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Not Fanatics

In his journal, Context, University of Chicago Divinity School professor Martin Marty once shared a story he heard from a Jesuit priest. The priest told him how, on a visit to Mexico, he happened to observe young families coming up to a cathedral on a Sunday morning. As each man approached the church doors, he handed his wife or girlfriend through into the nave, then took his place among the other men.  This group of men stood on the steps of the cathedral smoking, occasionally looking in to see how things were coming along at the altar. One man after another joined the little group, until quite a crowd had assembled.

Intrigued by this sight, the priest went down into the plaza.

“Good morning, gentlemen.”

“Good morning, Father.”

“I see you escort the ladies to mass and then wait outside.”

“That’s right,” they said.

“You don’t go into the cathedral yourselves?”

“No, not generally.”

“Well, that’s puzzling. Aren’t you Catholics?”

The men looked at him in consternation. “Of course we’re Catholics,” one said. “But we’re not fanatics.”