US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Thoughts from a "thrilled Catholic"

Cathy OConnell-Cahill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Award-winning U.S. Catholic poet and author Brian Doyle talks about his new book, Mink River (Oregon State), with Mary Faith Bell of the Headlight Herald of Tillamook, Oregon:

 Q: You are the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, Oregon's Catholic university, and much of your work has to do with Catholicism and spiritual search. Do you mind if I ask what role does the Catholic Church play in your life?

A: I am what you might call a thrilled Catholic - a guy absorbed by the human genius of the faith, not the corporate foolishness and cruelty of it. In the final analysis, I think, Catholicism is about attentiveness, about being alert to and celebrating the daily miracle, about witnessing and trying for grace, about being amazed by the holiness of what is alive. The world is stuffed with holiness wedded to great pain; being Catholic grounds me in attentiveness, makes my antennae sharper for the difficult joys of commitment, forces me to remember I am small and the divine gifts are beyond measure.

It's a complex church to be in, sure - people ask me how can I belong to a church in which thousands of children were abused? I suppose part of my answer would be how can I leave, when any effort I can make as a Catholic could fight that, stop that, protect and celebrate the miracle of children? It's easy to quit things, but harder and often deeper to stay with the boat in a storm, seems to me. As my sister, a Buddhist nun, says, spirituality is the ocean, and religions are boats. Catholicism is my boat on that vast and crucial sea. And like many Catholics I am the first to shout that life is stuffed with sacramental moments; they don't just happen in church, of course. Mink River, I hope, is stuffed with sacramental moments.

That's really what the book's about: thorny grace, shaggy grace, grace under duress. That's the great story of all of us, holding hands together against the dark. I suppose that's what the book wanted to be about more than anything.

Read the whole interview here. If you only read, you may not be familiar with Doyle, whose work appears regularly in the print version.  Here's an essay of Doyle's that appeared recently at our site, about his first day of work as an editor at U.S. Catholic in the late 1970s.