Saturday, July 20, 2013

Image Books: Praying in Rome

During the Conclave and the days leading up to it, the world was abuzz with excitement. The media, being the media, wanted to know everything that they could and then would use sound bites to display their message. I must admit that I grew aggravated with the U.S. cardinals at times, because it felt like they were talking to the media too much. However, they are wiser than me, so I trust their judgment. Very recently, Image Books released a book by Cardinal Dolan about his reflections on the Conclave and Pope Francis, entitled Praying in Rome. Here is my brief review of it.

Praying in Rome is a brief e-book, which addresses the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, the time leading up to the Conclave, the Conclave itself, the election of Pope Francis, and people's reactions to Pope Francis. With each of these topics, Cardinal Dolan shares his personal thoughts and feelings. The book reads like a personal journal or diary in that it contains both reverence and humor. One example of this is his mention of hoping he doesn't run out of clean socks, while waiting for the date of the Conclave to be announced.

The part of the book I enjoyed the most was Cardinal Dolan's opinion on the "five key lessons that Pope Benedict left behind for us to cultivate." I won't tell you all five. You'll have to buy the book for that, but Lesson #5 spoke to me the most. With his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI taught us that, "It's not about him, or you, or me, or us. It's about Christ. It's about the Church." This is a lesson I need to be reminded of frequently. It's easy to get wrapped up in a me-first world, especially with a blog, but it's not about me!

There were parts of the book that I didn't like, but these are small and probably just the result of me splitting hairs. He tries to downplay his importance in the Church on the third page with the statement that "People are kind when it comes to how connected they think I am to the Vatican." However, he then goes on to say that he's had the privilege of meeting the Pope rather often. He also speculated that this would be his only Conclave to participate in. At 63, he must expect Pope Francis will live to 93, plan on retiring before he hits 80, or know something about the Second Coming that we don't know.

Overall, this was a fair book, which I would give 4 stars. I had to read through it twice, because it rubbed me wrong the first time I read it. I'm not sure why exactly, but I attribute it to previous aggravation with the U.S. Cardinals talking to the media so much. Luckily, the book is a quick read at thirty minutes to an hour. If you want to see inside the head and heart of a Cardinal who was tasked with electing Pope Francis, this book is for you.

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