May 1995

Hard Times in Seattle

I felt a touch of compassion in my heart when I read the letter from John Swanson of Pasadena, California (March), who says he left the Catholic Church because he couldn't find any clergy in his city who hold to orthodox Catholicism — and that he can't stand the "rigid and uncharitable fundamentalism" of the Latin Mass advocates.

I am unable to attend the New Age and ultra-feminist Masses in my community. But I have been able to attend services at certain Protestant churches which hold to the "fundamentals" of our creed and yet are not "rigid and uncharitable." These churches are classified as Pentecostal, but they are not heavily into "speaking in tongues."

At the same time, I still belong to my national pen-pal group for disabled Catholics. I feel I am doing what God wants in my particular situation, and I have been told that I am making the best of a bad situation by a devout Catholic priest in another city where we often visit.

I urge Swanson not to give up on Jesus Christ. He could do as I have done.

Margaret Jane Murton
Seattle, Washington




I'm Back

Regarding my letter (March) wherein I stated I had left the Catholic Church: I write to say I was just reconciled with the Church.

John Swanson
Pasadena, California




Insulted By Avery Dulles

I was insulted and shocked by Avery Dulles's article "The Lure of Catholicism" (March). It was blatantly propagandistic, historically selective, if not inaccurate, intellectually irresponsible, and self-congratulatory. Dulles's assembly of converts hardly constitutes responsible criticism of Protestantism. Should we be concerned that one of the converts he quotes found the validity of Anglican orders "open to question"?

Could not all Christian bodies line up converts to tell their stories? If so, what have we accomplished? Let us not be reduced to gloating and gleeful hand-rubbing. Certainly there are many thousands who have not heard the Word of Jesus, and are awaiting, not the medieval rush of which Dulles is so enamored, but the salvation of their souls.

The Rev. Ralph W. Pitman Jr.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Cleveland Heights, Ohio




God Isn't a Marshmallow

Regarding the letter (March) from Robin Bernhoft, who questioned which "spirit" violently smashed him down into his seat at a Pentecostal healing service: I would say to him, "Consider yourself blessed!" Look at the way the Spirit of God knocked Paul off of his high horse and blinded him until he saw Jesus, the Light. Consider old Moses exiled from the Promised Land because of disobedience. How about Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt because she took a peek, or that naughty couple Ananias and Sapphira struck dead to the ground for holding something back from the Lord? There are many such stories throughout the New and Old Testaments that demonstrate not only the Loving Spirit of God, but also a Just, Awesome and Holy God. Contrast these facts with the theologies today that incessantly serve us up marshmallow gods and cotton candy saviors.

I have been a part of the Catholic charismatic movement for 20 years, and have only praise and thanksgiving in my heart for how this Spirit-filled experience has enriched my faith and life. I would also say to Bernhoft, a new Catholic: Welcome to the Catholic Church and to fullest truth and knowledge of the Word Made Flesh!

Arlene Sawicki
So. Barrington, Illinois




Repression Is Needed Too

In his letter to the editor (March), Keith Hudson says that in dealing with demands to make homosexuality socially acceptable and the perils such acceptability could pose to impressionable young people, "Education is a much better bet than repression."

But are education and repression necessarily mutually exclusive? Not according to St. Thomas Aquinas, who reminds us that "in the human species the young need not only bodily nutrition, as animals do, but also the training of the soul. Other animals have their natural instincts to provide for themselves: but man lives by reason, which takes the experience of a long time to arrive at discretion. Hence children need instruction by the confirmed experience of their parents…and then moreover, because of the assaults of passion, whereby the judgment of prudence is thwarted, there is need not of instruction only, but also of repression" (Summa Against the Gentiles, III, 122).

Paul A. Melanson
Gardner, Massachusetts



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