A NOTE FROM FR. VINCE
We are now entering our 8th week of our parish church not able to celebrate mass. And I’m not sure when it will take place. Bishop Joensen and pastors have a weekly Zoom meeting and it will come up then. The cases and deaths in Iowa continue to be higher than we would have expected after weeks of isolation. Speaking of Bishop Joensen, he has an update on Fr. Pisut at the end of this email.
One on my list of intriguing questions is what do we want to come back to exactly like it was 2 months ago, and what do we want to change? When you are in financial crisis, it is hard to worry about that question. But sooner or later we should address it. I’m starting by making a new list of ‘what is important to me’… followed by ‘what is very important to me’… followed by ‘what is essential to me’…followed by ‘what is no longer important to me’! I haven’t gotten very far but I do know that my life no longer feels the same as before, and it’s not just that I’m stuck at home and I have to wear a mask. For me there is one essential thing that I can think of now, and that is the largest Imax Theatre in the neighboring six states that is four blocks from my apartment better reopen. Even when ministering full-time I made my challenge to see every new movie that wasn’t animated. The only animated movie that I was dragged to, but liked was Toy Story 4. Heck, I would give movie reviews in my homilies. I know that the hard part for me, and I think for you also, is getting serious about making those lists.
What I want to write more about in the days to come is the unique differences between faith and religion. That also leads to the difference between being spiritual and being religious. For those of us who feel religious, that should also mean we are faith-filled and spiritual. The harder distinction is whether people can be spiritual and faith-filled, but not religious. I’ve been pastor of the two youngest parishes in the diocese: Ss. John & Paul in Altoona, and St. Boniface in Waukee. Their average age parishioner was younger even than St. Francis or OLIH in Ankeny. If I heard it once, I heard it 1000 times: ‘I’m spiritual, but not religious’. When I homilized about that issue, I always said: ‘I’m the pastor and I think I’m spiritual, but not religious’! I belong to a denominational religion, but the word ‘religious’ seems to have bad connotations. Maybe it boils down to whether I go to church or not. But I wouldn’t want people to go to church, but not claim to be spiritual. You can see where this is going, and I have confused you. But I promise to come back to it because you’ll want something on your new ‘essential to me’ list. And you might not want exactly what you had before.
Stay strong everybody!