Greetings and welcome to
A Catholic in Cleveland, a blog that will explore things having to do with being Catholic in America today as well as some of the larger (and smaller) questions of being human. For me personally this means being middle-aged; fearlessly married with adult kids and grandchildren; without a “job” but with too much to do; passionate about loving others yet still over-inhabiting my own ego space; worried about money, health, my family, my friends and my tomato plants.
I’m a “cradle Catholic” (with apologies to my friend Richard, who despises that term!) with 16 years of Catholic education behind me. Although I remember being drilled in the Baltimore Catechism, my formal religious training was far more influenced by the heady days of Vatican II reform – the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Still, I can only go so far as to call myself a “Vatican II hybrid,” because despite what I was learning in religion class, the rest of my culture continued to control me with stories of a God up in the sky who kept a big checklist of my failings and who also could seem to spy inside my head. It was ubiquitous. It was how things were seen. . . .
Today, this is my vantage point. I stand with one foot planted firmly in tradition with a capital “T”. I love the smell of old churches, light filtering through stained glass, booming organs and glorious choirs. I love bells and acolytes and candles and incense. Smells and bells. It all speaks to me.
But somewhere along the line I gave up the watching-for-me-to-screw-up-so-He-could punish-me-God and stepped with the other foot into the great big I-don’t-know of actually finding God for myself. I learned that God has as many faces as there are people to see them – and then some. The God of my childhood was only one face. What we see as God’s face tends to be our own faces reflecting back at us. When a culture is submissive and fearful, they see God as dominating and punishing. That’s a face that stays with me in a small place in my mind – but it has less and less effect on who I am and how I relate to the world as I come to better know the faceless God whose human face is the face of Jesus, reflected in each and every face of the body of Christ.
In the oft-quoted words of writer Paula D’Arcy, “God comes to us disguised as our lives.”
There’s something very catholic (both small and large “Cs”) about that. Come with me as I look for that presence in the days and weeks to come!