By Barb Arland-Fye
Father Rich Adam welcomed a parishioner’s suggestion to celebrate Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral the evening of Election Day because a community in prayer moves the faithful closer to healing the wounds that divide us.
“We need to put God back into the equation of our lives,” Father Rich, the cathedral’s pastor and rector, told me several days after the Mass, which I attended with my husband, Steve. We were among 50 or so people at Mass, celebrated at dusk in the peace and quiet of a sacred space, a respite from the mean-spirited politicking.
Father Rich intertwined connections to our country and our faith in his short homily, which he said came to him through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He referred to the consecration of the United States to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the 1950s. “We need to honor that consecration.”
On May 1, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in renewing the consecration of the two nations to the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary in response to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Through a collective dedication or entrustment of a nation to Mary, an act of consecration is meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need” (https://tinyurl.com/y38hxbju). We are a nation in need — of healing!
Father Rich also referred to the motto of the United States, “In God We Trust,” which our country adopted in 1956. “We have lost God,” he said. “We need to bring back God. Whatever the outcome (of the election), we’ve got to give it to God.”
“United we stand, divided we fall,” Father Rich quoted a slogan popularized after one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Dickinson, included the line “By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” in his “Liberty Song” published in 1768 in the Boston Gazette (encyclopedia. com, https://tinyurl.com/yyeczjf9). Father Rich believes that if people turn to God in faith, division will transform to unity.
Steve and I attended another Mass several days later at our parish, Our Lady of the River in LeClaire, to remember and pray for loved ones who have died. One of our parishioners read the names of loved ones who died this year. We lit candles for them and for loved ones who died prior to this year.
This Mass is a treasured tradition in our parish; it seemed all the more poignant this year because we wore masks, did not sing and physically distanced ourselves in an effort to protect one another from the rampaging coronavirus pandemic. Our music director, Ladonna Czachowski, played instrumental music that moved me deeply and our pastor, Father Apo Mpanda, spoke tenderly of the bonds of love. The Mass impressed on me that in the midst of hurtful division in the public square, in our churches and even among family and friends, we share so much in common. We are God’s children, companions on the journey, who come together in liturgy trusting that God holds our loved ones, and us, close to his heart.
A passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians comes to mind as we contemplate what our nation has experienced this year in pandemic and politics. “… [C]complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others” (Phil. 2:2-4).
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)