He was born on October 11, 1920 in Midland, Michigan making him just five months younger than the Holy Father who was born May 18 of the same year in Wadowicz, Poland. The cardinal writes in Inside the Vatican, "My vocation to the priesthood came in a very simple and natural way: I was born into a profoundly Catholic family. My parents thought highly of the Church; my mother attended daily Mass. In addition, I had the good fortune to meet a wonderful nun who, though she never pushed me to become a priest, made me think about it. My parish priest also helped me to discover my vocation." Like many of his time, these were chiefly the causes for many vocations: solid Catholic roots and evangelizing the faith through example and word. After minor seminary and novitiate, Cardinal Hickey attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C. before being ordained on June 15, 1946 in the Saginaw Diocese. He was sent by his diocese to Rome where he achieved two Doctorates - one in Canon Law from the Lateran University and the other in Theology from the Angelicum.
Equipped with these impressive sheepskins and a better understanding of how the Holy See worked administratively, he returned home where he was appointed Secretary to the Bishop of Saginaw in 1957. Because of his expertise in teaching and formation, he founded and presided over the St. Paul Seminary and was chosen one of the experts or Periti at Vatican II. Following this Ecumenical Council Pope Paul VI recognized his potential and named him titular bishop of Taraqua on February 18, 1967 and Auxiliary Bishop of Saginaw two months later on April 17.
A year and a half later he was elected President of the US Bishops' Conference Committee on the Priesthood on October 31, 1968. Less than six months later he was on his way to Rome again to assume his new position as President of the North American Pontifical College there. He remained in this post until May 31, 1974 when he was transfered from his Saginaw Diocese to the Cleveland Diocese becoming Bishop of Cleveland. Though he fully expected to finish his episcopate in Cleveland, after six years in the city on Lake Erie, Pope John Paul II tabbed him to become Archbishop of Washington D.C. on June 17, 1980. He was installed at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on August 5, 1980.
In his fourth Consistory, John Paul II named Archbishop Hickey to receive the cardinalate on June 28, 1988. He was bestowed the titular church of St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer. Since then he has been active in various curia offices including the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Clergy as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Cardinal Hickey, along with his peers Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Cardinal John O'Connor are facing the mandatory retirement age and thus the Church is going to lose three very active, loyal Princes of the Church; Cardinal Bevilacqua for his eleven years as lead shepherd of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Cardinal O'Connor for his fifteen plus years as Archbishop of New York and Cardinal Hickey for his nearly twenty years as head of the very difficult political diocese of Washington, D.C. His motto is Veritatem in caritate meaning "truth in love" for he strongly believes the Magisterium of the Church does not exist solely to preach theological theories but to transmit the truth with love and a caring heart.
Regarding the political hotbed he finds himself in daily and the liberal politicians promoting the culture of death he says, "Often, out of a sort of cultural imperialism, they want to impose their pro-abortion and contraceptive mentality (with particular emphasis on sterilization and euthanasia) on other countries where there still exists a profound respect for life and for the family." He has worked diligently on ecumenism but toes the line when it comes to compromise for Christ's True Church cannot compromise His teachings. He stands solidly behind the philosophy "Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia" - "Where there is Peter (the Pope), there is the Church!"
Our present Supreme Pontiff Pope John Paul II has been doing all he can over the past two decades to instruct the faithful and were the question asked who is Karol Wojtyla it is quite possible that many more would know the answer than any Pope of the past. That is both due to the modern technology where everyone knows your name and his visibility in the secular media because of all his contributions as the 264th successor of Peter, the one man that can be trusted today in a world of mistrust and dishonesty. Even when he is taking it easy and resting he makes news. This past summer the Holy Father has been laying low, preparing for a hectic fall - the last few months before the new millennium and the much-anticipated Jubilee Year 2000 to be highlighted by his historic "Jubilee Journey" in which he will retrace man's religious roots from Abraham to the Apostles. Yet, even though things have been relatively quiet around the Vatican and his summer residence at Castelgondolfo, his Wednesday audiences are gaining publicity world-wide because of the content. There's just something about the unknown - in this case Heaven, Purgatory and hell - that brings out the beast in so many journalists. More and more as we near the millennium there is more talk about the end times and the misinterpretation of this era as being the end of the world. This doom and gloom talk is so far out in left field that hopefully the Pope's new encyclical he's been working on and which will be released, possibly next month, should set millions straight. The "End Times", which Our Lord and His Blessed Mother Mary have been referring to in their messages to countless visionaries and messengers over the past two centuries, do not mean the end of the world physically, but more of a metaphysical nature for the world will end as we know it in the sense of sin. We prefer to call it a recleansing, a purification of the world that will inaugurate with the Warning which is so very close. As we have explained so many times in these pages, it will be a kind of "dress rehearsal" for the Last Judgment. Talk about God's everlasting Divine Mercy! What could be more merciful than giving every one of His children a "second chance." But that's where He'll draw the line. After the Warning and the ensuing Miracle as promised at Garabandal and many other places, it will be time to deliver on our part for Jesus and for the sake of our own souls as well as countless others. Are we ready? Some are, many aren't.
While the encyclical will help, we have discovered through our own experience teaching CCD and Confirmation classes over the years that too many don't know their faith - even the basics. This is a problem that's universal as we can attest to from the flood of e-mails, phone calls and letters we've received over the years decrying the sad state of Catholic education today. This week in our countdown of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY we highlighted the accomplishments of five dignitaries who were blessed with early Catholic education that was solid and thorough. We suspect the seeds of vocations and avocations were planted during these formation years; Frank Duff to found the Legion of Mary, Bishop Carlos Belo and Cardinal James Hickey to serve the Church as priests, and Virgil Dechant and Dr. Mary Kay Clark as lay leaders rising to the top in emulating and conveying the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith. And that's only five. Over 90% of those chosen as the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY were gifted with being weaned on the Faith at an early age, providing the foundation for these sinners like us to strive to be saints. The majority of those chosen can trace their calling to their early days when they were imbued with the Catechism, Doctrines, Dogmas, Teachings and Traditions of the Church. In short, they learned their Faith thoroughly and realized that Faith is the most precious gift anyone could have. But sadly, so few realize that today. Caught up in the confusion of a topsy-turvy world and Diocesan and parish programs that water down the Faith and place little emphasis on truly knowing what our Faith means. They get so embroiled in the "People of God" concept, the emphasis on "meal" rather than "Sacrifice," and so many confusing terms, which reek of modernism and new age, that they miss the fact we are still the Mystical Body of Christ. We are the "members" and Christ is the Head, not us. Members, regularly referred to as arms and legs, don't act separately from what the head tells them for they depend on the head for survival and to think for them. They give up their own will for the will of the head to both coexist and to function better and more efficiently. This is accomplished only by doing what the head tells them to do. God has given us all the answers. All we have to do is respond to the questions. Thus, the only course we need to follow as Christ's members is to do as He tells us to do, just as Our Lady indicated in John 2: 5, "Do whatever He tells you."
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice.
Because of its effectiveness and our hope to reach more souls we are going to kick off the fall season beginning next Wednesday, September 1st with a daily series from this source of the Church's great Deposit of Faith. The daily series will be called APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH. We will present one point a day, beginning with the Marks of the Church, with the first one on Wednesday being "One." Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life. Michael Shutterly may have received the "gift" of half a million dollars on a quiz show and more power to him, but the greatest gift he'll someday realize, along with countless other Catholics who are struggling with the Faith they were baptized into, is that precious gift of Faith. In the eyes of God it's priceless! And we all can win when we know and practice our Faith, for the more important and popular program in the long run, with due apologies to Regis, a life-long Catholic himself, should be Who wants to be a loyal follower of Christ?
As we are gradually coming to the end of this century, it is good for us to take an honest stock of ourselves ... to examine our lives forthrightly as to how our relationship with God is and to face the reality that God loves us so much and simply asks that we love Him in return.
Love is based on KNOWLEDGE. The better we get to know others, the good that is in them, the more we will love and appreciate them.
Our love for God is based on our knowledge of Him. The better we get to know Him ... He Who is All-Good ... the more we will love Him.
How do we get to know God?
Prayer and meditation on the life of Jesus, as read in the Scriptures, is the best way. The Bible is the Word of God. It is unmistakingly TRUE.
To read and ponder about how Jesus lived, handled His problems, loved, sacrificed, and died, is the best means to get to know God. Jesus is God Incarnate, in Flesh and Bone. We humans are helped greatly in learning when we have something “tangible” with which to work. Jesus is the Incarnate Tangibility that we need.
Sometimes when we pray deeply from our hearts, God infuses some knowledge about Himself in us. This is why prayer is so essential to the life of a Christian.
Various writings of Saints also help us to know God’s love for us. For example, Jesus revealed so much of His Love and Mercy to Sr. Faustina. When we read what He told her, we are moved at the knowledge of how great our God is!
Frankly, in this day and age, I think we need as much help as we can get to know God. We have so many distractions. Our jobs, television, family obligations occupy so much of our time and attention.
But the Church has a wealth of treasures to aid us. To make use of those with prayer is the way. And though knowledge of God leads us to love Him, we might ask ourselves: “How do I know if I love God?” The answer lies in the words of Jesus. “If you love Me, keep My Commandments!” Oh, yes! Those Commandments! Aren’t they outdated? Isn’t our modern society above those? No, Ted Turner, and cohorts, indeed not! Despite the advanced technology of our age, human nature has not changed. We human beings must still acknowledge that we must wage war against Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. The Ten Commandments still apply. God gave them to us as road signs to happiness.
Break them and we can be sure we will not be happy. So we know we love God, if we are conscientiously avoiding grave sin. If we are trying to avoid venial sin, we know we are loving Him even more. And we love Him best, when we seek His Will in everything and try to do it.
God bless you! Let’s get together next week!
Death of Saint Caesarius of Arles, Bishop and Apostolic delegate to Gaul, he dedicated his life to fighting Arianism and Pelagianism as well as other heresies.
Death of Pope Eugene II, 99th successor of Peter, who is attributed with the institution of seminaries. He also formed a supreme council for putting into effect the canons and ecclesiastical law. This is thought to be the origin of the present Roman Curia.
Death of Pope Sixtus V, 227th successor of Peter, who took in hand the reform of the Church with great severity. He completed the work on the Dome of St. Peter's and raised the obelisk in St. Peter's Square. He also built the present building where the Holy Stairs is properly housed.
Death of Saint Poemen the Shepherd, Abbot of hermit monks who inhabited abandoned Egyptian temples.
A depleated college of cardinals (8) at Viturbo, Italy elect an outsider - the patriarch of Jerusalem Jacques Pantaleon as the 182nd successor of Peter as Pope Urban IV, who is commonly referred to as the "Corpus Christi Pope" because he established the feast to be observed sixty days after Easter at the urging of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure.
A son of a Roman Senator Cardinal Giovanni Batista Cibo is selected to lead the Church as the 213th successor of Peter, taking the name Pope Innocent VIII. His papacy is noted for his assisting Christopher Columbus in his mission to the new world, providing missionaries and strongly lashing out against slave trafficking. He alos carried out the tremendous task of pacifying the Catholic states.