Taking Communion to the Sick: An Amazing Photo


From The Deacon’s Bench blog, an amazing and awe-inspiring photo from Life Magazine in 1942 of a priest taking Holy Communion to a sick person in Quebec. Worth meditating upon.




No words are needed… (but we really need an awed-expression smiley!)


Agreed with both points.

Will this one do?? http://www.chipmunk-scripts.com/smiley/smileyface2.jpg

Or this one http://i1222.photobucket.com/albums/dd489/SonelSA/Animations/smiley-smile.gif




That is truly beautiful. :thumbsup:


You wouldn’t see that in Life today ( didn’t it expire? ), In 1942 the Catholic Church was part of American life and the media hadn’t become so secularized and ideological left leaning. And, I think most communion visits today are done by lay persons.



What stands out to me in this picture is the fact that all are kneeling.
We don’t see that kind of respect so much anymore I think.


Great photo, and fantastic to see the devotion of the people, however the Church in Quebec at the time had a major role in keeping the people under the thumb, under-educated and afraid of asserting their voice, to such an extent that there was a terrific backlash against the church in the 1960’s during the Quiet Revolution.



The composition of the photo, with the right angles produced by the walkways, porch, eaves, etc., also creates an impression of the Cross.


I think there is a bit of misplaced nostalgia going on here. As someone who has significant experience in photography, I’m sure not everything in that photo was entirely spontaneous and therefor representative of some perfect devotion and reverence in times past.

The position of the people within the composition are a little too perfect, especially the little girl conspicuously placed in the foreground and the single man facing the camera on the left perfectly balancing the women and children turned to the side on the right. I am sure that the subjects were positioned by the photographer prior to the shot. And how did the photographer get up so high just as all that was happening? Did he happen to be on the roof of a box truck just as the priest arrived and everyone knelt?

Any photographer could see that this photo, if not staged, is not 100% spontaneous. Life photographers were professionals and very good at getting the perfect shot. They did not use digital cameras but used cumbersome equipment and expensive film and so took great pains to make sure that the photo would turn out well. That photo is a little too perfect to be 100% spontaneous and I don’t think it should be seen as representing absolutely perfect devotion of the past vs lack of devotion today.

I could stage the same photo today and it would be just that, a staged photo and nothing more.



The photo is most likely depicting a real event, though, and the “actors” would have been the real people involved.

Today, you would have to hire actual actors, at union rates. :wink:


I am sure that picture was not completely staged. Back then, more people had much more respect for priests and the sacraments plus more reverence in my opinion (from the stories I’ve heard from older relatives).


Someone get me an umbrella - TimothyH just rained all OVER my parade. :smiley:


Ah, the good 'ole days, when the prayer’s were pure, the holy water font never got moldy and every father wore a belt and wasn’t afraid to take it off and use it. :smiley:

I could get people on here who will tell you how the altar boys put ground ginger in the incense and choked the whole Church with acrid smoke. The priest just continued like nothing was happening while everyone choked and after Mass he took the can of incense from the shelf in the vestry, looked at it and said, “I didn’t know this stuff went bad!” and threw it in the garbage can.

I know a guy who told us how he used to put a screwdriver in the rope to the church bells - the monk would go up to ring the bells and when the bells got really swinging the screwdriver would get jammed in the pullies. He said he used to bet the other boys that he could get the monk to curse and that is how he would do it. The monk would scream, “You son’s of blankety-blank!” and they would all run away.

Yeah, but that stuff never happened. :smiley:



So true. Yesterday at Mass I say a teenage girl texting as she was genuflecting. :mad:


Stunning and refreshing. I don’t think this was staged at all. People had AND showed respect back then. :slight_smile:


Well, first, the photo is from Canada, not the U.S., and I assure you there were many places in the U.S., even in 1942, where Catholics were very much expected to keep their religion under their hat and out of the public sphere. The U.S. is just not a historically friendly nation to Catholics. In fact, the further you go back the more hostile it often was.

Quebec would have been different, but this was almost certainly a staged, albeit nice, photograph.


This all very true, in addition to forcing people to have very large families. If a woman wasn’t either pregnant or nursing during the priest’s annual visit, she had better have a good reason. The Church was very Jansenist at the time. French Canadian families had, for the most part, over 10 kids; 15-18 children wasn’t unheard of. It kept the population dirt poor.

On the flip side though, those large families are what permitted French Canada to survive, through sheer population growth. The irony now is that because of the backlash against the Church, we are reproducing below the replacement rate, and we’re aborting something like over 30,000 babies a year. As a result we’ve had to open the floodgates to immigration. Quebec always favoured francophone immigrants, and in recent years, mostly from Algeria. To the horror of many Quebecers, it turns out they’re mostly Muslim and now there’s a huge backlash against Muslim immigrants.

I live in the thick of it, there are many Muslims in the office I work in. I have no issues with them. They understand the notion of someone having a faith walk much better than the secular Québecois that dumped the Church.

But then the local Church was very much responsible for part of that. There are some parallels between the Quebec and Irish situations (British masters, severe Jansenist local Church, etc.), in fact intermarriage between the French and Irish was common.

I for one would never want to go back to the epoch captured in that picture.


Things were different back then. I’m old enough to remember when many homes had a personal pew to kneel on (there’s a name for them, but I can’t remember) and the entrance of a priest, not to mention a priest holding the Body and Blood of Christ, was quite an event. It was in my home when a sick family member received the Eucharist. I still remember it 45-odd years later.

An interesting perspective on the idea that this was a staged photo, based on the way things used to be. Many Catholic homes actually had a sick-call kit on hand:


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