WINNER, SECOND PLACE, 2o22 CATHOLIC BOOK AWARDS
From Popes to television personalities to high school students, everyone who encountered Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete knew there was no one like him. He could engage you with a joke about a New Yorker cartoon, move on to a keen commentary on the state of the culture, and finish off with a meditation on the Gospel of John. In his talks and essays, Albacete made profound theological and philosophical insights accessible without ever losing their depth and breadth.
But with the exception of a single book published in his lifetime, much of Albacete’s wisdom has been scattered and hard to find. The Relevance of the Stars fills this vacuum. With his characteristic wit and ease, Albacete engages the thorniest questions—the relation of faith and reason, the problem of modernity, the possibility of a Christian culture—as they play out in science and politics, money and love, law and finance. He speaks to families, youth, and his friends in the media.
The New Yorker cartoons feature here, of course, alongside Dostoevsky, Flannery O’Connor, and Elie Wiesel. Albacete masterfully engages the thought of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Father Luigi Giussani, the founder of the international lay movement Communion and Liberation, whose passion for the infinite Albacete made his own.
What is the right adjective for Lorenzo Albacete’s generosity of spirit, daringness of intellect, breadth of learning, and largeness of heart? Could it be…catholic?
Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor and staff writer at The New Yorker
I once said that Lorenzo Albacete’s journey was like the road to Emmaus: where Christ the stranger becomes Christ the friend and liberator. The Relevance of the Stars makes the map of that itinerary available to all of us. Among other things, it shows us how to avoid the dead ends of modernity—especially dualism and moralism—and points the way toward what we most desire: to know oneself loved by the one who walks beside us. This powerful book speaks equally to mind and heart.
Seán Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston
The golden thread that unites all of these remarkable essays is Albacete’s pursuit of the ultimate question: What is the religious sense? For him, it is not to be found in an idea or in a dogma, but in an encounter with a person. The religious sense is rooted in our thirst for beauty, for truth, and for justice. It is experienced by all of us in our desire for More.
Helen Whitney, Producer/Director of documentaries for PBS
St. John Paul II told us of the need for an evangelization new, not in its message, but in its “ardor, methods, and expression.” No one understood this better than the late Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete. The essays presented here are brilliant, insightful, and inspiring examples from a life changed in the mystery of the encounter with Jesus Christ and communicated by one of the most unique Christian thinkers of our time. Here is the remarkable testimonial of a remarkable Christian from which we all may benefit.
Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus
Here, in this book by the only physicist I know who was also a monsignor, is the balm we all need to help us handle our fears and our anger in these difficult days. Lorenzo Albacete’s unique capacity to bring love and caring to the front of any topic shines forth—his readers will quickly recognize how much they needed to hear this voice.
Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
This is a provocative book, incarnated in reality. Albacete demonstrates an extraordinary depth of judgment concerning American history. His understanding of the meaning of personhood and community carries conviction because it is always grounded in his own experience.
Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan
Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete had a tremendous impact on my life. Once at a religious rally in New York City, two people approached and inquired, ‘Is this a protest?’ Albacete exuberantly replied, ‘Yes!’ They asked, ‘What are you protesting?’ Monsignor responded, ‘Dualism!’ As the people hurried to get away, Albacete shouted after them, ‘Don’t go! The dualists will get you!’ It is just such inimitable wisdom, faith, genius, and humor that fills this beautiful, indispensable book.
Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., founding editor-in-chief of Magnificat