Bishop’s Reflections Concretely Stimulate the Spiritual Lives of Readers


“Love Never Fails: Living the Catholic Faith in Our Daily Lives” by Bishop Donald Hying. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2021). 187 pages, $ 16.95.

Sometimes, reading reflections, you can almost hear what the author is saying. When published, it is as if the printed word turns into an audiobook. This is what the reader will experience with “Love Never Fails” by Bishop Donald Hying.

Bishop Hying, who heads the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, and previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee and Bishop of Gary, Indiana, asks thought-provoking questions.

In a chapter titled “Spiritual Expenses,” he asks, “How can I truly experience the joy of salvation unless I elevate my experiences of anxiety, terror, sin and isolation to God on the cross? ? Can I truly appreciate the gift of my life in Christ until I have been somehow painfully uprooted from my self-sufficient sufficiency? “

He draws on a variety of sources, citing the scriptures, Robert Frost, GK Chesterton, Henry David Thoreau, Pope Francis and a number of saints including Augustine, Teresa of Avila and John Paul II, not as an academic exercise but to make a point.

“Love Never Fails” is inspiring but never moralizing.

When Bishop Hying writes about concerns throughout the church, for example, providing excellent faith training for children, youth, and adults; parishes “alive, flourishing, welcoming and loving” and where the celebration of the sacraments is well done; and living the spiritual and bodily works of mercy, he invites but does not lecture.

When he calls gratitude and gratitude “the hallmarks of the mystical journey,” the reader can almost hear Bishop Hying’s words aloud:

“May your life be more of praise than of complaints, more of what has been given than what is missing. Gratitude and humility hold the great secret of joy and peace. … What we are looking for has already been given. We just need to reach out and receive it, then pass it on. “

On several occasions he mentions his family, having grown up as the youngest of six boys in a house where the Rosary was recited every night. He speaks of love and admiration for his parents, and notes how their example and the environment in which they raised their sons impacted his vocation to the priesthood.

In a reflection on the Day of the Dead, he writes about his brother Patrick, 10, who died of liver cancer.

“Going through my own grief and seeing my parents cry up close as a 6 year old has forever marked my heart and my life. … Our grief and loss as a family has gradually healed with faith, prayer, and the kindness of family and friends, but the experience has both hurt and transformed us, ”he writes.

He continues, “As painful as it was, my brother’s death blessed me. This tragic experience opened me up to ask the big questions and brought me to a richer faith, gave me a deeper compassion for the suffering of others, and granted me a powerful intercessor in heaven. … I feel that my vocation to the priesthood was nourished by the tragic death of Patrick.

Bishop Hying’s stories can make a reader cry, but they can also make you laugh.

In a reflection on Pentecost, he writes: “I am afraid that if Pentecost were to occur today, instead of going out immediately to evangelize, the early church would have formed a long-term study committee, drawn up long plans. on how to evangelize and organized countless meetings. Fortunately, they didn’t do any of these!

The Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter chapters provide more “speaking to the heart” material which is a common thread throughout the book. Priests and deacons who need homily materials might learn from what the bishop writes.

In a chapter titled “Everyone Is Called to Evangelize,” Bishop Hying recounts how he heard Matthew Kelly talk about his book “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” and that he was so “on fire” by what the author said he ordered 5,000 copies of the book and gave them away.

“Love Never Fails” stimulates the spiritual life of readers in a pastoral and practical way. They can say: “I have read all this”, but we can be sure that they did not read it as Bishop Hying presents. They may not be pressured into buying 5,000 more copies, but they will certainly share what they have read with others.

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Copyright © 2022 Catholic News Service / United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


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