Between Amens —
Signs of hope

Dr. Karen Shadle

Last month, the Holy Father issued a new Apostolic Letter, “Desiderio Desideravi,” on the liturgy and the people of God. In it I find so many excellent points that I will reflect on in future columns.

For now, I offer my own summation: the church’s liturgy, in its beauty and rich symbolism, is a powerful source of hope. We need only to open our eyes and allow ourselves to be amazed and shaped by this reality.

This overarching message is so complementary to the themes of the Eucharistic Revival currently underway in the United States under the guidance of our bishops. Pope Francis’ reflections on the liturgy have inspired me to consider the seeds of renewal already present among the faithful in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Allow me to share some of the signs of hope I have observed in our church and our world in these past weeks.

On the solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 19, the Cathedral of the Assumption was packed to the rafters for the celebration of the Holy Mass at noon. This was the inaugural archdiocesan celebration for the Eucharistic Revival. After Mass, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament wove through several blocks of downtown Louisville. When we returned to the Cathedral for Benediction at three o’clock, the church was still full. Nearly everyone had stayed to spend the entire afternoon on Father’s Day with Jesus. A sign of hope.

On June 25, St. Rita Church hosted a day of liturgical and ministerial formation offered entirely in Spanish. This was the culmination of a collaboration with the Office of Hispanic Ministry, aiming to develop more liturgical leaders from among our Hispanic laity.

I shared with this gathering my vision for the future of our local church: “que las iglesias están llenas, y que adoramos a Dios con belleza, solemnidad y excelencia” — “that our churches will be full and that we will worship God with beauty, solemnity and excellence.” More than 200 were in attendance, many of them youth and young adults. A sign of hope.

On June 24, this nation took a major first step in dismantling systems that support the killing of innocents with the Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It cannot be a coincidence that God speaks to us through the Psalm for the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist, usually celebrated on June 24: “Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139: 13).

For 50 years, Catholics from across the political spectrum have worked and prayed tirelessly and in unified fashion for this goal. In the wake of Dobbs, I observe this coalition refocusing pro-life energy on state and local legislation and on pregnancy and family support. A sign of great hope.

Miracle moments such as these are everywhere. The church’s liturgy trains us to see them more clearly. The rites and symbols open space in us for amazement. And in the Eucharist — Jesus Christ miraculously present among us — we find the ultimate sign of hope.

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