Print Edition: Feb. 22, 2015
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BY John Lilly
I am grateful for
Robert Brennan’s commentary headlined “Catholic School Confidential” (Feb.
About the year 1933, my
mother, separated from her husband, was looking for work and desperately needed
to find shelter for her three little girls, ages 8, 6 and 4. The Sisters of St.
Joseph Convent School on Bay Street in Toronto took us into their boarding
school and into their hearts.
My first-grade teacher,
Sister Mary Inez, and many other sisters taught me about the love of Jesus and,
in his name, they gave me a special home for about five years. I shall never
forget the peace and security I felt in their chapel every morning at Mass and
every evening at Benediction.
It has been sad for me
to hear from some people that their chief memory of Catholic sisters was being
taught to fear God, more than to realize how much he loved them. It has also
been sad for me to think that a greater faith in our Church was given to me
than to them. I have prayed that the vocations of Catholic teaching sisters
would again increase and help strengthen our Catholic faith.
There is an order of
Dominican Sisters here in Nashville, Tenn., that has been flourishing. These
sisters have helped to give a strong faith and knowledge of truth to some of my
children and grandchildren. I urge everyone to pray that we gain more
self-sacrificing Catholic sisters.
or the Mountains
I had been receiving news stories via e-mail from various
friends about Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault during this year’s Olympic Games.
One of these articles, in particular, quoted Mrs. Dussault as saying, “I’m
paying witness to how life doesn’t end after marriage and childbirth.” After
reading that, I asked myself, cynically, whether she thought that giving up
skiing to pursue her more humble vocation as wife and mother would be the end
of what she considers to be “life.” Since the Catholic news source that
produced this article was not on my list of my favorite conservative sources, I
shrugged my shoulders and moved on.
Then, seeing a copy of the Register in the commons of my
dorm, a headline caught my eye. It read: “Mom Is Racing With God” (Feb. 5-11).
My first thought was that the poor skiing lady had had some accident and died.
I picked up the story. To my initial relief, I found that the article was not
tragic, but then to my deep disappointment I found that it was another article
much like the one that I had read before — only this time it was from a source
I considered to be very conservative. Therefore, I am writing to protest.
A career of the wife, if truly necessary for the sake of
money, is morally excusable; worldly affairs are not to be shunned as totally
unimportant, just very secondary. On the contrary, a career for the sake of
glory seems utterly incomprehensible if one understands the vocation of
marriage, especially as it relates to the wife and mother. This is a role where
glory is quiet, known by only a few, but by those few known in ways completely
unprecedented by any other career. It is a life embodied by the “fiat” of the
The home is a liberation of femininity, allowing a woman
to spend all her energy toward doing what women do best — loving her family.
What “dreams” are to be pursued beyond the home, or, as the case would have it,
in spite of it, seem to be hardly worth upholding as some admirable moral goal.
To do so presents a deep contradiction to the Catholic worldview that I have
come to ascribe to your publication.
While I wholeheartedly support the evangelization of the
world, and encourage everyone to preach the truth of God from the very
rooftops, I cannot help but think that the efficacy of our evangelization is
inhibited greatly by this contradiction of ideals. Motherhood is not something
to be glorified by an Olympic medal; its glory is humbly displayed in the
beautiful souls of a family well nurtured in love.
In the future, I would hope to see more articles from
your esteemed publication that defend the dream of true feminine freedom.
Santa Paula, California
Relevant to “Hospice
Hope and Horror” (Feb. 19-25):
I am Catholic and have
worked in end-of-life care for most of my professional career, having run the
largest hospice program in Kansas for many years in the latter part of the
1980s and throughout the ’90s. If you really want to portray hospice care in an
unbiased context, I would suggest interviewing such persons as Dr. Carlos
Gomez and others whose credentials and contributions far exceed those of Ron
Panzer. In fact, your reference to him in the article raises more doubts than
confidence as to your authentic agenda.
For my entire 15-year
tenure as hospice director, we had a Catholic priest on staff who
advised us — not only on the teachings of the Church, but also on the societal
and clinical dimensions of pursuing the vitalists’ agenda of transhumanism (a
philosophy advocating the use of technology to overcome human limitations). If
you think euthanasia is the only threat to Catholic teaching, you
are not seeing the whole issue.
“Mechanical paths to
death,” a term coined by Dr. Bill Knaus, acknowledges the powers of technology
that rob humans of being fully human in the twilight of life. We must
always embrace our Creator’s role in the mystery of life, and we must always
respect his openness to the free will of humans, along with our capacity to
err, however sincere we may be. Headlong pursuit to define life as the vitalist
would define it is just as destructive to Catholic teaching as
advocacy of its premature end.
Vice President, Aging and End of Life
Center for Practical Bioethics
Joy in the Confessional
I enjoyed reading
Brother John Raymond’s column, “I Confess” (Spirit & Life, Jan. 29-Feb. 4),
as anything written on confession can be helpful and is most needed in our
“post-confessional” age. However, one line in the article I believe needs
amplification because otherwise it could cause confusion.
Brother John writes:
“Now, we know that we are only required to go to this sacrament when we’re
aware of having committed mortal sin.” Unfortunately, many good priests and
even printed examinations of conscience today reflect this erroneous thinking.
It is true that Canon Law states that “All the faithful … are bound faithfully
to confess their grave sins at least once a year” (No. 989). But that is
because we are only obligated to confess mortal, and not venial, sins. However,
that does not mean we are not bound to go confession at least once a year with
or without mortal sins. (Never mind that, pastorally speaking, it is often
difficult to determine which is which.)
In 1215, the Fourth
Lateran Council declared: “Every one of the faithful … should at least once a
year faithfully confess all one’s sins.” This Church teaching of the highest
authority (an ecumenical council) is repeated in another ecumenical council,
the Council of Trent, and in encyclicals such as Quam Singularis by Pope St. Pius X. Last but not least, the
Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Church obliges the faithful to
take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feasts, and, prepared by the sacrament of reconciliation,
to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter
Season (No. 1389; emphasis added).
May we all line up with
Brother John at least once a year, but hopefully many times a year, whether we
are big or little sinners, and receive God’s greatest attribute — his mercy in
the sacrament of reconciliation.
Father David Phillipson
Roy, New Mexico
Da Vinci Skip
I am writing about the soon-to-be-released movie version
of the Da Vinci Code.
It is too late to do anything about the disgraceful
novel; it is already a best seller even among Christians. But we can prevent
the movie from being a best seller. I urge anyone who reads this letter to
contact his/her pastor and local bishop. Simply ask them to encourage all
Christians to not se the movie.
A boycott can send a powerful message to the media that
we Catholics are fed up with the vicious, diabolical anti-Catholicism that is
insinuated into so many movies and TV shows. Why are we Catholics afraid or too
weak to stand up for our faith? If our faith means anything to us, here is a
simple, effective way of living it.
Don’t spend money on the Da Vinci Code.
Father Robert J. Prior, C.M.
Regarding “Court Ruling On Abortion, Hard to Score” (Jan.
I have been blessed by God to be the parent of seven
children. Except for an immediate time-critical emergency, if my child had a
physical condition that was potentially life threatening, it would make obvious
sense for the physician to inform the parent (me) before a medical procedure
was scheduled, especially if the procedure itself was potentially life
Yet the courts have decreed that this parental
notification does not need to happen.
If a girl, who is a minor, is pregnant and her life is
considered to be “at risk” by a “physician,” the parent need not be notified if
the child is offered and accepts an abortion to “save her life.” There are few
time-critical “life-of-the-mother” issues early in a pregnancy and in the later
stages a C-section could be performed. The time when a parent most needs to know
about the condition of their child (life-threatening condition) is the very
time the law requires no parental notification.
Now I know why judges’ faces are not on our country’s
coin currency, as some presidents’ are: Some of their judgments make no sense,
so why should they make cents?
Flower Mound, Texas
The photo caption
accompanying “Bernadette Film to Get American Premiere” (Feb. 5-11) incorrectly
identified St. Bernadette Soubirous as a Carmelite sister. She was a member of the
Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers at Lourdes, France.
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