Widowed, divorced receive blessing, love, encouragement

Photo Caption: Diocesan Mass for the Widowed and Divorced at St. Mary’s Cathedral Sunday, Oct. 12.

By: By Jared Olar

In Jesus Christ, all the suffering we endure has value.

With those encouraging words, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, welcomed those attending the Diocesan Mass for the Widowed and Divorced on Sunday afternoon at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

“It is an honor to worship with you,” Bishop Jenky said to the about 100 people present. “Know that your diocese and your bishop love you, and honor what you have gone through.”

The bishop demonstrated that love during the Mass by bestowing a special “Blessing of Widowed and Divorced Sent to Reach Out to Grieving Peers” after Communion.

“Lord, look kindly on your grieving servants, who have come here seeking your healing,” the bishop prayed as he granted the blessing.

“We send them forth as messengers of salvation and peace,” he said. “Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may find healing.”

Even as Bishop Jenky prayed for the gathered worshippers, the assembly also prayed for him and all clergy during the general intercessions, asking “that they may be strengthened to defend and console the brokenhearted.”

Intercessions were also made for the widowed and divorced, “that they may find God, their rock of refuge,” for their family members, “that the Lord will stand by them and enlighten their minds and hearts,” and for the souls of deceased loved ones.

Faith and prayer offer solace and hope to the grieving, the bishop said in his homily.

Though we may wish for a perfect marriage of lasting happiness, the reality is that there is both joy and sorrow in life, Bishop Jenky said.

“I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve sometimes seen a show called ‘Bridezillas.’ If you haven’t seen it, don’t,” he advised.

According to the bishop, the show features engaged couples making themselves and those around them miserable as they demand what they think will be a “perfect wedding.”

“The simple truth is — about life, about marriage, about priesthood — nothing lasts forever. There is a certain freedom in accepting that,” the bishop said.

“I think it’s important simply to recognize that grief is not gotten over just right away,” he added.

When a marriage ends, whether through death or divorce, the pain is “searing,” Bishop Jenky acknowledged. “It takes faith to go through that kind of Passover and change.”

True healing from grief comes from Jesus, who promises “a wedding feast that lasts forever,” the bishop said.

In the Eucharist we can enter into that heavenly banquet and find God’s perfect and never-ending love, he said.

Because of God’s love, widowed and divorced Catholics can be confident that “you always have a place here. The church prays for you,” the bishop concluded.

The Mass and homily were “very warm and thought provoking,” said Jenny Shannon, a divorced Catholic from St. Anthony’s Parish in Bartonville.

“I found myself crying today for what we had, what it should have been. And (crying) is something that’s not necessarily bad,” she told The Catholic Post. “It’s never good to keep things in, and (the Mass) helped to bring things out.”

After Mass, Bishop Jenky joined the assembly for a reception at the Holiday Inn City Centre in downtown Peoria, where he visited each table and greeted the guests.

Members of the Widowed and Divorced Diocesan Advisory Board, some of whom were liturgical ministers during the Mass, also met the guests. In addition, notary auditors from the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal were present for those needing advice or information about the annulment process.

Those who attended the reception were invited to fill out questionnaires to offer suggestions for projects and events that the advisory board might plan in the coming year.

Attendees also received a flyer from the St. Louis-based National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved, giving advice for dealing with grief during the holidays.

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