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Friday, May 27, 2005

 Bishops can predict the future

Ten years ago I was at a Catholic wedding of a (very Catholic) college friend. Pretty standard wedding all the way around, but one event from that wedding was the most memorable.

I was seated with friends at the reception awaiting dinner when the best man -- the groom's brother -- stood to make a toast. He described how he had met the local bishop a few months before, and related to him that his brother was soon to be married. "It will be a happy day," said the bishop. The best man then raised his glass, and we toasted.

Finished, the best man sat down. I was caught off guard, waiting for the punchline. I didn't understand the point of the story. I turned to my (also very Catholic) friend, Mary, to ask if she "got it" and noticed a tear in her eye. "Isn't that amazing?" she exclaimed. "And it is a happy day!"

Clearly my friend took something from the best man's story that I did not. Most weddings are, in fact, happy occaisions. My interpretation of the bishop's comment was that he was engaging in polite smalltalk. As a deeply Catholic person, Mary greatly valued the words of the bishop, and experienced the story quite differently, as if it were a prediction that had come true.

I relate this event because it nicely illustrates what I perceive to be a universal human trait: we tend to experience only what we value. Think about that for a moment and you will probably come up with (even mundane) examples from your own lives. The last time you bought a car, for example, were you surprised to suddenly notice that everybody was driving the same model?


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