I Can No Longer Deny It
Though I grew up in awe of the courage of the saints and martyrs, I never dreamed that the time would come in my life when it would be critical for me, first, to be very clear about the truth, and, secondly, to speak out about it, for my own good and that of my hearers.
For many months I've been in a quandary, asking: Can it really be true that the Church is split? How can certain Church leaders deny obvious truths they can't be serious, can they? Am I really living in a time when there might be large-scale heresies, like I've read about in Church history? One wants to answer "no" to those questions, but each day one feels more and more like a misfit in one's own Church.
Your recent editorials have helped me put aside my emotional defense mechanisms, my denial, and have assisted me in seeing that "yes" is the response I have to make to those questions. Yes, "the stage is set for a great showdown," as you put it. I can no longer deny it.
With the enclosed modest donation I want to urge you on in your leadership role on behalf of the Church, and on behalf of those of us who feel like "weak" orthodox Catholics. And I promise you my daily prayer support.
Why Did the Church Hide Her Splendors From Me?
As a "post-Vatican II Catholic," I very much appreciated the articles by Marian Crowe and Leila Miller (Nov.). Their accounts reflect my experiences perfectly. Like Miller, I received a woefully deficient instruction in the Faith. I had no clue as to what the Church taught, much less why. I had no sense that the Church possessed any more truth than her Protestant rivals. I even fell into atheism. I saw faith as a purely emotional choice, unfit for a rational mind. I had never heard of Aquinas' "first cause, itself uncaused." In short, I was never presented with a rational defense of Catholicism.
I probably would have continued in my indifference toward the Faith had I not later attended a school with a virulent fundamentalist population. When I encountered persistent anti-Catholics for the first time, I felt I at least owed it to Catholicism to find out what it actually held. Thankfully, I discovered many clear-eyed, orthodox explanations of Catholicism. And when, for the first time, I entered an old church (one that actually looked like a church!), it took my breath away. Finally, the Church appealed to both my mind and heart. I concluded, "Truly, this is the House of the Lord."
I cannot understand why the Church refused to show her splendors to me and to my contemporaries. If she had, I am convinced that today there would be far more Catholics who practice their faith.
Apropos of your mention of Catholic social thought in your excellent November editorial ("Rome Under Siege"): The Church has called for a more balanced distribution of wealth. We certainly should not give up on that.
Giving the government more power to regulate or restrict massive layoffs is fraught with danger. But should the Church not encourage unionism among the lower paid? It is hypocritical for people to argue that we cannot increase the minimum wage annually along with the cost of living, but that there should be no restraint on the accumulation of immense fortunes that will make millionaires of descendants for many generations.
One example of hundreds: When U.S. Healthcare merged with Aetna Life, the head of USH got half a billion dollars in compensation. Years ago his excessive earnings would have been in a 90 percent tax bracket. Now the highest tax is 39 percent, and more loopholes are created all the time. Taxation used to be based largely on the ability to pay. Higher taxes on the very rich can lift the burden on the poor and the lower-middle class. Let's resurrect the Church's teaching on distributive justice!
Bloomsbury, New Jersey
Catholics in Berkeley???
I am always intrigued by your ads in Our Sunday Visitor. I read them all the way through, word for word. That is, I thought I did until I received the November 10 OSV. It was then that I discovered I had never read your address: Berkeley! How can anything remotely orthodox come out of Berkeley? My amazement and disbelief come not from Berkeley's reputation, but from my own experience there.
It was in Berkeley that I was received into the Church. My instruction was in many ways a travesty. We heard that the Pope is not infallible, and that we only need give a few moments of reflection to issues such as premarital sex and birth control before doing whatever the heck we please. I don't recall any teaching on the importance of an active prayer life, other than some vague encouragement to engage in occasional contemplation it lowers the blood pressure, you know!
So, you see, this is my experience of Berkeley and Catholicism. They just don't go together.
On the other hand, if anyone could understand the negative impact of neopaganism, it would most assuredly be a Berkeley-ite. Umm.
O.K., please send me a sample copy (check enclosed).
Margaret A. Maxwell
Bad in Belgium too
I always look forward to receiving your magazine. Your insistence on objective Truth really goes against the grain in the milieu I live in. What you say must be said again and again, and with conviction. Keep it up! Otherwise the farm will be sold for a mess of potage.
Rev. Philip J. Sandstrom
Before subscribing to your magazine, I had learned to just live with the progressive disposition of the Catholic Church in America. How wonderful to learn that you are out there championing the cause of orthodoxy and the Magisterium! You have truly renewed my faith.
Raymond J. Heisler
From a "Soggy Trimmer"
You are reactionary, ultramontanist curmudgeons. Without you, soggy trimmers like me would melt into theological blobs. Here's some guilt money [check enclosed].
Prof. John E. Coons
University of California
Extremist & Irrelevant
Clearly you did not reach your decision to stand with Bishop Bruskewitz (editorial, Oct.) without careful thought, but you made a poor choice nonetheless. You are catering to the extreme views of a minority. They hunger for demanding discipline and leadership, but you will do them no service, only carry them into the wilderness and yourselves into irrelevance.
The answer to exaggerated individualism, mindless materialism, moral laxity, and the like is to be found in the recovery of God-given meaning in our lives. It makes better sense to address the spirit than to concern ourselves overly much with the behavior of the material body, which is but a side effect. Threats, punishments, and a second Inquisition can only do harm.
In your December editorial you stated that you "received an unusually large number of 'cancel my subscription' notes" because of your October editorial supporting Bishop Bruskewitz. I have enclosed a check for $19 to cover the cost to you of one of those cancellations (do not apply the check to my subscription). And I hereby invite all your readers who remain loyal to the Catholic Church to do the same. As a very recent husband and homeowner, I'm in more debt than I've been in a long time. So I can't really afford to send the check, but I have.
Your reaction to the high number of cancellations was, "Well, that's life." I say: "That's war." The spiritual battle to which I refer has many fronts, and your service in your particular sector of the war merits the description of uncommon valor.
I stand with you against those bishops who undermine Bishop Bruskewitz, and especially against people like the recently retired archbishops of San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro, who criticize the Holy Father under the veil of expressing dissatisfaction with "the Curia." I do not stand on so-called common ground or on "weak land." I will accept no Trojan Horse of compromise or accommodation in the House of God.
Finally, I stand with you against the mammoth and moneyed conventional press and all its lackeys. The candle on your cover is well-deserved, for you are truly a light in the darkness.
Larry A. Carstens
No. Hollywood, California
Let the Pope Know
I was delighted to have read your October editorial supporting Bishop Bruskewitz's excommunication of Catholics in his diocese who belong to 12 specified anti-Catholic organizations. And then your December editorial stated that Rome backs Bruskewitz and regards his action as "an excellent 'test case.'"
A test case? Well then, all orthodox Catholics should let the Pope know that they applaud Rome's support of Bruskewitz. (Address: His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Palace, 00120 Vatican City, EUROPE.)
Regarding your November editorial ("Rome Under Siege"): I am saddened to find the majority of things you identify as wrong with present Roman Catholicism equated with Anglicanism. You do, at one point, refer to "modern Anglicanism," and, at another, to Canterbury, so it appears that you are speaking of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. But it would be quite hard to discover, from what you have written, that there are still some traditional Anglicans out here who are associated with neither the Church of England nor the Episcopal Church, and who are trying to keep the faith as well as you.
Prof. Rosamond Kent Sprague
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
The Real Catholic Petition
The senior class at Seton School, an independent Catholic junior-senior high school, has started a petition drive in opposition to the dissenters' "We Are Church" petition drive, which was critiqued in your October editorial. The students' petition, undertaken at their own initiative, is in support of Church teachings and the Holy Father. Called "The Real Catholic Petition," it reads in part as follows: "We the undersigned do lovingly believe and defend every single teaching and doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, as defined, protected and taught by the Magisterium and the Holy Father . We declare our undying opposition to any and every organization which deliberately places itself in direct conflict with our Church by attacking and ridiculing any of these beliefs . We are Catholics."
The signatures will be sent to the Holy Father. Although the Church isn't a democracy, it's important that we support these courageous young Catholics. The petition may be distributed freely. To obtain a copy, contact Shirley Warrick or Anne Carroll at: Seton School, 9314 Maple St., Manassas VA 20110; phone: 703-368-3220.
José L. Palacio
Ellicott City, Maryland
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This boycott is sponsored by Life Issues Institute, 1721 W. Galbraith Rd., Cincinnati OH 45239; phone: 513-729-3600. The following is the revised Consumer Boycott List. Prescription drug: (1) Cardizem (calcium channel blocker). Substitute: generics. (2) Seldane (antihistamine). Substitute: Claritin or Hismanal. (3) Claforan (antibiotic). Substitutes available. (4) DiaBeta (for diabetics). Substitute: Micronase or generics. (5) Nicoderm (smoking cessation). Substitute: Habitrol patch, Nicotrol, Pro-Step. (6) Lasix (diuretic). Substitute: generics.
Mary Rita Crowe
Rochester, New York
In Your Face, America!
In his article on priestly celibacy (Nov.), Fr. Benedict Groeschel expressed amazement that people level so much negative scrutiny at a discipline chosen by so small a segment of society. I'd like to offer a couple explanations as to why this is so.
Celibacy is hard for society to accept, because it points to high standards of self-discipline. The in-your-face choice priests make in accepting the rigors and hardship of celibacy is an embarrassment to a society that, overall, cannot seem to restrain itself in any way. Society reacts to this embarrassment by trying to bring celibates down a few pegs by labeling them as twisted, etc. Society really can't stand celibacy, because celibacy's embrace of hard work, sacrifice, holiness, and determination illuminates society's own spiritual poverty.
Priestly celibacy also disturbs people because it testifies that Christianity is real. If it's real, it's terrifying, because it then demands that people change their lives.
Scotts Valley, California