In the summer before the Second Vatican Council opened, Pope John XXIII met with Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens in the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo. “I know what my part in the Council will be,” the Pope told the Belgian archbishop. “It will be to suffer.” Pope John was prescient, and not just because the Council’s opening weeks would prove contentious; shortly before Vatican II began its work, the Pope was diagnosed with the painful cancer that would kill him in less than a year.
It’s now the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but for native Baltimoreans of a certain vintage (like me), it is, was, and always will be “the Old Cathedral:” the first of its kind in the United States.
One of the adornments of American Catholicism turned 90 on May 21: Dr. Paul R. McHugh, longtime head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and a healer after the heart of the Divine Physician. Few scientists have made greater contributions to unraveling the mysteries of our complex inner lives than Paul McHugh.
Unfortunately forgotten in most U.S. Catholic circles today, Cardinal Albert Gregory Meyer, archbishop of Milwaukee from 1953 to 1958 and archbishop of Chicago from 1958 to 1965, was one of the country’s leading churchmen in the mid-20th century.
Hans Küng certainly had talent. His doctoral dissertation on Karl Barth, arguably the greatest of 20th-century Protestant theologians, became a pioneering book in ecumenical theology.
The Paschal Triduum this year seemed like a return from exile: Holy Thursday’s Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, in church; Good Friday’s Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, in church; Saturday evening’s Easter Vigil,in church — what a blessing.
On February 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives could have addressed any number of pressing issues. The nation was in its 11th month of a pandemic that had already caused enormous economic and social dislocation. Schools remained closed as evidence mounted that online learning was disserving vulnerable poor children. Civil unrest continued in cities whose local governments refused to maintain public order.
As the names Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius, and John Chrysostom suggest, the middle centuries of the first millennium, the era of the Church Fathers, were the golden age of the Catholic episcopate.
According to the movie “Love Story,” “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Typical Hollywood fluff, you might say. Yet the best answer to that asininity was given by a Hollywood all-star, the late, great Charlton Heston. Asked the secret of what would become his 64-year marriage to Lydia, he replied, “Learning to say five words: ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong.’”
All lives are consequential, for every human being is an idea of God’s, and everyone is a someone for whom the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, entered history, suffered, died — and was raised from the dead to display within history a new, glorified humanity.