Friday, January 25, 2008

A "real" Catholic

I'm grateful to RJ for checking in via email, surmising correctly that I've been a bit swamped but still hoping to read how I'd define a "real" Catholic. This morning I say the heck with billable work! Let the cats chow down dry food!! It's time to reveal what I mean by being a "real" Catholic.

While I've added a humor label to this post, I am not entirely kidding as I zoom in on cultural identity. Remember, please, that I always view my Catholicism through the lens of Judaism. This means I do not limit Catholicism to a religious identity, although our religion and faith practices inform any cultural identity we may have. To this point, I recommend reading (or rereading) Andrew Greeley's book, The Catholic Imagination.

Jews use the term Yiddishkeit for a way of being and doing that is most definitely Jewish without being religious. My own cultural identity as a Jew remains quite intact. I'll take on in the kitchen any other Jew who says otherwise. Choose your weapon: brisket? lokshen kugel? cholent? gehakte leber? Great, now I'm not only defensive but hungry.

Catholics, especially those of a certain age, also have a sense of cultural identity that simultaneously includes and supersedes religion. Catholics who, for example, break out in giggles or groans at the mere mention of plaid jumpers.

Years after I'd passed through the formal period of Mystagogia, I discovered that I was becoming a real Catholic. I realized this the first time I exited church immediately after receiving Holy Communion. Last autumn, my Catholic identity was affirmed by a cradle Catholic friend, one who has won awards for her faithful, generous service to the Church. Here's our exchange:

"I'm a real Catholic now. Guess what I did while a video was shown yesterday in lieu of the homily?"

"You reorganized your purse?"

"Nope. I whipped out a copy of America magazine and read it until the Mass got back on track."

Her laugh was an embrace. Am I a "real" Catholic? I believe so.

2 comments:

  1. I just found your blog, a real treat for me. :)

    "The most dangerous place in the world is the parking lot of a Catholic Church after communion."

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  2. Welcome! How'd you find my blog? Your comment is right on. Years ago I published a humor essay in the now-defunct magazine, "Clarity," about bad behavior in church parking lots. You're absolutely right. The close should be: Go forth to love and serve the Lord and try not to run one another down."

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