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Issue Date:  August 13, 2004



I received an e-mail from far away, from a lady who lives in England. She mentioned in passing that there were eight men ordained priests and six men ordained deacons. The ordinations took place in the cathedral.

At the end, there was a procession. The men -- surely all men -- were to walk symbolically through the open doors of the cathedral and out into the world, just like the disciples of old when Jesus sent them out in pairs to the then-known universe.

I wonder if it was a sunny day when Jesus did that.

It was not a sunny day in England. The cathedral doors opened wide to reveal a torrential downpour.

Keeping with custom, protocol, tradition, and, what many of us lower folk might say stupidity, the holy parade kept right on marching into the world and got drenched.

It is what happens when tradition takes precedence over common sense and permission to forego what was “always done” and stay inside, have a party or something, and stay dry.

In many ways, despite many storm warnings, it seems to me that a lot of religious parades still get wet.

I am sure it was a sunny day way back when Jesus sent his disciples forth. Maybe his mother, just like my mother, told him not to parade around in the rain. You can get wet like that and there is really no reason to get drenched when it is dry inside, where all the people are.

But maybe religious men feel secure in the rain. Maybe they do not know how to learn from the lowly dry people?

I wonder if the holy parade is still walking in the rain. I am afraid that in some ways, it is.

There are better places to be.

Our mothers told us as much.

Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens lives at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, August 13, 2004

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