paul on the road to Damascus. We are consoled by God’s closeness to us when we are alone or in smaller groups, like our families.
Yet we also know that Jesus came to bring the good news of God’s love to “the whole creation” (Mk 16:15), and that the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and the other close followers of Jesus when they were “all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
And we appreciate why, when it was time to praise the Lord for the beauty of his heavenly court, the Psalmist used the best image we have of joyous togetherness: a large and orderly city.
On our campus in Greenwood Village, we have opened our doors again, literally and figuratively. Our classes were able to meet in person with only a few interruptions during the past academic year, we have celebrated our graduates with a modest but fitting commencement, and soon our week-long June intensive courses will welcome many distance-education students to our halls. We have been able to invite our families back to daily Masses in our chapel. And we are preparing for still more celebrations and openings as 2021 unfolds. Indeed, here at the Augustine Institute, we are building.
Knowing that Colorado’s skies produce hail and rain, we are beginning with our roof. The existing one served our building well for almost fifty years; the new one will include an improved skylight so that our atrium—with its serene and stately crucifix—will be even more gracious than before.
As June turns into July, the atrium itself will be improved—even enlarged—as our Tolle Lege café is expanded with atrium seating and an interior loggia will provide additional meeting and study places for students and visitors.
You have seen our newest studio on the weekly Augustine Institute Show. Soon it will be joined by an additional flexible studio space for FORMED Now and other special video productions, a renovated St. Francis studio classroom, and, in 2022 or 2023, a second studio classroom to enable us to respond to the growth of our distance-education program.
Last but not least, our plans include a greatly expanded chapel. We have already begun a conversation with one of Denver’s noted Catholic architects, and a vision of a fitting setting for the Sacred Liturgy and prayer both private and common is beginning to emerge.
At the Augustine Institute, all of our building projects support our mission to help Catholics know, live, and share their faith. It is my privilege to invite you to join me and the whole community of the Augustine Institute in our work of rebuilding, reopening, and rejoicing. The contribution of your prayers and your gifts to these projects is indispensable. Indeed, when speaking of Colorado’s hail, rain, and snow let me simply express that our need is urgent: our tired roof is leaking in many places and we need to put up the new roof this summer! Speaking of the gift of moisture from the heavens reminds me of the wonderful passage in Isaiah that compares the precipitation that comes down from Heaven with God’s Word:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and to not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Here at the Augustine Institute, we seek to be heralds of God’s good Word, so that you may be enriched in every way. Many thanks, and God bless you!
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