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Cardinal Dolan: Marriage and the "Law of the Gift"

Speaking at the commencement ceremony of the Catholic University of America this past Saturday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan encouraged the graduates to live what he called “the Law of the Gift.” As defined by the Son of God, the Cardinal explained, the Law of the Gift means laying down one’s life for one’s friends. And as described by Bl. John Paul II, the law of the gift means that “we are at our best, we are most fully alive and human, when we give away freely and sacrificially our very selves in love for another.”

Cardinal Dolan listed a few examples of what the Law of the Gift looks like in action: a grandmother in New York who was killed by a car after pushing her grandson to safety; Marines who put their life on the line for their country; and pediatric oncologists who care for suffering children day in and day out.

Then, directing his attention to the graduates, the Cardinal highlighted the inner connection between the Law of the Gift and marriage:

“Now, one final thing: You all had a head-start in the learning the Law of the Gift and the importance of faith to sustain it.

For, see, the Law of the Gift is most poetically exemplified in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, intimate union of a man and woman in marriage, which then leads to the procreation of new life in babies, so that husband and wife, now father and mother, spend their lives sacrificially loving and giving to those children. That union – that sacred rhythm of man/woman/husband/wife/baby/mother/father – is so essential to the order of the common good that its very definition is ingrained into our interior dictionary, that its protection and flourishing is the aim of enlightened culture.

“And your tutelage in the Law of the Gift, class of 2012, was only refined at this Catholic University, for it began in the most sublime classroom of them all, your home and family, under the most significant of all professors, your mom and dad. Congratulations, parents of our graduates!” (emphasis added)

Read Cardinal Dolan’s entire commencement speech here.

Watch Cardinal Dolan’s speech here.

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