My alma mater, Purdue University, has carved out a unique way to honor our nation before home football games. If you’re a Boliermaker, then I don’t need to explain. For the uninitiated, here’s the drill.
A proud tradition of Ross-Ade Stadium pregame ceremonies is the reading of this tribute to freedom by Roy Johnson, voice of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band.
“I am an American. That’s the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully I AM AN AMERICAN!”
Every time I hear Roy’s booming voice and the crowd proudly shouting along with him on those last four words, I am reminded about what a terrific place this is that I call home and the amazing people who died so that I could be free.
Yes, it’s true that now and then over the years we find the voters have chosen a rummy to represent us or run the big show in DC. I am not proud of my fellow Americans who swindle millions of dollars from one another or worse yet who commit heinous crimes that simply cannot be defended. There are people who hate us everywhere on this globe, and many of them have valid gripes. Still, my home is this imperfect and wonderful place where we watch bottle rockets shoot into the sky off piers over the lake every July 4 while we listen to Lee Greenwood sing “God Bless the USA”. The stars and stripes are always going to be home to me. I will spare you the list I have compiled about what makes the country great from my spot here in Indiana. You surely have your own top 10 anyway.
Occasionally, when I am particularly aggravated by the way things are going in the US of A, though, I think about where might I move if I were going to get out of “Dodge.” I could definitely become Canadian. I mean, Canada is close and the people are nice, eh? I like Tim Horton’s and I could get used to gravy with my fries. Let’s be honest, though….they are better with Heinz 57 slathered all over them and it’s darn cold up there. I AM AN AMERICAN. Here is where I belong.
It’s very much the same thing for me faith wise. I am Roman Catholic. My church is home. None other will do.
This week I received an angry reply to a blog post. That is a generous description on my part, if I am candid. I will not include it here because the tone was so acerbic and the content inappropriate, but much of the frustration was squarely aimed at Pope Francis and anyone who might support him. However, the reader rightly noted that the Catholic Church has made some grave mistakes and worse yet committed heinous crimes that cannot be defended. There are people who hate us everywhere on this globe, and many of them have valid gripes. Still, my home is this imperfect and wonderful place called Catholicism.
Every time I re-read the angry note I received, it reminds me of Pilate and the crowd yelling “crucify Him” to the most innocent person imaginable. I am reminded about what a terrific place this is that I call home, all because of one amazing man who faced that crowd in obedience, who died so that I could be free.
For those of you familiar with Catholic convert Dorothy Day, she said “The Church is at times a spotless bride of Christ and at other times she is the whore of Babylon, but we love her to death because she is Christ and she has the words of everlasting life.”
I would argue one simply cannot separate Christ from His Church. They are one in the same if you believe, as I do, that Jesus is alive.
Perhaps when I decide to become Canadian, I will do as my youngest once suggested he might do and convert to Judaism. After all, as my wise youngest son has pointed out, “Those are good people Mom. Jesus was Jewish.”.
Naaa. It just isn’t for me.
So, even though I have heard it said that the Church is always God hung between two thieves, she is my home. To whom would I go, if not to Jesus? No other church will do.
I AM AN AMERICAN.
I AM A CATHOLIC.
Home IS where your heart is.