When circumstances may make it seem like light is losing the battle against darkness, Christians should never lose hope because their faith rests in Jesus, “the Light of the World,” Cardinal Dolan explained.
The cardinal preached on the virtue of hope during the annual Respect Life Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral that fell on Jan. 22, a day that he termed a “rather somber anniversary in the American landscape.”
It marked the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the United States. The Knights of Columbus sponsored the well-attended morning Mass. Many individual Knights and their family members traveled with their councils from around the metropolitan area to attend.
Cardinal Dolan said hope, along with faith and charity, are the three theological virtues expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Hope is both supernatural and realistic, not afraid to admit the existence of evil in our world but secure in Jesus’ ultimate victory over sin, the cardinal said.
“To lose hope is to invite darkness, evil and death to prevail,” Cardinal Dolan said. “You and I who believe will never let that happen.”
In his eight years as archbishop of New York, the cardinal said he has met many of the police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers who toiled for months at Ground Zero in the aftermath of Sept. 11, sorting through soot, dirt and ashes. One day, one of the workers told him that he once heard a cheer go up from his co-workers standing upon a pile of debris. Upon closer inspection, the worker found that a single blade of grass sprouting from among the ruins had caused the outcry.
“Just to see that life, just to see something new could come from the death and destruction, gave us all a sense of hope,” he told the cardinal.
Hope is also rooted in prayer, with Pope Francis recently calling prayer “the vocabulary of hope,” the cardinal explained.
Hope is also strengthened in “solidarity” with others who share it. In the case of “this noble pro-life cause,” the cardinal said he was grateful for the “company” of so many Knights of Columbus, who are “radiant” in their defense of life, as well as the presence of the Sisters of Life, the religious order founded by Cardinal O’Connor to promote and support the sanctity of human life in all its stages.
The cardinal, echoing the words of Pope Francis, said today’s “throwaway culture” has “lost a respect for every human person and the sacredness of every human life.” That fact is evidenced by the treatment afforded to the innocent baby in the womb, women and children who are poor and in need as well as others who are sick, suffering and dying, the cardinal said.
“We need hope because we are tempted to wonder if this gloomy scenario will triumph,” the cardinal said.
The sanctity of life was the theme of the weekend at the cathedral. On Saturday, the Sisters of Life organized a Day for Life with Holy Hours, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, street evangelization and a closing Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan.
Grand Knight Edmund T. McKenna Jr., of St. Mary’s Council 4065 in Fishkill, attended the Respect Life Mass on Sunday with 40 other Knights. They came on a chartered bus driven by a fellow Knight who owns a bus company.
“It was uplifting to hear his words in support of the unborn,” said McKenna of Cardinal Dolan’s homily.
The 69-year-old McKenna said he has traveled to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., “for a bunch of years” and plans to continue going “as long as I can walk.”
The Knights of Columbus order shares his pro-life commitment. “It’s a great group to be part of,” said McKenna, a 13-year member who became grand knight in July.
“Anything I can do to amplify the message, it’s an honor,” he said.