Ten years ago, I began a most extraordinary Lent by walking up the Aventine Hill to the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the first day of the Roman station church pilgrimage — an eight-week journey that led to the book “Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches,” co-authored with my friend Elizabeth Lev and my son, Stephen.
In his encyclical, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” Pope St. John Paul II invited Catholics to “rekindle” our sense of “Eucharistic amazement,” for “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart of the mystery of the Church” — Christ’s glorified, abiding presence with, in, and through his people, fulfilling his promise to remain with us “to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
The list of grave issues that must be addressed during a future papal interregnum, and by the cardinal-electors in a conclave, continues to grow.
Catholics who take this apostolic teaching seriously will understand that our first obligation toward President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is to be in Christian solidarity with him through prayer.
A wretched year came to a sorrowful end when Father Maciej Zięba, OP, died in his native Wrocław, Poland, on Dec. 31. The birthplace of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wrocław was also the home of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who grew up there as Edith Stein when the city was known as Breslau.
Joshua Wong is a young Chinese human rights activist, recently sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison on the Orwellian charge of “incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorized assembly” — meaning, in Chinese Newspeak, urging others to protest peacefully the tyranny now throttling Hong Kong.
From 1991 until 2005, Cardinal Camillo Ruini served Pope John Paul II as the papal Vicar for Rome — the man who handled the daily affairs of the diocese of which the Pope was, of course, bishop. Ruini was a creative cardinal-vicar who energized the Diocese of Rome for the New Evangelization — a concept he grasped perhaps better than any other Italian prelate.
How bad a year has it been? Let me not count the ways. Good books can hearten us in 2021 and beyond, though. Herewith, then, some suggestions for Christmastide book-giving.
The juxtaposition of Thanksgiving with the Church’s annual month of prayer for the dead hadn’t previously struck me with force; that it did this year has something to do, I expect, with my late sister-in-law, Linda Bauer Weigel.
The McCarrick Report did not, it turns out, please everyone, even as the world press weirdly turned it into an assault on John Paul II. But it certainly underscored that McCarrick was a singularly accomplished deceiver.