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 CNS Story:

COMMENCEMENT-CUA May-14-2012 (860 words) With photo. xxxn

Cardinal Dolan urges graduates to reflect Christ's self-giving love

By Mark Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan praised the class of 2012 at The Catholic University of America, saying in his May 12 commencement address that the 1,500 students receiving degrees that day had all majored in "the Law of the Gift" -- learning to pattern their lives after the self-giving love of Jesus.

Cardinal Dolan noted how Blessed John Paul II described the "Law of the Gift" this way: "For we are at our best, we are most fully alive and human, when we give away freely and sacrificially our very selves in love for another."

The cardinal noted how Jesus spoke about the "Law of the Gift" when the Lord said, "Greater love than this no one has, than to give one's life for one's friends."

New York's archbishop, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, encouraged the graduates to draw on their faith to help in the effort to stand up for religious freedom in the United States and to oppose efforts to redefine marriage.

"Religion, faith, the church promote a culture built on the 'Law of the Gift,'" the cardinal said. "Thus, wise people from Alexis de Tocqueville to John Courtney Murray ... have observed that an essential ingredient in American wisdom and the genius of the American republic is the freedom it allows for religion to flourish."

He predicted that a challenge the class of 2012 "will inevitably face is the defense of religious freedom as part of both our American and creedal legacy."

Cardinal Dolan has played a leading role in the U.S. bishops' defense of religious freedom in the face of recent threats, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' mandate that would force Catholic institutions including hospitals, universities and social service agencies to provide health insurance coverage to employees for procedures the Catholic Church opposes, including abortion-inducing drugs, artificial contraceptives and sterilizations.

Cardinal Dolan said the "Law of the Gift" also provides special insights into the Catholic Church's teachings on marriage.

The law "is most poetically exemplified in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, intimate union of a man and woman in marriage, which then leads to the procreation of new life in babies, so that husband and wife, now father and mother, spend their lives sacrificially loving and giving to those children," the cardinal said.

"That union -- that sacred rhythm of man/woman/husband/wife/baby/mother/father -- is so essential to the order of the common good that its very definition is ingrained into our interior dictionary, that its protection and flourishing is the aim of enlightened culture."

The cardinal said the Catholic University graduates had first learned those lessons from "the most significant of all professors, your mom and dad," at home, and he led the graduates in applauding their parents.

"The 'Law of the Gift' is part of the DNA of any Catholic school, this sterling one included," he said.

"That we are at our best when we give ourselves away in love to another -- the 'Law of the Gift,'" Cardinal Dolan continued, "is, I'm afraid, 'countercultural' today, in an era that prefers getting to giving, and entitlement to responsibility; in a society that considers every drive, desire or urge as a right, and where convenience and privacy can trump even the right to life itself; and in a mindset where freedom is reduced to the liberty to do whatever we want, wherever we want, whenever, however, with whomever we want, rather than the duty to do what we ought. ... Well, the 'Law of the Gift' can be as ignored as a yellow traffic light in New York City."

New York's cardinal also noted how Pope Benedict XVI has emphasized the importance of Catholic universities being faithful to their Catholic identity as they carry out the church's mission in service to the Gospel. He noted that each classroom at The Catholic University of America features the most effective audiovisual aid of them all -- the crucifix.

A big part of the joy at that morning's graduation, the cardinal said, was rooted in gratitude of the university's solidarity and communion with the church's pastoral leadership, knowing "that this university is both Catholic and American, flowing from the most noble ideals of truth and respect for human dignity that are at the heart of our church and our country."

Earlier, Cardinal Dolan received Catholic University's President's Medal, the school's highest honor. Cardinal Dolan has a doctorate in American church history from Catholic University.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, chancellor, offered the invocation at Catholic University's 123rd annual commencement, asking God to bless the university's work, and he prayed that at the university, the light of Catholic faith would continue to shine so that those seeking truth will come to know God, who is truth.

Addressing the graduates, John Garvey, president of Catholic University, noted that many commencement speakers encourage graduates "to follow your dreams and wear sunscreen."

He urged them instead to draw upon the virtue of patience. "Patience is the disposition to await God's grace. ... Get up every morning with the disposition to await God's grace," he said.

- - -

Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard in Washington.


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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