Jo O’Sullivan on Katie Taylor
As a person who tends to be somewhat bemused by the hysteria caused by sporting events, I find myself incredibly moved by Katie Taylor’s Olympic success.
I don’t mean to be dismissive in any way about the national euphoria or despair that seems to be felt in the wake of Irish success or failure in such events, I just don’t feel it personally. At the risk of being lynched, it’s only sport – it’s only other people’s success or failure – why do so many people take it PERSONALLY?
I watch such events with a desire for our national representatives to succeed, but not because I feel I have any right to share in their success – but because I know what it means to my nearest and dearest – as well as to what appears to be the whole of the nation around me.
So, today, I am more than happy to feel the uplift of spirit that Katie’s success has given us.
But my reasons for feeling uplifted so much might be rather different than those of a lot of others.
I feel such an enormous pride in a girl whose first thought after such a victory is to give praise to her Creator. In an era when it’s almost a cause for shame to admit a belief in a loving, divine Creator, it was truly wonderful to witness a girl, having achieved the pinnacle of success, humbly giving thanks to God. I feel pride and also a certain sense of regret. The regret is that I knew immediately Katie spoke that she didn’t adhere to Roman Catholicism – Catholics don’t praise God so publicly!
And Irish Catholics certainly don’t!
Like so many Catholics here in our wee island these days, I’ve become almost schizophrenic about my particular Christian Tradition. I want to be proud of being Catholic, but I’m truly ashamed of parts of my church. I see myself as part of the struggle to continue practicing Catholicism while challenging those teachings and structures I simply cannot accept any more.
I read everything that appears on the ACP website and struggle to discern where exactly I stand in the midst of it all. I read articles written by people who have played a much more proactive part in studying their faith than I ever have. I read pieces written by those who are certain that the current hierarchical structures and some of the teachings of the Magisterium of the church are totally contrary to what was begun by Vatican 2. And I also read the pieces written by those with equal certainty that the Magisterium is the only valid teaching authority within our church and anyone who disagrees has lost the right to call him/herself Catholic.
I note that all the writers, on each side, can quote Canon Law, Scripture, teachings of Saints and Councils etc. etc. to illustrate the validity of their particular argument.
So I have had to come to the conclusion that becoming a student of Catholicism will not lead me to the ‘full truth’. It would all depend on whom I chose as my teachers! No matter how much I desire to know ‘the right truth’, I realise the most honest place I can be is in acknowledging that I can only ever be a person of faith – full of honest doubt, open to learning all the time while adhering to the basic tenets of my religious code to the best of my ability.
I can never again claim that I am part of the ‘one, true church’. What arrogance it is on the part of our tradition to claim that! How we should bow our heads in shame in front of our Pentecostal brothers and sisters when we see that one of their brethren can so naturally proclaim her utter reliance and trust in Jesus Christ, for all the world to see and hear. Isn’t that just wonderful? Isn’t that real Christian living? Hasn’t Katie Taylor shown us all what it means to be a practicing Christian?
Together with the horrific abuses, some of our Catholic religious practices and teachings have disgusted a whole generation of Irish young people – young people who have turned their backs on such practices as a result. They were not brain-washed by the fear of eternal damnation if they don’t adhere with blind obedience to those practices and believe, without questioning, those teachings. So they think for themselves and find such things deeply wanting. Young people accept that discrimination in any form is simply wrong, so they cannot accept the misogynistic, homophobic aspects of Catholicism. And who can fault them for that?
Unfortunately though, many have concluded that any form of religious practice is erroneous and even a belief in a creator is simply an indication of deep indoctrination or a lack of intelligence! How could anyone believe in a God when religion and religious practices seem to be the root cause of so many of the world’s problems?
So, seeing the true meaning of religious belief in the whole person of Katie Taylor (I don’t know the girl personally, but I’ve been struck by those who claim her to be a truly good, honest, down-to-earth person) causes me to have a real burst of optimism. Katie just might lead young people back to God in a way that the whole might of the Roman machine has failed to do.
There’s a delightful irony in that a young WOMAN, participating in what many would claim to be a MALE sport just might have a more positive spiritual effect on a generation that the male dominated Roman Catholic church can’t reach!
And it matters not a whit to me that Katie’s Christian tradition is not Roman Catholic – I wonder if God cares?
Katie has earned herself a place in Irish sporting history for her success in her chosen sport and I salute her for it.
But, as far as I’m concerned, her real gold is in showing a generation of cynical, jaded, anti-religious Irish young people that it IS possible to live a life wherein we can put our trust and faith in our loving Creator. I honour her for that.
Oh God! You DO work in mysterious ways! And You have a wicked sense of humour!