Praying that Catholics would understand and act on "the inseparable bond" between love of God…
Bishop Hying of Madison invites rich moments of contemplation in his new book
I picked up Bishop Donald Hying’s “Love Never Fails: Living the Catholic Faith in Our Daily Lives” (Ignatius Press, $16.95), intending to look at the table of contents, flip through a few pages and perhaps read a section or two. I planned to get the gist of it before ultimately setting it aside in my ever-growing “I really do intend to get to these someday” stack of books.
Before I knew it, however, I was 67 pages into this gem of a volume, published earlier this year, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. In this interesting, edifying and eminently readable compilation, Bishop Hying, bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, since 2019, captures the essence of the Catholic faith in a bite-size, yet spiritually rich, manner. Each of the more than 50 sections, adapted mostly from past writings and driven by topic, is familiar — marriage, Catholic social teaching, evangelization — but Bishop Hying, with his personable and clear style, brings a welcome freshness to the content.
The book is split into three sections: the first, on the sacramental and personal nature of God’s love; the second, on how God’s love is revealed through service; and the third, how God’s love is found in the liturgical year. He captivates from the very beginning with an essay that addresses the question: Is it harder to love God or to allow one’s self to be loved by God?
“At [one] time, I thought it’s harder to love God because of all the effort it takes to be holy, prayerful, virtuous, and focused,” he writes. “As the years of my life have flown by, however, I now think it is harder to be loved by God. To let God love me demands a surrender, a docility, and a humility. It also means that I am challenged to see myself as loveable — no easy feat.”
From this foundation, Bishop Hying explores all the many ways that God loves us and what our response to that love should be. He takes us through the sacraments, into the heart of the saints, and through significant moments in the Church’s calendar. He explores what it means to be Catholic in the world today, interweaving his own personal experiences of places visited and people encountered. The essays are thought-provoking, they are encouraging, and they never fail to point to Christ.
Each section — on average approximately 800 words or so — is like engaging in a miniature act of contemplation. They stand alone, making the book easy to put down and pick up again each morning or night. It would also make an excellent companion at Eucharistic adoration.
A particularly eloquent and foundational passage on human dignity exemplifies Bishop Hying’s pastoral approach.
“As followers of Jesus crucified and risen, we embrace the Gospel that offers the fullness of salvation, joy, meaning, justice, and mercy, not only in the next life, but right here and right now,” he writes. “The tenor of our times demands that we make a fundamental choice over and over again: the decision to love for God, to embrace our own dignity as a daughter or son of the Father, to act consciously to lift up those around us, to embrace virtue, prayer, good works, and love as the very meaning of our existence. Despite some great strides in human rights, respect, and dignity, we cannot remain morally neutral in a world that still remains way too mired in racism, poverty, violence, ignorance of God, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the glory and vocation of the human person.”
Bishop Hying’s “Love Never Fails” is a window into his heart, the heart of the Church and the heart of Christ. Pick it up today.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.