Hundreds of the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport experienced what bonds us, what gives us hope as a diocesan church during the annual Chrism Mass held Monday. Priests of the diocese renewed their commitment to priestly service and Bishop Thomas Zinkula blessed and consecrated the oils to be used in our parishes this liturgical year. We celebrated the continuity of a church led by Christ through the gift of God the Father and guided this very day by the Holy Spirit.
Whether attending their first or 50th Chrism Mass, the clergy, religious and laity felt its impact as a liturgy aimed at fortifying the faithful on this pilgrim journey. The Chrism Mass served as balm in a world weary from bickering, divisiveness, fear and selfishness. Attendees left Sacred Heart Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese, energized and optimistic. But what happens now? How do we channel this energy and optimism in ways that reinforce unity and that build up the church?
Pray for priests and our bishop. Bishop Zinkula asked the assembly during the Chrism Mass to pray for the priests and for himself, as bishop. Pray for the priests that “the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to him.” Pray that the bishop may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to him and that he may be made day by day a “living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and the Servant of all.”
Bring the Gospel to the people we meet. Pope Francis said in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) that each of us has a responsibility to bring “the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation. … Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey” (No. 127).
Reflect on church teaching about the Eucharist, the source and summit of the life of the church. “In fact, every authentic journey of faith, communion and witness springs from this sacrament of love,” Pope Francis said during a 2014 talk on the sacraments of initiation. Some good resources to read about the Eucharist and the other six sacraments: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium); the Catechism of the Catholic Church; Sacramental Catechesis, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.org).
Promote vocations in our diocese, in your parish and in your home. Vocation Director Father Thom Hennen encourages us to “take time to pray for, speak positively about and encourage actively vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. Reflect on your own vocation and strengthen your personal relationship with Christ. Educate our young people about the importance of silent prayer and taking time to truly listen to God’s voice in our hearts.” Support the Serra Club of Davenport as well.
Practice stewardship. Everything we have — our talents, time, treasure, our faith, our very selves — are gifts from God. Stewardship is giving from the heart, which flows from receiving God’s love and mercy, Bishop Zinkula said during the Stewardship Day earlier this month. Father John Spiegel sees stewardship, in the fuller sense of the word, as a “ministry of calling parish members to active parish service in and beyond the parish.”
Support collaboration between and among parishes. As the number of priests available for active ministry in the Diocese of Davenport continues to decline, more parishes realize the value and the necessity of collaboration in being able to celebrate the Eucharist. Collaboration can be a painstaking process that requires letting go of some cherished traditions. But it also means gaining new traditions, adding diversity and ideas and creating a larger sense of family. As we sang during the Gathering Rite at the Chrism Mass, “Around this table we dine as kin, beloved family of God…”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor