Religion: The Quiet Miracle of Emmaus

At Abbé Pierre's communes, old junk leads to new lives

It is the day after Easter at a commune near Orléans, France. Inside a warehouse, an altar has been set up on a kitchen table. Surrounding it are a coat rack jammed with secondhand clothing, rows of used appliances and abandoned furniture, and assorted bric-a-brac. All in all, an appropriate setting for the annual get-together of the "Emmaus movement," which has shown thousands of people in 23 countries around the world how to rebuild their self-esteem by recycling the junk of the consumer society.

Suddenly an old woman says, "He's here," and in...

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