By Barb Arland-Fye
Following a full week with commitments each night and newspaper deadlines looming, I thought I’d be too distracted to enjoy participating in Trivia Night at my parish. But my husband Steve and I had accepted an invitation to play on a team. We couldn’t disappoint the team!
That Saturday night after Mass a transformation occurred that didn’t become apparent until about round 5 of Trivia Night. I confidently shared with my nine teammates the answer to the question: What was the name of Richie and Joanie’s older brother on Happy Days? “It’s Chuck,” I whispered excitedly to the group, wondering to myself why I remembered such an obscure detail from a sit-com that aired 40 years ago.
Teammate Brian responded with a questioning look; I responded with a smug smile. The questions were not exactly cerebral, but the team work that went into deciding the answers exhilarated me. The Holy Spirit had guided me to leave my cares at the doors of the parish hall (decorated with a St. Patrick’s Day theme) and have fun.
Like everyone else, I also offered what turned out to be a wrong answer. The 100 Years War was fought between France and England. Not France and Germany! We laughed or groaned and then grabbed veggies, chips, M&Ms or a red licorice stick — teammate Kathy called them “smart sticks” — and continued on to the next round. We didn’t win, to our teammate Sarah’s chagrin, but for 2-1/2 hours we bonded and enjoyed each other’s company. A small faith community at play — like the teams at the other tables.
Earlier in the week I interviewed a theologian who emphasized community as an essential component of our Catholic faith. We are the body of Christ; we wash each other’s feet. We laugh and we cry with each other, too.
That sense of community which is essential to Catholicism struck me when I attended a special showing of the movie “The Young Messiah” just a few days earlier in Davenport. The lighted sign above the theater, which usually lists the movie’s name, read “Don Boucher’s Group.”
Don, the director of the Diocese of Davenport’s Faith Formation Office, who organized the showing, expressed embarrassment at seeing his name in neon lights above the screening room! The name seemed quite fitting, actually. All of us attending the screening had some connection to the Davenport Diocese. Our faith led us to see this movie, together, and for many of us the experience was uplifting. Pass the popcorn, please!
Also that week, Steve and I visited Tom and Renee Greiner, a Catholic couple with special needs who’ve been married 34 years. I wrote about the Greiners in October, after interviewing them at the Keota Health Care Center where Renee lives because she has primary progressive multiple sclerosis. During the interview, I mentioned to Tom that my husband was a locomotive engineer. Tom was thrilled because he loves trains and has an encyclopedic knowledge about them. So does Steve! I promised they would meet some day. During the visit last week, Tom and Steve talked shop and both reveled in it. Tom’s sister Cathy and Renee’s sister Shirley joined us. Our shared faith drew us together and built on a budding friendship.
Theologian Msgr. Kevin Irwin says we have a responsibility to live our lives with the love we receive in the liturgy. That requires a commitment of our precious time, a giving of ourselves even when we’re socializing … at Trivia Night, a movie or on an out-of-town visit. The reward is eternal.
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at email@example.com.)