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Friday, January 6, 2012

"Constantly called to give your life for the Church"

While the eyes of a good part of the football faithful will be on Denver Bronco's quarterback, Tim Tebow, to see if he'll pull off a miracle finish for his team, the Catholic faithful turn their attention to another Tim, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York who will be receiving the red hat of a cardinal next month in Rome.  The announcement, direclty from the lips of Pope Benedict XVI, came after the Holy Father celebrated Mass to mark the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

As the new cardinal-designate humbly put it:

On this “Twelfth Day of Christmas” the traditional celebration of the Epiphany, I have received a gift from Pope Benedict XVI, as he announced just a couple of hours ago at the end of Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica that I would be among those to become a cardinal in Rome at the consistory of February 18th.

Yes, I am honored, humbled, and grateful, ...but, let’s be frank: this is not about Timothy Dolan; this is an honor from the Holy Father to the Archdiocese of New York, and to all our cherished friends and neighbors who call this great community home.

That the Holy Father would tap the New York Metropolitan was inevitable.  That Pope Benedict would name him so quickly to the ranks, especially since the Archbishop-emeritus, Edward Cardinal Egan, is still wtihin voting age is rare.  It should be noted that along with serving as New York's Metropolitan, Dolan is also the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal-designate Dolan is indeed a force not only in New York, but, in the United States as well.  As president of the USCCB, he has worked to rally his brother bishops to fully engage in their ministry as shepherds of the flock, as successors to the Apostles.  He observed that he saw his brethren wearing rings.  This means that they are married to the Church.  

I look out at 300 brothers each of whom has a ring on his finger, because we’re spoken for, we’re married.  Our episcopal consecration has configured us so intimately to Jesus that He shares with us His bride, the Church.

On February 18, 2012, Dolan will exchange his episcopal ring for that of a cardinal's.  During a homily preached at his first consistory in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI explained the significance of that ring:

The Crucifixion scene in the four Gospels constitutes the moment of truth when the "veil of the Temple" is torn and the Holy of Holies appears. The maximum revelation of God possible in this world occurs in Jesus Crucified, because God is love and the death of Jesus on the Cross is the greatest act of love in all of history. Well then, on the Cardinal's ring that I will consign in a few moments to the new members of the Sacred College is portrayed precisely the Crucifixion. This, dear new Cardinal-Brothers, will always be an invitation for you to remember of what King you are servants, on what throne he has been raised and how he has been faithful to the end in overcoming sin and death with the power of divine mercy. Mother Church, Spouse of Christ, gives you this symbol in memory of her Spouse, who loved her and gave himself up for her (cf. Eph 5: 25). Thus, wearing the Cardinal's ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the Church.
In marriage, the husband and the wife are constantly called to give up their lives for each other.  For a bishop (and, in a particular way, a cardinal, he is called), as the Holy Father noted, to constantly give of himself to the Church, as Christ does for his Bride.

Please keep the future Cardinal Dolan in your prayers.  As he noted in the press conference held to mark the announcement:

Over the Christmas holy days I finished a biography of President Kennedy, and recalled his reply to someone who sincerely congratulated him on the honor of the presidency.

“Thanks,” John Kennedy replied, “but I don’t look at it so much as an honor as a call to higher service.”

My sentiments exactly. This is not about privilege, change of colors, hats, new clothes, places of honor, or a different title. Jesus warned us about all that stuff
Jesus also said that the one who ranks first, must serve the rest.  As a cardinal, Dolan will be called to serve the Church in a most unique and awesome responsibility.  He will be called to collaboratae closely with the Holy Father on important matters and to give witness, even to the point of death, to Christ.  He will also be called to strengthen the faithful under his care in the Faith.  Indeed, leadership entails service, witness and suffering.  The color red is a very tangible reminder of that, since it is also the color that the Church uses to mark the memorials of martyrs.

May the Lord strengthen Cardinal-designate Dolan and his fellow prelates, who will be soon be receiving their rings and red hats. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm not surprised! Even though I'm a Red Sox fan, I believe this is a very important recognition of the first bishop in the USA in recent years (that I know of) who issued a decree banning gay marriage among Catholics in his diocese. Please pray for the new and present cardinals, bishops, and priests.