Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: July-August 2000

July-August 2000

The Latin Mass: Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

As thoroughly orthodox Catholics, we fully agree with all doctrinal positions presented in the NOR. We are aware of liturgical abuse, as well as the harm done to the faithful by those in positions of leadership who distort or deny the clear teaching of Scripture and the authority of the Church that upholds it. We are, however, privileged to live in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is blessedly orthodox, so we need not contend personally with such problems (except in prayer).

We have noticed quite a few letters and articles in the NOR recently advocating a return to the Latin Mass, in whole or in part, with some writers — disgusted with the loose liturgy in their parishes — opting to leave the Roman rite to worship in Eastern-rite Catholic churches. We certainly sympathize, and are grateful that we need not make such a decision. The article by Jude A. Huntz advocating the Latin Mass (May) provoked a good deal of thought and remembrance, however, and we decided to write with a different perspective.

I (Nancy) am a 68-year-old “cradle Catholic” who grew up and was instructed in the pre-Vatican II Church. I married David (a “jack” Mormon) in the Catholic Church, and our five children were raised Catholic. I well remember the Latin Mass — yes, the awe and “mystery” Huntz speaks of, but also the feeling of isolation, both from the priest and fellow worshipers. I never experienced a sense of everyone being part of the Body of Christ. I believed, but could not have told you why I believed or explained the deep meaning behind much of the liturgical language. Of course I was reading my Missal, trying to keep my place and follow the English translation of the Latin — a bit of a hindrance to focusing on the altar, where the awe and mystery are centered. Huntz speaks of the Latin Mass as a “dependable catechism” for the faithful. I did not find it so, but perhaps that is my own fault (did I not master my Baltimore Catechism?). In any event, while being a faithful Catholic and seeing to it that the children attended Catholic schools, I did little personally to instruct them in the fundamental doctrines of the Church — a result of my own lack of knowledge. Huntz is quite correct in stating that most Catholics do not “do much reading” and many “do not receive true catechetical training.” The Catholic Church lost two of our older children to other Christian churches due to the lack of catechetical training.

However, one son, who left the Church and found the Holy Scriptures, asked me one day (25 years ago), “Mom, what is your relationship with Jesus Christ?” It was a painful time while I wrestled with that question, looking for the first time in my life at the Word of God on the subject. When I finally admitted that I had a limited personal relationship with Him, I knew I had to seek one or be a hypocrite — a practitioner of “religion,” but not an intimate. I immediately enrolled in a rigorous seven-year, nondenominational Bible study. So did my husband, David, who had miraculously been baptized into the Catholic Church. Though we were briefly “protestantized” through our studies (the Catholic interpretation of some Scripture was not accorded attention —e.g., Mt. 16:15-19, Jn. 6, the relationship of faith and works), we saw for the first time God’s entire plan of salvation, the faithfulness of His Covenant, the consistency of biblical revelation, and how very applicable God’s Word was to our daily lives.

I was incensed that as a Catholic I had never been encouraged to read the Bible, and was thus unable to see Scripture as the foundation of the Mass. Though it is, of course, a lie that the Church “kept the Bible from the faithful,” neither did the Church exhort the faithful to read and study Scripture, nor organize Bible study groups for that purpose. I well remember the Sunday when I cried through the entire Mass (in the vernacular) because I now knew the Word of God, and thus the Mass came alive, connected in my head and heart. David, who fully appreciated Mass from the beginning because of his understanding of Scripture, held me that day, saying only “Listen my dear, everything is here. It is perfect worship.” Since that time, we have been very active in our parish as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Communion, cantor, and for the last four years as teachers and sponsors in RCIA.

Through our involvement in RCIA, we have come to realize that those faithful Catholics (many pre-Vatican II) who sponsor catechumens and candidates learn to know their faith, deepen their relationship with God, and come to love and appreciate the Church. We have often heard: “I can’t believe how little I understood, and how much I’ve learned!” Probably much ignorance is due to the fact that, as Catholics, we have failed to continue catechesis beyond Confirmation — early instruction is forgotten. Perhaps it is time to institute RCMA (Rite of Christian Maturity for Adults).

At any rate, we do not think a full return to the Latin Mass will provide the necessary catechesis to create informed, mature Catholics, able to defend the faith and evangelize others. Huntz mentions that many people are attracted to Eastern Orthodoxy. We venture a guess that the number would pale in comparison to those Catholics who have been lured away by Evangelical Christians conversant with Scripture and trained to evangelize (as well as shoot down Catholic beliefs). Why? Because Catholics, by and large, are not informed and trained to defend their faith and refute Protestant doctrine. A full return to the Latin Mass? Or Mass in the vernacular celebrated in a holy, respectful, awesome, and transcendent way (as is our privilege)? Both are beautiful and pleasing to God. But neither is able to sufficiently prepare Catholics to share their faith, defend their faith, or successfully evangelize.

David & Nancy Payne

University of Notre Dame

Salt Lake City, Utah

The "Talking Heads" Mass

Thanks for Jude Huntz’s enlightening article “The Liturgy as Catechism” (May). He has won me over completely! Like many of those who were young adults at the time of Vatican II, I welcomed the vernacular Mass and rejoiced in its potential to re-energize the laity and make the liturgy a more compelling and unifying worship experience. For years I scoffed at those older folks who nostalgically pined for the old Latin Mass. However, after years of Masses that began with “Good morning, everybody! Isn’t this beautiful weather?,” and ended with “Go in peace…and have a nice day,” accompanied by dismal singing of “Glory and Praise” songs (I can’t call them hymns), I began to question my loyalty to vernacular worship. Mass came to seem more like some dreary TV documentary composed mostly of “talking heads.” How often I hear people today complain that they don’t go to Mass because they “don’t get anything out of it.” I don’t remember hearing that in the days of the Latin Mass.

Instituting vernacular liturgy, thereby allowing worshipers to understand the prayers in their own language, was supposed to make them more involved, and the whole congregation more united in the Eucharistic sacrifice. However, just the opposite seems to have happened. I find that it’s a struggle for me (and others I’ve talked to) to stay focused and attentive to the words as the priest reads them. It’s even worse when he tries to inject dramatic expression, as does one in my parish, who tries to turn them into a theatrical performance. I really believe that in the old days, when I read my Missal, I was actually more consciously attentive, more aware of the meaning of the prayers, and felt more united with my fellow worshipers than I do now. How I long to hear “Introibo ad altare Dei” and “Dominus vobiscum”!

Marian E. Crowe

Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary

Notre Dame, Indiana

Sacralize the Vernacular Liturgy

Thank you for Peter Kreeft’s article on the Tridentine Latin Mass (Aprib~ I agree with him that we need a liturgical language that inspires a sense of sacredness, awe, mystery, and wonder — drawing people away from our increasingly secular public ambiance. But I think that could be achieved with the English-language liturgy. The new Mass could easily be reformed by use of a more sacral language style and greater ritual solemnity — in the process reinforcing the doctrine of the Real Presence.

English can be a sacral language, but not if the English used is that of the daily newspaper. Our current ICEL (International Commission on English in Liturgy) translations are remarkably unmemorable and lacking in nobility of expression. A worshiping language should raise hearts and minds to God. ICEL translations don’t do this — but better translations could.

Stephen J. Clegg

Holy Family Parish

Dorchester, Massachusetts

The Final Insult

Noel Augustyn’s article on the neglect and misuse of liturgical symbolism (May) neglected to mention the misuse of one of the most powerful liturgical symbols of the Church, the Crucifix. This was driven home to me during the funeral Mass for Cardinal O’Connor. Nowhere in sight was the thorn-crowned head, the nail-pierced hands and feet, and the spear-gashed side of Jesus to remind us of the bloody sacrifice. Instead, we saw an empty cross, in front of which floated the figure of a risen Christ. How Protestant! What an utter denial of the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass! To me, it represented the final insult of the so-called liturgical renewal.

Robert J. Bobic

Four Faces Press

Knoxville, Tennessee

Are Catholics Cannibals? (Scene 1, Take 2)

I was intrigued by your “Do as Mother Would Do” (New Oxford Notes, Aprib| where you discussed the exchange in Our Sunday Visitor (Nov. 28, 1999) between letter-writer Jack Ferguson and Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, who writes the regular Q&A column in the Visitor. Ferguson complained that certain of Mannion’s answers are “fuzzy” and “sidestep issues,” and Ferguson cited several topics, including that of the Real Presence. Mannion attempted to defend himself. But I agree with Ferguson — and with you — that Mannion is prone to fuzziness.

In that same column on November 28, Mannion also responded to a question from Matt Swope asking if “taking the Body and Blood of Jesus makes Catholics cannibals.” Mannion answered that Catholics are not cannibals because the “eucharistic presence” (strangely, he did not say the “Real Presence”) is not “a physical presence” — that is, not “flesh and blood in the ordinary, material sense….” Rather, said Mannion, “Christ is present sacramentally in the Eucharist,” hence Catholics are not cannibals. I found that answer misleading, inadequate, and fuzzy, so I sent an e-mail to Our Sunday Visitor. I received no reply, and my letter was not printed. What follows is the essence of my letter responding to Mannion:

It was ironic that in the very column in which you defend yourself against the charge made by Jack Ferguson that your answers tend to be “fuzzy” and “sidestep issues” such as the Real Presence, you provide a perfect example of such fuzziness in your reply to Matt Swope on the very topic of the Real Presence!

It seems that in dealing with the issue of cannibalism, you want to deny that Christ is physically present in the Blessed Sacrament: If He’s not present physically, we don’t consume His Body, so we’re not cannibals. Thus you say Christ is present sacramentally in the Eucharist, not physically.

But I believe the Church teaches that Christ is present both sacramentally and physically. “Sacramental” doesn’t refer to what is actually present but how that presence comes about. So there is no contrast between “sacramentally” and “physically.” And Christ is indeed present physically because he is present substantially in the sacrament. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says (first quoting the Council of Trent and then Paul VI): “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained’…. ‘It is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present'” (#1374, italics in originab~ Surely, given that Christ is wholly and entirely present, He is physically present, materially present, as well as spiritually and sacramentally present. That’s what makes His presence in the Blessed Sacrament so different from His presence in all the other sacraments and outside the sacraments. If I am incorrect in this, could you show me a citation from an authoritative Church document that denies that Christ is physically present in the Eucharistic species?

Your contrast between “physical” and “sacramental” is confused because you conflate “physical” with “ordinary.” You claim it’s erroneous to say that the Real Presence is “a physical presence. In other words, that flesh and blood in the ordinary, material sense are received in the sacrament.” But in light of the quote from the Catechism above, the only objectionable thing about this characterization might be the use of the word “ordinary,” which is vague and not intrinsically connected with the idea of Christ being “physically” present. “Physical” here doesn’t mean “ordinary.” The equation of the two concepts implied by your use of the phrase “in other words” is therefore incorrect. To say that the Real Presence is a “physical presence” does not necessarily imply that there is anything “ordinary” about what is received in the Sacrament. It is true that “ordinary” contrasts in a certain sense with “sacramental,” but “physical” and “sacramental” are perfectly compatible. That “Christ is present sacramentally in the Eucharist” is compatible with Christ’s presence being “a physical presence.”

If I misunderstood your reply, I am sorry. Perhaps you meant only to deny that the Real Presence is “ordinary,” which of course it isn’t. But if that’s all you’re denying, you haven’t answered the question about cannibalism, since the connection between Communion and cannibalism in the mind of your questioner comes precisely from the physical presence of Christ’s Body and Blood. It seems to me that a proper answer to the reader’s concern would be more along the lines of the following: What is happening in the Eucharist is so radically different from cannibalism that no comparison can be made. A free offering of Christ’s physical Body and Blood which does Him no harm in His glorified and resurrected Body in Heaven, and which gives us great spiritual benefits, is not comparable to attacking and killing human beings and eating their flesh for food.

Michael G. Murad

St. Mary's Malankara Catholic Church, Mamankara, Kamblakallu P.O.

New Hope, Minnesota


We have checked Msgr. Mannion’s reply to the question about cannibalism. Yes, the reply is fuzzy. It’s unfortunate that Mannion put “sacramental” presence in opposition to “physical” presence. Yes, this does mislead. Still, Mannion does say of the sacramental presence that this means that “Christ risen from the dead and now reigning in glory in heaven — Christ glorified in his whole being — is present in the Eucharist….” If he had inserted “physically” between “is” and “present,” that would have helped a lot. But he didn’t.

If Mannion has a problem with the physicality of the Real Presence, it would stand to reason that he would also have a problem with the physicality of the Incarnation. In his Q&A column in the April 23 Our Sunday Visitor, he was asked by Helen Farrell what he thought of the winning entry in the art contest held by the dissenting National Catholic Reporter which, she said, depicted Jesus as a woman. Actually, the Jesus portrayed was androgynous, but that’s irrelevant here, for Mannion replied that the depiction of Jesus “as a …woman did not bother me at all.” Not at all? That’s odd, for a priest acts in persona Christi, which means a priest represents Christ. Now, the Church is insistent that the (male) sex of Christ is integral to His identity, and therefore to who His priests are. Since Mannion has no problem with Christ depicted as a female, we are led to wonder if Mannion has any objection — deep in his soul — to a female acting in persona Christi, that is, to the ordination of women.

Moreover, the Church teaches that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride. If Christ can be understood as being female, then there are two Brides, and so we are led to wonder if Mannion has considered that this symbolism validates homosexual behavior and same-sex “marriage.”

It would appear that Mannion has yet to come to terms with not only the physicality of the Real Presence but also of the Incarnation.

But wait! The story isn’t finished. In his Q&A column in the May 21 Visitor, Mannion presented a “composite” question from four letters (presumably yours was one), obviously resulting from his reply to Matt Swope. The composite question consisted of only 58 words. The gist of it was this: Do you, Msgr. Mannion, accept the Catechism’s teaching that “Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” in the Blessed Sacrament or do you think “Christ is only ‘symbolically’ present?”

Mannion affirmed what the Catechism says, but instead of leaving well enough alone, he added: “Christ is not ‘materially’ present in the Eucharist. A ‘substantial’ presence is not a ‘material’ presence.” Obviously then, Mannion does not believe that Christ’s presence is physical.

Mannion then said that Christ is present “symbolically” in the Eucharist in the sense that “a symbol is a reality that embodies and really makes present another reality — for instance, my words symbolize me.” Huh? What is the good Monsignor saying? It’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps the best way to understand Mannion is to quote his words from the May 14 Visitor: “Teilhard de Chardin is one of my theological heroes.” Teilhard was of course one of the greatest theological obfuscators of all time.

Let no one say we’re being hard on the Monsignor, for the Visitor (June 11) printed a letter from Ron Wieferich responding to the Monsignor’s May 21st “clarification,” wherein Wieferich wrote: “My non-Catholic spouse, who does not believe in the Real Presence, picked up on the monsignor’s answer and said, ‘See, here is a priest, and he says it [the Eucharist] is only a symbol.'”


Bay City, Michigan

The "Sheeple" in the Pews

In “Coming to Your Parish Soon…” (New Oxford Notes, May), you gave a sampling of some imaginary P.C./feminist hymns of the future. Well, such hymns are already here, at least in some parishes, as the hymnal that accompanies Today’s Missal from Oregon Catholic Press shows.

Consider “Joy to the World,” where “let men their songs employ” has been replaced by “let us our songs employ.” And in “All the Earth” we find the awful verses “We are God’s people chosen by God” and “We are the sheep of the green pasture” (italics added). But don’t bother looking for footnotes that acknowledge the changes made to various hymns.

The “sheeple” who take this abuse without question are all around us. The feminists must derive great satisfaction knowing that millions of Catholics are unwittingly singing their songs each Sunday at Mass.

M.R. Sinicki

San Francisco, California

Not Cut Out for Trench Warfare

I was pleased almost beyond expression to read Stuart Koehl’s letter on the Eastern Churches (Aprib~ After enduring guitar Masses and priests who see abortion as anything from a regrettable necessity to just short of a sacrament, I found repose in the Orthodox Church of America. My parish has many converts, and while it has a Russian flavor, it’s no more ethnic than many of the Catholic parishes of my youth, which had an Irish flavor.

The NOR’s emphasis may properly be on the “Roman” Catholic Church, which needs a major reclamation effort to bring her back to the sanctity that many of us remember from our youth. However, for those of us not cut out for the trench warfare necessary to remain committed Catholics while waiting for that reclamation, the Orthodox Churches are opening their arms to us with traditions and time-tested liturgies little changed from the days of the early Church Councils.

Linda Vitlin

Sebastopol, California

Not the Usual Generalities

We thought your readers would be fascinated by the following, which was read in our church recently:

“An interesting prayer was given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. When minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: ‘Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, Woe to those who call evil good, but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism; we have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism; we have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle; we have exploited the poor and called it the lottery; we have rewarded laziness and called it welfare; we have killed our unborn and called it choice; we have shot abortionists and called it justifiable; we have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem; we have abused power and called it politics; we have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition; we have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression; we have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment….’

“The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of the prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on ‘The Rest of the Story’ on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired…. If possible, please pass this prayer on to your friends….”

Mr. & Mrs. J. Spillane

Elmhurst, Pennsylvania

Ed. Note: And may Pastor Wright be an inspiration to those of our laity who compose the General Intercessions (or Prayer of the Faithfubpat Mass, for “the usual generalities” are usually what’s heard — utterly safe and platitudinous petitions for world peace, good government, the humane treatment of animals, etc. What can an on-the-ball pastor do when the laity in his parish — in this vaunted Age of the Laity — turn out to be wet noodles? How can he get some prophetic passion into those prayers? Anybody have some ideas?

Butte, Montana

What Harmony?

In his defense of Dignitatis Humanae (DH), Andrew Tardiff asserts in his article (Apribpthat the document “consistently couches the issue [religious liberty] in terms of not being forced to do something.” On the contrary, however, DH says, “Religious communities have the further right not to be prevented from publicly teaching and bearing witness to their beliefs by the spoken or written word” (#4). This means that in a Catholic nation, the government has an obligation to allow false religions to spread their errors. Malta and Colombia provide examples. Because they are Catholic nations, they used to prohibit proselytizing by false religions. As a result of DH, however, both countries now accept such proselytizing.

Catholic scholars who want to prove that there is harmony between the teaching of DH and what was taught by Catholic popes and theologians of the past must, first of all, face the facts: They cannot pretend that the toleration of public worship by non-Catholics — as acknowledged by St. Thomas Aquinas — is the same as a natural right to false public worship as proclaimed by DH. Secondly, they must show that DH, which acknowledges the right of false religions to spread their errors in Catholic nations, is a development of the teaching, illustrated by the writings of Pius IX and Leo XIII, which asserts that a Catholic state has the right to prohibit false public worship and the duty to protect its people against the promulgation of religious error.

Fr. James Buckley, FSSP

Seattle, Washington

Heartless Sentimentalists

Regarding the letters (May and June issues) defending Hans Urs von Balthasar from Regis Scanlon (article, March) on the issues surrounding universal salvation: Balthasar, who leans toward universal salvation, is representative of those mushy and overly sentimental churchmen who are feminizing the Church. These churchmen just can’t imagine how God can be both merciful and just. But God has promised us His justice, and those who find God’s fortitude too much to bear reveal their own weakness of spirit. Ironically, these churchmen are ultimately heartless, for they lack empathy for the horrible suffering deliberately inflicted on the innocent by human agents of evil — they do not wish to see justice done.

Moreover, strong and protective men will not be attracted to a wishy-washy Church run by namby-pamby churchmen who wither in the face of God’s justice.

Jessica Stewart

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Catholic-Bashing, Without End

I commend Thomas Lessl for his fine article, “The Galileo Legend” (June). I wish someone would publish it as a tract. It would be a good one to put on pamphlet racks in the backs of our churches.

It should be added that John Paul’s address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the Galileo case (Nov. 4, 1992) was also woven into the Galileo Legend by the media with bizarre reports that “the Vatican finally admits the earth revolves around the sun,” etc.

Fr. Phil Bloom

Chester Township, New Jersey

I found Thomas Lessl’s “The Galileo Legend” to be an enjoyable read, partly because of my personal history. You see, I was an agnostic when I was younger, due in part to what I was taught about the history of the Church.

I was taught that Columbus got into trouble with the Church because he believed that the world was round. But then in a college World Literature class, I found out that even Dante knew the world was round. The truth is that everyone knew that (the Te Deum refers to the “orbem terrarum”). Columbus was actually introduced to the Spanish court by his fellow Franciscans (he was a tertiary and was buried in the habit of the order.)

Once I thought about it, I realized how silly the Columbus Legend of the time was — amazingly, I really believed that Columbus was the first sailor to notice that the horizon was curved! That was thirty years ago, and since then the anti-Catholic bigots have come up with a new Legend — that Columbus was a genocidal racist, even though both he and the Spanish court believed that evangelization of the Indians was a priority.

Back in 1991, syndicated columnist Richard Cohen wrote about how he was taught in “religious school” that “the priest Bartolome de las Casas considered Columbus nothing less than a thug. He recorded him as saying, ‘Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on selling all the slaves that can be sold.'”

It’s true that Columbus was in favor of enslaving the Carib (or cannibabptribe (to keep them from, well, cannibalizing the other tribes he wished to convert) and was all too human in many ways, but Fr. de las Casas, that great defender of Indian rights, had this to say about Columbus: “He observed the fasts of the Church most faithfully, confessed and made Communion often, read the canonical offices like a churchman or member of a religious order, hated blasphemy and profane swearing, was most devoted to Our Lady and to the seraphic Father St. Francis.” In fact, during his first voyage, Columbus would lead the men on board his ship in vespers every evening and say the other hours in private.

That’s certainly not the Secular Humanist hero I grew up with — nor the “thug” that Richard Cohen claimed him to be. But notice that a half-century ago when Columbus was considered a hero, it was because he supposedly struggled against the Church; and now he is considered a “thug” because he wanted to spread the Faith. Either way, children have been and continue to be taught that we Catholics are the bad guys.

Don Schenk

Redlands, California

Worse Than You Think

If anything, Joseph Collison (“Abortion in America: Legal and Unsafe,” June) understates the dangers legal abortions pose to women having them.

In his thoroughly referenced Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood (Highland Books), George Grant quotes Dr. Horton Dean as saying that Planned Parenthood’s abortion programs pose one of the greatest health hazards in America today. To back this up, he cites a statistical five-year obstetrical/gynecological survey conducted in California which found that as many as 15 percent of all first trimester, 40 percent of all mid-trimester, and 90 percent of all late-trimester abortions result in problems demanding serious medical attention.

Then there’s a report by the Centers for Disease Control. This government agency conducted a study on maternal deaths in 1986 and found that abortions were the sixth most common cause. And to make matters worse, the report conceded that abortion-related deaths were probably being underreported by some 50 percent.

This is truly the diabolic.

Pete Skurkiss

Springfield, Virginia


I’m really confused as to why you published the article on Immanuel Baptist Church by Preston Jones (“Those Amazin’ Southern Baptists,” May). The Immanuel Baptist community moved from a low-income neighborhood in the city of San Bernardino (Calif.) to a high-income neighborhood in the adjoining city of Highlands — and, naturally, it prospered. I would like to know why this article was published in the NOR, a Catholic periodical.

Jeremiah Lucey

Malappuram Dt., Pin-679 333, Kerala, India

Ed. Note: It was published because it seemed to be an honest assessment of a dynamic Christian church and because we thought that Catholics could learn something about what can happen when evangelization is taken seriously. We doubt that Immanuel Baptist Church has thriven because it’s in a high-income neighborhood — there are many churches in such neighborhoods which aren’t thriving, and there are many in low-income areas which are. We strongly suspect that Immanuel’s membership has grown by over 600 percent in 23 years because it earnestly evangelizes — or, as Jones put it, because Immanuel’s “chief objective is to convert the lost.” In the Catholic Church these days we hear a lot of talk about the need to evangelize, but there’s little action. Why? Because too few Catholics believe that anyone is or could be lost.

Edgewater, Florida

Still Four Faces, But the Feet Have Moved

We very much appreciated your positive review of Thomas Storck’s book, Foundations of a Catholic Political Order, and your inclusion of the address of the publisher, Four Faces Press (May). I am writing to let your readers know that Four Faces Press has moved, and that all orders or other correspondence should be sent to: Four Faces Press, P.O. Box 834, Springfield VA 22150.

Brian S. Tishuk

Cincinnati Ohio

An Urgent Plea

Prayerful greetings to you and your readers! I am pastor of the Catholic parishes of Mamankara and Narokavu in the Diocese of Sulthan Bathery, Kerala, India. I am writing this urgent and earnest plea in order that your readers might intervene on behalf of the impoverished and shelterless families of our diocese.

The coming months will be a difficult, trying time for us. The monsoon season will soon start and many of our poor parishioners and villagers live in tiny, dilapidated, one- or two-bedroom bamboo-plaited huts with mud floors and roofs thatched with palm leaves or hay. As the sky clouds over, our poor brethren in the Faith suffer untold mental anguish, and as the rain starts, many must either flee their homes or seek the shelter of umbrellas within their homes.

It is high time to replace these dilapidated huts with small, well-built houses with cement floors, brick walls, and tiled roofs. But I cannot do it without your help. Can you find it within your means and your generous hearts to help these poor families, through me, to replace their leaking huts with something more suitable to the human dignity called for in this Great Jubilee Year 2000? For an endorsement letter from my bishop, write to: Most Rev. Dr. Geevargheese Mar Divannasios; Catholic Bishop’s House; Sulthan Bathery P.O.; Wayanad Dt., Pin-673 592; Kerala, India.

I trust that you will meet these poor souls whom you help in this valley of tears and sorrows in our eternal heavenly abode. May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Savior, bless you with all the graces you need. And may our loving heavenly mother, the holy Virgin Mary, intercede with her Son Jesus Christ on behalf of you and the NOR.

Fr. Thomas Thumpailchirayil

McLean, Virginia

Get Thee to a Grocery Store!

In his letter entitled “You Orthodox Bigots!” (Aprib| Louis J. Mihalyi announced that he is canceling his subscription to the NOR on the grounds — the pretext, really — that since there are 30 million adult Catholics and the NOR has only 15,800 subscribers, the NOR is “rejected by the vast majority.” He obviously doesn’t know that the elite is always a minority, and that the mob, where he belongs, is always the majority. Clearly, he needs to get his reading material from the rack at a grocery store.

Jules Szalay

Clarkson, Washington

Discrimination Against Orthodox Vocations

Earlier this year my book The Renovation Manipulation was published. It discusses the manipulative process used by highly-paid church renovators to engineer unnecessary renovations that sacrifice the integrity of our traditional Catholic churches. The book was endorsed by John Cardinal O’Connor, Bishop Thomas Doran, William Donohue, and others.

Recently I began researching my next book. Much like Larry Carstens’s article in the June NOR, the primary focus is on the Catholic seminary system in the U.S. and its relationship to the so-called vocations shortage.

Several years ago I read an insightful article by Archbishop Elden Curtiss. He wrote: “I personally think the vocation ‘crisis’ in this country is more artificial and contrived than many people realize…. that the vocation ‘crisis’ is precipitated and continued by people who…do not support orthodox candidates loyal to the magisterial teaching of the pope and bishops, and by people who actually discourage viable candidates…. I am personally aware of certain vocations directors, vocation teams and evaluation boards who turn away candidates who do not support the possibility of ordaining women or who defend the Church’s teaching about artificial birth control, or who exhibit a strong piety toward certain devotions, such as the rosary. When there is a determined effort to discourage orthodox candidates from the priesthood and religious life, then the vocation shortage which results is caused not by a lack of vocations but by deliberate attitudes and policies…” (emphasis added).

The archbishop wrote this in 1995 for his archdiocesan newspaper in Omaha. Since then his words have been confirmed for me by others time and again.

In my next book I intend to examine those seminaries and dioceses that screen out orthodox candidates either during the admission process or during the seminarian’s years of formation. I have spoken with many seminarians who either have quit a seminary program or were dismissed for dubious reasons. There are also other situations in the seminary system that pose serious problems for a young man pursuing a vocation to which he believes he has been called by God.

Thus far I have identified eight major obstacles to the orthodox candidate: (1) The psychological screening process used to evaluate applicants to the seminary. (2) Formation teams in the seminary that patrol the statements and ideas of the candidate, even in casual conversation. (3) A practical moral life among some students and faculty incompatible with the Christian standard. Ralph McInerny recently wrote, “For decades we have been hearing stories about priestly training and religious houses that would have made Boccaccio blush.” (4) The acceptance of homosexual practice and agendas in the seminary environment. (5) The promotion of heretical ideas, including the undermining of Catholic belief in the most fundamental doctrines of the Church. (6) The promotion of radical feminist ideologies. (7) The lack of attention to traditional devotion, especially to the Eucharist, Mary, and the saints, and the promotion of liturgical practices that contravene lawful Church norms. (8) Spiritual, psychological, and sometimes even sexual/physical abuse.

I am keenly interested in hearing from anyone who has firsthand, personal experience and information on what has been going on in seminaries in the U.S. today and over the past three decades (e.g., information on courses, faculty, and formation teams). I would especially like to hear from recently ordained priests, seminarians who feel they were unjustly “booted” out of their vocations, and those who could no longer endure the seminary environment. I would also like to hear from those who are still trying to answer the call to their vocation, but feel prevented from doing so. If you have any such stories, please send me a written account of your experiences. These will be held in strict confidence. If you think it is appropriate, please pass on my request to others you know who might have relevant information for my research.

I am also very interested in receiving comments, suggestions, or advice for this project. I intend to present the facts rationally and charitably. I intend to be supportive of the male, celibate Catholic priesthood and the authentic teaching of the Church. I believe if the American Catholic public understood what has long been going on in the U.S. seminaries, it would have a better understanding of the so-called priest shortage. Ultimately, I would like my published work to act as a catalyst for the reform of the seminary system.

Michael S. Rose

Cape Charles, Virginia

Disputed Assumptions

Br. Ansgar Santogrossi’s letter (June), arguing that “it would be better not to call the Orthodox Church a sister to the Catholic Church,” does have a certain inner logic. But Br. Santogrossi makes two assumptions that would be hotly disputed by the Orthodox: The first is that “the Church on earth is those baptized who are submitted to the Magisterium and jurisdiction of St. Peter and his successors….” In other words, the spiritual descendants of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem somehow don’t count now, though, of course, they were O.K. up until 1054. The second assumption is his assertion that “the primacy and infallibility of the Pope…are part of the [apostolic] Tradition.” If this were so, why didn’t the Eastern Church affirm this from Apostolic times up until 1054, when the Eastern Church was recognized by Rome as a valid part of the Christian Church?

We can all agree with Br. Santogrossi that Christ can have only one bride, but it would seem to me that the only logical conclusion here is that West and East are somehow mystically unified in a way that neither side fully recognizes.

Wallace Spaulding

Albany, New York

The Image of God

Your New Oxford Note “‘It’s a Dog’s Life’?” (June) has encouraged me to declare that, as a child learning my catechism, I was taught that I was to love only God and neighbor. I was free to “like” whatever I took a fancy to, but “love” was something sublime and was not to be wasted on anything lesser. Thus, animals possess none of the dignity God bestowed upon man when He gave him an immortal soul, and should not be looked upon as if they did.

Gus Uhlenkott

North Hollywood, California

Ungracious & Tactless

Your New Oxford Note provocatively entitled “An Apology for the Crucifixion?” (June) invites further comment: The contrition of the Catholic Church for the misdeeds of her members throughout the centuries is praiseworthy. But most Jews have done nothing more than add fuel to the fire by claiming that the confession of guilt was inadequate. How ungracious and tactless!

The New Testament leaves no doubt about who instigated the Crucifixion. Why do the Jews not admit it? Are they still not repentant for having caused the cruel execution of the most innocent of all men? Perhaps the time is ripe, in light of the Catholic act of penitence, for the Jews to do likewise and apologize for the crucifixion of Jesus, a brother Jew.

Sheila Cardano

United Kingdom

The Question-Mark Bishop

Regarding your June editorial, “Theologians: Get With the Program!”: It’s encouraging that our bishops are finally willing to implement the Holy Father’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae. But since the individual bishop is the one who gives the mandate to the theologian, what happens when a particular bishop is opposed to Ex Corde? My own bishop, I fear, is one of these.

Ruth Pfeiffer

As stated in your June editorial, liberal theologian Richard McBrien of the University of Notre Dame has publicly and provocatively said he will not seek the mandate. Will McBrien’s bishop, John D’Arcy (who opposed implementation of Ex Corde, and who is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Our Sunday Visitor Inc.) have the courage to fulfill his God-given duty to see to it that Notre Dame revokes McBrien’s license to teach Catholic theology? If D’Arcy — and other bishops with recalcitrant theologians — will not act, then any attempt to correct the abuses in the departments of theology at Catholic universities will be dead in the water.

Larry A. Carstens

Spiritual Power for The Warriors on the Beach

Jesus tells us that “many false prophets will arise” and “deceive the very elect” (Mt. 24:11 & 24). Are these “elect” found among bishops and cardinals? Mary has given us increasingly urgent warnings that she cannot hold back God’s anger much longer. Things are so bad that reassuring texts like “The gates of Hell shall not prevail…” are constantly popping up in magazines like yours. Amidst the “backs to the wall” and “we shall fight them on the beaches” atmosphere (your lead editorial, May), let me point to a sign of hope: the remarkable resurgence of the hermit life in the last ten years, a fact probably unknown to most otherwise well-informed Catholics.

Today we have about 250 known solitaries in Britain. There are at least 450 in the U.S., and the French bishops have found it worth their while to produce a document clarifying canon law on this subject. One may assume that the situation in other parts of the world is similar.

A like phenomenon occurred in the 10th and 11th centuries to spiritually combat the terrible corruptions arising from widespread simony. People who felt the call simply got up and went to live in the woods, so to speak. A lot of bishops and clergy were so lax that there was no point in consulting them. It was in this period that the great eremitical orders of the Carthusians and Camaldolese came into being. All this spiritual power enabled great popes to make the necessary reforms.

When “the love of many grows cold” (Mt. 24:12), God chooses some to burrow deeper into the mystical life and so compensate for mass apostasy. Today the graces won by our latter-day hermits, if they are faithful to their difficult vocation, may well help to stop the advance of neo-Modernism. I hope this information will strengthen all those warriors on the beaches.

J. Allen

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