I’ve pretty much wrapped up my commentary on President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement address here. So now what do we talk about?
The crux of the Notre Dame issue is Catholic identity. What does it mean to be a Catholic institution? What does it mean to be a Catholic community? What does it mean to be a Catholic family? What does it mean to be a Catholic individual?
Catholic identity is so much more than a designation of my pew location on Sunday morning. My Catholic identity puts this earthly life in perspective. My worldly years are just a snippet of my eternal existence. Because of the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary is not just an historical event. It is truly present to me at every Mass. The Communion of Saints connects me to the universal Church across the continuum of time. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ on the rock of Peter. It is protected by the Holy Spirit from error in matters of faith and morals. The certainty of Divine Authority provides peace in the uncertainty of a fallen world.
Last night I concluded another year of teaching seventh-grade CCD. As my students head into summer and anticipate their Confirmation this coming fall, I hope I have imparted to them at least an inkling of how to answer the above questions. Once again I come away with a sense of almost resignation. I did my best. Now I pray. Now I trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
UPDATE: After I posted this I read the words of Francis Cardinal Arinze. He understands Catholic identity!