By Barb Arland-Fye
A column in Chicago Catholic by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich caught my attention and held it. His message in the Aug. 7, 2022, issue confronts the fearmongering that has set our country on edge and reminds us that we, as Catholic Christians, are a people of hope.
Cardinal Cupich began his column referring to comments Pope Francis made during his trip to Canada last month. He said the Holy Father “cautioned against taking a negative view of life,” and “warned that to bitterly complain with ‘a crusading spirit that the world is evil; sin reigns,’ is dangerous,” the cardinal said. The pope added, “this is not Christian for God … has a positive view of the world.”
The cardinal reminded his readers of the teachings of the evangelist Paul whose “underlying conviction is that good has won the day, for Christ has vanquished evil once and for all.” However, as the cardinal points out, “That may be hard for us to believe, given all the ills inflicted on the world by natural disasters, sinful humanity and the frailty of human nature.”
This negativity “easily results in a destroyed view of life, to the point that we no longer recognize our blessings, and we begin to let cynicism rob us of our joy and good humor.” This point hit home, for me. My husband Steve and I plead guilty to watching YouTube commentators — left and right — who practically shout out the dire consequences of various politicians’ and political parties’ actions and reactions to national and world events and issues. More than once, I have told Steve I need to leave the room because the doom and gloom makes me anxious.
After reading Cardinal Cupich’s column, I shared it with Steve. He appreciated the column as much as I did and said it inspired him to consider writing a letter to the editor about how politicians and pundits are fueling all of this negativity. “Steve, this message applies to you and me, too,” I said. “We need to set the example of joy and good humor.”
Later that day, we arrived early for Saturday night Mass at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire and I waited outside to enjoy the mild weather. The waiting provided an opportunity to greet people arriving for Mass, even though I was not a scheduled greeter. What a joy to engage in short conversations with familiar and unfamiliar members of our faith family! I admired one’s shawl and offered to assist another one into the church. I told a mother and daughter about my excitement regarding the upcoming pilgrimage to Ireland.
Our pastor, Father Apo Mpanda, gathers the people serving in liturgical roles at Mass to join him and Deacon Matt Levy in prayer in the sacristy beforehand. Steve and I were serving as eucharistic ministers that evening, so we participated in the prayer circle. Centering ourselves in prayer before Mass fills me with a sense of peace.
As we processed into the church and to the front of the sanctuary, I reflected on the source of my hope — the God who loves all of us with an everlasting heart. Cardinal Cupich’s column made an impression on me, to be intentional about my source of hope and to share it.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)