Laughing and Crying with Cardinal Dolan

Lately I have been seen chuckling in airports, making a spectacle of myself as I struggle to suppress my mirth and my tears.

That’s because I have been reading Bob Dolan’s heartwarming and humorous new book, LIFE LESSONS from my Life with my Brother, Timothy Cardinal Dolan (Tau Publishing, 2011).

And Cardinal Dolan’s little brother is not afraid to spill some of the family secrets. He opens with an anecdote about the time 15-year-old Tim babysat for 8-year-old Bob while their parents went bowling. Against their parents’ instructions, Tim allowed his younger brother to watch Alfred Hitchcock on television—and then terrorized the lad by dressing up like the murderer in a mophead “wig” and eerily whispering, “You forgot about Sam!”

The book toggles between childhood reminiscences and stories from the heart, and “life lessons”—parables from the Cardinal himself. The reader sees the young Tim as a student at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, Missouri; as a teen playing board games with his family; as a seminarian, playing “In Between” poker with his fellow seminarians. But then there are the Life Lessons, pastoral wisdom from the Archbishop of New York on grief, on humor, on truth and silence and the Cross.

Life Lessons is chock-full of photos: photos from the Consistory, and photos of “America’s pope” hugging and kissing and belly-laughing, loving life and loving the people he serves.

Speaking of the papacy, Bob Dolan recounts one story after another of how people—a priest, a bishop, a businessman, and the Archbishop’s own mother—have speculated that his brother will one day be called to lead the Church in the world as pope. Indeed, God gives us the pope we need for the times; and perhaps in the coming years, the Holy Spirit will give us this joy-filled shepherd to guide the Church through stormy waters.

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