In a Lenten homily delivered at a Fifth Avenue house of worship about a mile south of his normal pulpit in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Dolan emphasized that nothing should hold Christians back from preaching about “the profoundly Good News of life everlasting in heaven with the God we love.”
Various excuses may be offered to explain the hesitancy that Christians sometimes feel about proclaiming the Good News, the cardinal said. They include “the stinging barb” that suggests a belief in heaven excuses us from taking responsibility for injustices here on Earth, or that some of us now consider ourselves too sophisticated for such beliefs.
No reason should prevent Christians from sharing “the best news of all” that Jesus preached, the cardinal said. “He wants us to enjoy his personal and passionate love for all eternity—a happiness we only begin to imagine dimly right here.”
The cardinal was preaching on Christian unity during the Wednesday evening worship service March 29 at Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue and 29th Street, one of the most venerable Protestant congregations in New York City.
Joining the cardinal in the sanctuary were Dr. Michael B. Brown, the senior minister and pastor of Marble Collegiate, as well as the Rev. Kirsty DePree and the Rev. Chad Tanaka Pack, also of Marble Collegiate. The congregation assembled in the historic church building included clergy and lay members of various religions including many Catholics, as well as members of other Protestant, Jewish and Muslim congregations.
A litany of prayer for Christian unity began with the leader proclaiming, “In Christ, the world is reconciled to God who entrusts us with the message of reconciliation. Therefore, as ambassadors of Christ’s reconciling work, we pray together from our diverse traditions.”
A moving prayer of St. Teresa of Kolkata also was sung.
Dr. Brown, in his welcome, traced the origins of the service to a chance meeting with Cardinal Dolan at a restaurant last Easter Sunday.
“I’m so grateful that it went from a conversation at the buffet table to this evening when he comes to offer to us the Bread of Life.”
During prayers of petition, Dr. Brown called on houses of worship to “not merely teach faith, but also inspire people to live faithfully.”
After the service, CNY spoke with Carol Anderson, a member of the Marble Collegiate congregation, who was joined by her friend, Carolyn Wall, a Catholic from St. John’s parish in Darien, Conn., whom she had invited to attend the ecumenical gathering.
Ms. Anderson said the service was “absolutely fantastic” and especially noted its “inclusivity.”
Ms. Wall said the “shared worship” service points out how much the two Christian denominations “have in common.” She also praised the “extraordinary gifts” of both Cardinal Dolan and Dr. Brown.
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, called the evening itself “a prayer for Christian unity.” He cautioned the people listening in the pews that if the message they preach is “limited…to the here and now,” they can expect it to be ignored in favor of yoga or Starbucks or whatever the next popular trend is.
“If our message, brothers and sisters, is of enduring value, of a destiny not measured by clocks and calendars, they will be fascinated and intrigued…,” the cardinal explained.
“We are all born with a hole in our heart that only one thing can fill—eternal union with God.”