We Catholics had much big-time TV exposure this week. First came the “Late Show” debut of comedian-turned-talk-host Stephen Colbert, who calls himself the “pope of cable TV.” Then, on Colbert’s show Thursday, came the appearance of Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau, 46, to brain cancer in May. As a young man, Biden also lost both his wife and baby daughter in a car crash.
Calling Biden “a man of deep faith,” Colbert asked how faith has helped him in these tragedies.
Biden said that shortly after Beau died, his wife Jill taped on his shaving mirror a quote from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: “Faith sees best in the dark.”
Then Biden said, “For me, my religion is just an enormous sense of solace. Some of it relates to rituals; some of it relates to just comfort, what you’ve done your whole life. I go to Mass and I’m able to be just alone even in a crowd.
“I say the rosary. I find it to be incredibly comforting. And so what my faith has done is take everything about my life with my parents and my siblings and all the comforting things and all the good things that have happened around the culture of my religion and the theology of my religion.
“I don’t know how to explain it more than that,” he said. “It’s just the place you can go.”
Biden did then what he did repeatedly in the interview: emphasize that he has suffered no more than many Americans, though few, in fact, have buried both a young wife and two children. He also called himself luckier than most because of the terrific support around him.
“A lot of you have been through this,” he said, including Colbert, who lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash. “And by the way, the faith doesn’t always stick with you. Sometimes it leaves me. I don’t want to come off as…”
“Pious or a holy Joe,” interjected Colbert, who then asked Biden if he had any advice to others in suffering.
Again, Biden did then what he did repeatedly in the interview: recall a saying of his mother or father. This time he quoted his mother, who used to say, “As long as you are alive, you have an obligation to strive. And you’re not dead till you see the face of God.”
That means that no matter what happens in life, “you’ve got to get up,” he said. “Just get back up.”