Not a "Bad Christian," After All
Prior to my subscription, I had serious concerns about the Church. I thought the liberal "oh honey, that's okay" mentality had destroyed the concept of righteousness by confusing tolerance with repentance and forgiveness. Since subscribing, I was relieved to find Catholics who think that homosexual sex is abhorrent, that sexual predators should be prosecuted as criminals, and that the Mass has indeed lost its reverence. I no longer feel like I'm a "bad Christian."
Although I may not agree with all of your viewpoints, they do provoke meaningful thought and do cause me to challenge my own opinions.
Regarding the letters on the Tridentine Latin Mass: At the Last Supper (the very first Mass ever celebrated) Christ was facing His 12 Apostles. He did not turn His back on them. When Jesus said, "This is my body this is my blood," He used the vernacular Aramaic, not the ancient Hebrew official liturgical language used by the Pharisees.
In changing the language of the sacred liturgy from Latin to the vernacular, the Second Vatican Council simply used common sense, or "prudence," which is one of the virtues advocated by the Church.
The congregation is supposed to participate in the prayers of the Holy Eucharist. To do this they need to see what the priest is doing and understand what he is saying.
Fortunately, the days are gone when Catholics were only obligated to be physically (but not mentally) present during the Mass.
Peter W. Stein
"Putting Their Tongues Out To Receive the Bread"?
In the letter from "Anunny-mouse" (Sept.), he described how he couldn't imagine the Apostles "putting their tongues out to receive the bread" at the Last Supper. Notice, the word "bread" was used.
I would like to suggest a study of Church history. As early as A.D. 115-125, Pope St. Sixtus prohibited the faithful from touching the sacred vessels. Pope St. Eutychian (275-283) forbade the Sacred Hosts in the laity's hands. Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) required administering the Eucharist on the tongue only. The Sixth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (680-681) forbade the Sacred Host in the hand under the pain of possible excommunication. In more recent times, Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) said, "the method on the tongue must be retained" (Apostolic Epistle Memoriale Domini), and Pope John Paul II said, "To touch the Sacred Species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained (Dominicae Cenae, #11), and "It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another" (Inaestemabile Donum, #9).
Since it is estimated that only some 25 percent of Catholics believe in the Real Presence (the bread and wine are changed at the consecration into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ), I can understand how someone who does not believe in receiving on the tongue considers those who do to be "old-fashioned."
It might be beneficial to attend a Tridentine Latin Mass to observe the reverence so visible there. You won't see any shorts or beach attire. You will see many women in dresses or long skirts, most with a head covering, be it a veil or hat, and young children being taught to always genuflect on entering or leaving a pew. You will not hear any talking in church, before or after Mass. You will see all kneeling at an altar rail, to receive Communion on the tongue. Amazingly, most are young families, not "nostalgic" senior citizens.
I have read where Mother Teresa was asked what upset her most in her travels, whether it be poverty or disease, etc., and she answered, "No, it was someone receiving Communion in his hand."
Jo Ann Muetterties
Grass Valley, California
"The Church in Her Wisdom"?
Tom Bethell is very accurate in his observations about the Tridentine Latin Mass ("Refugees From the Vernacular Mass," Sept.). Bethell mentions altar girls. When I was a boy, there were so many altar boys, it seemed there was barely enough room on the altar steps for all of them. And there were plenty of vocations to the priesthood.
The sex scandals in the Church make it difficult for parents to entrust their boys to priests. Of course the greatest scandal was not the abuse -- despicable as it was -- but the cover-up. Thank God for a free press, for I doubt that we would have ever heard of it if the Church controlled the media.
Many years ago there was a saying: "The Church in her wisdom." But I don't find too much of it anymore. So many changes were made simply for the sake of change -- change that was totally unnecessary. In life, man needs customs and rituals that are consistent. It helps anchor man in a stormy world. The Catholic Church used to provide that. I hope Pope Benedict will allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated without an indult -- at the very least.
Thomas C. Cullinane
New York, New York
Love It or Hate It, I Can't Put It Down
A few months ago I called to cancel my subscription after having been inflamed once again by some very graphic and vulgar language concerning homosexual persons. (I certainly don't condone homosexuality.) However, after reflecting on the entirety of the NOR and your unwavering adherence to orthodoxy and the Magisterium, and the fact that you always call it like it is instead of watering down your message, I called back and uncanceled my subscription. I am so very glad I took the time to reflect upon this. Despite my grievances, I usually have a very hard time putting your magazine down.
I came to the conclusion, after having been so disappointed in some of the other periodicals I subscribe to, that your unswerving loyalty to the truth was exactly what I liked most about your publication. Some of the other periodicals I have subscribed to have left me wanting in the worst way. I had already stopped reading Crisis magazine long before I found out about Deal Hudson's sexual depravity. And then there was The Catholic Answer. I loved The Catholic Answer just the way it was, and now I find it very watered down and will not subscribe to it again.
Also, I have been quite upset at some of the things I see going on at my parish, which celebrates the new Mass from Vatican II. Jokes are told during the homily, clapping and loud applause are common during Mass -- I could go on, but it would take me too long.
I am a convert and had never been to a Tridentine Mass, and recently went to one in our diocese. I felt like I had truly, finally come home. Finally, I was seeing true reverence to our Lord Jesus Christ. It was such as I had never before experienced; I was thoroughly enraptured by this Mass. I find it very disconcerting that the Tridentine Mass is not celebrated at every parish, and hope with all my heart that someday the Tridentine Mass will become the norm and not the exception.
So, keep it coming, NOR. You are right on track. More people need to read what you publish.
(so as not to anger my husband)
Brom's Execrable Groveling
Congratulations on your excellent New Oxford Note, "A Case Study in the Theology of Apology" (Sept.), recounting the McCusker episode that took place here in the Diocese of San Diego six months ago. To my knowledge, yours is the first national Catholic periodical to tell the story of our Bishop, Robert Brom, and his execrable groveling before the homosexual lobby and its fellow travelers in the secular media. The Bishop unashamedly sacrificed the long-established teaching of Holy Mother Church in order to curry the favor of sodomites.
But please permit me a minor quibble. Your Note suggested that we in the Bishop's flock reacted with "confusion and disappointment" to his outrageous behavior. Disappointment, yes; but confusion, no!
Saddam Moved His WMDs to Syria
I am dismayed at what I have been reading in the NOR recently. While I support the war in Iraq, I also respect your right to oppose it. Just because we have found no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) doesn't mean they aren't there or were not there. Israeli intelligence reported that the WMDs were moved to Syria.
George J. Nick
Highland Park, New Jersey
Ed. Note: If Saddam had WMDs, he would have used them when the U.S. invaded Iraq.
Open for Debate
I am really enjoying the various items on the war in Iraq, especially how it relates to the Just War Doctrine of our Church. I implore fellow readers not to cancel their subscriptions to the NOR over this issue, but to read everyone's position carefully and learn from it. I, for one, am learning a great deal about the Doctrine, and I encourage the NOR to provide more items on the subject so we can all become better informed.
In an effort, however, to keep things a little more factual, I must respond to the letter from Albert Regan Doyle (Sept.), who stated, "We were told that the reason for the attack was Saddam's possession of the famous 'weapons of mass destruction' ready for use against us and others in the Middle East, and that Iraq was involved with al-Qaeda and had a part in the 9/11 attack."
It is fair to say that the Bush Administration, with the benefit of hindsight, erred in pushing the weapons of mass destruction argument; the U.S. Senate in October 2002 (both parties as a matter of record with very few dissenters) voted to authorize the removal of Saddam on a total of 23 grounds. Included were the breaking of the 1991 accords, violations of UN sanctions, attempts to kill a former U.S. president, harboring terrorists, genocide, and many others. Iraq was the only country in the world on September 11th that was shooting at U.S. planes. As you will recall, we occupied two-thirds of Iraq's air space with nearly a half million flights by our fighters, all to prevent genocide. This U.S. policy (UN-approved) resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of Iraqi children, and vast wealth accumulated by crooked UN and Iraqi leaders, including Saddam. The moral clarity of all this is open for debate, but I encourage readers to visit government websites and read the Senate Resolution. It should also be noted that our bombing of Serbia in 1999 had no authorization from the U.S. Senate and was solely based upon the decision of President Clinton. President Bush's decision were debated through a long and divisive campaign in which we were barraged by arguments such as made by Mr. Doyle, not to mention Michael Moore, Hollywood actors, CBS, etc. They were rejected by a majority of the voting public.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
We're glad to see you have an open mind. Still, none of what you report makes the war on Iraq a Just War. You compare Mr. Doyle to Michael Moore, Hollywood actors, and CBS, when Doyle should be compared to Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), both of whom asserted that the war on Iraq was unjust, right from the beginning.
Moreover, prior to the invasion, the U.S. had Saddam contained. As Joseph Sobran wrote in The Wanderer (Sept. 1): "In his memoirs, the elder Bush explained his preference for containment over conquest. An attempt to conquer Iraq might have deposed Saddam Hussein, all right, but it would have entailed a long and costly occupation, with a bitterly hostile population and endless guerilla warfare. The elder Bush was unconsciously predicting his son's predicament today. It has become more and more evident that the job isn't, and can't be, 'finished.'... A powerful case against George Walker Bush's conduct of the war was made years in advance by another Republican, a man whose patriotism nobody questions: George Herbert Walker Bush. Sons should listen to their fathers."
I recently came across your magazine online, when I read a review of a book on Dorothy Day by Edmund Miller. I've just recently become a Roman Catholic, and will be in full communion next Easter Vigil, and it is primarily because of the writing of Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, et al. To find your magazine was such a delight. Really good writing with a take-no-prisoners approach. Sweet. I'll be subscribing.
I think you are absolutely right about Judge Roberts, George Bush, and the Republican Party ("Prolifers: Thanks for the Votes; We'll See You Again in Four Years," New Oxford Notes, Sept.). I hope Fr. Frank Pavone and other prolifers read this Note. Simply put, it was an eye opener.
Des Moines, Iowa
What Should Prolifers Do?
In your New Oxford Note, "Prolifers: Thanks for the Votes; We'll See You Again in Four Years" (Sept.), you ask: "Do we need to form a third party? How can we get the prolife movement going again?" The Note shows that the Republican Party claims to be prolife, but has done very little to prove it. After Republican Sen. Rick Santorum supported pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter for re-election, I had had it with the GOP. I am now registered with the American Independent Party (known in other states as the Constitution Party).
This Party supports traditional moral values and is strongly prolife. It also supports repealing NAFTA, stopping illegal immigration, and abolishing the IRS and the income tax.
Yes, Catholics might form a third party, but I prefer this existing Party.
Let us suppose you are right in your assessment of Judge Roberts, that he supports Roe v. Wade.
Let us suppose we prolifers are naïve in supporting Republican candidates every four years. But the Democrats are morally bankrupt.
We have no other choice in the present two-party system than to put our faith in the Republican candidates. I am a prolifer who embraces the lesser of two evils.
Your New Oxford Note was overflowing with what I call "The Oh Yeah Factor"! As I continued to read further, I kept nodding my head and thinking, "Ooooohhhhh, yeah!"
Your analysis of how the Republican Party gives a little window dressing to keep prolifers enticed is not only correct, but one of several reason why I left the GOP and now consider myself a "Recovering Republican." As a practicing Catholic who believes his first duty is to God, I left the Republican Party with great heartbreak, as I was very politically active. But I could no longer justify participating in the hypocrisy.
Douglas A. Wrenn
Beacon Falls, Connecticut
I've watched several years of Republican incompetence. The failure of President Bush to provide prompt and competent leadership after Katrina is far from astonishing, merely a case in point. The Democrats are intellectually bankrupt. Neither Party puts charity first.
What is needed is a centrist party dedicated to Christian ideals, such as has often been exemplified in Europe by the Christian Democrats.
George Martyn Finch
For more than 30 years I have looked upon the Republican Party as the primary hope for reversing national laws permitting abortion. It hasn't worked. In fact, every hope has been dashed.
The anti-life conspiracy is so broad, so vast, that I doubt we will ever find a political solution within the ranks of either of our national Parties. From a strictly political viewpoint, the third-party alternative is the only way the prolife voice will ever make any headway.
In the last national election there was a prolife third-party alternative: the Constitution Party. If Catholics and Baptists alone had united to support the Constitution Party in the last election, a huge message would have been sent.
Twenty years ago I converted to the Catholic Church after a lifetime of sorry atheism. Dismayed at finding many sorry atheists in both the pews and the pulpits, I have found the NOR to be a life saver, indeed a faith saver.
Lamont Flawed on Moral Theology
John Lamont's insights about the necessity of Vatican II are precious on the whole (Jul.-Aug.), but his incursions into the field of moral theology are flawed. Lamont says: "Thus, moral theology was defined as dealing with the Commandments." He is only 25 percent correct. As a professor of moral theology before Vatican II and for much of my priestly life, I used the four volumes of Noldin-Schmidt-Heinzel. These old masters are very sharp in presenting reasons to back moral principles. None is an Ockamist in the sense that, as Lamont puts it, "Nature and virtue drop out of the picture, and the sole basis for morality is the obligation imposed by the divine commands." My seminarians would have mobbed me had I followed that line.
Fr. Anthony Zimmerman