Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: November 1998

November 1998

Campaigning to Get NOR Ads Banned Everywhere

I am a Catholic high school librarian. Our library carries the NEW OXFORD REVIEW. Teachers are asking that the subscription be canceled to protest your warlike, angry, and hateful ads that appear in other periodicals. Thank God the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor refuse to print your ads!

As for those periodicals that do carry your ads, we librarians and teachers are writing letters to each of them asking, in strong terms, that they stop printing your ads.

Mary Heironyma

The Rockford Institute

Prairie Village, Kansas

From a Letter to Our Sunday Visitor

We read Our Sunday Visitor every week, cover to cover, and always find it orthodox and informative. It is a pleasure not to have Richard McBrien and Dolores Curran thrust in our faces each week.

Our only criticism of your fine paper is that you have decided to drop advertising for the NEW OXFORD REVIEW, an instructive, powerful, direct, and honest publication whose ads are thought-provoking, bitingly funny, topical, and accurate.

The NOR is partly responsible for enlivening and strengthening our faith. Yes, the NOR would unsettle many American Catholics, but that might be a good thing. The NOR unsettled us into practicing Natural Family Planning and frequenting daily Mass. We urge you to reconsider your policy.

Brian & Bonnie Cox

La Mirada, California

From a Letter to the Register

I often pick up a copy of the National Catholic Register in one of the churches in town (and actually make a contribution for it). I was dismayed when I learned that you have banned the NEW OXFORD REVIEW’s ads from your publication for being controversial and too critical of the state of the American Church.

Controversial? For what, telling the truth? (My husband and I find your refusal more controversial than any satirical NOR ad.) Too critical? Of whom, our faithless and spineless leaders and teachers? (We are starving for truth, but are only fed insipid, half-baked leftovers for mind and soul.)

Get a little fortitude!

Kathleen Boldrick

Santa Maria, California

Not Needed

In his letter (Sept.), George Morin challenges the NEW OXFORD REVIEW to start up a national weekly newspaper for people such as himself who are dissatisfied with Our Sunday Visitor. Morin even holds out a $5,000 donation as an enticement. But starting such a paper is not necessary, for we already have The Wanderer, a strongly orthodox national weekly newspaper founded in 1867. Morin and others can find out more by writing The Wanderer at 201 Ohio St., St. Paul MN 55107, or checking out its web site at http://www.thewandererpress.com.

Kurt Lee Killen

Kansas City, Missouri

George Morin offers the NOR $5,000 toward starting up a weekly national Catholic newspaper. But since we already have The Wanderer, the effort is not needed.

So how about this, Mr. Morin: Give the NOR $4,960, and use the other $40 for a year’s subscription to The Wanderer. You won’t regret it!

Mr. & Mrs. Steven M. Reisiger

Cincinnati, Ohio

Morally Raped & Appalled

Cancel my subscription! I do assume that deliberate editorial judgment allowed for the publication of Andrew McCracken’s unctuous “The Long Conversion of Oscar Wilde” (Sept.). I was morally raped and quite appalled to read therein: “The heart left unmoved by their story [two male sodomites] would be hard indeed.” Verily, I am thus a rather hard-hearted (read: heterosexuabpswine, having no lyrical spirit, who unequivocally condemns mortal sin. Moral revulsion, in the name of Catholicism, compels me to show no sympathy for the perpetuation of unnatural lusts. (I do not damn the sinner, only absolutely the sin.) The rarefied aesthetics of anal penetration have eluded my stony blood pump. As for poor miscreant me, Athanasius contra mundum!

Joseph Andrew Settanni

Morristown, New Jersey

Ed. note:

When a wife cheats on her husband, and he kills her in a “crime of passion,” he too has committed a mortal sin. Yet, were you to read the story of his anguish, despair, and sense of utter betrayal, you might well be “moved,” even deeply moved, even though condemning absolutely his sin. To be moved would not entail feeling “sympathy” for the “perpetuation” of bloodlust. The point of the McCracken article was that Wilde turned from his wicked ways and died in the arms of Holy Mother Church. If indeed you “do not damn the sinner,” you should rejoice at the outcome. What more can the Bride of Christ offer homosexuals than a chance to repent and turn from the evil of homosexual activity, and thus have a better chance for salvation? The NOR does not take second place to anyone in its absolute condemnation of the acts of sodomy and murder. You might be interested to know that a local group is using the McCracken article to witness to practicing homosexuals in its door-to-door evangelization work in the name of Catholicism. If, after reading this reply, you still want your subscription canceled, write us and we will oblige you — but not in the name of our hero, St. Athanasius.

Rockford, Illinois

Truth Trumps Aesthetics

The lives of great writers are often as compelling as their writings. Oscar Wilde, of course, is no exception, and Andrew McCracken’s skillful and persuasive telling of his conversion to Catholicism (Sept.) seems to prove as much. I’d like to see McCracken’s essay made required reading in all the British Literature survey courses where Wilde is hailed as a homo hero and his conversion is dismissed as an act of deathbed desperation.

An even more needy audience for the essay would be the more-than-a-handful of latent and active homosexuals seeking Holy Orders in the Catholic Church out of an aesthetic fascination with ritual.

And let me add my name to the long list (I am sure) of fans of your ads. As your June editorial put it, I’ll take fire over mere light any day.

Christopher Check

Eldersburg, Maryland

Being a Prodigal Son Isn't What It Used to Be

I am a prodigal son whose path back home to the Catholic Church took me through a Protestant denomination, and I’ve been shocked at what I’ve come back to. It was a relief, therefore, to read Marian Crowe’s September article “One Humdrum Catholic & Apostolic Church?,” and learn that I’m not alone in asking, as I recently did, “Jesus, what has happened to your Church?” Crowe’s is a voice crying out from inside the forest to which I’ve just returned. I had been thinking there was something wrong with me, but now I feel reassured.

I was raised in Catholic schools, and was an altar boy (emphasis mine) in the late ’70s. The Eucharist is really what has drawn me back, for I realize that it is not simply “symbolic,” as our Protestant brethren and even some Catholics believe, but that it truly is the Body and Blood of the Savior.

I can remember as an altar boy that we didn’t even think of touching the Host. That changed in our parish in the late ’70s, when one could receive Communion in the hand. But even then it was handled gingerly. Now we have “Eucharistic ministers” who assist in giving out the Body. Is it just me, or are there others who will not take the Host from anyone but a priest?

In returning to the Church, I met with the parish priest, who didn’t want to paint too Catholic a picture of parish life for me. “We are a community of believers,” he said. If I had wanted “social gatherings” and mere “symbolism,” my search would not have taken me out of Protestantism. (And, hey, where are the nuns in habits?) I need, and my soul desires, to worship Christ and see God for who He is. I want to accept His message fully, whether it’s comfortable or not. Today’s Catholicism is touchie-feelie, something to make us feel good, as though we go to church to kid ourselves that we’re all right with God. In reality, we’re moving further and further away from Him. Christ was the model of love and compassion, but nowhere did He water down His message in deference to the comfort level of His hearers. The Truth is the Truth, and if it doesn’t make you feel good it’s your problem. If the Truth makes you feel guilty, or bad about yourself, the problem is with you (and me), not with the Truth.

I’m in my second year of subscribing to NOR, the first year having been a gift from my father, who subscribes. (Hi, Pop!) Your publication has opened the door for my return, yet at the same time readied me for what I may find. Thanks, NOR, for loving the Church and remaining true to her.

Paul Nichols

San Mateo, California

Apropos of Marian Crowe’s article, I would add: When do we ever hear a well-prepared twenty-to-thirty-minute sermon with a generous use of Scripture and a lively application of Church doctrine to life? When do we ever hear our priests quote liberally from papal documents, showing that they have read them and can impart to the people the best of our Catholic heritage? If we don’t leave church Sunday mornings on fire to evangelize the world, it’s because something vital is lacking.

Jack Hitchcock

Vienna, Virginia

Please Lighten Up, Marian

I found Marian Crowe’s article, “One Humdrum Catholic & Apostolic Church?” (Sept.), perplexing. From an adult Catholic of her generation who teaches at Notre Dame, I would expect a broader view than she provides, and a more insightful understanding of the evolving Catholic Church, what Vatican II describes as a “pilgrim Church.” I cannot seriously believe that mature Catholics would prefer a list of dos and don’ts, as she recommends. The clarion call of Vatican II to the Catholic lay person is to take responsibility for our baptism and the priestly ministry therein conferred, and to do the work of sanctifying the world.

I’m sure Marian (I take the liberty because we were members of the same small faith-community about 25 years ago) has, as she says, experienced “arrogance” from the bearers of the new. But can’t she make some allowances for their passion?

Marian yearns for the majesty of the Latin hymns, the incense, the vestments. Such things spring from a culture. New symbols are springing from new cultures. Some forms of liturgical dance I’ve seen are truly majestic. And yet, older symbols persist. My wife and I have participated in an annual sung Latin High Mass in San Francisco’s cathedral, and it’s spectacular. But I’m also moved by the African Missa Luba and the Mass composed by Marty Haugen. I wonder if Marian has ever worked on a parish liturgy team — it can be a conversion experience.

I agree with Marian that homilies need to be more concrete. And where laypersons are allowed to give them, homilies do indeed become more concrete.

There are many obstacles to (or enemies of) the movement of the Spirit. One can easily find them in secular culture. But some of them are in chancery offices, and some are in Rome. Our job is to do the anointing.

I recommend to Marian the Book of Wisdom 9:13-18 — “For what man knows God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?…” I hope Marian can lighten up a bit. She should read some of the fanciful poetry of Daniel Berrigan. Better yet, she should write some of her own.

Anthony D. Lutz

San Mateo, California

Marian Crowe has a bad case of Madden Syndrome.

John Madden (the football broadcaster) doesn’t like airplanes. He travels in his own personal bus. That’s fine. There’s a certain charm to it. But air travel is really a better way if you don’t have all week to get where you’re going.

Crowe rants against liturgists and moralists who assert that the Church was wrong for centuries. Who are they? No current liturgist or moralist contends that Catholics who went to Confession frequently were wrong to do so, or that it was wrong to celebrate Mass in Latin.

At one time trains and buses were the only way to get somewhere. Nowadays the Pope doesn’t call out his horse-and-carriage when he wants to go somewhere. He flies. That doesn’t mean he thinks it was “wrong” for earlier popes to go by carriage.

Dick Harnett

Vista, California

Modernism in San Diego

My letter (June) stating my decision to allocate my scarce charitable dollars to the NEW OXFORD REVIEW instead of to the San Diego Diocese’s Annual Appeal — because of the modernism in that diocese of mine — has ruffled some feathers in the diocesan bureaucracy, judging from Jennifer E. Turck’s letter (Jul.-Aug.). She accuses me of “seeing the shadow of a [modernist] bogeyman where one doesn’t exist,” and challenges me to be specific.

Okay, my view from the pew reveals the features of San Diego’s modernist bogeyman to look like this:

· A complete failure to abide by the letter and spirit of the Holy See’s 1997 instruction on lay ministry.

· Priests not distributing Holy Communion, but sitting on their thrones and leaving that task to an army of Eucharistic ministers.

· Eucharistic ministers dressed like they are going to a picnic, and showing as much reverence for the Body of Christ as if they were handing out leaflets on a street corner.

· Homilies full of warm, fuzzy, make-you-feel-good psychobabble, so as not to challenge anyone’s behavior.

· Not a single homily explicating the Church’s teachings, not even on such crucial topics as sin, grace, salvation, the sacraments, marriage, children, abortion, fornication, and homosexuality.

· Frequent modifications of Mass texts so as to conform with the so-called inclusive language of the feminists.

· Churches that look like auditoriums, virtually devoid of sacred objects (that old heretic Ulrich Zwingli would be ecstatic).

Whether these failures have occurred because of the diocese’s lack of direction or lack of vigilance or whatever, the fact that they have occurred is clear and convincing evidence that my funds are more likely to do the Lord’s work through the faithful evangelism of the NOR than through diocesan offices. Should the situation change substantially, I would certainly reassess my charitable habits. Until then, I will continue to pray for my diocese and materially support the NOR’s important work for orthodoxy.

Russell J. Ruscigno

Arlington, Virginia


I received phone calls the other day from two friends who say they are thinking of leaving the Catholic Church because they are not growing in Christ there.

My priest has had a girlfriend for over a decade. He goes away with her on little vacations. He even kisses her on the street in front of the rectory. He is also a heavy drinker and loves money. He fired the best religious education teacher we’ve ever had and replaced him with a liberal Catholic. People have complained directly to the priest — and to the bishop — but nothing changes. Many families have left our parish.

I’m so frustrated that I, too, am ready to leave the Catholic Church and go to a Protestant church where the Bible is really taught. I’m just not getting fed.


Fort Worth, Texas

"Mumbo Jumbo"

I read with some incredulity Frederick Paulmann’s letter (Sept.) in which he laments the “loss of reverence for the Holy Eucharist.” To hearken back to my youth as a devout Catholic: It was precisely this type of mumbo jumbo that first caused me to mistrust the cabalistic nature of much old Catholic doctrine.

For example, the very subject on which Paulmann dwells, piety in regard to the Eucharist, was a turning point in my relationship with Catholicism. We were told by the nuns that should the church catch fire, it would be our solemn duty to “rescue” the Host, even if it meant death in the attempt. You can imagine my thoughts during the midnight to 4 a.m. watch during Forty Hours Devotion: Should the church burst into flames, we would be the only ones available to rescue the monstrance.

This nonsense was analogous to being taught that eating a cheeseburger after a football game on Friday meant a quick trip to Hell, should we die unconfessed and unforgiven on the way home. Yet at the same time we were told by the nuns and priests that if Adolf Hitler should make an act of perfect contrition just before dying, he could gain admittance to Heaven, albeit after a considerable stay in Purgatory.

If those are the days Paulmann and others are trying to bring back, then the Catholic Church is indeed in peril. The worst elements — the ones designed for the simple-minded and compliant, the elements that have kept Catholic-colonized countries such as those in Latin America in chains — are the ones he cites as desirable.

Priorities were wrong then, just as they are wrong now in many respects. In today’s age of carnality, I find it encouraging merely to find someone who believes in God and apparently abides by His commandments. At least I feel that such a person is unlikely to shoot me for my wallet or cut off my finger for my ring (my local paper says it has happened).

Priorities, Mr. Paulmann, priorities!

Charles Marthinsen

Newark, Delaware

The Family Wage

Rupert Ederer’s article “Our Economy of Paper & Hot Air” (Sept.) was excellent, despite some dubious economic conclusions. He wrote: “The payment of the just wage is ‘the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socio-economic system…’ [Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens]. That proposition strikes at the very heart of liberal capitalism, in which labor is just a disposable commodity that is left to the mercy of the ‘free market.'”

I note, however, that the Catechism (2434) says a just wage is determined by “both the needs” of workers and their families “and the contributions of each person…taking into account the role and productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.” My question: What is a just wage for individuals who can’t or won’t prepare themselves to give a full day’s work and fair productivity in return for their paycheck?

Ederer’s article should be directed to the attention of entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, and politicians who discourage the concept of one breadwinner per family by discouraging the family wage, which John Paul in Laborem Exercens described approvingly as “a single salary given to the head of the family for his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to take up gainful employment outside the home,” adding, “it will redound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother…to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age.”

F.S. Lukas

Parry Sound, Ontario

Here's How We Do It

My article about being “An ‘Educated Woman’ Who Stays Home With Her Children” (May) elicited a letter from John Watkins headlined “How Does She Do It?” (Jul.-Aug.). He wanted to know how my husband and I, with five growing children, can meet a budget when only my husband works. I wish to assure Watkins that mothers can stay home with the children with just one moderate income. Only last year (12 years after I left work) did my husband’s salary nominally equal what our double income had once been (with inflation, it remains less).

Here are some of the things we have done to make ends meet. First, we saved as much as we could while we were both working. After I left work we concentrated on the big-ticket items. We were living on Long Island, an expensive part of the country, so my husband began to look for a position in a less expensive locale. We found that in Delaware. We bought a house that is less than two miles from his office, and I drive him (or we carpoobpso as to make do with one car. In order to shuttle our five children to their Catholic school and other activities, I must live or die by the carpool.

As for food, our favorite cuisine is “What’s on Sale.” We belong to a baby-sitting co-operative; I barter childcare for piano lessons (for the kids and me); we vacation at grandma and grandpa’s house; I cut my children’s hair myself; and I buy about 75 percent of our clothing, toys, and books secondhand. We have the use of hand-me-downs — and clothes traded with friends — down to a science.

We no longer think of sending our children to Ivy League schools; they will probably live at home and go to the University of Delaware. But, frankly, I’d rather have a sixth child than have the first one go to Harvard. Given what the elite schools have become, I probably wouldn’t want any of my children to go Harvard, anyway.

Above all, we pray that God will help us take care of those He has entrusted to us.

Kathleen W. Barr

Like Mrs. Barr, I’m a full-time mother of five. My husband is a welder, and we survive on a single salary. How do we do it? First, we place our lives in the hands of God. I know with certainty that the Lord will provide, for He has proven Himself in the past. Secondly, we live frugally. Paradoxically, this is much easier to accomplish with me at home. Because I have the time, I can tend a garden, shop around for bargains, do household repairs, and cook meals from scratch. I home-school the children, so we don’t have to buy designer clothing — thrift-store clothing is fine. Moreover, we have chosen simplicity — we have chosen to forgo dishwashers, restaurant meals, country club memberships, a second car, and summer vacations.

Yes, there are times when I have doubts. Our van is nine years old, and I credit my prayers — and my husband’s mechanical skills — with keeping it on the road this long. We have a small sum of money set aside for our children’s college education, but unless the Lord multiplies it like the loaves and fishes, it will be inadequate. Still, our families and friends have been most generous with our children at birthdays and Christmas.

Even secular sociological studies are now acknowledging how important it is for children to be at home with their mother during their early years. I will continue to do that for my children for as long as the Lord allows.

Kathie McGann

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