May 1996

The Byzantine Option

One cannot fail to notice among your readers and writers a profound dissatisfaction with many current fads and trends in the Catholic Church which compromise sound doctrine and venerable traditions as well as scandalize many of the faithful. Some of the letters to the editor are of a personal nature and disclose an anguish of mind and soul resulting from that Pandora’s box, Vatican II.

I too have a personal story to relate. After seeking in vain for 20 years to accommodate myself to the “reformed” liturgy and practices of my parish, I moved over to a Byzantine-Rite Catholic parish and was treated to an ancient liturgy, doctrinally explicit and correct, “unreformed” by Vatican II, sung a capella throughout by the congregation under the direction of cantors and without Protestant hymns, and celebrated by priests and deacons who alone and without “extraordinary ministers” attend to the entire liturgy in the ancient manner. Our priests and bishops are truly orthodox and in loyal and uncontentious communion with Rome. In most respects our liturgy, other divine services, religious practices, fasts, and theology are the same as those of our Orthodox brethren. It is indeed significant that most of our parishioners are former Roman-Rite Catholics who went “east” to escape the corruptions and sophistries that emerged from the aforementioned Pandora’s box.

On page nine of your October 1995 issue, you urged aggrieved orthodox Catholics to communicate with their bishop (who, however, is sometimes the cause of the grievance) and with the St. Joseph Foundation. To that I would add the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio, Most Rev. Agostino Cacciavillan, whose address is: 3339 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, DC 20008-3687. He is the eyes and ears of the Vatican in the U.S., and a source of much comfort to me.

Robert L. Schwind
Atlanta, Georgia




The Obvious Choice: A Nun

I heartily approve of Sheldon Vanauken’s “Humble Proposal” (Jan.-Feb.), that a female parishioner representing the Church, the Bride of Christ, be the first to communicate at Mass celebrated by the priest representing Christ the Bridegroom. But, unlike respondent Karen Taylor (Jan.-Feb.), I would like to see a nun take on the symbolic function, for two reasons: (1) a nun, having accepted the call to be Christ’s bride, is an ideal representative of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and (2) through her vows, a nun has committed herself to a life of celibate chastity, and therefore can be trusted to take on the role responsibly.

Christine Marlin
Ottawa, Ontario




Count Us In

It was a pleasure to read Mark Barrett’s letter (March), which listed a number of excellent Catholic colleges and universities that are trying diligently to maintain a truly Catholic identity. To that list, however, should be added Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., which has a strong commitment to the authentic teaching of the Magisterium of the Church. Assumption College is also the home of the Institute for the Study of the Magisterium of the Church, which holds conferences to explain and support the official teaching of the Church and to encourage loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, who has been such a great gift to the Church and the world.

Joseph H. Hagan
President, Assumption College
Worcester, Massachusetts




Try This

Regarding Mark Barrett’s letter (March) requesting a guide to reliably Catholic institutions of higher learning: He might want to consult The National Review College Guide: America’s Top Liberal Arts Schools, edited by Charles Sykes and Brad Miner (Simon & Schuster).

Penelope C. Greene
Somerset, Pennsylvania




Ask Pointed Questions

Mark Barrett (letter, March) wants to know how one may readily identify reliably Catholic institutions of higher learning. A prospective student or donor should ask about, among other things, an institution’s public stance vis-à-vis Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities. To date, the American bishops have been unable to agree on the implementing ordinances, largely because many semi- or once-Catholic universities are resisting episcopal oversight of their theology faculties.

Ex Corde insists that the Catholic faith animate the institution at its very heart, rather than being relegated to a mere “tradition” or to vague atmospherics. Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, speaking to the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars last September, said the following: “The Catholic university that refuses to be defined by its relationship to the Church, that claims to be dedicated to the truth and yet will not define the divine truth taught by the Church, is — to say the least — offending against the principle of contradiction. A starker and more accurate judgment would be that such an institution is living a lie.”

Samuel Casey Carter (in Crisis, Jan. 1995) identifies at least 10 institutions as reliably Catholic: the University of Dallas; Franciscan University, Steubenville; Loyola College, Baltimore; Thomas More College, New Hampshire; Mount St. Mary’s College, Maryland; Thomas Aquinas College, California; Christendom College, Virginia; St. Mary’s College, California; Assumption College, Massachusetts; and St. Anselm’s College, New Hampshire. Readers interested in other institutions should ask to receive the text of the institution’s response to the committee headed by Bishop Leibrecht which is drafting Ex Corde implementing ordinances. The Cardinal Newman Society (P.O. Box 75274, Washington, DC 20013) closely tracks Ex Corde implementation and the attitudes of various “Catholic” institutions toward it.

Finally, contrary to Barrett’s opinion with respect to St. John’s University in Minnesota, few, if any, experts would likely mention this institution in the same breath as, say Franciscan University or Christendom.

Michael T. Barry
Collegeville, Minnesota




A Check List

I was very excited to read Kenneth J. Howell’s article, “The New Surge of Converts to Rome from Protestantism” (March). As a convert to the Roman Catholic Church in 1993, I found it a veritable check list of my concerns and experiences.

Prof. James G. Williams
Dept. of Religion, Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York




All Too True

If only I could contradict Clare McGrath Merkle’s account of teaching in a suburban public school (article, Jan.-Feb.)! But alas, I can’t. Indeed, one of the reasons I took an early retirement from public school teaching was the increasing difficulty of managing some of my classes. Strangely, there are parents who oppose the teacher who attempts to maintain high academic and disciplinary standards.

Jeanne M. DiLisio
Springfield, Vermont




The Hand That Rocks the Cradle…

In her article, “Our Children, the Public Schools, & Our Toxic Culture” (Jan.-Feb.), Clare McGrath Merkle asks, “Where have we parents been?” A better, more precise question is, where have we mothers been? The famous quote, “the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world,” gives us a clue as to why our children have gone so seriously amuck.

When we women abdicate our responsibilities of raising the children we and our husbands bring into the world, we create a dangerous void in society. We seem to have eaten the apple again in our quest for the status of a career. Where do our children learn the rules of civilization — to share, safely to register and resolve complaints, to respect themselves and others — if not at their mother’s knee? No child-care complex or “caregiver” can replace the loving and patient teaching of a mother. No dad can teach the dynamics of human relationships like a mother. No school can compensate for the lack of a mother, or do her job. Dads are vital in a family, but according to God’s plan and woman’s biology, they have been given a role other than that of “primary caregiver.” It is the role of a mother to teach societal values and rules. When we go off to work outside our homes and away from our children for six to eight hours a day, we cannot realistically hope to recoup the loss of that time with a few “quality” hours at the end of the day and on weekends. We need to stay home and teach the values our society should be ruled by. We need to recognize the real power and authority of the home and stop looking to the inferior power and authority of the workplace. We need to return to our roles given us by God, our Father, and away from the role suggested by the National Organization of Women, and other purveyors of social destruction.

Women, wake up! The experiment is over, and it was a dismal failure. We are not superwomen, and the biggest losers in this charade have been our children and our society. It is we who have created these monsters, this anarchy. There is no one rocking the cradle, because we’re all at the office. We have abdicated our role given us by God, when He blessed us with the ability to create, with Him, new life. That new life isn’t finished at birth. The process just begins, and I, for one, do not want to stand before my heavenly Father and tell Him I couldn’t spend the time needed to teach future generations of His children how to rule the world because I was too busy at a board meeting.

Rosanne Keane
Charleston, West Virginia




Besieged by Mormons

I am asking for anyone and everyone’s help who will hear me. My lament is quite simple: I recently moved to Ogden, Utah (just north of Salt Lake City), and I am experiencing a shortage of understanding of the Mormons. Can any of my fellow readers give me a simple outline of what Mormons believe, in comparison to the tenets of the Catholic Church? My education is coming slowly, but I want to be able to defend my faith immediately, especially as I am taken to task over Catholic dogma almost daily. Any assistance you can offer would be most appreciated.

Chris Witham
1120 Canyon Rd. #32
Ogden UT 84404



Back to May 1996 Issue


©