Participation in Chapel Community

Recently, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, came to celebrate Confirmation for the military children in our religious education program.  During his homily, one phrase stood out to me.  He encouraged those being confirmed, “Do not archive the gifts given to you by the Holy Spirit.”

That sentence, weeks later, still speaks to me.  As St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

The Harper Collins Study Bible (1989)

New Revised Standard Version

Thinking back to the multiple chapel communities of which I have been a part, I have noticed a trend.  The same one, two, or few families all seem to contribute at their chapel. That means the burden to assist at Mass, all too frequently falls upon the same families.  Within the military community, that also means every few years, there runs the possibility of a lack of support for the Priest during Mass.

As I think of this conundrum, and ways to tackle it, I keep coming back to the archbishop’s statement, coupled with St. Paul’s exhortation on spiritual gifts.

I have to ask myself some questions:

~ Do I recognize my spiritual gifts in myself enough to feel confident and comfortable to assist my parish community?

~ What are my spiritual gifts?  And, how do my gifts translate into assisting at the Mass?

~ Furthermore, I recognize there are seasons to everyone’s life – the ability to assist during the Mass ebbs and flows, depending on various factors.  For me, currently, I have two small children.  It detracts from my ability to assist during the Mass.  However, being creative, I have found other ways to serve my chapel/parish community.  So, what are my obstacles with assisting at the Mass and in my chapel community?

As I prepare for my next move, I am pondering, if I merely expect to be spiritually fed by my priest every week, instead of becoming involved in parish life.  If so, am I running the risk of archiving the gifts given to me by the Holy Spirit?


4 thoughts on “Participation in Chapel Community

  1. As with all small children, there are at times when they need to be fed-when they are tired, when they are sick, or when they just need that little bit of encouragement, attention, and closeness, and when they need to know that someone is there. It is the same with adults. We need to be fed until we feel we can handle it on our own. As soon as we became civilians I noticed the parishes we have lived in were all the same. The very young participate and support the priest and the parish as altar servers, taking the collection, even blowing out the candles at the end of Mass. Then there are the young parents who have their hands full during Mass with little ones who will grow up to participate. Your gift contribution is to prepare the children for service through the Holy Spirit. You are being fed by the Spirit to raise the kids in God’s name. Then there are the older participants whose children are grown or almost so. Their job as raising children for service is nearly completed, and they have the time and patience to participate more actively. In the military community there is generally an absence of older adults, and so the lack of service is noticeable. After a move, it takes time to feel your gifts and be confident in them at that time and place. Listen and you will hear, hear and the answer will come to you. But for now, your primary gift is to teach your children about faith and their place in God’s service. That is your gift for this time in your life.

    1. We have been fortunate in most places (minus Hawaii) to have a relatively large “retiree” community at on-installation chapels.

      Thank you for those thoughts about recognizing my gifts might be called to be leading/spiritually feeding my young children…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.