The Smiling Cardinal

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Last Thursday Cardinal Kasper visited Boston College. While here, he presented a lecture based off of his newest book on mercy. Throughout the day, I had the chance to get to know the cardinal as we toured BC, shared meals, and sat listening to his lecture. As the day wore on, I realized more and more that I was in the presence of a very brilliant, holy, and humble man.

Dr. Randy Sachs, the BC professor that introduced Cardinal Kasper at the lecture joked that Rome referred to him as the “smiling cardinal.” And he certainly fits that description! I watched in awe as he met person after person throughout the day with a warm and welcoming smile. He laughed at all their jokes (and some were rather iffy…) and answered every question.

More than his genuine love of humanity and practiced ability to make others feel warm and welcome, Cardinal Kasper reminded me of what it meant to live as a Christian. His kind and personable nature is not that of a public figure skilled at social and political events. Rather, he exudes deep compassion and love for God, his Church, and all of creation. On our tour of campus, he marveled with great joy at all the young people studying theology. “This gives me such great hope for our future,” he said to me. At lunch he stayed for pictures with our students, always asking questions of their studies and plans. After his lecture, he autographed every book, and talked to every person who wanted his ear. And at dinner, he sat in between two people that talked his ear off all night (and he was, of course, smiling and laughing the whole time). And he did all this at 81 years young, and must have been totally exhausted by the end of it.

The day quickly became one of the most memorable for me not because I was in the presence of a well-known scholar and Church official. It was memorable because it was a living example of how to live as a Christian. Love of God and love of neighbor are so clearly visible in the cardinal’s life. This is what it means to be a Disciple of Christ. Cardinal Kasper made me want to go deeper in my faith with God. He made me want to change the way I relate to others and the world. And most importantly, he taught me that you don’t have to be a Cardinal to live this way. Anyone can do these things, and bring this joy of the Good News into the world.

So, thank you Cardinal Kasper for an unforgettable day. Enjoy Rome and all the great food. And thanks for the lesson on Discipleship!

Oh, and I almost forgot, his lecture was pretty great too!

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