On Friday night, my wife and I traveled to Holy Angels church in Sidney for mass celebrated by Fr. David Zink and a talk by Sr. Ann Shields. Both are featured locally on Radio Maria, WHJM 88.7 FM. [UPDATE: Russ Martin has photos of the event posted at Cross Tipped Churches.]
Fr. Zink gave an inspired homily, stretching the normal weekday mass to almost an hour and a half. With the gospel read from John 7, Fr. Zink used a discussion of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles as his starting point. He described how the feast memorialized the 40 years spent by the Jews in the desert following the exodus from Egypt. Of course, there was great murmuring by the Jews over the course of those 40 years. Many longed to return to Egypt. The ungrateful, unfaithful desert Jews could be likened to today’s cafeteria Catholics, who pick and choose which moral teachings of the Church they are going to follow.
Fr. Zink pulled no punches in his critique of modern society. It was teaching of the sort that is, sadly, rarely heard from Catholic pulpits today.
After mass, Sr. Ann Shield spoke about suffering. Much of her talk was based on Colossians 1:24, where St. Paul writes, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the church." Pain and suffering will find us. It might be physical or it might be emotional, but we all suffer at some point. Through the grace of God, we can unite our suffering to that of Christ. Our suffering is redemptive, if we let it be. We must not let our suffering go to waste.
At one point, Sr. Ann recounted a trip to Rome in 1995 with Ralph Martin, the President of Renewal Ministries where Sr. Ann works and produces her daily radio program. They were invited to attend a private mass and reception with Pope John Paul II. The Pope had justed started to suffer the effects of Parkinson's disease, and as he was leaving, he held up his cane and said, "Why this?" In the final years of his life, he struggled with the advancing infirmities of his age and disease, and in the process, he taught us all how to suffer with dignity, doing as much good for the Church as in all of his healthy years when he strode the world like a collosus.
The evening was very rewarding, and many people in attendance went away wishing there had been more time for both speakers.
The program was sponsored by Radio Maria. This is a radio station that does not play advertisements. They operate solely on donations from listeners and benefactors. They operate with the blessing of the Archbishop, but are not funded by the Archdiocese, so it is understandable that they would ask for pledges. It is the only Catholic radio station that we are able to pick up in the area, and it's only been broadcasting locally for three years. It is an apostolic outreach that we should be eager to support and promote.