What is it about these stories — and the Spider-Man tale in particular — that fascinate us? May I suggest that it has something to do with Christianity, more precisely, with the figure around which all of the Christian religion revolves.
Reaching out for Father Joe Metzger of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Norfolk, Va., meant getting fully vested and walking an 11-year-old autistic child through an empty sanctuary so that she would feel comfortable when she received her first Communion with other children a few days later.
Last fall, after Catholic Charities CEO Tim Marx wrote an article in the StarTribune documenting the overcrowding at the Dorothy Day Center, a group of men from St. John Neumann parish in Eagan responded by offering to staff overnight the old offices of Catholic Charities in St. Paul (which we refer to as the Annex) so that no one had to be turned away.
Whether we are talking about the Navajo, Masai warriors, or Orthodox Jews, traditional cultures understand that boys have to be brought through a period of trial — some test of skill and endurance — during which they learn the virtues of courage and self-sacrifice.
Gap between rich, poor not a myth
As Christmas approaches, there is one thing we can be as sure of seeing as Santa Claus and incessant ads for holiday deals: full Catholic churches. As predictable as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, Catholics of all stripes return to their parish every Christmas, many visiting for the first time since the previous Easter.