Fellow workers, emergency responders and doctors saved the life of a 30-year-old Eldridge worker whose leg was caught in a conveyor belt and had to be amputated at the site where the industrial accident happened Dec. 28. A messy battle last week to elect a new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives underscored the futility of divisiveness and the imperative of collaboration for government to function. Both stories made headlines at the start of a new year in which we have an opportunity to start afresh on a journey together toward wholeness and solidarity.
In his World Day of Peace Message for Jan. 1, 2023, Pope Francis said, “the greatest lesson we learned from COVID-19 was the realization that we need one another. That our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters, children of God. And none of us can be saved alone” (https://tinyurl.com/ykcetpe6). Expounding on that message, the Holy Father said in a Tweet on the Epiphany of the Lord, “Let us do as Jesus did: let us share, let us carry each other’s burdens, let us look at each other with compassion, let us help each other. Let us ask ourselves: am I a person who divides or shares?”
The pandemic exposed “the fractures in our social and economic order … and the contradictions and inequalities and brought it to the fore,” Pope Francis says in his peace message. Yet we remain trapped without a willingness to let go of our self-interests for the sake of the common good. The late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the [state]” (“Caritas in Veritate,” “Charity in Truth,” 2009).
We begin this journey toward wholeness, toward serving the common good by asking ourselves — individually and collectively — as a parish community, parish groups/committees, schools, civic groups and legislative bodies — the following questions Pope Francis raised in his peace message:
• What did we learn from the pandemic?
• What new paths should we follow to cast off the shackles of our old habits, to be better prepared, to dare new things?
• What signs of life and hope can we see, to help us move forward and try to make our world a better place?
Reflection, combined with prayer and Scripture, exercise our hearts and minds to respond in thoughtful, not kneejerk reactions to interactions with others, in person or online. Check out prayer resources, such as the wide-ranging list on Catholic Relief Services’ website (https://tinyurl.com/mwz8jmaj).
• Participate in the Sunday Word of God presentation: Jan. 22 from 1-3 p.m., at the St. Vincent Center in Davenport as part of the Eucharistic Revival. Micah Kiel, a theology professor at St. Ambrose University, will explore the question of the Eucharist in the Scriptures. Visit (https://tinyurl.com/mun63h96) for more information.
Moving forward requires a willingness to act on our reflections and prayers. Among examples of actions to undertake:
• Follow legislation introduced in the Iowa Legislature, which opened its new session Jan. 9. Visit the Iowa Catholic Conference website (iowacatholic
conference.org), an excellent resource on the Iowa Legislature. The ICC, the public policy voice of Iowa’s bishops, offers perspective, insights, education and opportunities to act on issues that matter to Catholic Iowans. Sign up for action alerts on the website.
• Participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 16) activities in your community. In addition, the St. Martin de Porres Society, based at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, invites everyone to attend a free showing of “The Loyola Project” Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Galvin Fine Arts Center, St. Ambrose University-Davenport. The film depicts the 1963 Loyola Men’s basketball team that broke racial barriers. The Notre Dame Club of the Quad Cities is sponsoring the film’s showing. Contact Thomas Mason IV, president of St. Martin de Porres Society, for information about the organization and its activities at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (563) 505-5238.
• Participate in the book study of “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin, at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport on Mondays from 6-7:30 p.m. Contact Nancy Stone at email@example.com for information.
• Participate in the Johnson County Right to Life March for Life event that begins with Mass at 7 a.m., Jan. 21, at St. Wenceslaus Church-Iowa City. A march to the Emma Goldman Center begins at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served afterwards at the church.
In all of these and many other ways, we work to heal our society and our planet and to lay the foundations for a more just and peaceful world. We must commit ourselves to pursuing a good that is truly common, as Pope Francis says. “None of us can be saved alone.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor