Cardinal Dolan,” the reporter asked, “isn’t it difficult for us to believe in a loving, providential God in the face of all the suffering we have seen in 2020?”
Fair enough question, perhaps one a lot of people are asking as we conclude 2020 with relief.
“Tell you what,” I replied. “I’ll agree with you that, yes, the adversity of this past year can tempt us to doubt God’s care, if, if, you’ll agree that all the heroic sacrifice, selfless service, and acts of love we’ve witnessed lead us to praise God.”
He nodded in agreement. I hope you do, too.
In my own life, I thank the Lord this New Year’s Eve that Mom is healthy and happy at 92, that my brother Bob came through delicate cardiac surgery, that my niece Shannon and her husband Chris now have a beautiful adopted baby girl,
Mollie Rose, and that I dropped 10 pounds!
In these acres of the Lord’s vineyard we call “the Archdiocese of New York,” our people are coming back to Mass and the Sacraments; our priests and deacons have stayed close to their people; for a Pope who has shown us hope and trust; our renowned Catholic Charities and our health ministry, ArchCare, have been lights to a dark world; that our schools are open and safe; and that so many tell me their faith has been rekindled in these scary days of 2020.
In our community, I am grateful for the daring solicitude of our health providers, our police, fire, and rescue units, neighbors who check on one another, families who cherish their kin the more they miss them, for our political leaders who have worked so diligently to keep us safe; and for citizenship in a country that persevered through a rough and tumble election year.
The Italians remind us that, “You have to make gnocchi with the dough you got!”
You all have done that. A man confided in me that he had been dreading Thanksgiving, unable to gather with his extended family as usual, and to be confined in a small apartment with his wife and two small kids, who were getting on his nerves during this lockdown.
Yet, he confessed, it turned out to be very happy—simple, smaller, snug—yet smiles all around. There was even enough pumpkin pie to leave a piece outside the doors of their two elderly neighbors.
Then there’s grandma who shared, “Usually the weeks before Christmas are frantic with shopping, parties, baking, cards, finding parking spots. This year was so quiet, unrushed, enjoyable. I like it!”
The memories of those we lost are even more reverent and grateful these holy days.
And, most essential, our reaffirmed conviction that we believe in a God who keeps His promises, especially by sending us His Son, Jesus, as our Savior, who has accompanied us this trying year, the most sustaining gift of all.
I used to enjoy hearing Mom and Dad recall the bruising days of the Great Depression and World War II. Sure, they mentioned the sorrows and trials, but seemed to remember more how faith was strong, families united, neighbors and friends closer, and lessons imbued more evident.
Something tells me that’s what we’ll be telling our kids and grandkids about 2020.
A blessed 2021!