04 July, 2015

To Be American* (*or insert nationality here) or To Be Catholic -- Which Comes First? - Aleteia

The best exploration of this question that I've read was Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus's American Babylon. It was the last book he published prior to his death and consists of his reflections on the relationship between his citizenships in both the American and Christian 'kingdoms' (the best part of the book) and a long jeremiad levelled against Richard Rorty (not RJN's best by a long-shot). I look forwarding to reading it again in the week to come - the first of my summer vacation breaks at my cottage. It will be my personal sanctuary within which to hide as I'll be sharing the place with the family of a former neighbouring pastor whose friendship I encountered as we both served in the Mattawa area. My property and cottage are small and Phil and Amanda will be bringing their four young daughters and one foster daughter with them - so I cope by taking some time each day to sit alone under a tree or in a local bakery sipping coffee, reading in peace, and revelling in the quiet of the moment. 

Don't get me wrong. I love children. Visits like this week's brings joy and laughter into my life, true gifts at any time but all the more so aside a beach and river during the summer season. But I've been a bachelor my entire adult life and find the chaos of some many competing voices and demands for attention to be quiet tiring. Such experiences renews in me the amazement I possess whenever I see such excellent parents as my friends cope with such demands so successfully each and every day. Raising children (imho) is FAR HARDER and DEMANDING a life than the one I live as a priest. I think that many of the worthwhile conclusions RJN reaches in his last book were afforded him because he lived the privileged existence that comes to we Catholic clergy. He'd have never had the time (let alone the energy and capacities) to think out all his arguments and then write them down in a book if he had had a handful of kids to care for each day. I know I wouldn't have been up to the challenge!!

To Be American or To Be Catholic -- Which Comes First? - Aleteia

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