Friday, January 29, 2010

True Confession: A Ralph McInerny story

Last year while I was a visiting faculty member at the University Notre Dame, I was in line for confession at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. After several minutes in line, it was my turn. The door opened to the confessional and out walked Ralph McInerny. He gave me a gentle look as if to say hello, seeming to realize that in that sacred space an ordinary exchange of pleasantries would have been profane. Several days later while I was working in my office in the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture, I walked to the printer to pick up a manuscript. There was Ralph in the hallway, talking it up with Alasdaire MacIntyre. As though I were watching history in the making, and the Prime Directive forbade me from interfering, I gingerly hovered around the conversation, nodding my head now and again, pretending that I may have something interesting to contribute.

After Ralph said goodbye to me and Alasdaire, he proceeded down the hallway toward the elevator. As if on cue, he looked over his shoulder at me, smiled in my direction, waved his right hand, and loudly said, "See you at confession!"

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