Our Diocese of Orange is excited to welcome author, editor and theologian, Michael R. Heinlein, who will discuss his new book, “Glorifying Christ: The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I.”
Heinlein, who is also the long-time editor of Our Sunday Visitor’s Simply Catholic, will share the fascinating life story of Cardinal George, a true disciple of Christ.
The event takes place on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Freed Theater on the Christ Cathedral campus. A reception starts at 6 p.m., followed by the book talk at 6:30 p.m. The event concludes with an audience Q&A and book signing.
Registration is $10. There will also be a raffle for two free books.
Register by visiting https://Cardinal_Francis.eventbrite.com
In anticipation of this special event, Mr. Heinlein took the time to answer questions from OC Catholic, and share his thoughts on Cardinal George and his lasting legacy.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK AND SPEAK A BIT ON ITS TITLE – “GLORIFYING CHRIST.”
The title should describe each of our lives. One of the dismissals at Mass is “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” In all that we say, think and do we are called to give Christ glory. This was definitely Cardinal George’s aim. He overcame many obstacles in order to give his life to Christ and the Church as a priest, then later as a bishop. But through it all was his desire to glorifying his Lord. His motto as a bishop sums this up: “To Christ be glory in the Church,” which is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians (3:21).
WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS STORY?
I remember George’s appointment to Chicago in the spring of 1997. I was 11, so while not very dialed-in to its meaning, I remember his charisma, humor — and what I came later to know as authenticity. Growing up in the shadow of Chicago, I would see Cardinal George regularly in the media, and later was more interested in his thought, his clarity in teaching, and his obvious discipleship. In college, I was drawn to his biweekly columns in the Chicago archdiocesan newspaper, which always had something original, something to deepen my own faith and give compelling reasons for what I believed.
DID ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU ABOUT CARDINAL GEORGE FRANCIS AS YOU WERE RESEARCHING/ WRITING THE BOOK?
I’m not sure that anything surprised me so much. I guess it was quite enlightening, yet fitting, to see how much he suffered while serving as archbishop of Chicago. But that certainly illustrates and underscores a certain holiness that many have identified. I have to say that it was a gift to see what a man of integrity and authenticity he was, that he always put God and others first, that he prioritized Christ above all else. One simple thing is that I was continually surprised by grace in his life, how his fascinating and inspiring story can be a reminder that God’s ways are always better than our own.
WHAT CAN READERS HOPE TO LEARN NOT ONLY ABOUT THE CARDINAL BUT ABOUT THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAITH?
Cardinal George was a disciple. He taught who Christ is, patterned his life on him, and brought him to others. He desired that we give God glory through our discipleship, our worship, and our witness. His own life and his ministry have much to teach anyone who wants to grow in authentic discipleship. Amid the many struggles he faced, Cardinal George was a man of perseverance. He kept moving forward, no matter the roadblock he happened upon, because he knew God was alive and active. He had great courage as a leader to speak the truth no matter the cost.
WHAT IS CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE’S LEGACY?
I believe with all my heart that Cardinal George was a good bishop and a good man. His own longtime confessor confided to me: “He was a saint.” Aside from his personal witness of holiness and virtue, Cardinal George is also remembered widely as a prophetic voice for the Church. Cardinal George had long attracted me with his wisdom, clarity, eloquence, orthodoxy, and objectivity. As a leader, when he spoke, others listened. He proclaimed the truth, unifying the Church in Christ. Cardinal George proved to be a pivotal player in Church affairs nationally and internationally. He governed during difficult and challenging times. A man of pastoral availability, Cardinal George poured out his life in service to Christ and the Church, always attentive to the poor and those on the margins. Universally admired for his pursuit and proclamation of the truth, and his personal witness to the Gospel, Cardinal George remains a model for discipleship and leadership. By the time of his death in 2015, Cardinal George was regarded as one of the most respected bishops in American Catholic history. We live in a time in which the Church is divided, and our mission is stymied because we find ourselves paralyzed from that division. Even the writing of this book manifested various difficulties that prove the truth of that unfortunate reality. George’s way of articulating how we needed to move past the divisions — how we needed to be shaped by “simply Catholicism” and not get caught up in these weaponizing realities — is needed now just as much as when he was with us. In days when we look for authentic leadership in the Church, he gives an example of what it looks like: someone who can clearly articulate the Faith, who is committed to reform, who is honest and accountable, who is genuine and authentic, who is holy. And an honest accounting of Cardinal George’s life shows that these were his aims.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of OSV’s SimplyCatholic.com and a regular contributor to OSV’s periodicals. He earned a degree in theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is author of “The Handy Little Guide to Spiritual Communion (OSV),” “Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood (OSV),” and the “Teeny Tiny Theology” children’s series (OSV). He finds great inspiration in the lives of the saints and the spirituality of the Pauline Family, and often is found using whatever spare time he has for genealogical research. His greatest treasures are his Catholic Faith and his family. He is married to Gretchen, with whom he has three children.