Sunday, March 14, 2010
What's It Mean to Be Catholic in America?
I was recently interviewed about this blog by former SF Chronicle writer John Wildermuth. I was thrilled that the title of the article included the question, What does it mean to be Catholic in America? It is one that I hold for myself and that I present to my Seniors with total sincerity. To me, answers like “Catholic guilt,” "not eating meat on Fridays during Lent" and "being one of eight children" are dated and short-sighted. I hope that my students’ answers are much deeper than these and/or simply “Christmas and Easter.” I hope they recognize that they are called to bear witness to the challenge of the Gospel—to be selfless, loving and forgiving and to bring comfort to the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. If they add wearing a basketball jersey that reads the name of a school like “Most Precious Blood” or ashes on their forehead once a year, well that’s fine too.
My question has been a pressing one in the Jewish community for some time. In her book Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish, journalist Abigail Pogrebin interviewed over 60 people to unpack the complexities of Jewish identity and the emotions they engender. For Jews in America, being Jewish is a primary component of one’s identity, even among those who are not practicing. I wonder to what degree is this true for Catholics? Catholic San Francisco’s article reveals my personal answer to that question, but I am curious to know more. Tolstoy once said, “Certain questions are put to us not so much that we should answer them but that we should spend a lifetime wrestling with them.” This is one I am willing to wrestle with; it is one however that I hope to find life-giving answers to.
Better version of the article is available on page 17 NB: I love the photo that SI's Director of Communications, Paul Totah chose for this article. It features one of the Wildcats' most talented and grace-filled runners on the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park, our home course. Rachel also happens to be my student; getting to know your students as athletes and your athletes as students is a true gift!