By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — “Lent is a good time to slow down, be still and know that God is God,” Bishop Thomas Zinkula told scouts from across the diocese. The fourth annual Bishop’s Mass for Scouting and Religious Emblems Ceremony was held Feb. 4 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
During his homily, the bishop referred to the Gospels from that Sunday and the previous Sunday in which Jesus drives out demons. It reminded the bishop of a story. “Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. In his opening address he said, ‘It will be difficult to turn Christians against God, but we can distract them from God. Let them go to church, but steal their time so they are unable to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.’”
The bishop said the demons would keep us busy by over-stimulating our minds so that we could not hear the small voice of God. Ways to distract: endless hours of television, time on iPods, iPads, cell phones, computers, tweeting, gaming, emailing, Googling and wasting time on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Satan would also encourage parents into signing up their children for endless activities and sporting events that become more important than keeping the Lord’s Day. The demons would be told to “Entice them into wanting to be, do, have and experience everything.”
The bishop admitted that at times we have no choice or total control — “we are just plain busy.”
According to the Gospels, Jesus was so busy that he didn’t have time to eat. “But as we heard today, he regularly snuck away to a deserted place to pray. That helped him keep his life in balance. It is absolutely critical for us to do that as well. When we hurry too much and for too long, we end up doing violence to ourselves and others.”
The bishop quoted Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge (Feelin’ Groovy)” song. “Slow down, you move too fast,” and Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.”
How do we do that? By keeping the Sabbath, the bishop said. During the week, we also need to take time to relax and rest. “Take time for God, rest, enjoyment and prayer. …You can’t choose between everything that is good. But scouting has to be the first thing,” the bishop said.
Following Mass, Father Ron Hodges, the diocese’s chaplain for scouting and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, led the religious emblems and adult recognition ceremony. Bishop Zinkula blessed the medals before each presentation. All scouts in attendance received a patch from the bishop.
The Light of Christ religious emblem was presented to Cub Scouts. The program helps scouts develop a personal relationship with Jesus and involves parental participation and assistance. The Family of God emblem is for Brownie Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls. The program helps girls discover the presence of God in their daily lives as members of their families and parishes. The Parvuli Dei (Children of God) religious emblem is for Cub Scouts who explore a wide range of activities and discover the presence of God in their daily lives. The Ad Altare Dei emblem is for Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts to help them develop a fully Christian way of life within the faith community. Seven Boy Scouts and Venture Crew members earned the Pope Pius XII religious emblem, Fr. Hodges noted. Those scouts were with their scouting units in their home parish in Burlington.
Don Boucher, diocesan director of the Office of Faith Formation and coordinator of youth and young adult ministry, received the final recognition. The St. George award honors a church leader who has worked to shepherd scouts and other youth.
“He has endeavored to develop in youth, an awareness of God’s presence through scouting and other activities,” Fr. Hodges said. Boucher has created programs to serve youths, teach them to become more faithful Catholics, and has helped support the religious emblems program for scouts. Scouting leader Steve Zirtzman presented the medal to Boucher on behalf of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and Diocese of Davenport. “I am honored and humbled as well,” Boucher said. “This is a good group of people and they would do anything for scouting.”
A reception followed in the cathedral’s diocesan hall.