Our Prime Focus Should Go Beyond Daily Reality, Cardinal Says at New York Encounter

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Addressing the theme of the annual New York Encounter, “When Reality Hits,” Cardinal Dolan said that the reality we face in our daily lives is less important than another largely unseen reality that endures.

The cardinal, in his Feb. 14 reflection, called the past year an “encounter with reality,” from Covid-19, which still rages, to the violence over the summer, a reminder of racism that curses our culture, to the terrible political divisions that led to the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

When most of us ponder reality, Cardinal Dolan said, we think about the natural, worldly, visible things around us each day, which consume much of our time and attention, such as work, school, paying bills, shopping, love and impatience with those we love, etc.

“In common parlance, that is reality,” the cardinal said.

Yet, there is another unseen reality—God and the things of God, the cardinal said.

“You and I believe what really matters, really endures…are things we cannot see,” he said.

Those things endure, strike at the basis of our daily life and don’t allow what we see in daily encounters “to knock us off our course.”

Citing examples of such things—faith, hope and love, friendship, loyalty, the good, the true and beautiful—the cardinal said they are largely unseen, yet extraordinarily real.

These unseen realities begin with the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ. “Without seeing Him, we believe in Him…He is utter reality, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Cardinal Dolan said. “He is going to endure.”

God the Father, who loves his children so much and knows that we need to see the invisible, sent His Only Begotten Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, to become visible and live among us, the cardinal said.

He also gave us His Holy Word in the Bible, and the seven sacraments, or Sacred Mysteries, and their physical manifestations.

When life’s gritty realities hit, whatever they may be, it’s important for us to remember that they are not the only reality or the final word, Cardinal Dolan said.

“We believe what is unseen is infinitely more important than what we can see,” he said.

That message came back to the cardinal at the end of his recent annual retreat, when he told the priest accompanying him, “Well, back to reality.”

The cardinal soon reconsidered those words after recalling the profound reality of his time immersed in God’s Word, praying before the Blessed Sacrament and studying the wisdom of the saints.

The cardinal said he was happy to again be able join the ecclesial movement, Communion and Liberation, for the Feb. 12-14 cultural event, which was produced virtually this year in collaboration with the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture in lower Manhattan. It featured panel discussions, artistic performances and special exhibits.

“I encourage you to keep up the good work,” said Cardinal Dolan in his greeting to Communion and Liberation members. “We need you now more than ever.”

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