The Church is the world’s oldest institution. How? From such small beginnings, the ignoble death of its peasant founder? His was a community of assistance, of welfare and it survived him. Help the widows, the poor, the orphans. The world around it needed such a body and that welfare kept it going, kept it growing until officialdom marked its triumph, made it inescapable, made it opulent.
And today’s Church is again a purveyor of community. Of course, there are few widows and orphans now. But there’s so much personal heartache in so many new, heartless suburbs, so much dislocation, crying out for community, filling those mega-churches. And why empty, ancient churches in old French villages? The villages are community enough.