I'm in southern Iraq, about two kilometers across from the Ziggurat of Ur, the home of Abraham. I've been able to get over there twice.
Enclosed is my check for $100 for a renewal of my three-year subscription. Please use the additional $52 for your expenses.
I also subscribe to Chronicles and The New American. You all are similar -- and great!
Ralph M. Harmon
You hit a home run with your Editorial, "Christian Zionists: False Friends of Israel" (Dec. 2006). I grew up listening to this eschatological nonsense (I am a Catholic convert), and you have no idea how refreshing it is to hear Christian Zionism get the thumping it deserves. Enclosed please find a contribution for your website.
While I have not always agreed with your characterization of the Iraq war, I too have been quite concerned about the undue influence on our foreign policy and our public discourse by evangelicals who accept Christian Zionism. Let me give you one example.
Last summer I was listening to a radio talk-show host, who is a self-professed evangelical and ardent supporter of Israel, interview a Republican congressman concerning the Israeli attack on Lebanon. Bear in mind that this was only days after the attack had begun. The host kept asking insistently when the U.S. would begin supplying Israel with replacements of bombs and other weapons expended during the attack. When he didn't get the answer he was looking for, the host repeatedly interrupted his subject with, "So when do we begin the re-supply effort?"
Israel has a right to exist in peace and to defend itself, but it is not the 51st state of America. Christian Zionists do not seem to recognize this, and they apparently want a U.S. attack on Iran that would kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranian civilians and likely turn the region into an inferno. And even worse, they seem to have the President's ear.
Your description of Christian Zionism as heretical is really quite mild. These people appear to believe they can manipulate events by starting a conflagration in the Middle East that results in some premillennial rapture (a hoax if ever there was one). The word for that is blasphemy.
Our Churches Would Be Full
Regarding your New Oxford Note "Our Churches Will Be Empty" (Nov. 2006): I grew up with the Tridentine Latin Mass and a strict, strong, unchanging Catholic Church. When I was a teenager, everything changed. Not just the Mass, but the whole approach to the Catholic Faith. I drifted -- rapidly -- away from the Church.
I have heard all the reasons "why" it was important to abandon the practices and principles of 1,500 years: People didn't "understand" the Mass in Latin (we didn't? I did, for one, and wherever I went, I felt at home at the Mass); we didn't participate enough in the old Mass (have you been to a Tridentine Mass and observed how much participation there is?); the Church needed to get in step with "modern" times (why? did God change?).
At the Tridentine Latin Mass I attend, two-thirds of the parishioners are young families and teenagers. The choir is made up of people under 20. Confessions (real in-the-confessional confessions, not counseling sessions in the rectory) before Mass and on Thursdays are lined up 30 deep, and penances go far beyond a few Hail Marys. People arrive for Mass half an hour early, and won't leave the pews after Mass until the last candle is extinguished. Parents bring their little ones to the altar after Mass to visit St. Joseph, or to light a candle. Everyone sings the Kyrie, the Gloria, and the Credo (so much for participation). Everyone lingers outside the church (not inside, mind you, where they are quiet and reverent, but outside) to say hello, and to thank the priest for his sermons -- which, by the way, are long, instructive, and pull no punches -- and which are followed carefully by the congregation.
If my experience is any indication, I do believe that Catholics would flock to the Tridentine Mass -- and the traditional Church -- if it were available. Yes, it's harder to be a Catholic in the old sense, but the spiritual rewards are tremendous.
Syracuse, New York
In your New Oxford Note "Our Churches Will Be Empty," you comment on Archbishop Ranjith's (Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship) statement that: "In the end, the people will assist at [attend] the Tridentine Mass and our churches [the New Mass] will empty." The new vernacular Mass has been an unmitigated disaster for our Holy Faith. The past forty years speak for themselves. If Catholics abandon this contorted Mass and return to the Traditional Mass of our Fathers and saints, then the beauty and holiness of the Faith will shine again.
I must say that I love the NOR. You are fearless, and you pursue the truth and attack error wherever you find it. The Catholic press needs much more of this type of reporting and commentary.
West Groton, Massachusetts
Jesus Christ Will Reign
What a difference a Mass makes. This past Sunday (Dec. 3, 2006), my wife and I traveled 75 miles to the "Old Latin Mass." My wife, a convert, with no knowledge of Latin, cried throughout because of the beauty of the Mass, telling me that we must from now on make the drive each and every Sunday and holy day of obligation because she has finally found people of reverence: families with young children praying instead of being boisterous and noisy; no females in shorts and halter tops, instead, everyone dressed appropriately. She was especially pleased that no female "eucharistic minister" was presenting the Body of Christ.
So now it will be the 75 miles one way to a Mass of reverence and spirit-filled music, where we can both leave feeling we have received the Lord. No more will the priest be the focal point of the Mass; again Jesus Christ will reign. Thank you, God!
Gregory C. Schuller Sr.
Arizona City, Arizona
Intimacy & Immanence
Since so many of your readers seem to think it vital that the Church return to the Tridentine Latin Mass, I thought it might be a balancing factor if I were able to find some good in the present English Mass according to the Novus Ordo.
I believe that the new Mass is stronger in two ways than the Tridentine Mass, and that both of these ways take us back closer to the very first Mass -- Jesus' Last Supper with His Apostles. These two qualities are the qualities of intimacy and the awareness of God's new immanence toward us.
During this small gathering in the upper room, Jesus told His followers that they were no longer servants, but "friends." Sharing this intimate meal with them, He changed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood and told them He was establishing a new Covenant between men and God. And, of course, He spoke to them in their shared familiar tongue.
My intention here is certainly not to advocate some kind of faithful reproduction of the Last Supper in its historical particularity as a model for our Mass. No, it is to urge us to try to see the tremendous change Jesus initiated, a change from the old Covenant and its stress on the exalted transcendence of God, of the Voice thundering from Sinai, of the Holy of Holies that only the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year. No, this is Jesus, now one of us, our Brother who shares our nature and wishes to be our friend.
After all, isn't He the One who told us emphatically that new wine cannot be put into old wineskins, that the day is coming when God is to be worshiped not in some particular sacred city or place, but in spirit and in truth? Surprisingly (to me) it almost seems that some who yearn for the old Mass want to return to the ages of temples, steps leading to a high altar, incense, and elaborate rituals around an altar of sacrifice. This is the way of the old law. Indeed, isn't this also the way of the followers of Baal and Athena, of the Aztecs and the Incas, of the grand mosques of Islam, of all those for whom God is to be feared and placated?
West Seneca, New York
In Persona Christi
Replying to John Gilligan's letter (Nov. 2006): I hold the view that a homosexual male cannot -- must not and should not -- be ordained to the priesthood, for much the same reason that a woman has to be denied the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Neither of them can act in persona Christi. Neither of them can imitate our Lord in His relationship to His Bride and Mystical Body, the Church.
Accordingly, both suffer from an insuperable impediment, and the Church has no authority to ordain either. Any attempt to do so, including past attempts, is null and void, and the female and homosexual "ordinands" remain laymen.
When Archbishop Milingo of Zambia ordained four bishops in the breakaway African-American Catholic Church, he incurred automatic excommunication.
When hundreds of clerics sexually abuse children repeatedly, they are apparently forgiven, but not automatically excommunicated. Of course, many of those young children are ruined for life, but that doesnt matter!
Louis J. Mihalyi
Newland, North Carolina
In your New Oxford Note "An Update on Fr. Timothy Radcliffe" (Dec. 2006), you said: "Radcliffe is worse than we thought." Yes, and more than you may realize. In England, Radcliffe has celebrated Mass on more than one occasion for the openly dissenting homosexual group Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (now operating under the name Soho Masses Pastoral Council), which holds Masses in an Anglican church in Soho, London, twice monthly. (For one of his sermons given at these Masses, see: www.indcatholicnews.com/aducnd.html.) Nevertheless, Radcliffe is still lauded and feted by our bishops, despite complaints from Catholics concerned about his defense of practicing homosexuals. The man seems to speak about little else but homosexuality these days.
Fr. Groeschel Does Not Bash Other Religions
The letters from Chris Newbury and Debbie Morlani bashed Fr. Benedict Groeschel (Nov. 2006). It was very disturbing to me.
I have been to at least six annual weekend retreats with Fr. Groeschel, and have read a number of his books. I have never heard him say that he is "a Christian with a Catholic flavor."
We have "Catholic" pro-death politicians. Here in California, in the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, there was one prolife candidate, a non-Catholic. The others were pro-death "Catholics." Let us not be so quick to slam the ecumenical viewpoint.
Fr. Groeschel does not bash other religions.
Los Gatos, California
We have watched Fr. Benedict Groeschel as long as he has been on EWTN, and the last thing he would preach is that all religions are valid. What he does preach is tolerance and love of our brethren, whether Christian, Jewish, or Moslem.
Horst Peter & Christine Stehmer
The Color of Mourning
Regarding Fr. Joseph Klee's guest column, "Black Is the Color" (Dec. 2006): I have a black chasuble that I use frequently for funerals and for All Souls' Day. In addition to Fr. Klee's excellent commentary on the significance of the color, I think there is an additional meaning. I submit that, if the priest wears black, it's a sign that the Church is mourning along with the survivors. You rarely see family and friends wearing white at a funeral -- even at funerals that end up being impromptu "canonizations."
I've had, and used, this black chasuble for over five years, and never have I received a single complaint. In fact, I get compliments on it. Predictably, though, supposedly open-minded priests are very closed-minded about the use of black.
Rev. Richard Libby
The Kendall Article, Take Two
There was an article by George A. Kendall in The Wanderer (Dec. 7, 2006) titled "More on New Oxford Review." (His previous article on the NOR was in the Aug. 24, 2006, Wanderer.)
In his take-two article, Kendall writes: "Now, in the 1940s and 1950s, when I was getting my Catholic education.... it was not just the nuns who taught that God loves the souls in Hell, but our priests as well." My Catholic schooling took place in the same time frame. No priest or nun ever taught me that God loves the souls in Hell. That would be unscriptural. Jesus said: "Then the king will say to those on his left, Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels'" (Mt. 25:41). God's curse negates love. God gave mankind free will to obey Him or suffer the consequences. Nowhere does the NOR depart from these teachings.
Kendall says: "Sexual identity [homosexuality] is not that simple.... In fact, many people have at least the potential for quite of [sic] bit of variation when it comes to the direction their sexual desires take, and psychology gets extremely complex.... There is an area where discernment is essential, and that is, ultimately, the responsibility of the bishop [when choosing seminarians]." No subjective discernment is needed to nuance the objective and clear statement from the Vatican in 1961 that homosexuals and pederasts should not be in the seminaries. I say keep them out of the seminaries. Period. A "bit of variation" disqualifies them.
Kendall appears to reject or disregard Randy Engel's book, The Rite of Sodomy. I would suggest that Kendall read Engel's book on homosexuality with a critical and open mind, and tell us exactly which American bishops have been unfairly charged with being homosexuals. Can he rebut the testimony of the victims? I have read the book.
Kendall says Pope Benedict XVI's appointments to the Vatican congregations don't matter: "who holds the high offices in the Church is really less important than who holds the lower offices -- i.e., the local ordinaries." This is erroneous. It was the Vatican's Archbishop Bugnini who did inordinate damage to the new vernacular liturgy.
Gerald T. Griffin
In Very Short Supply
No publication fights harder against the evil homosexual agenda than yours. However, courage in other Catholic publications is in very short supply.
Keep on hammering them!
Attention NOR Readers
Can you afford an extra $5 or $10? An extra $5 or $10 from each subscriber to the NOR would go a long way toward meeting the magazine's current needs. To quote our Editor: "Much of what we're asking for is for our reconstructed website... At present our website is a huge financial drain.... At our website you will find our Archives, our Ad Gallery, NOR Dossiers, our En Español section, the NOR Gear Shoppe, our New Oxford News Link, and the current issue."
What other Catholic publication provides such services? But there is a cost that must be met. You are well aware of how effective the NOR is in combating the many problems in the Church. If only two-thirds of subscribers would ante up, one time, with a five- or ten-spot, in addition to the subscription price, the problem would be solved.
I realize that there are hundreds of subscribers who make extra donations each year; this plea is aimed primarily at those who do not.
Think about it, and pray about it, and then -- I'll let you finish the sentence. In the meantime, here is my $10 to start the ball rolling.
Sun City, Arizona