Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: January-February 2011

January-February 2011

The Greatest of Evils

Cal Samra’s all-points assault on the shrink professionals, “Bishops: Think Twice Before Taking Psychiatric Advice!” (Nov.), was brilliant, wise, and long overdue. To find more truth per line of text one would have to be reading the Bible.

When age 13, I heard Fulton Sheen open an address in his hometown of Peoria with this: “The two greatest evils in the world today are Marx­ian communism and Freudian psy­choanalysis.” So U.S. Catholics and their bishops were warned. To our eternal shame, few listened.

Barbara Nauer

Peoria, Illinois

I could not agree more with Cal Samra as to the dangers of psychiatry when it meddles with the faith.

At age 22 I had a mental breakdown — a vague term for a multifaceted condition — and went into a depressive, depersonalized state. While in consultation with an (eminent) psychiatrist, I asked whether Christianity was any use as a cure. With the air of one speaking for his whole profession, he said, “Well, we don’t really know as yet.”

At that moment this thought flashed into my mind: “I may be an unlearned, callow youth, but with my faith I know more than you.” From then on I didn’t put much credence in my secular advisors; in fact, when I read books on psychology, my mind immediately began to cloud over.

What I needed was not rationalizations, theory, or “therapy,” but Christian faith and right action, and these have been my cure.

I was a Protestant at that time and the Bible became my only anchorage into reality. I read it continuously in search of some kind of hope. After a few weeks it began to “speak” to me in that wonderful Psalm 119: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (v. 71), and “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept thy word” (v. 67).

Various New Testament texts also began to speak to my condition: “He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by Him” (Heb. 7:25), and “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37). Here is psychiatry indeed!

I also got great mental clarification from the penny catechism, in which the seven deadly sins and their contrary virtues are plainly listed. These are therapeutic in themselves: Avoid the first like the plague and cultivate the latter if you would make progress toward mental health.

Was my struggle a natural or a spiritual problem, or a bit of both? All I know is that it was the healing power of Jesus and no psychiatrist that pulled me out of it. He did not solve my particular problems directly, but raised my mind and soul to a higher level, from which things can be seen in perspective and in relation to the “one thing necessary” — spiritual salvation.

I do not want to give the impression that psychology is bunk. In the natural realm, psychologists can do excellent work when they do not meddle with religious factors they do not understand. But the Holy Spirit is the supreme psychologist who will lead us into all truth, and the truth will set us free.

Jim Allen

Torquay, United Kingdom

Satire Sprinkled With Ageism

The impassioned, brilliant observations in the NOR invariably make for compelling, satisfying reading. Occasionally, however, satire allows prejudice to come to the fore. It doesn’t take many words to cultivate prejudice, and the New Oxford Note “Another Revolution in the Church! (Yawn)” (Oct.) did a neat job.

The Note hits fast and hard, using the phrase “little old lady” and the adjective “80-year-old grandmother” in the first paragraph, while setting a tone of derision for Jennifer Sleeman’s ideas. This demeaning treatment of elderly women as a category is reinforced, in case the reader let the point drift out of focus, by repeating Ms. Sleeman’s age six paragraphs later, and adding the phrase “himself 80 years old” to parenthetically describe Ms. Sleeman’s supporter, Robert Blair Kaiser. And once more, about two-thirds of the way through, older women are hit with a demeaning tone attached to the word “Grandma,” changing a term of endearment to one of derision.

There is no excuse for this, even though the theme of the Note is that the new campaign by Ms. Sleeman to change the status of women in the Church is old hat.

Does this matter? You bet! Having passed the age of 65 myself, I now enjoy the discomfort of the not-uncommon experience of sometimes subtle, sometimes nasty treatment that some store clerks, vehicle drivers, and others extend to me. The disdainful attitude extends to the treatment of the elderly by some in the medical establishment, which can have a radical effect. But decent treatment of all people in the NOR, a Catholic magazine, should be a given.

Carol W. LaGrasse

Stony Creek, New York

Recycle Those Rosaries

Your old and broken rosaries or even costume jewelry could be re-strung into rosaries for the missions. Please send them to consecrated virgin and rosary-maker Loretta Matu­lich, PO Box 1212, Oregon City OR 97045-0091. She also accepts religious medals you no longer need.

If you have small statues or holy cards you no longer need, send them to another consecrated virgin, Patricia Murray, 2144 Market St., Friendship WI 53934-9653. Pat also collects and repairs Mass vestments and sacred linens and sends them to the missions, with her bishop’s approval.

Anne Barbeau Gardiner

Brewster, New York

The Breaking of Bread

In regard to your New Oxford Note “Power, Money & Mind Control” (Nov.): It seems curious that you should select as an example of cult-like control what is, after all, only the right way to do something. In her famous book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home (1922), under the heading “The Kindergarten of Etiquette,” Emily Post wrote, “Bread should always be broken into small pieces with the fingers before being eaten.” The question arises: From what remote mountains and jungles were Regnum Christi members being recruited that adults needed such direction?

(Name Withheld)

Regnum Christi: It's Not All Bad

Everything I read in the NOR about the Legion of Christ is negative. Your New Oxford Note “Power, Money & Mind Control” was no exception. But Regnum Christi has been wonderful for my daughter and her family; it brought her husband back to the Catholic Church. I have been on several retreats with Legionary priests and they were inspiring.

Your Note mentions the role of papal delegate Archbishop Velasio De Paolis in restructuring the Legion. It is important to note, then, the October 19 letter he wrote to the Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi. In particular, he wrote that “the shock caused by the Founder’s [Fr. Marcial Maciel’s] actions had tremendous impact, on a scale capable of destroying the Congregation itself, as many in fact predicted. Yet it not only survives, but is almost intact in its vitality.” That is because the “great majority of the Legionaries have been able to read the story of their own vocation not so much in relation to the Founder as to the mystery of Christ and the Church, and renew their fidelity to Christ and the Church, in the Legion.” Pope Benedict, he said, “has renewed his confidence in the Congregation. This confidence will lead to a positive outcome only if it is matched by the trust of the Legionaries.”

As for Regnum Christi, Archbishop De Paolis called it “a treasure that is indivisibly connected to the Legion, which should feel responsible for it and continue offering its help.”

Gerrie Gromacki

Erie, Pennsylvania

From a Letter to Fr. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame

Dear Fr. Jenkins:

It has been my family’s goal throughout the years to have a family member attend Notre Dame. We considered it achieving the “American Catholic dream.”

Some of our family, myself included, made it to Seton Hall and Rutgers, but Notre Dame was considered the best of the best, the epitome of academic success that each generation dreamed of since getting off the boat at Ellis Island.

We needed two things to achieve our goal: the finances to attend such a fine institution and a family member with the academic skills to be accepted and succeed. I am now financially able, and my grandson has the academic capacity and credentials to represent all the family, both living and deceased, whose hard work and sacrifice would have made this possible.

But I watched with complete dismay — and then disgust — the treatment of those individuals who by singing, praying, and saying the rosary on campus were arrested and prosecuted. And for what? For defending the lives of unborn children!

No, grandson, you are not going to Notre Dame. That great university does not exist anymore, and its president, by his actions, has proven that he is not a Roman Catholic priest true to the faith of those who have defended Holy Mother Church and her teachings.


Joseph E. Staskewicz

Southampton, New Jersey

Fun With Evolutionary Science

Thank you for John Martin’s excellent article “The Impossible Wonderland” (Nov.). I have a few questions for Mr. Martin or anyone else who may wish to answer or comment on them.

If evolution is true, why does it seem to have stopped? Why are there no creatures around today that we cannot identify because they are in transition? If humans evolved from apes a zillion years ago, why didn’t more evolve from apes 100 years, 1,000 years, 100,000 years later, and so on? Why is this process not continuing today, such that creatures exist now for which we cannot say whether or not they are human? Why is there not a continuum of species between ape and human?

Martin’s comment about the importance of the sun to human existence detracts from the article. He states that variations in the 93-million-mile distance from the sun would be damaging to life on earth, stating that changes to 92 or 94 million miles would be disastrous. In fact, in the Northern hemisphere, that distance varies annually from 91 million miles in winter to 94.5 million miles in summer, and obviously does not have the effects he mentions (boiling water away or freezing everything). The tilt of the earth on its axis has far more effect on temperature.

David Rost

Malverne, New York

As a practicing theistic evolutionist and sometime scientist, I was troubled by the “fun” poked by John Martin’s article “The Impossible Wonderland.” It is riddled with misstatements. Martin’s suggestion that humans evolved from slouching, low-browed Cro-Magnons, and his flippant dismissal of dating techniques based on known decay rates of radioactive isotopes, can only reflect the author’s attempt to disguise his scientific ignorance with clever prose.

We agree that God as Creator cannot be ignored. He is necessary to create the “stuff” required for the Big Bang. He probably stepped in to push the correctly evolved bioorganic molecules into place, producing primitive life for the first time on Earth. His intervention is definitely necessary to create immortal souls for us Homo sapiens after our intelligence evolved to a sufficiently high level to become human, about 75,000 years ago.

It seems to me that the myth of the necessity of extreme positions in this controversial area persists.

Paul Poskozim

Park Ridge, Illinois


I thank Mr. Rost for his kind words and for his clarification about earth-sun distance. My information came from an astrophysicist speaking on television. I must have either misheard him or misremembered the distances he cited. My apologies.

As to Mr. Poskozim, who describes himself as “a practicing theistic evolutionist,” I would respond that, as I suggested in my article, theistic evolution is simply creation under another name. After all, if God did the evolving, evolution has no business taking the credit. I must also say that I can only marvel that in a world where even well-informed historians dispute over dates and details, Posko­zim can declare with historic authority what went on in monumentally distant prehistoric time. It may be that Genesis should have gotten un­der­way with the information that, in the beginning, God “probably stepped in to push the correctly evolved bioorganic molecules into place, producing primitive life for the first time on earth.” But not only did God choose to express it differently, He chose not to supply the landmark dates.

Science is free to guess at them and theorize all it wants, but let science first explain how it remained so comically deceived between roughly 1915 and 1953 by the hoax of Piltdown Man. It remains that whatever it is or should be, evolution is a jealous god — witness its outlawing of the teaching of creationism in public education — and in the wrong hands it inevitably becomes a kind of Moloch, “in rage hasty as fire, deaf as the sea.”

Invasion of Baby Snatchers

Hats off to James M. Thunder for calling a spade a spade in “The Rise of the Abortion Party” (Nov.). Thunder aptly points out that the Democratic Party was once decent and moral. But that party is long gone, having been taken over by the pro-aborts. It’s like a real-life replay of the 1956 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which the population of a small town is taken over, one by one, by an alien force. The town folk look the same, but they are not who they were. They are now The Other.

By any objective measure, the Democratic Party is now owned lock-stock-and-barrel by the abortion industry. There may be a stray prolife voice here or there in the party, but they are swamped by a near unanimous and fanatical commitment to all aspects of supporting abortion. Embryonic stem-cell research too finds its predominant support within the Democratic Party,

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Democratic Party has become the admitted home of the Hollywood crowd, the crowd that has been gleefully polluting American and world culture for over forty years now with its filth and immorality. There can be no doubt that the sexual promiscuity promoted by Hollywood is made possible in part by legalized abortion.

And which party is the one pushing the radical homosexual agenda and leading the effort to legitimize the sterile, anti-life homosexual lifestyle, both legally and culturally? Right, the Democratic Party.

Peter Skurkiss

Stow, Ohio

James Thunder’s article “The Rise of the Abortion Party” was written as an allegory, but the truthful poignancy is there for those with eyes to see. Contrary to Thunder’s view, some say that just as politicians are all alike, both parties “are just the same.” What does the data show?

Shortly before the November 2010 election I received a mailer from the group Catholic Advocate relative to the voting record of Catholic politicians in 11 life votes during the 110th and 111th Congress. First, I did some statistical comparisons, by party, of those consistently voting prolife. The proportion of Catholic Republican senators voting prolife on 100 percent of those bills was 78 percent (7 of 9); but zero percent of Cath­olic Democratic senators (0 of 16) had a 100-percent prolife record in those 11 votes. Likewise, in the House, 82 percent of Catholic Republicans (31 of 38) had a 100-percent prolife voting record in those votes, compared to only one percent of Catholic Democrats (1 of 97).

After examining the pattern of those always voting prolife in these two congressional sessions, I looked at the pattern of those never voting prolife. Comparison of Catholic Dem­ocrats to Catholic Republicans who did not vote prolife once in that time also showed similar, and markedly statistically significant, differences. The position that there is no difference between Catholics in the two major parties on the sanctity of life issue can be confidently rejected by this data.

Prior to the last election, Catholics comprised 22 percent of the population and 24 percent of voters, but higher proportions of those elected to Congress — 25 percent of the Senate and 31 percent of the House. The American Catholic vote is large, both in numbers and impact.

A. Patrick Schneider II

Lexington, Kentucky

If This Is Renewal

In response to Rosemary Lu­nardini’s article “A Defining Step Toward Authentic Liturgical Reform” (Nov.), several things could be said. I too greeted with joy Pope Benedict’s mo­tu proprio liberating the Tridentine Latin Mass, and I am happy to see that some reference to “sacrifice” and “victim” are coming back into the New Mass, thanks to the revised missal. Un­til now, they have been almost completely obliterated — a very bad sign.

I have always disliked “And also with you.” Besides being bad English, it is a bad translation. Moreover, it is not what is commonly said, so it is not true vernacular. “You too” is what is commonly said; you can hear it countless times a day in countless public places (usually in response to “Have a nice day”). But try to imagine a congregation hooting out “You too!” at Mass.

Credo certainly does not mean “we believe.” Nor does Deus Sabaoth mean “God of power and might.” Sabaoth means “of hosts.” St. Michael the Archangel is prince of the heavenly host, so why can’t God be “God of hosts”?

I am uncomfortable with the Eucharist being referred to as “the Lord’s Supper” or “the supper of the Lamb.” It sounds too Protestant.

Lunardini is favorably disposed to the Tridentine Mass. Maybe the Church should have stuck with it. The Council of Trent forbade vernacular liturgy (and Communion under both kinds, married clergy, and other things the Protestants were demanding). And the New Mass, far from signaling a liturgical renewal, has ushered in an unprecedented disaster. One would have to be blind not to see it. Mass attendance is a fraction of what it was in pre-Vatican II days, with widespread irreverence and loss of faith among those who still go. According to surveys, a majority of the laity and clergy disbelieve in the transubstantiation and the Real Presence. This is not to mention parishes closing, and seminaries and religious houses with fewer and fewer members. If this is renewal, what would a decline look like?

While Lunardini is to be commended for her interest in the subject, phrases like “authentic liturgical renewal” in the contemporary Church can only sound hollow.

The Rev. Philip M. Stark

Cumberland, Rhode Island

Thank God the Tridentine Latin Mass is still available. I grew up with this Mass, but now I see the lack of respect and veneration in most Cath­olic churches today with the New Mass. I have watched as tabernacles have been moved from the center of our churches to side altars or somewhere out of sight. I have watched as our priests, deacons, altar servers, and “eucharistic ministers” no longer genuflect when passing in front of or near the tabernacle. Very few persons genuflect anymore when they enter the church or the pew. There is a message here, folks: These people do not believe that Christ is truly present in our tabernacles, so why should they genuflect?

A priest related to me that in a recent confirmation class he taught, not one person stated that he believes in the Real Presence. This same priest now teaches the reality of the Real Presence in every homily he gives. Another priest reported similar numbers when he questioned the parents of children who were to receive their First Holy Communion.

Due to this lack of reverence and understanding, I no longer attend the Novus Ordo Mass.

Rich Peterson

Concord, California

In response to letter-writer An­ton Smario (Nov.): The “venerable Tri­dentine Mass” has withstood the onslaught of abuses, even “given the tenor of the times.” The reason: It has remained fundamentally unchanged for hundreds of years and retains the purposeful sacrificial character of the unbloody offering of our Lord’s death at Calvary.

When I taught in a large Catholic school for boys, I was asked to be a eucharistic minister at school Masses. I can personally attest to the fact that placing our Lord’s Body in dirty hands only so that it can be picked up and flipped into the mouth by various means is vastly more irreverent than having the priest (and only the priest) gently place His Body in the communicant’s open mouth on the tongue. One does not have to “stick out his tongue” as Mr. Smario so graphically and incorrectly describes it.

At another school, the first appearance of “altar girls” was my last appearance at a school Mass. The girls were more interested in fluffing their hair and straightening out their clothing than they were in being attentive to service at the altar. At this same school I observed a sixth-grader take the Lord’s Body in his hand and place it in his pocket! His teacher had the good sense to retrieve it and consume it herself.

Perhaps these are isolated incidents. I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. My husband and I returned to the Traditional Mass at the urging of our youngest son, then a college student, when we began to “church hop” in search of a more reverent Mass than that which existed in our local area of a large city. That was in the late 1980s.

We thank God that we live in a place where the Traditional Mass is celebrated every day and twice on Sunday, one of those being the High Mass. Glorious!

Eleonore D. Villarrubia

Richmond, New Hampshire

What was lost when the Church went from the Tridentine to the Novus Ordo Mass was not only the sonorous beauty of the Latin. Worse was the linguistic gutting that has left us with the barebones Mass of today.

Consider the former’s prayer before the reading of the Gospel (no longer used): “Cleanse my heart and my lips, O almighty God, who didst cleanse the lips of the Prophet Isaiah with a burning coal; and vouchsafe that through Thy gracious mercy I may worthily proclaim Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The initial prayer of the Offertory (also omitted) was: “Receive, O holy Father, almighty, eternal God, this spotless Host, which I, thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my own countless sins, offenses, and neg­ligences, and for all here present, and also for all faithful Catholics, living and dead; that it may avail for my own and for their salvation unto eternal life. Amen.”

In raising the chalice, the priest used to say: “We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, beseeching Thy clemency that, in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty, it may ascend with an odor of sweetness, for our salvation and that of the whole world. Amen.” This prayer is gone.

After the washing of hands, the prayer to the Most Holy Trinity (not to be confused with the Invocation of the Saints during the Eucharistic Prayers) was removed: “Receive, O Holy Trinity, this offering which we make to Thee, in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of blessed Mary ever Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of these and of all the Saints; that it may avail to their honor and our salvation: and may they vouch­safe to intercede for us in Heaven whose memory we celebrate on earth. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”

There is much more that was not poorly translated but was simply omitted from the New Mass.

We were told that the Latin Mass was abolished for the sake of the people who could not understand Latin. Not so: It was done for the sake of the priests who had not learned their Latin.

A wholesale return to the Tridentine Mass in Latin is probably too much to hope for in our age of declining literacy. Perhaps Rome should consider bringing it back in the vernacular instead of tinkering endlessly with the New Mass.

Juan J. Ryan

New Providence, New Jersey

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