Monday, November 10, 2014

Word for the Day: Leo

Webster’s dictionary offers two definitions of Leo:

1. fifth-century Pope, Doctor of the Church, negotiator with Attila the Hun, scourge of heretics, celebrated by the Catholic Church on November 10

2. astrological sign of those born July 23–August 22, suggesting charisma, self-absorption, and an obsession with performing (e.g. acting, blogging)

I was born July 25, used to be a stage performer, and am now a sometime blogger. Yeah, I’m a Leo. But what’s interesting to me here is how dramatically my worldview has shifted since I became a Catholic.

Especially if I make the comparison over 40 years. In my early 20s, I was obsessed with that elusive something the psychologist Erik Erikson had us all talking about: identity. Like many young people, I was seeking the key to who I was. And astrology, being a Leo, seemed as good a key as any.

Yes, I will confess—at least in college days—to studying horoscopes, as well as having my Tarot cards read (by an attractive Mt. Holyoke student) and flipping coins in lieu of yarrow stalks to read the I Ching.

I didn’t think I was much, but I was all I thought about. Tell me I was a Leo, and that that was a good thing to be, and I was all ears.

Today, brought to the Catholic Church by the saints, a crusty old fifth-century Pope like Leo is far more interesting to me. In fact, just about anything culturally Catholic seems a more useful focus of my attention than me, myself, or I.

It lifts me out of myself toward—well, not toward the stars exactly—but let’s just say toward heaven.

Afterthought: Since becoming a Catholic, even my birthday has taken on new meaning. July 25 is not a Leo anymore, not to me anyway. July 25 is the feast day of St. James the Apostle, Santiago, the guy buried at Santiago de Compostela—the place to which I made a pilgrimage in 2012. In itself, that was a very un-Leo thing to do.

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