I’m often told I’m not “really Catholic.” Sometimes, to avoid the seemingly inevitable 2-hour impromptu theology lecture, I avoid the label myself.
This is most often caused by the sad truth that “my” Catholicism is not the mainstream, the stereotype, or the scandal. It is not the voice most often, or ever, heard on the nightly news. That’s why I was so surprised when I came across an article I could’ve easily written.
Even-handed, thoughtful and realistic, Jason Steidl outlines his basic defense of the Jesuit university model. Recently, Georgetown, Steidl’s alma mater, was accused of being “not Catholic” and a petition was formed to attempt to force the Vatican to address its standing.
Yet Steidl states:
At Georgetown, my friendships with other students, the challenges of critical coursework, and the open-minded atmosphere on campus challenged my uncritical assumptions about the nature of truth and life with others in a pluralistic world. It was this process of spiritual, intellectual, and social questioning that first led me to a dialogue with, and then embrace of, the Roman Catholic Church.
Man, are you in my brain? Never before I landed at Santa Clara University in 2003 had my mind been so challenged, fulfilled, broken and re-healed in one spot. Never before had I met people who really, truly “walked the walk” of Christian faith, dialogue, struggle, social justice and love.
Without my four years at SCU, I cannot imagine the woman I would’ve become. I would not know the value of standing with someone, regardless of background, creed or origin.
Seeing, valuing and being in solidarity with their human dignity.
Listening, hearing and acting in a way that empowers all of us.
The model of the church I believe in is reflected in myself on my best days – its grace even more so on the days I fail. I return because I am inspired and emboldened by institutions, congregations and people who are striving and also at times failing.
The church, Georgetown showed me, is not an exclusive society of like-minded individuals closed in on itself. It does not retreat into a world of its own making, but rather engages humanity through conversation with diverse cultures and current concerns.
It is far from perfect, but we return together and reach toward the example of “contemplatives in action.”