June 1998

Christ, the Virile One

I have been reading Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's classic Life of Christ. The following words of his really caught my attention: "If He is what He claimed to be, a Savior, a Redeemer, then we have a virile Christ and a leader worth following in these terrible times; One Who will step into the breach of death, crushing sin, gloom and despair; a leader to Whom we can make totalitarian sacrifice without losing, but gaining freedom, and Whom we can love even unto death. We need a Christ today Who will make cords and drive the buyers and sellers from our new temples; Who will blast the unfruitful fig tree; Who will talk of crosses and sacrifices and Whose voice will be like the voice of the raging sea. But He will not allow us to pick and choose among His words, discarding the hard ones, and accepting the ones that please our fancy. We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation, Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water."

In view of the dissenters in the Church today who "pick and choose," Bishop Sheen's eloquent words truly cry out to be reflected upon and heeded, now more than ever.

I am greatly encouraged that the NOR remains steadfast in its witness to orthodoxy and exhorts its readers to follow the authentic Christ, who is so brilliantly described by Bishop Sheen.

Richard J. Wirth
Fremont, California




No Appeasement

Thanks for the encouraging ad you placed in The American Spectator headlined "The Pope (as Seen by Progressive Catholics)" with the adjoining grotesque drawing of the Pope. The drawing vividly shows how progressive Catholics regard Pope John Paul II and the text tells how they are trying to "re-image" Catholicism.

In my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), we have re-imaged our hymnal and are in the process of re-imaging Scripture -- i.e., correcting Scripture and ridding it of what is unappealing.

I agree with you that appeasing these revisionist forces, which are at work in various forms in almost all Christian churches, will not work. I stand with you. Subscription payment enclosed.

Michael Burt
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan




No Longer a Conformist

With regard to Gregory Beabout's article "Should Classes in Catholic Colleges & Universities Begin With Prayer?" (April), I have good memories of all my college classes beginning with prayer (Mount St. Mary's, Los Angeles, class of '63); but when I began a doctoral program at Notre Dame in 1981, I noticed that almost none of my classes did. I assumed that maybe graduate school made the difference. However, when I began teaching undergraduates at Notre Dame, I discovered from conversations with my students and with other professors that it was almost unheard of to begin class with prayer. Being a conformist at heart, I followed suit. It began to bother me, however, that this ritual, along with so many other traditional forms of Catholic piety, was being discarded. It also saddened me that meetings and gatherings of all kinds at Notre Dame so rarely begin with a prayer; and even when they do -- such as at the faculty banquet at the end of the year -- the prayer is very generic and carefully worded so as not to offend the non-Catholics and non-Christians among the faculty, and the Sign of the Cross is not made.

This year I decided to take ownership of my own classroom and begin my classes with a prayer -- including the Sign of the Cross. For my classes in English composition I made up the following prayer: "Dear Lord, Help us to appreciate and use responsibly your great gift of language. Through our use of words may we come better to know ourselves, our fellow humans, and the divine Word, Jesus Christ."

For my other course -- a year-long interdisciplinary course organized around the four themes of Nature, Society, the Individual, and God -- I either composed prayers reflecting the theme of the quarter's work, or drew on appropriate prayers written by famous people such as St. Thomas More and Jane Austen. So far, none of the students has complained, and a few have commented to me that they really like the fact that we begin class with a prayer. Although it felt a little awkward at first, I am now very comfortable with class prayer and am happy to have taken a small step to enhance the Catholic identity of the university.

Prof. Marian E. Crowe
Arts & Letters Core Course
Notre Dame, Indiana




Worse Than a Double Standard

William Tighe's letter (April) describing the National Catholic Register as "insipid" is grossly unfair. While the Register is not an investigative newspaper, it does do thorough reporting. But I am disappointed in the Register for refusing NOR ads, for, after all, it does print ads for Medjugorje pilgrimages. Acceptance of travel industry ads promoting Medjugorje is at variance with at least the following admonitions: (1) L'Osservatore Romano (Feb. 14, 1987); (2) Apostolic Pro Nuncio Pio Laghi's Protocol of March 11, 1988; (3) Cardinal Ratzinger's Letter to the German bishops (May 23, 1990); (4) the 1991 Yugoslavian Bishops' Conference declaration that no supernatural events have taken place at Medjugorje; and (5) the statement by Bishop Peric of Mostar that the events at Medjugorje are "not supernatural."

I have urged the Publisher of the Register to accept NOR ads, for the virtue of obedience is not threatened by the NOR, but is certainly threatened by the Medjugorje travel industry and the priests it co-opts. If the Register can put up with that industry, why can't it put up with the NOR?

Edward F. Waterbury
Clearwater, Florida




In Defense of the Register

In his letter (April) William Tighe refers to the National Catholic Register's "repositioning" of itself and accuses the Register of being "insipid." Though the Register was never bad, I've been thrilled by the transformation it has undergone under its new ownership, and "insipid" hardly describes the fresh writing I've found in today's Register.

Then in your Editor's Note following Tighe's letter you take advantage of his words to launch harsh criticisms of the Register, accusing it of lacking a "backbone," and saying that its wishy-washiness lurks behind its refusal to publish ads for the NOR. I must admit that your ads have never appealed to me, and I can easily understand the Register's hesitancy to publish them.

I would throw down the gauntlet to all comers to show me where today's Register has distorted or fogged Church doctrine. The Register is a newspaper, and its main task is not to stir up controversy but to provide information. It simply chooses to let the light shine, as opposed to disputing the agents of darkness, and that is a far cry from copping out.

The Register is certainly not the NOR -- the Register would probably not publish the articles that appear in the NOR. The Register has a different mission, a different target audience, and a different role to play in evangelization. Is that a crime? Is there no need for different weapons in the fight?

Caroline Wilders
Atlanta, Georgia



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