Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: November 2003

November 2003

"To Choose" Is a Transitive Verb

I am prochoice. I choose not to fornicate nor to abuse young men sexually, not to adulterate (make rotten) any of the beautiful purposes for which God created sex, its privileges and responsibilities.

I choose not to kill unborn babies, old folks, senators, judges, nor any of the intelligentsia, nor people less educated than I.

I choose not to fly airplanes into buildings, nor to rob banks, nor to ragefully force others off the road. I choose not to rob others with or without a gun. I choose to use standard English, without any slavery to political fads.

I choose to love and worship God and pray to do better at it every day. I choose to display my “Roman” collar proudly, and to give out rosaries to any who will accept them.

I learned years ago that “to choose” is a transitive verb, meaning it carries an object. It is idiotic to be prochoice unless one designates what is being chosen for or against. We must be prochoice something. It is not enough to say you’re “prochoice” without saying what is being chosen — sadly, it usually means choosing abortion. But why won’t they say it?

Fr. Richard Partika

Duluth, Minnesota

The Fast Track

I’ve been a subscriber to the NOR for several years, and I am forever indebted to you for opening my eyes. I was already on the path back from the life of a wandering cradle Catholic when I discovered the NOR, and your magazine put me on a much faster track to orthodoxy.

Jim Ball

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Our Fiddling Bishops

Kudos to Owen T. McCarthy for his letter titled “Eight Words Say It All” (Jul.-Aug.), a carpenter of words who knows how to hit the nail on the head!

His is a splendid summary of the execrable shepherding of the flock by our bishops as a collective unity. Yes, there are individual exceptions among the minority of bishops, but by and large these American shepherds have fleeced the flock these past forty years and left us nearly naked and emaciated for want of care.

Our children have matriculated through their “Catholic” education bereft of any substantive knowledge of the truths of our Catholic faith. School rooms, university lecture halls, and chancery offices have been staffed by a succession of liberal ideologues who have suppressed any meaningful study of apologetics and catechesis. A whole generation of our youth attending these “Catholic” institutions have graduated without an understanding of the fundamentals of our precious faith. Their profound ignorance is an embarrassment.

Like Nero, our shepherds have fiddled while a once-formidable educational system was set on fire to the tune of “the Spirit of Vatican II.” Cowered by radical feminists, these bishops collectively have spent their precious national conference time not in confronting the real crises, but in parsing Holy Scripture to delete those offending male pronouns and by evading Vatican directives. While our youth were succumbing to the tribal beat of the pagan environment engulfing America, our older generation was being systematically stripped of nearly every vestige of our Catholic faith as we once knew it, all in the name of modernizing our once-stable liturgical rites.

While presiding over the forced renovation of our parish churches to reflect the Zeitgeist — throwing out altar rails, tabernacles, statues, organs, and whatever else helped create an environment of reverence and awe and provided a link to our once-traditional form of worship — our bishops have delegated their responsibilities to diocesan officials, the most powerful of whom carry the title of “liturgist.” The latter, in turn, have established their counterparts in many parishes, and collectively they have dismantled our Catholic churches to create a close approximation of a Protestant “worship center.” Not without reason did Christopher Derrick give us a workable definition of these liturgists who so frequently wield the bishops’ authority: “A liturgist is an affliction sent by God so that Catholics living in an age when there is no overt persecution need not be denied the privilege of suffering for the Faith.”

The lamentable statistics of an abandoned faith are all too well known and documented to be repeated. Our bishops have frittered away their time on a succession of pastoral letters, a few of them bordering on the heretical (recall Always Our Children, that had to be rewritten under Vatican orders) to the neglect of the massive loss of faith within their own dioceses.

Is it any wonder that under the bishops’ averted gaze so many seminaries became infected with the homosexual lifestyle, a curse yet to be eradicated from many a seminary and many a chancery office where these practicing homosexuals carry on in a covert and protected environment? Entrenched seminary admission personnel are still in office to insure that “rigid” applicants — i.e., orthodox applicants — are rejected.

Nor can the minority of bishops who have individually remained aloof from the malfeasance of their brother bishops escape just criticism. How many of them can testify to having had the courage to insistently raise their voices in conference sessions in objecting to the liberal agenda-making of the majority? How many actively countered the efforts of those bishops bent on furthering the liberal agenda that has left the Catholic Church in America but a shambles of our once-vigorous faith?

Francis C. Goodell

Omaha, Nebraska

More Than "Strongest"

Alice von Hildebrand and I both went to middle school in Belgium where, in the course of Latin studies, every mother’s child attentively read the first paragraph of Julius Caesar’s Gallic War. As Dr. von Hildebrand points out (article, Jul.-Aug.), Caesar praises the Belgians as fortissimi (De Bello Gallico I.1).

I wish respectfully to correct Dr. von Hildebrand’s translation: fortissimi here does not mean “strongest,” as its French derivative may lead one to believe. It means “bravest.”

John Pepino

Lincoln, Nebraska

Caught Red-Handed

Regarding “Priests & Lay Leaders Stealing From the Sunday Collection” by Michael Ryan (Sept.): At my parish we suspected that stealing was going on. So we put a remote TV camera/transmitter in an air conditioning duct in the sacristy, where we figured the stealing took place. We caught the culprit unlocking the collection bags with a key he shouldn’t have had. The scenes of the thief in action were caught on video tape, to avoid all dispute.

The thief resigned quietly the following week and the whole thing was hushed up. Personally, I wanted to have the videos shown in the parish hall, but I was overruled.

I cannot say enough about using remote TV cameras/transmitters and recorders. Any local security firm can fix you up. Some cameras are as small as your thumb! They can be hidden almost anywhere. They work!

(Name Withheld)

Minnewaukan, North Dakota

Regarding Ryan’s article on priests stealing from the collection basket, often to finance their sexual escapades: If we are sorry for our sins and have a firm purpose of not sinning again before receiving the Holy Eucharist, how can priests who are breaking the commandments against stealing and sex outside of marriage even consider celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — and on a daily basis, no less?

Helen Shatynski

Newton, Massachusetts

An Anglican View of The Eucharist

Michael Forrest’s “A Eucharistic Healing” (Sept.) is a moving and fascinating account. It nevertheless leaves some theological issues unresolved:

Forrest quotes a number of verses from John 6, which he interprets as being directly related to the Eucharist. The final verse he quotes is verse 62, where Jesus says to the disciples in private, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” Forrest takes this to mean that “[Jesus] was trying to get them to accept His difficult teaching on the Eucharist by telling them that they would see other astounding, miraculous things that they could neither explain nor deny….” But in the very next verse Jesus continues with, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” This sounds very much like Christ is now explaining to His disciples in private the meaning of His public teaching: Spiritual life is received by believing the words He has spoken, which are “spirit and life.” If the preceding verses had involved a direct reference to Christ’s literal flesh, their immediate juxtaposition with “the flesh is of no avail” would seem rather strange. John 6 is not a direct reference to the sacrament of Holy Communion, which Christ had not yet instituted.

Does the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the consecrated elements preclude the simultaneous presence of bread and wine? No more than His being fully God precludes His being fully man (Docetist claims to the contrary notwithstanding). As I see it from an Anglican perspective, herein lies the true mystery of the Eucharist.

Dr. John Harutunian

Garden City, New York

Mass Confusion

Michael Forrest’s very personal article (Sept.) on kneeling to receive Holy Communion was truly awesome.

Before Vatican II, all Catholic churches had Communion rails, so there was no confusion about whether to kneel or stand. Everyone knelt. Vatican II did not call for dismantling the Communion rails. So who exactly wreaked such havoc?

Recently, I attended Mass at a church in Portland, Oregon, which still has Communion rails. What a beautiful sight!

If the U.S. bishops really want unity in posture, let them bring back the Communion rails. Let us laymen start now to restore them in all our churches.

Charles R. Willis

Norwood, Massachusetts

Daniel Peck's Baffling Letter

Regarding Daniel Peck’s letter (Sept.) about Ron Belgau’s article “Sodom & the City of God” (June): Peck is “baffled” by Belgau’s complaint about the lack of role models for chaste homosexuals. But I believe it would help if Belgau and others could have the example of some real-life heroes who were able to fend off the dragon of same-sex attraction (SSA).

Peck points to part of the problem when he refers to “constant and extreme pressure from the homosexual culture” on those homosexuals who seek to be chaste. He is right, there. An acquaintance of mine who is a chaste recovering homosexual tells me that his friends (?) are urging him to undergo therapy to cure him back into the “gay lifestyle.” Does anyone doubt that many therapists would be willing to do just that?

Still, Belgau has found role models for resisting SSA in his local Courage chapter. But this will not do for Peck, who is also “baffled” by the thought of homosexuals getting together to help one another avoid sin. He must not have heard of the many recovery groups which have achieved success using mutual aid to overcome alcohol, drug, gambling, sex abuse, etc. He might be surprised to learn that recovering alcoholics do not get together to hoist a few at the local pub; recovering drug addicts do not shoot up in the back room of a pharmacy; recovering gamblers do not meet at the track; and members of Sexaholics Anonymous do not gather at the Mustang Ranch. And, Mr. Peck, Courage meetings begin with a prayer.

Bill Shillue

Elk Grove, California

The Apostate Episcopal Church

I am an Episcopalian, and have been a subscriber to your challenging publication for some years now. I understand that the NOR began as an Episcopalian-related magazine but later switched to the Roman Catholic Church.

You are no doubt familiar with the actions of the recent Episcopal Convention and the divisions it is causing. Our bishop is Jerry Lamb (Diocese of Northern California), and his vote to confirm an openly and actively homosexual priest to become a bishop was extremely disappointing, indeed shocking. We had been given to believe that our bishops stood with the orthodox, so his vote was hard to take. What follows is from my letter to Bishop Lamb:

Dear Bishop Lamb:

I am writing to express my wife’s and my profound disappointment in the actions of the Convention just adjourned relative to homosexuality and the “blessing” of same-sex unions.

My wife and I became active members of the Episcopal Church in January 1972…. At that time we vowed to tithe, and with God’s help we have done so since….

The Episcopal Church we joined and have been active participants in no longer exists, due to your and others’ extremely unfortunate actions. You and others had an opportunity to stand in the gap for the Lord, and in our opinion you voted for “the world, the flesh, and the Devil.”

This is not a minor change. It is a major break with 2,000 years of Christian teaching and tradition. You and the others who voted for worldly values have failed us, the folks who sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday and look for spiritual leadership from those we had trusted to defend our faith.

At this time my wife and I are talking with other Christians and earnestly praying to seek and follow God’s will for us. At this time we do not see how we can remain in and support an apostate Church. But if we do in fact depart, we would not be leaving the Episcopal Church we joined in 1972; the Church has left us.

David H. Grafft

Hampden, Massachusetts

Leon Suprenant's Drop-Dead Understanding of Obedience

I read Leon Suprenant’s letter “clarifying” his position on standing for Holy Communion in the September NOR with great interest. I appreciate his attempt to strike a more conciliatory tone than the one exhibited in his original article in the National Catholic Register, which I critiqued in an article in the May NOR. However, there are two observations I would like to offer.

First, Dr. Robert Carballo’s letter (directly preceding Suprenant’s) stood essentially untouched by Suprenant’s letter.

Second, Suprenant suggested that I “interpreted” his Register article in regard to kneeling communicants incorrectly, adding, “if Forrest or anyone else inferred from this statement [that we should stand for Communion] that I was accusing those who still kneel for Communion of disobedience or sin, I sincerely apologize.” Not to be contentious, but this struck me as rather like an acquaintance of mine who regularly “apologizes” by further insulting one’s intelligence: “I’m sorry you did not understand….”

Nonetheless, immediately after reading Suprenant’s letter, I returned to his original Register article, wondering if I had in fact misinterpreted what he had said. Here are a few of Suprenant’s original comments:

– “This doesn’t leave the faithful free to kneel or stand at their pleasure. While the faithful cannot lawfully be denied the Eucharist when they kneel, they nonetheless are called to stand for Communion in humble, faithful obedience to legitimate Church authority.”

– “We are called to crucify our own individual preferences or inclinations.”

– “Doing one’s ‘own thing’ during Mass diverts attention away from Christ and instead focuses attention on oneself.”

– “Anything else [other than standing] is a recipe for liturgical anarchy and ultimately a divided Church.”

Upon review, the quotes speak quite clearly. It looks like I did not, after all, misinterpret his Register article.

Furthermore, Suprenant’s letter is not so much a “clarification” as it is a somewhat gentler recapitulation of the same points I disagreed with in his Register article. While juridical obedience allows one to kneel to receive Holy Communion, Suprenant nonetheless insists on the “virtue” of humble obedience. He still maintains that authentic humility, meekness, and obedience should lead one to stand for Holy Communion. Ergo, those who kneel for Holy Communion are lacking in these virtues in his view. He writes in his letter, “What I meant by ‘obedience’ is the virtue of humble submission to the Church, recognizing that fidelity to legitimate Church authority is a very practical way of expressing the Lord’s sovereignty in our lives….” Then, after commiserating with us over the outrageous and serious abuses that are tolerated and often perpetrated by our own hierarchy, he returns to his previous theme: “Such a double standard [by the hierarchy] further fuels a deep-seated cynicism where at times ‘defending the faith’ can be set in opposition to seemingly inexpedient, ‘wimpy’ virtues such as meekness…, child-likeness…, humility…, and, yes, obedience. But deep down, we know it has to be a ‘both/and’ proposition, as our Lord continues to tell His followers that, when among wolves, we need to be both ‘wise as serpents’ and ‘innocent as doves….'”

The fact is, the Vatican has consistently affirmed that we are completely free to kneel for Holy Communion in good conscience — that kneeling to receive Holy Communion is an ancient Catholic tradition that is “a particularly expressive sign of adoration and completely appropriate….” The bishops and bishops’ conferences are subject to the Holy See on this matter. This is not disputable. So, what is shrewd or innocent or obedient about blindly obeying a lesser authority that Suprenant (no doubt inadvertently) equates with “wolves”?

This is not unlike the current debate over kneeling upon returning to one’s pew after receiving Holy Communion. The new norm is that we must all stand until everyone has received Holy Communion, and certain bishops and priests have tried to enforce that. However, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has similarly responded that such draconian enforcement is incorrect and overly “rigid.” We remain perfectly free to kneel after receiving Holy Communion. But Suprenant’s “humble, meek obedience” would lead him to insist that we stand after Holy Communion as well. Apparently, Suprenant is more humble and meek than thou or I. Okay. But given Suprenant’s drop-dead understanding of obedience, one wonders what he would have made of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, or Dietrich von Hildebrand in their times — or, for that matter, Catholics United for the Faith in the decades before he became its President.

Michael Forrest

Metuchen, New Jersey

The Ten Commandments — Everywhere!

It’s time for Christians of all denominations to unite in opposition to our lawless judiciary.

The judicial outrage in Montgomery, Alabama, this summer was only one in a series of increasingly arbitrary and imperious rulings by activist judges. There will be more. These judges will not stop until they’ve established secularism as the state religion and erased all vestiges of Christianity from the public sector.

It’s hard to mobilize tens of millions of Christians in hundreds of denominations, many of which are at odds with one another. But it must be done.

There is one simple thing that millions of us can do. Let all Christians display the Ten Commandments on their property: their homes, yards, cars, even clothing — anywhere they can be seen. Imagine 50 million such displays. Maybe then those mummies in Congress will finally sit up in their coffins and take notice. Maybe our legislators — who have the constitutional authority to curb the courts — will realize they’d better rein in the judges, or we’ll find legislators who will. Maybe even some judges — if they can’t drive to work without seeing the Ten Commandments everywhere they look — will get the message.

Our runaway courts have abolished school prayer, and established “rights” to abortion and sodomy. They’re eager to do more: impose homosexual “marriage” on our society, annul the coming ban on partial-birth abortion, and abolish home-schooling. We’ll never see the end of their insatiable appetite for social engineering unless we stop them — now.

To display the Ten Commandments is to make our point in no uncertain terms. It’s something everyone can do.

Lee Duigon

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