To be sure, it’s a question I’ve often been asked, especially lately, by friends – nonbelievers, former Catholics, protestants. I know some who resolve the question by being able to claim a Cultural Catholicism: it’s in their DNA, it’s the way they grew up, so even though they can’t attend Mass or receive the sacraments, they still find that they can’t simply shake it (RC-ism) off. They can’t not be Catholic.
However, as some of my children (you know who you are) used to say about my attempts to serve things like plain yogurt popsicles or cooked-to-dryness pork chops, That doesn’t work for me.
Recently, two pieces of news: charges brought by my hero, the Ramsey County attorney general, against my archdiocese. At last! And now, the pope has approved the creation of a Vatican tribunal “for judging bishops accused of covering up or failing to act” in cases of clerical abuse. Every news article singles out the archbishop who lives up the street here, so naturally I’ve joined the multitude crowing and posting giddy status updates on Facebook. Still, that doesn’t work for me, so I’m looking beyond the news – beyond Facebook, even.
With the warmer weather, I’ve been taking a morning or afternoon walk, and as usual end up on the south side of my neighborhood church. I’ve been taking grandkids here for a couple years, and so we have a routine — more about that in minute.
This view, this photo, brought me back to Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, specifically to his chapter on the Renaissance, in which he writes of the decadence and the wonder of the Renaissance. True, Clark’s text is dated (he talks of Man, and he writes of only male Renaissance artists). Yet, he gets many things right, especially the part about beauty rising out of decadence. That almost works for me.
Last week, my oldest and dearest friend told me she’d wondered this same question aloud – why stay Catholic – to her spiritual director, a priest who personally knows more than he might wish to know about the vagaries and pitfalls of ecclesial politics. His response to her? The reminder that her archbishop “is not the Catholic Church.” It works for me.
As for the cathedral and kids: It’s a great place, with ledges to walk, stairs to run, and railings to shimmy– all that, outside. Inside, on a quiet weekday, it’s always still, and in small doses, perfect for an active little boy to slow down and wander. True, a few times I’ve had to stare down tourguides, but not often, and as I do, my prayer just goes something like this: All Are Welcome, REMEMBER?? Or should be and must be and will be.
(click photos to enlarge)
For Uncle Matt
(“I know who this is — it’s Santa Claus.”)
As for the future of Roman Catholicism? Following the Pew Research Results showing millenials leaving in droves, Notre Dame’s Christian Smith argues that, despite the New Evangelization, his research proves that the situation really is grim among young people (is there no middle ground, between Crushed Ice and Wine?).