Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: October 1998

October 1998

Bam! Pow! Zap!

I just read your full-page ad entitled “This Is Your Liberal Catholic (Not on Drugs)” in another Catholic magazine. Bam! Pow! Zap! What a strikingly pointed caricature (visually and textually). Your ads keep getting better and better. This is the best one ever. I can’t believe that any Catholic with blood flowing in his veins would not immediately subscribe after reading that ad. I love the NOR more than ever!

Bill Kearney

Provincialate Community

Lake View, New York

I’ve seen several of your ads in other magazines, but now, having read your “This Is Your Liberal Catholic (Not on Drugs),” I surrender. I can’t resist you any longer. You win! I must subscribe to your magazine now. That ad had me laughing till it hurt.

Roselynn Smith

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Latin, Schmatin

There is a lot that needs to be done to stiffen the backbones of Catholics, but, contrary to what Fr. Peter Stravinskas says in his June article, returning to Latin in the liturgy is not one of them. In the late 1970s, a priest friend was going to say Mass for us, and he promised us a treat. For us pre-Vatican II couples, he was going to do the Consecration of the Mass in Latin. I looked forward to that eagerly, since I had been an altar boy in my youth and still knew all the old Latin responses. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when I realized I was concentrating on the Latin words (which I didn’t really understand) and missing the action that was taking place in the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ! I had become used to hearing the priest say, “This is my Body,” which has a powerful effect on me, whereas Hoc est enim Corpus meum is unintelligible to me. Latin is elitist — few people would appreciate it and most would not understand it. Is this what Stravinskas means by recapturing the “mystery” in our worship — not being able to understand it?

Deacon Patrick J. Hogan

Poughkeepsie, New York

As a church musician for over 50 years as well as teacher and practitioner of Gregorian chant, I endorse Fr. Stravinskas’s call for a renewal of reverence and beauty in the liturgy.

But his description of today’s worship life (“banal, pedestrian, narcissistic,” etc.) is a bit unfair. With all due respect, the same might be said of most of what went on before Vatican II. Has he forgotten the ugly fiddle-back vestments, the unintelligible Latin mumbling and horrible incantations that passed for Gregorian chant, the multiple fly-swatting crosses over the chalice, and above all the trite 19th-century waltzes that passed for hymns (e.g., “Mother Dear, O Pray for Me”) or the insipid Latin Mass of Saint Basil that was sung in most churches?

Stravinskas recommends genuflection before receiving Holy Communion. The Eucharist, however, means thanksgiving. It is not a private devotion. The Communion Rite includes a communal procession to the sacred banquet (sacrum convivium). To interrupt this rite with a private devotion is out of place, outlandish, and downright tacky.

Richard E. Cross

Tarrytown, New York

Only the Victim Can Forgive

I would like to comment on David Stolinsky’s column, “A Case for Anger” (Jul.-Aug.), especially since he has an eastern-European-sounding last name like mine and was involved in the medical field (I was in medical research for nine years). Those similarities piqued my interest and prompt me to share the following paraphrase from Simon Wiesenthal, the Jewish hunter of Nazi war criminals, who affirmed Stolinsky’s case for anger when he spoke to this effect:

“You ask, Why do I hunt Nazi war criminals? It has been 50 years since their crimes. Why can’t I forgive? The truth is, it is not for me to forgive. Only the victims of the Nazis can forgive, but they are dead. Those who are not the victims cannot forgive because they are not the victims. One can forgive the perpetrator of an evil committed against oneself. But when it comes to evils committed against others, it is one’s right and duty to see to it that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The only person who can forgive a murderer is dead. Therefore, those of us who surround the victims must be their defenders, otherwise justice will never be served. We cannot stand idly by and watch murderers and genocidists go unpunished.” (This paraphrase conveys the intent of his original statement, which I do not have at hand.)

Like Wiesenthal, Stolinsky is Jewish. I am Catholic, so I am impelled to remark — all too briefly — that only through Christ can mercy be effective and justice be complete.

Daniel Jedlenski

Santa Cruz, California

Only Double-Parking

Gone Forever?

In the letters section (Jul.-Aug.), Anonymous of Brooklyn, a self-identified ex-Catholic evangelical Protestant, writes: “As a Catholic in the 1950s and early 1960s, I remember double-parked cars outside St. Brendan’s Church in Brooklyn, with all Sunday Masses packed. Those days are gone forever.” Well, the eight to ten thousand of us left here at St. Brendan’s are happy to report that we can now find seats in the pews — and everyone parks legally.

Anonymous goes on to speak of “the collapse” of Catholicism. But people have been speaking of that for almost 2,000 years, and the Gates of Hell have not prevailed.

James J. Mulroy

Brooklyn, New York

Look Across the Bay!

Reading J. A. Gray’s review of Joseph Tussman’s The Beleaguered College: Essays on Educational Reform (Jul.-Aug.), it struck me that Berkeley’s Professor Tussman need only look across the San Francisco Bay to the University of San Francisco to find the liberal arts education he recommends. The St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco is a rigorous Great Books program that replaces the standard curriculum offered by the university with classical studies in the liberal arts beginning with the Greeks and continuing into the 20th century. Unwavering in rigorous academic standards, the Institute duplicates the classical education once standard fare at a Jesuit college.

Tussman bemoans the state of the university (and rightfully so), but it is important to point out that in the middle of one of the most liberal cities in America is a program that focuses on classical education with a staunchly orthodox Catholic perspective. One of the greatest benefits of a program like the St. Ignatius Institute is that the student is surrounded by influences antithetical to the Church and thus is tested against powerful forces, in addition to being able to see the shallowness of the curriculum his peers endure.

Marc D. Pecha, M.D.

San Antonio, Texas

From Tussman to Thomas Aquinas College?

I was most impressed by J.A. Gray’s review of Joseph Tussman’s The Beleaguered College (Jul.-Aug.). A little over fifty years ago St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., began a Great Books program required of all students, and I recall that in the 1950s, when we organized the program, Berkeley’s Professor Tussman was on our Consulting Board and engaged in interesting discussions with us. Our approach was dictated by a devotion to the St. John’s College (Annapolis) tradition. My involvement was initially with the mathematical classics. St. Mary’s has continued to this day, at great cost in money and manpower, to maintain the requirement — partially for all undergraduates and totally for a select group. These latter graduate without a major in anything other than the Great Books themselves. About forty freshmen, on the average over the last forty years, start, and about twelve or fifteen graduate.

In 1972 some of our faculty at St. Mary’s, men who were seriously conservative Catholics, left to found Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., and have persevered in requiring all students to follow an adaptation of the St. John’s Program. I greatly admire their efforts and have supported them when I can.

Bro. Brendan Kneale, F.S.C.

Napa, California

A Finger in the Dike

Please accept the enclosed check to offset, in a small way, the loss of new subscriptions (and revenues) resulting from the censorship of your ads by Our Sunday Visitor.

Bernard E. DeLury Jr.

Brigantine, New Jersey

From Letters to Our Sunday Visitor

Please cancel my subscription to Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) immediately, and return my three-year renewal as well as any rebate I may be due for the balance of my current subscription.

I dislike having to take this action. I was very impressed with OSV’s memorial to Mother Teresa. I continued to enjoy each issue until OSV’s Editor in Chief praised Disney’s Nothing Sacred. Still, I didn’t complain because I don’t expect people to agree with me all the time.

But I have found out that you refuse to publish ads for the NEW OXFORD REVIEW, and therefore I cannot in good conscience continue my subscription to OSV. I have seen the NOR’s ads in other periodicals, and I don’t see why, by any stretch of the imagination, they are objectionable. Now I have to wonder what else OSV is censoring.

You have forced me to choose between the NOR and OSV. You might say I could subscribe to both publications, that I might benefit from a variety of views. But that flies in the face of your own position, that OSV cannot accept a variety of views in its advertising. You might say that you can’t accept every ad that is submitted. In answer, I would say that I can’t subscribe to every Catholic periodical that wants my support.

I’ve learned the lesson you teach — that what is objectionable should be rejected, in spite of the good it might do. You have rejected NOR ads, in spite of the good the NOR provides. O.K., I reject your publication in spite of the good you provide.

Peter Goedicke

Houston, Texas

In his homily on June 29, 1972, Pope Paul VI said, “Satan’s smoke has made its way into the temple of God…. It was believed that after the Second Vatican Council there would be a day of sunshine…. There came instead a day of clouds, storm and darkness…. This came about through an adverse power; his name is the Devil….”

For almost twenty years I watched those clouds form on the ecclesial horizon. But I did not worry.

But then the storm came and shook my own house. At a symposium for catechists in Baltimore in 1991, I heard the Magisterium snarled and hissed at. I also heard a completely un-Catholic exegesis of a Scripture text. This experience unnerved me, causing me to do a complete study of the catechetical material used in my parish. For my efforts I was summarily dismissed from my volunteer job as a catechist.

Later our (new) pastor was teaching a course on Genesis. After a class meeting I went up to him with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and he angrily shooed me away.

The Catechism has not been opened in our parish yet. I attended a meeting of our parish school board to see what could be done about this neglect. I was talked down by the same pastor.

It took me some twenty years to become alarmed by Paul VI’s warning about the storm. Does Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) hear the howling of the winds threatening the very foundations of Holy Mother Church? Apparently not. Otherwise it would not refuse to publish ads for the NEW OXFORD REVIEW.

Consider one of the NOR’s latest ads: There is a drawing of a haloed clown with the headline, “Does St. Bozo’s Parish No Longer Amuse You?” Does OSV find that offensive? Perhaps the members of the OSV staff have never been in St. Bozo’s parish. Lucky you!

According to Paul VI’s homily cited above, we are in a terrible battle. Quoting Ephesians 6:12, he said the battle is “not against human forces but against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness, the evil spirits….” Surely it is not wise for OSV to place obstacles in the way of the troops who are fighting our battle against “the rulers of this world of darkness.”

Martin Lobert

Ellicott City, Maryland

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