Friday Book Pick: I Am With You Always: Lessons of Hope and Courage in Times of Crisis by Cardinal Timothy Dolan
If you have ever heard a homily given by His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, shepherd of the Archdiocese of New York, you know that he always has a good point to make, he makes it in a concise fashion, and not without humor. I have never been tempted to glance at my watch when the Cardinal is at the pulpit. This brand-new book, I Am With You: Lessons of Hope and Courage in Times of Crisis, is penned in the same clear, concise style characteristic of our beloved Cardinal Archbishop of New York.
On the back cover, Cardinal Dolan cites some of his reasons for publishing this little book of reflections, a compilation of homilies and articles and other musings from the past year. “One, to capture a moment in time—in history—when all of us, including our holy Church, were challenged in ways we never expected. Two, to help us look back on this time and sense where God was present in this pandemic. And three, to help us look forward by reminding all of us that whatever we are facing in life, Jesus is always with us. Always.”
Although he didn’t mention Lent as a reason for publishing these reflections, this book strikes me as a fitting Lenten companion. I am sure I am not the only one pondering the reality that we are all facing our second pandemic Lent. This Lent will be markedly different than last year, but we haven’t yet turned the page on this chapter of history. Last Lent every day—it seemed—brought a new abysmal announcement: state of emergency, lock-down, travel restrictions, school closures, and most dreadful, the suspension of public Masses.
This Lent will probably not have the daily adrenalin rush of trying to keep up with the “evolving coronavirus situation” like last year: in fact, the adrenalin spikes from being in a state of constant emergency have likely subsided into a general malaise at best, or even depression at worst. What could help us is a little spiritual sunshine. A Lent marked by characteristics known to brighten interior darkness such as a new depth of gratefulness. Who of us will take our sacramental life for granted ever again—please God, the answer is a resounding: “None of us!” Perhaps this Lent will also be marked by a deeper care of one another, family, neighbor and even total strangers near and far. Hopefully the pandemic is purifying us from our indifference. Maybe this Lent finds us better able to accept and even to embrace suffering in union with Jesus’ suffering for the salvation of the world—which is the point of Lent after all, isn’t it?
Some of us, maybe you too, are patiently awaiting our turn to receive the vaccine. I see these reflections of the Cardinal—his lessons from the pandemic—as a kind of spiritual inoculation against self-pity, against ingratitude, and against feeling isolated from Jesus Who is truly Always With Us.
Mother Clare, CFR