Lift Up Your Hearts, by Douglas W. Kmiec. Embassy International Press (2012). 564 pp., $19.95.Douglas W. Kmiec, author of the new book, “Lift Up Your Hearts,” is a famous constitutional scholar, former dean of The Catholic University of America law school, chaired professor at Pepperdine law school, noted author, noted public speaker, and former U.S. ambassador to Malta. And yet, with all of his considerable accomplishments, I am sure that Kmiec would trade all of them to get back one minute of his life, 1:37 p.m. on August 25, 2010. That was when a car that Kmiec was driving along a California canyon road tumbled down a hill, doing him serious injury, immediately killing his dear friend, Sister of St. Louis Mary Campbell, and causing injuries to his beloved mentor and friend, Msgr. John Sheridan, that would result in the monsignor’s death three weeks later.Alas, the Lord does not allow us to make such bargains. We don’t get those loved ones back. All we can do is hold them in our hearts and go on with the life that is left to us to live. “Lift Up Your Hearts” — proclaimed with gusto by Msgr. Sheridan during the Eucharistic Prayer — is Kmiec’s attempt to do that, and generous man that he is, he has chosen to share that experience with us.That is not to say that Sister Mary and Msgr. John are not very much alive in this book. They are fully alive in Kmiec’s reminiscences, his stories about them, his recounted conversations with them, the life lessons that he learned from them. But before he gets to that, he begins, Job-like, questioning the Lord’s ways. Why did his friends have to die from an accident that he feels responsible for? What was God thinking?This part of the book is compelling because we have all had those internal conversations with our God. Why can’t our faith defend us against evil? Why do good people suffer? Kmiec — a parishioner at Our Lady of Malibu Church, where Msgr. Sheridan was pastor and pastor emeritus — finds his answer in Msgr. John’s “Theology of Kindness,” a theology that he cites often in the book.We can understand suffering only in terms of genuine love, the monsignor wrote, and true love is the gift of self. If we can conceive of life as a continuous giving of self, we are on the way to understanding suffering as the moral adventure of love, an adventure culminating in God’s accepting us and uniting us to himself after the final pangs of death in our final act of self-giving.“Lift Up Your Hearts” also deals with Kmiec’s experience as the U.S. Ambassador to Malta. Malta is heavily Catholic, but it has Arab roots, and during Kmiec’s tenure, became the refugee point for Muslims fleeing the violence in Libya. It was the perfect place to carry out an inter-faith diplomacy, as Kmiec was charged to do by President Obama. Unfortunately, the denizens of Foggy Bottom saw it otherwise, and came down on Kmiec, in an evaluation that was publicly leaked, for putting too much faith into his job. Principled man that he is, Kmiec tendered his resignation.There is a wisp of sadness in the book, that the President did not rally to his support, but, having grown up in a political family in Chicago, Kmiec also understands that “politics ain’t bean bag,” as Chicago’s Mr. Dooley famously said, and sometimes those we respect in politics make decisions that we don’t understand for reasons that we don’t understand. Which is why, as this book makes abundantly clear, neither politics nor politicians nor anything in this world is the object of our faith. Only the Lord is that, the Lord that Kmiec came to know better and more truly through his friendship with Sister Mary and Msgr. John. There are few, if any, recent books out there right now that can compare with the journey of faith depicted in “Lift Up Your Hearts.” It is a journey worth traveling along, with Doug and Mary and John.Nicholas P. Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquense University, is a civil and canon lawyer and was an original member of the U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth, serving as chair in 2004-05. He is the co-author with Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit of “Church Property, Church Finances and Church Related Corporations,” and is the author of “Before Dallas” (Paulist Press, 2008), a history of the child sexual abuse crisis in the American church. All profits from “Lift Up Your Hearts” are donated to Our Lady of Malibu Church, the Sisters of St. Louis and Louisville High School. It may be purchased from Createspace ( HYPERLINK "https://www.createspace.com/3802103" https://www.createspace.com/3802103) or Amazon.com.