Those of us who are Catholics have had a rough few years. Well, make that a rough few decades. Horrific abuse scandals. Some weak, sometimes feckless, bishops. Wacky theologians. Boring homilies. Dreadful music. Widespread dissent, often rooted in appalling ignorance. I could go on. We envy our Evangelical friends for the vibrancy of faith in their communities. (Causing our Evangelical friends to wonder whether we’ve been hitting the communion wine too hard.) We envy our friends in the historically black churches for their great preaching and singing. We envy our LDS friends for having strong and inspiring leaders. We envy our Eastern Orthodox friends for having a beautiful liturgy. We envy our Orthodox Jewish friends for understanding the value of tradition, instead of throwing it overboard in pursuit of “relevance.”
We feel sorry for ourselves.
But sometimes, one notices the little things that make it great to be Catholic. Like diversity. Diversity? I know what you’re thinking: “My goodness, Robby really has been hitting the sauce. He’s not usually the sort who goes for this p. c. diversity business.”
But, no, I mean it. Diversity. I was sitting at mass today, listening to the homily (which actually wasn’t all that boring, truth be told) and looking around at my fellow worshippers. I mean to tell you, it was glorious diversity. The Catholic Church really is “here comes everybody.” There were people I know who are Irish, Polish, Italian, Mexican, Filipino, Guatemalan, but also African, Indian (the kind from India), Korean, Vietnamese, Colombian, Russian (why they don’t go to the Orthodox Church, I’m not sure; but there they were), Lebanese, Japanese, Jamaican, Chilean, Ecuadoreanall in the same local parish
And that’s only the beginning.
There were the folks from the Western section of Princeton who work in financial services in NYC and have a net worth in the tens or even hundreds of millions. And there was the guy who owns the local bakery. And the woman who has one of the florist shops and another who has (or works in, I’m not quite sure) one of the few remaining travel agencies. There was the little old man with the amazingly bad toupee. (He’d be better off with some black magic marker.) There were the laborers who work with the local landscapers and builders. They and their families were sitting there alongside the rich people from the Western section and the University professors. One of the professors (who, as it happens, is one of the world’s leading scientists) was kneeling next to the wife of my tailorshe’s an immigrant woman whose simple southern Italian spirituality is of the sort that gets Catholics labeled Mary worshippers by our Protestant friends. Then there was the guylate 60s or 70s in age, with the classic looks of the 1940s male movie star, right down to the pencil thin moustachewho kneels through the whole mass counting his beads and saying the rosary. He does it every Sunday.