I enjoy seeing what you think. I have a comment on your Catholic/Protestant differentiation in the January-February 1994 editorial. I am something of a double-Protestant, for I fault both Protestants and Catholics, both of whom have corrupted Scripture. I do not know of one assembly which knows God. I've heard that Christianity is based on mystery and miracles. Think about that! A mystery is what is not known, and a miracle is what cannot be expected. You base your belief on such logic? I demand better odds.
Only God can give men eternal life. Without God, there is only the Law of the Jungle, which is what our existence here is. We are on this planet essentially alone, and away from God. As I see it, God is running us through fire and stress to sort out those who can handle being gods.
San Diego, California
Look No Further
R.N. Wightman, in his letter entitled "Looking for the Long-Lost Church" (Jan.-Feb. 1994), says he is looking for a priest who "does not regard the Resurrection as merely the Apostles' interpretive memories of 'the Christ event' but as historical fact, who can say with a straight face that he believes Scripture to be the trustworthy Word of God, who believes that God still acts within, through, and sometimes despite His Church." Wightman also says he is looking for a parish that supports its priest in these beliefs.
Well, Wightman has written a lovely and accurate description of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Fairlee, Vt., where I try to preach sermons like those he seems to covet.
The Rev. Norman Runnion
St. Martin's Episcopal Church
Steve Betley's letter (Jan.-Feb. 1994) highlights the rift in American Catholicism. What Betley apparently hates about traditional Catholics is that they actually accept what the Catholic Church teaches that Christ instituted the Church, with the papacy at its head, to proclaim and safeguard truths binding on all its members, even those "psychologically predisposed," as Betley has it, to accepting that authority. Catholic authority is naturally hateful to the smug middle-class American parishioner who wants to select his religious beliefs on the same basis as he selects his junk food at the supermarket, and at as little cost.
Poor Betley. The Magisterium is awfully hard on religious consumerism. However loudly Betley may thump his chest and announce that he will remain in the Church, he must suspect that in reality he has already left.
Greer, South Carolina
God Gift-Wraps His Presents
In chastising "no-brainers" (i.e., traditional Catholics), Steve Betley says in his letter (Jan.-Feb. 1994) that "'truth' is hard to come by and elusive, not handed to us like a parental Christmas gift wrapped in Disney paper." But wasn't it that well-known "no-brainer" Cardinal Newman who said: "Blessed be God, we have not to find the truth, it is put into our hands"? No one worked harder to bring his intellectual gifts to bear on the deposit of faith. However, Newman saw clearly that the basic content of our faith is revealed by God, and cannot be discovered by intellect alone. To the extent that we refuse a child-like assent to revelation in Scripture and Catholic tradition, we miss the point that truth really is handed to us "gift-wrapped." Personally, I'm with Newman.
George D. Wignall
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Catholicism, As Corrected by Traditional Anglicans
The letters in the January-February 1994 issue truly reveal where the Vatican II Church is currently at in America.
I was shocked by the shallow concept of God the Father exhibited by Steve Betley, a Roman Catholic. His reference to the "plumbing" of God the Father shows how carnal his mind-set is. God is properly referred to in the male primarily because His Son revealed this to us in Scripture. This is not a carnal concept.
Donald Whidden, a Roman Catholic, appears to have been taken in by the cafeteria mentality of pick and choose, seen everywhere in American life. It is available in shopping centers, so why not in religion too? Indeed, the Church now provides a liberal choice of liturgy in ever-changing missalettes. Years ago I was taught that our liturgy reflects our faith. I was also taught that the road to Heaven is narrow and hard, while the road to Hell is wide and smooth. We cannot have a padded cross.
As for R.N. Wightman's quest for the long-lost Church, I can really identify with him. I've been there too. That some clergy conduct services without dignity, respect, or interest tells us that something is seriously wrong. At some parishes I've visited, the priest and deacon just sit down while the laity distribute Communion to the faithful. If faith in the Real Presence is missing, there will be lack of respect.
I thank God that His Holy Spirit led me to a Traditional Bible-believing Catholic Church that worships God with dignity. I found the Anglican Catholic Church to have a beautiful Mass and the seven Sacraments, and a solid commitment to the ancient and apostolic doctrine of the undivided church.
Thomas Kunsitis's letter really hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways. His testimony makes me thank God that I was guided to a Catholic Church where I can have both the Sacraments and the Gospel. Unlike Kunsitis, I could not resort to Protestantism, because the center of my faith is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus taught us that unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we cannot have life within us.
I pray daily that the Holy Spirit will move the American Catholic bishops to work toward some of the following corrections: (1) Restore a Catholic Mass that is a Sacred Banquet. (2) Worship God first and humanity second. In other words, either eliminate the disruptive "kiss of peace" or move it to the end of the service. (3) Restore reverence to the House of God. It should once again be a house of prayer and not an assembly hall. (4) Follow the advice of Cardinal Ratzinger by returning the altar to the proper position so that the priest may again lead his people at prayer. (5) Restore the altar rail and the traditional Western practice of kneeling for Holy Communion.
I also pray for the patience to understand those who are so bitterly opposed to my five requests.
Rev'd Thomas Raines
St. Andrew's Anglican Catholic Church
Just a Little Bit Catholic?
Donald Whidden's letter to the editor (Jan.-Feb. 1994) is entitled "Chase Me Back to Protestantism?" Given what he says, it sounds like he never left. Yes, he says he's "more Catholic than Protestant," but isn't that sort of like saying "a little bit pregnant"? Either you're Catholic or you're not.
Whidden says St. Thomas Aquinas didn't believe in Transubstantiation. Where did he get this strange information? St. Thomas wrote a good deal about his belief in Transubstantiation in the Summa. A little volume entitled My Way of Life: The Summa Simplified for Everyone, published by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, explains this in very simple terms.
Whidden doubts or rejects certain Catholic doctrines. Yes, there are those today who cry out like the first disciples, "This is a hard doctrine; who can accept it?" But our Savior did not soften His words in order to keep them from walking away. He let them go, because they had failed the test (see Jn. 6:32-67). Likewise, the Church does not change its teaching to fit the mentality of the times.
I pray that Whidden will sincerely seek the enlightenment he needs in prayer. I most fervently recommend our Blessed Lady to him, even though he doubts her role as intercessor. She has worked wonders on the most obstinate of hearts.
Linda L. Morrison
Aquinas & Transubstantiation
In his letter to the editor (Jan.-Feb. 1994), Donald Whidden asks: "Transubstantiation? I envy anyone who can believe it. But Thomas Aquinas didn't believe it, so why should I?" But St. Thomas, one of the greatest Catholic intellects, did not shun one of the greatest Catholic doctrines.
For example, in a series of hymns he wrote for the Feast of Corpus Christi, to be sung to the Eucharist, the most important of which is Pange Lingua, he states: "Word made flesh, true bread of heaven/ By his word made flesh to be/ From the wine his blood is taken/ Though our senses cannot see." He continues: "Therefore we, before him falling/ This great sacrament revere/ Ancient forms are now departed/ For new acts of grace are here/ Faith our feeble sense aiding/ Makes the Savior's presence clear."
Kristopher Ian Tefft
St. Augustine: A Mindless Sectarian?
In his letter (Jan.-Feb. 1994) Donald Whidden says he quit the Seventh-day Adventist denomination because he believed it to be a "conscious fraud." He says he became a Catholic because, among other embarrassingly trivial reasons, he likes Catholic music better than Protestant music. Why did he give no consideration to theological truth when choosing a new affiliation? Jesus said, "I am the Way, .the Truth, and the Life," not "I am the Aesthetically-Pleasing Ditty."
Whidden rejects the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, but concedes the need for a "final authority, even when it is occasionally in error." Had our Lord been so fortunate as to have Whidden available for theological consultation, perhaps He would have told St. Peter that the Gates of Hell would "only occasionally" prevail against His Church.
Whidden defends his heresies by saying he is not a "mindless sectarian." I challenge Whidden to delve into the works of the great Catholic theologians, such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Teresa, St. Robert Bellarmine, Cardinal Newman (had I the whole letters section of the NOR at my disposal, I could not name them all), those who have taught what the Church teaches, and then dare call any one of them a "mindless sectarian."
Seldom have I read a clearer and more satisfying statement of editorial policy than that expressed in your editorial in the January-February 1994 issue. It points up nicely the conscious or unconscious hypocrisy of those who lay claim to the name Catholic, but reject the fundamental doctrine of the Church. They remind me of jaybirds, who lay their eggs in any convenient nest, without regard for the harm they cause its legitimate occupants and their offspring.
The letter from Donald A. Whidden in the same issue provides one choice illustration of the type. But the mentality of whoever prepared and accepted him for Confirmation furnishes yet another and even more shameful example.
Louis P. Rogge, O.Carm.
St. Albert of Trapani Priory
Profound Ignorance of Judaism
Donald Whidden's letter regarding his Catholicism (Jan.-Feb. 1994) was refreshing, particularly his ability to embrace his faith while remaining an individual. But, my, what a broad brush he wields over the faith of others!
While he suspects that Catholic teaching about Mary is "all a charming cult based on baptized Mother Goddess worship," he is falsely comforted that "it mitigates the patriarchal ferocity of Judaism." His use of the word "ferocity" reveals a profound ignorance of the evolving loveliness of Judaism.
Like Whidden, I am not a "mindless sectarian," and when I chose Judaism as my expression of faith, I did so knowing its full history which includes thousands of years of debate regarding patriarchy, and a revised prayer book in which Sarah and other matriarchs can be found in the liturgy read by male and female rabbis.
Is Your Parish Still Catholic?
Are you being denied your right to learn and practice the true Catholic faith in its entirety? Have your clergy or school facilities abandoned orthodox Catholicism and replaced it with some form of Protestant or New Age theology? If you're like most Catholics, you probably don't know the answers, because newspapers, magazines, and books that clearly explain the authentic doctrines and practices of the orthodox Catholic faith, and expose the undermining of it, are probably not easy to come by in your parish. If you are concerned about the possible denial of your right to learn and practice the true Catholic faith, write us and we will send you a free address list of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and book distributors; they will enable you to discern whether orthodox Catholicism in your parish is alive and well, seriously diseased, or already dead.
Lloyd M. Hysan
BASICS Evangelization Ministry
College Park, MD 20740
Christopher Decker's thought-provoking article on chastity as Christian protest against our consumerist culture (Dec. 1993) reminded me of a quote from Georges Sorel which appeared on page 10 of the October 1991 NOR: "The world will only be more just to the extent it is more chaste."
Vincent E. Whelan
Office for Civil Affairs, Diocese of San Diego
San Diego, California
We Are Sent
In response to Michael Clark (letter, Jan.-Feb. 1994), who wants the priest at the altar to have his back to the people: I like the symbol of the priest, in persona Christi, facing the people, offering the consecrated Gifts to the Father and then to all the disciples, as Jesus did. I believe it was done this way in the early Church. Clark's symbol of the priest "leading the people to the seat of salvation" is misleading. Jesus didn't lead the Apostles after He sacrificed Himself He sent them. And the Apostles made disciples and sent them.
I do agree with Clark on one thing, however. I dislike the term "presiding officer," or "presider." To me, it smacks of being at a board meeting.
San Diego, California
In his articles on schools (Dec. 1993), Jeffrey Christensen couches the demise of public schooling in terms of failed value-free programs, but loses sight of the decline in parental responsibility. Do we really believe that public schools have pursued value-free programs without the support or, at the very least, acquiescence of parents? The public school situation is the symptom, not the disease.
Walter H. Blotkamp