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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, October 15, 2007

"The Third Contingent"

If you enter such a church while Mass is going on, you'll notice three distinct categories of visitors: worshipers clustered in the pews near the altar, obviously partaking of the Mass; tourists strolling around with their maps and videocams, obviously not partaking; and a third group sitting or kneeling in the gloom at the back of the church or in the side aisles. Their connection with the Eucharistic action is not clear. They don't want to be seen as participating in the Mass; in fact, they don't want to be seen at all.

This third contingent has a heterogeneous composition. Some are pious Catholics engaged in private prayer. Some are seekers: non-Catholics who find themselves attracted to the Church and her Eucharist and who want to take in as much as they can of the experience without committing themselves. Still others, I surmise, have been estranged from the Church by divorce and remarriage or by a gay entanglement and yet can't shake the spiritual conviction that it's the Church, at bottom, that has it right. They're afraid to get too close, yet they can't tear themselves away entirely. They put me in mind of St. Peter, warming his hands at the fire in the high priest's courtyard

The rest of Uncle Di's post is well worth the read.