Catholic at Home: Part of Something Bigger
Happy Bicentennial! We’re right in the middle of an historical event, marking 200 years of life, work and prayer at home in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. If we open our eyes to it, we can realize in a more concrete way that, as individual Catholics, we’re part of something and Someone so much bigger.
The word catholic means universal; around the world, Catholics share the same credo, liturgy and practices. I’ll never forget attending Mass in Avignon, France as a child. I didn’t speak a word of French, but because the sights, sounds and gestures were the same, I was able to keep up and participate spiritually. I was in a foreign country, but the liturgy itself was anything but strange.
Our bicentennial this year calls for celebration with the whole family. This Catholic party recognizes 200 years of communal faith in our area; a duration just a few decades shy of our own country’s establishment. The faith is the same across the geographical archdiocese, and it has also spanned across centuries now. How incredible is it that the prayers, readings and experiences of Mass at your parish today are the very same that were heard and prayed here 200 years ago?
But it gets bigger. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass possesses the same consistency globally going back thousands of years. Such devotion points to the Holy Spirit’s presence within the Church around the world and here in our corner of Ohio.
This kind of communion is worth celebrating, but what makes the bicentennial so significant is Whom we’re celebrating. The faith, the Mass, the community wouldn’t exist but for Jesus. It’s the love and mercy He extended during His ministry and now.
But the miracle of this celebration is hard to grasp when what’s right in front of us doesn’t seem to connect to the greater reality. How can we possibly feel part of something so big as the Body of Christ when we’re in the thick of real life?
IMAGINE IT IN COLOR
What concretizes the events of history is paging through pictures. The bicentennial website (200.catholicaoc.org) features a fantastic collection of historical photos – the places, churches, priests and lay people who were part of the last 200 years. These contributors aren’t distant figures in black and white; they’re fellow Catholics who worked and struggled. They had passions and pursuits, families and jobs. Like us, their normal lives included a call to radiate Christ, and they did so by simply saying yes to what Jesus asked of them. When we’re looking at the past through still shots of straight-faced priests, sisters and parishioners, let’s strive to see their humanity.
COME AND SEE
The bicentennial is an extended celebration of faith- centered events for the whole family. Check the website for a complete calendar, and in the meantime know that somewhere near you is a concert, a Rosary or Benediction. The Marian Pilgrimage is a particularly unique event in itself, stretching across 33 days – a period of preparation before the archdiocese is consecrated to Jesus through Mary. In His time on earth, no one was more devoted or supportive of Jesus than His mother; this pilgrimage is a way to prayerfully imitate Mary’s love for her Son.
To further experience our connection to the Body of Christ, visit the local religious communities. The Comboni Missionaries, the Sisters of Charity, the Ursulines and the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood are religious communities with different charisms that radiate Christ. Attend a Vietnamese Mass at Our Lady of Lavang or Lebanese liturgy at St. Anthony of Padua. Right here in our own backyard is a variety of experiences of the global Church.
TAKE A (VIRTUAL) TOUR
Though all devoted to the same Lord and faithful in the same prayers, the archdiocese is blessed with manifold beauty in its parishes. The churches themselves feature stunning and diverse architecture that point to the truth, beauty and goodness of God. It would be worth the trip to visit in person, but the bicentennial site offers a virtual experience of 12 different parishes.
It’s time to embrace and praise God for His providence over the last 200 years, because it’s by His grace that our churches, communities and faith have stood the test of time. Join us in any way you can to honor our history and hope for the time to come.
This article appeared in the June 2021 Bicentennial Edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.