Friday, March 7, 2008
Catholics in Chicago
It is not normal for poets- especially those who consider themselves "experimental" to be Roman Catholic. The fact is however that I am both a Roman Catholic and an Experimental Poet. I frankly agree with Mozart- I could never leave the Church and not be able to recieve the Eucharist in Chartre Cathedral.
Having said that my Church has done in recent years everything in its power to hurt our Catholic community. The Church's position on Women and Gays I totally reject- the Churches complicity in Child Sexual Abuse is vile and frankly it is an insult to all the Catholics in America.
With the recent death of William F Buckley- late conservative guru and Catholic- I have been thinking about my Church. Catholicism has always been a broad faith. Both St Francis (of the Flowers) and St Dominic (of the Inquisition) were active in the Church at the same time. Catholics today range from William F Buckley and Pat Buchanan to EJ Dionne and Garry Wills- a Church that can have given birth to Opus Dei and Liberation Theology at the same time is truly where I want to be.
At the Chicago History Museum they are doing an exhibit on the Catholics of Chicago. Chicago is in many ways America's most Catholic city. Until recently Catholicism really permiated our town and over half the people in the City were Catholics. Our ancestors gave us great hospitals, Universities and schools and that history- often ignored by many in America- is worth experiencing again.
In a time when women had no rights or professions- Catholic Nuns were presidents of Universities and presidents of Hospitals- in a time when most Catholic could not enter Marshall Fields department store because we were "not the right sort" we built magnificent Churches that still today awe people in Chicago. We have a right to be proud of our heritage- as Flannery O'Conner said once "all my stories begin with Catholicism and stories I heard as a young girl about my history"
It is the connection to the past and the future that makes Catholicism my home. What I like about Catholicism is the same thing I love about baseball- tradition, ritual, miracles, and shared common experience. I attended Mass once in Hong Kong with a room full of Filipina maids- all in white, I have attended Mass in the Andes, in Rome and in Istanbul and the Eucharist bound us together. This connection cannot be found many places.
Normally when I deal with poets they are neo-Buddhists or 'non religious' or simply self absorbed but I have chosen to remain in my family and to dissent. It is Lent now and shortly it will be Easter and when I attend the Easter Vigil and they with the fire will sing the first Alleluya of the year that connection will be made clear. A connection to Mozart, Francis, Borgia Popes and Fra Angelico.
Posted by Raymond Bianchi at 7:54 AM