Thirteen years ago, following the Mass of the Lord’s Supper during Holy Week, a tornado destroyed the 130-year-old St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City. In the days and weeks that followed, the bereft congregation struggled with picking up the pieces and reminding themselves that a church is more than a building. They had reason to celebrate. The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ supplied the hope necessary to continue on. The promise of eternal salvation, given to us by Jesus’ sacrificial love sustains all of the faithful, regardless of the temporal losses here on earth. … Day unto day takes up the story. …
Today, the parishioners of St. Patrick enjoy a thriving community on a parish campus they built after they completed the arduous work of raising the money to do so. St. Pat’s has become a central meeting place for many diocesan faith-affirming and faith-forming events. Many of our diocese’s Vision 20/20 planning meetings happen here. … Day unto day takes up the story ….
On April 15, the Monday of Holy Week, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris — a spiritual and a cultural icon — caught fire that severely damaged the structure. French Catholics and non-Catholics and people around the world, grieved. What’s particularly striking though, in the midst of loss, is the coming together of people in a country, a continent that has slipped away from its Catholic faith. People gathered in Paris to sing hymns and to pray. The Vatican released a statement “expressing shock and sadness for the ‘terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world’” (WSBT.com).
When major tragedies strike France, Notre Dame Cathedral is the place people seek solace. The cathedral was in the midst of a massive renovation project, according to news reports. Business tycoons and celebrities are pledging impressive sums of money to rebuild. Let us pray that this outpouring of support ultimately leads people back to the church. … Day unto day takes up the story ….
On the same day, thousands of miles away in another cathedral, Sacred Heart in Davenport, 450 of the faithful came together to celebrate the Chrism Mass. They witnessed the consecration of the Sacred Chrism and the blessing of the oil of the sick and oil of the catechumens that will be used in the church’s sacraments in the following year. They witnessed their priests renew their priestly commitments while affirming their commitment to pray for their priests and their bishop. Linda Schneider of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf was struck by the richness of the sound of all the voices singing. The Mass gave her the sense that “we’re all in this together.” … Day unto day takes up the story ….
The Good News is present, but in the distracting busyness of our lives we may neglect its source, the reason we have to hope. Tragedy 13 years ago in Iowa City reminded the faithful that the hope of the Risen Christ gave them reason to continue as a faith community. A tragedy in Paris during Holy Week this year is calling the people to come back to church. A Chrism Mass in Davenport reminds us that we are called to come together as a faith community to live and share the Good News. As we prepare to celebrate the penultimate story of our lives as Christians, let us keep that story front and center and share it with others along our pilgrim journey on earth. … Day unto day takes up the story ….
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor