Seattle Inspiration

Regarding "Seattle Seahawks’ Tight End Staying Loose Before the Super Bowl" (Jan. 31,

Thank you for the wonderful article on Luke Willson. As a retired teacher from Holy Cross School in LaSalle, Ontario, Canada, where Luke attended grade school, I read the article with interest and pride. He is indeed a role model and inspiration to all who journey in the Catholic faith. It was refreshing to hear a young man speak proudly of his Catholic roots and his continued dedication to his faith.

Thank you again for spreading God’s word.

Mary Kennedy

LaSalle, Canada


‘I Was Invited’

Regarding "How to Make a Good Confession" (Culture of Life, March 9 issue):

If not for the sacrament of reconciliation, I would be (quite possibly) permanently lost in the chaotic, empty reality that fixates on instant gratification and marginalizes God and his Church.

Approximately 20 years ago, I found myself drifting into the abyss of secularism. Along with that came behaviors that systematically separated me from experiencing the joy of knowing Our Lord. Thankfully, my faith was not totally lost, and I remember going on a retreat that, among other things, opened my eyes to the reality of God in my life.

The Saturday evening session concluded with an opportunity to go to confession. I felt uncomfortable with that idea because I had committed sins that I thought were unforgiveable. I had also experienced issues within the Church that hardened my heart.

In retrospect, this is exactly what the evil one wanted me to feel. Nonetheless, the invitation from the priest moved me deeply. His words went something like this: "I know that some of you are hurting deeply. I know that some of you have been struggling with pain and sorrow for a very long time. I want you to know that Our Lord loves you more than you could possibly imagine. He wants nothing less than to take away all that pain and sorrow and for you to know a joy that is beyond explanation. I am personally inviting you to come to confession this evening. If it has been a long time, and you don’t remember how to make your confession, don’t worry about it. I will guide you the whole way. All you need to do is open your heart to the love and mercy that God wants to share with you."

I remember that it was the personal invitation from that priest that stimulated my interest — and the love of God that got me to get up and go. I remember feeling that my sins were unforgiveable, but I could not help myself from experiencing the overwhelming love of God that I felt.

Before I could say a word, I began to sob uncontrollably. The priest clearly sensed my sorrow and told me to stand up. I did, and then he embraced me. Not a word was said, but it was as if Jesus himself embraced me, and my sorrow turned into intense joy and peace. We then continued with confession, and within a few minutes, he absolved me of my sins, and I was healed. It changed me forever, and confession became an extremely important part of my life from then on.

This Lent, I encourage you to come to the sacrament of reconciliation. Please know that Jesus is inviting you — not simply because you have committed sins or are struggling with intense pain and sorrow. He wants you to know his complete mercy and a joy that has no bounds.

"Nothing can separate us from God’s love" (Romans 8:31-39).

Damien O’Connor

Bridgeport, Connecticut


Editor’s note: Damien O’Connor is the Diocese of Bridgeport’s senior director in the Office for Pastoral Services.


Extraordinary Beauty

"Vatican II’s Liturgical Constitution Yields Fruit" (Nov. 26 issue) lauded the liturgical changes in the Mass by comparing favorably the Novus Ordo to the traditional Latin Mass. I believe the comparison is unjust because the article misrepresents how people say the traditional Mass.

The main criticism of the extraordinary form is that it is celebrated only by the priest; the congregation does not participate. Father Douglas Martis, director of the Liturgical Institute of the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill., defined participation as: "Active participation is not what you’re doing on the outside, but what’s happening on the inside." By that criterion, let’s re-examine the Latin Mass as it really is.

People do participate in the traditional Latin Mass, but not in the same way that they do in the Novus Ordo. The Latin Mass is contemplative, not exuberant. You participate in prayer. Missals for the extraordinary form provide the liturgy in both Latin and the vernacular. Only the priest recites the Mass in Latin; the people follow in their own language. People can follow the Mass progression because the missal provides key words and because the recital of Latin and of most European languages proceeds at about the same pace.

The prayers of the Latin Mass are meaningful because they reflect life as it really is, bringing solace to those in conflict and sorrow, which is the usual life for most of us: "Give judgment for me, O God, and decide my cause against unholy people." "Why do I go about in sadness while the enemy afflicts me?" "I shall go to the altar of God, to God, the joy of my youth."

There is no congregational singing. Rather, the Mass is accompanied by the choir, positioned in the rear of the church, so as not to draw attention away from the altar. The choir offers sacred songs that complement rather than compete with the liturgy.

The prayers of the Latin Mass are so constructed as to reinforce belief in the faith, using a psychology best described by lex orandi, lex credendi (the way we pray is what we believe).

In the spirit of unbroken focus, the consecration is approached, achieved and transited to Communion with no interruptions or competition from the laity. It is followed by the people as true, mystical and awe-inspiring. We believe that he is there, that each of us will receive a personal visit by God in which we can talk to him and implore his aid. Private conversation with him is possible because of the silence. The choir might be singing, but in subdued tones at the rear of the church.

The purpose of liturgy is to reinforce faith, which the Latin Mass does very well.

William Stimson

Charlottesville, Virginia


Santa Clara’s Direction

I found the article "Abortion Standoff Ensues at Santa Clara University" (Education, Jan. 26 issue) by Peter J. Smith to be misleading, with its large picture of the Jesuit school’s president.

The implication that the president was fighting faculty to prevent abortion services being offered in the school’s health insurance was really incorrect. On a second reading, I discovered he was arguing that elective abortion not be covered, while the school continues to cover "therapeutic" abortion, contraception, etc.

I doubt there are any informed Catholics who would choose to differentiate "elective" abortion vs. "therapeutic" abortion. Clearly, all abortions are elective.

In addition, I did not read any expressed regrets or apologies by the Jesuit priest-university president that the school offers abortion insurance coverage "because the California state law mandates such." Is this the future of our Catholic universities and hospitals?

As a retired Catholic physician, I would have closed my practice if the state mandated I could not refuse to do an abortion if requested. We are teetering on the edge of a monumental disaster for Catholic institutions and individuals.

Ronald V. Erken, M.D.

Wichita, Kansas


Peter Jesserer Smith responds: Abortion coverage for any reason is already status quo at SCU. The story reports that Father Michael Engh is trying to move SCU closer to Catholic values in this area, and that the SCU faculty want none of it, by eliminating from health plans coverage for abortions deemed "elective" (personal choice). It appears that Father Engh is trying to "bring SCU health plans into closer alignment with the Church’s teachings" where he can, under the unjust constraints imposed by the state on health plans.


Where to Go?

Pertinent to "The Slippery Slope of Mario and Andrew Cuomo and Abortion" (, Jan. 22):

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statement that pro-lifers should leave the state begs the question: Just where does he want us to go? Re-education concentration camps on closed military bases would be my best guess.

George A. Morton

Hopewell Junction, New York