Maybe you really can go home again.
For me, the opportunity came last Saturday when Cardinal Dolan delivered the keynote address at the annual public policy forum of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. It took place at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, my alma mater and the place where a lot of good things in my life started.
Naturally, I took the assignment to cover the story, which appears on the front page. That’s one of the prerogatives of being the editor.
I arrived in time for the opening Mass celebrated by Bishop William Murphy. One of the high points of the liturgy was the participation of so many of the school’s students as ushers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, sound board operators and, especially, members of the choir.
Listening to the choir sing was very much like being transported back in time to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I was a student at Holy Trinity. The music of the morning liturgy reminded me how important my four years there were in helping to form my life as a Catholic today.
Trinity always had many students with great talents in song and music. The way that talent was expressed through musical productions and especially through liturgies was a special part of the Trinity experience even if you were like me and couldn’t hold a note. It was nice to see that some things don’t change.
But more than the Mass and the music, I was there to cover Cardinal Dolan’s talk, which turned out to be something special, too. Before he arrived, I overheard two attendees discussing his impending appearance. “Isn’t this exciting? Cardinal Dolan is coming,” said one.
There was a palpable excitement in the air before and after the cardinal arrived. Frankly, I think we in the archdiocese have gotten used to the rising level of energy that accompanies a visit by Cardinal Dolan, never more so than since his elevation.
The Cardinal’s talk was a masterful explanation of many of the principles behind the Church’s social justice teaching and how those principles “ought” to be applied to daily life.
It was a serious talk that went on at some length but the Cardinal always makes room for humor that makes his audience feel right at home. At the outset, he was speaking about the fact that he is now a New York Yankees fan and even has been invited to toss out the first pitch at the team’s home opener this year. He got a rise out of the crowd when he said that “one of the things I would not do at the consistory is wear red socks,” an obvious reference to a certain Boston team. The kicker was that the Cardinal then pulled out a pair of red socks and tossed them out to Bishop Murphy, a native of Boston. “Bishop Murphy, you can have these,” he said to the delight of the audience.
The audience heard a lot more than jokes, however. One of the Cardinal’s “oughts” that stayed with me was the statement that “Catholics ought to propose, never impose.”
The Cardinal said that Catholics are “always lambasted for seeking to propose their peculiar Catholic doctrine and morals on others.” That is simply not true, he said.
If the Church were to try to lobby for laws enforcing Mass attendance on Sundays or banning hotdogs on Fridays in Lent, then “that wouldn’t be right, that wouldn’t be American,” Cardinal Dolan said.
In the current controversy over the HHS mandate, the U.S. bishops have been accused of “trying to impose on the country their peculiar morality about contraception,” he said.
“We’re not trying to impose our teaching on anybody,” the Cardinal said to applause. “But don’t impose your teaching on us and make us do as a church what we find unconscionable to do.”