Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Here Comes Everybody

James Joyce once said that the unofficial motto of the Catholic church is "Here Comes Everybody". I got a personal sense of that before I ever became Catholic. I was already going to mass fairly often and one time I arrived almost late, so that I had to sit at the front and to the side (this was a church with three-sided seating, which I don't approve of, but that's another rant) so I had a good view of people as they left the communion line. As I watched them, I found myself thinking of Joyce's line. "Here Comes Everybody." It really is everybody. Everyone is invited. Young and old, able-bodied and infirm, light-skinned and dark-skinned, male and female, fat and thin, neat and slobby, short and tall, athletic and flabby, well-off and poor, the thoughtful-looking and the slack-jawed, the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful. That particular day I saw a woman who looked like a slightly furtive pekingese. Whatever the attitude of the world in general, in the Church that woman is no less welcome than the most stunning of classical beauties. The Church displays the greatest mystery of her faith openly on her altars every day and invites everyone to see and to join--the poor and lowly no less than the rich and influential, the murderer just beginning to repent no less than the most upstanding citizen imaginable.

There is something of the same thing in the Catholic attitude toward abortion, eugenics, euthanasia--in fact toward human life in general. It is a sort of profligate love, saying, "Anyone God wants to let live, we want to welcome to life's banquet."

There are a lot of people in the world who are eager to say that this or that group of humans is worthless, but there don't seem to be so many saying everyone is valuable and still fewer saying everyone is welcome here. Considering some of the problems that can come--and sadly have come--from the first attitude, I figure there are a lot worse ways to look at life than the welcoming, hospitable one.

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