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By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Apr 22, 2008

Here's a curiously cheering photo. Jeff Miller steers us to a blog entry by a Catholic from South Bend who posted some jpegs of a Eucharistic Procession held last Sunday on the campus of Notre Dame. In addition to several shots of the clergy and monstrance, we're shown glimpses of the participants and even some passers-by, including those pictured above.

As we'd expect, most of those who encountered the procession by accident appear bewildered or amused or mildly annoyed. But not all. What's encouraging about the pair shown kneeling in silence is that they clearly were not part of the crowd that had assembled with the intention of venerating the Eucharist. They were going about other business when their path happened to intersect the worshipers'.

Is their genuflection merely a pious reflex on the order of removing one's hat for a passing flag or funeral? Sixty years ago that might have been the case. Today, the situation is very nearly the opposite. The pieties of the academy demand ironic aloofness from religion, and to be seen bending the knee before the Eucharist is to flout those pieties -- even at the University of Notre Dame.

Many observers of American Catholicism think that, while the old secularist etiquette generally remains in force, the willingness to defy this etiquette is on the rise. That too is a good sign. Devotion acquired in counter-cultural circumstances is more likely to thrive than devotion acquired as an act of conformity, and it is less likely to weaken in the face of hostility or contempt. As to the random photo of the on-lookers, the reverence displayed is heartening precisely because of its spontaneity: no posters or banners or lapel buttons; no premeditated affectation of defiance. In spite of the unremitting efforts of Catholic educators, one finds, very occasionally ... Catholics.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2008 12:38 PM ET USA

    Someone did a good teaching job! "By their fruits you shall know them."

  • Posted by: - Apr. 22, 2008 12:04 PM ET USA

    Man if that isn't inspirational...

  • Posted by: - Apr. 22, 2008 11:20 AM ET USA

    ...thinking Fr. Richard McBrien's going to have a lot of explaining to do when this photo makes the rounds...

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