On My Bookshelf: The Gift Of Peace

See the source imageMy beloved wife acquired this book many years ago. She is more of a collector than I, so it sat on my shelf for many years. I pulled it out last week, on impulse. She was having a difficult dental procedure last Friday, so I spent some time reading it, and in prayer with her.

The brief (160 pages) volume was notable for me for two things. First, no bitterness toward his fellow cardinals, who I thought abandoned him in the early days of the Common Ground Initiative. Bernard Law, of scandal fame, was one of those. No mention of these guys at all, actually.

Positively, his observation on daily prayer. Since daily prayer and distraction have been difficult for me as of late, I appreciated this morsel of insight concerning his hour of prayer that began each day since the late 70s:

I’m happy to say that I have kept it for nearly twenty years. This doesn’t mean that I’ve learned how to pray perfectly. It doesn’t mean that I have not experienced the struggles that other people have faced. Quite the contrary. But early on, I made another decision. I said, “Lord, I know that I spend a certain amount of that morning hour of prayer daydreaming, problem-solving, and I’m not sure that I can cut that out. I’ll try, but the important thing is, I’m not going to give that time to anybody else. So even though it may not unite me as much with you as it should, nobody else is going to get that time.”

I remember very little about Cardinal Bernardin, other than the fact of this book, and that the Common Ground Initiative was dear to him. A good friend of mine was gleeful over the accusation of sexual attack that the cardinal described in the first part of this book. While I knew he was a confirmed conservative, I was taken aback by the happiness that a “liberal” (as he saw it) was getting pulled down, and it would be a triumph for traditional equals virtuous. (I can only imagine what he secretly thought of me.) I never heard from my friend after the false allegations faded. You might think no loss, but I regretted the ending or fading of a friendship.

At any rate, this book came along at a good time for me last week. I stayed connected with my wife through her gift, and prayed for her peace, and peace of mind–God’s gift–as she struggled with her oral condition.

Cancer, of course, is as serious as an illness can get for many of us. Cardinal Bernardin’s story and words may well offer comfort and be a conduit for that great gift of God, namely peace.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to On My Bookshelf: The Gift Of Peace

  1. Liam says:

    When my late mother was occupied as a homemaker raising six children (my parents wanted eight, but settled for six with the third being what is today commonly known as a child with special needs) over a period of three and a half decades, she did not have the bandwidth (as we’d say today) for much formal daily prayer. As her life slowed down, she acquired the bandwidth and habit, and became a fierce prayer warrior. Then, as her abilities began to constrain and vex her mightily, she mentioned her concern that she was not able to maintain her habit has she wished; I suggested her that she could always make her daily offering and also offer to God in general the prayers she had formerly by cultivated habit, and that seemed to ease her concern mightily. We won’t always have the ability to do things (pray, kneel, et cet.) that we once were able to do, so it’s good to appreciate cultivated habits while we may, and offer them in different ways as our abilities modulate over the years.

    Another way the habit of daily prayer is encouraged by the Church, though it’s much less known these days than was formerly the case: the plenary indulgence in articulo mortis, which can be applied any of the faithful who’ve embraced the habit of recitation of prayers during their lifetime but who are dying without the assistance of a priest and the imparting of the Apostolic Benediction/Pardon. (One additional thing about indulgences: you need to cultivate the habit of intended to apply them (to yourself or a deceased person), but intentionally matters in that regard. So I always preface my morning office of prayer with that intention. I find praying while swimming is wonderful.)

    To the faithful in danger of death, who cannot be assisted by a priest to bring them the sacraments and impart the Apostolic Blessing with its plenary indulgence (see Canon 530 ك 3 of Code of Canon Law), Holy Mother Church nevertheless grants a plenary indulgence to be acquired at the point of death, provided they are properly disposed and have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross to gain this indulgence is praiseworthy.

    The condition: provided they have been in the habit of reciting some prayers during their lifetime *supplies in such cases for the three usual conditions required for the gaining of a plenary indulgence*. [emphasis added: this is unique to this indulgence]

    The plenary indulgence at the point of death can be acquired by the faithful, even if they have already obtained another plenary indulgence on the same day.

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