Most Fascinating Catholics of 2008

An interesting challenge from Matt over at the Son Rise Morning Show blog, to offer up a list of the most fascinating Catholics of 2008.  He’s got several interesting entries on his list.  It’s worth a look.  A list of my own compelling Catholic people of 2008 would include at least the following five (and also a couple of losers).

1. Pope Benedict XVI

The Holy Father is a no-brainer this year, given, among other things, the interesting dust-up over his disinvitation to speak at Rome’s La Sapienza University in January, his remarkable April visit to the United States (including a major speech at the United Nations, a welcome at the White House, an ecumenical meeting, a youth rally, and a stop to pray at Ground Zero), and his leadership of World Youth Day in Australia in July.

2. Blessed Peter Kibe Kasui and Companions

The beatification of these 188 martyrs of Japan last month was fascinating in many ways: the sheer size of the group; the vast predominance of laypeople among them, including teens and children; and the presence of several entire family units – husband, wife, and children – who died together for their faith. 

3. John Henry Newman

This quiet scholar is not your typical candidate for sainthood.  But when the Cardinal’s grave was opened up in October, in anticipation of his beatification, a heck of an interesting mystery opened with it!  Where’s the body??

4. Dorothy Day

Dorothy’s diaries, sealed in archives at Marquette University since her death in 1980, were finally published earlier this year.  Besides her well-known, iron-willed committment to helping the poor, the 800+ pages written over several decades reveal a rich spiritual life, nourished by daily Mass and regular prayer of the rosary, novenas, and other devotions; extensive personal reading in theology, philosophy, and literature; and a thorough and often frustrating immersion in both the struggles and the joys of everyday family life.

5. Thomas Van Der Woode

This Virginia man showed us what real fatherhood is all about when he jumped into a hole full of s**t to lift his struggling son up out of it on his own shoulders, and drowned in the filth doing it.  Forgive the bluntness of description, but that’s what real love, and real parenting, really is all about. “Love in action,” Dorothy Day said, “is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

I’d supplement my list by noting the two Catholic losers of 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, both of whom sold out their Catholic faith (again) on the issue of abortion while trying to justify their positions by appealing to that faith.  (That letter I wrote to Speaker Pelosi back in September, by the way, never did garner an acknowledgment of any sort in reply.)

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