The July 4th Birthday Edition


What do Al Golden (American football player and coach), Todd Marinovich (American football player and coach), Wilfred Mugeyi (Zimbabwean footballer and coach), and I all share in common? 

We all were born on the exact same day.  And I’m not just saying July 4th.  I’m also saying the same year.    Apparently the stars were aligned 55 years ago today to give rise to a number of people who like to kick things around and tell other people which direction to run. Certainly a good description for my mission in life.

I learned this little tidbit from Wikipedia which I discovered earlier this year has a feature called “On This Day.”  It is a bonanza for preachers and writers.  All kinds of potential things to reflect upon. 

For example: Also on this day in 1826, Thomas Jefferson, one of the “founding fathers” of our nation and primary writer of the Declaration of Independence, died.  This, too, feels apt because 198 years later, he is surely turning over in his grave after this week’s decisions of the Supreme Court. As a “firecracker,”  I have always held as “self-evident that all men are created equal” and that even when we’ve not fully realized that equality before the law, it was at least something that we professed to aspire to.   This past week, we as a nation have taken a giant step backward from that and it does not bode well for our future.  Many times now in life, I’ve said, “I don’t think there is anything that can shock me anymore,” and then, lo and behold, that turns out to be wrong.  I am shocked. I never thought we’d come to this.

How to respond? 

That's the other great thing about "On This Day."  It offers perspective.  History is so great in that way.  Because one also finds out that in 973, Ulrich of Augsburg also died on this date.   His courage and solidarity with the people of Augsburg when under siege of the Magyars—reciting Psalm 23 as they held fast at the city gate—is something that is still remembered to this day.

And Catherine Jarrige died on this day in 1836.  She hid priests who refused to pledge their allegiance to the new regime after the French Revolution.  She was known to be mischevous and never lose her sense of humor, even as she participated in civil disobedience.  She was beatified in 1996.

And Pier Giorgio Frassati died on this day.  A young Italian mountain climber also deeply devoted to social justice, he took a strong stand against Mussolini and Fascism.  He will be canonized next year.

That is a lot of dying on this day, so let me also add that on this day in 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved out to Walden Pond to spend more time in contemplation and nature.

I am sure there are a thousand different creative ways to respond and be present to this moment.  I haven’t figured them all out yet and I don’t know which one is for me… or for you.  But I know that kicking around ideas is important.  And that responding starts for me by writing this down and by continuing to stand up for the importance of truth and the healthy exercise of power.  I’m not sure which direction you’ll run with it, but can I encourage you as a coach to run? To do something that involves each one of us more deeply in matters of utmost importance to our life as a nation?

I do have one more thing to share with you as a 4th of July gift today: a free book.  It is a scripture study / discussion guide called "Many Voices, One Spirit" that I worked on with RENEW International.  The project was generously funded by the Catholic Communications Campaign of the USCCB as part of an effort to have more civilized dialogue across difference in this election year.  There are some edits that happened in the process of writing this book that I’m still a bit uncomfortable with.  When you read it, you might say, “That does not entirely sound like Ann,”  and that would be correct.  But when you are trying to talk across difference, sometimes a bit of compromise is part of the football game.  And I still think the book is totally worth getting and totally worth engaging in your parish community this year.   And did I mention that it is totally free?  All that is necessary to pay is postage.  Indeed, get multiple copies and share them.  Join me in kicking around some more ideas during this trying, but important time.

Happy birthday, Al, Todd, and Wilfred.  It's good to share this day with you.