Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Ninth Sacrament?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Ninth Sacrament?

Article excerpt

Parish life patterns were predictable once upon a time. All sorts of new faces turned up in the crowds on Christmas and Easter. All Souls Day, sometimes called "Black Christmas" by the clergy because of the collection's size, also brought throngs to church.

Then, about 15 years ago, Ash Wednesday began a dramatic climb to the top of attendance charts. Now Ash Wednesday's crowds surpass All Souls' Day attendance. Theologian Father Vincent Donovan said that receiving ashes has become the eighth sacrament!

Move over Ash Wednesday--another event is topping parish charts. It's The DaVinci Code (Doubleday) presentations. This book by Dan Brown has close to 6 million copies in print, a seat on the bestsellers' list for nearly a year, and vast numbers of parishioners coming to hear talks on the thriller.

One parish had to issue admission tickets in advance of its Da Vinci Code talk, and the demand was so great three separate evening presentations needed to be scheduled. Rumors of ticket scalping, yet to be confirmed, circulated. Yet another parish had so many people standing in church aisles the pastor feared the local fire department might shut things down.

Why has this book captured the interest of so many people? Some commentators claim this story delves deeply into the unconscious feminine archetype present in all humanity and frees what has been repressed both by society and by the church. Heavy stuff to be sure.

Might the popularity of this book be less complicated than unconscious motivation and mythic archetypes? …

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