Candlemas Customs

Your article about the Presentation of the Lord (“Light of the World Revealed,” Jan. 31) reminds me of a local tradition where I live that’s associated with Candlemas: Groundhog Day. 

No, I’m not referring to Puxsutawney Phil: He lives in the wrong part of the state. But the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania followed the Lutheran calendar and regarded Candlemas as the halfway point between Christmas and Easter. And that time of year you either have cold, clear winds blowing down from Canada (which lost their moisture and cloud cover while heading south) or warmer, moisture-laden and cloudy winds blowing up from down south. Adding the bit about the groundhog is a bit of whimsy.

The Pennsylvania Dutch also introduced such customs as the Christmas tree to this country, being Lutherans rather than Puritans. On the eve of the Lenten fast, Fastnacht, I’ll follow another one of their customs by eating some doughnuts (which, of course, you’re not supposed to eat during Lent).

Don Schenk

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Unshakeable Faith

Regarding “The ‘Worst Crime’: Will Pope Reorganize Irish Church in Wake of Abuse Scandals?”:

There have been scandals in Christianity since Judas betrayed Jesus. Some may be scandalized by what has happened in Ireland and leave the Church. David Widdoes was scandalized and left the Church because nobody stopped President Obama from speaking at Notre Dame (June 2009 letter).

As Catholics, we are called to follow the infallible teachings of the Church and not let our faith be shaken by those who do not follow them. We must pray for those who cause the scandal that threaten a person’s faith. Why? Because: “Woe to the man through whom scandal comes” (Matthew 18:7).

Joe Marincel

Flower Mound, Texas

The Trinity and E.T.

I read Ben Wiker’s column “The Truth Is Out There. Extraterrestrials, Probably Not,” in the Dec. 13 issue, which prompted this comment.

It seems to me that the Trinity is ideally suited to apply to the entire universe.

If there are other life-forms, then God could certainly become one of them to show them how to live.

The second Person of the Trinity could become any other form of life we could imagine.

So there seems to me to be no barrier to extraterrestrials.

The only question would be if those life-forms (or races or what have you) needed redemption.

If they had no “fall,” if they had retained friendship with God, then God need not come to them to redeem them. But the Trinity is ideally suited to the task of loving and becoming any other life-form in the universe.

Curt Lampkin

Azle, Texas

2 Saintly Popes

Regarding “Venerable Pius XII” (Jan. 10) and the new decree by Pope Benedict XVI recognizing Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII as “Venerable.”

I commend the Vatican for moving Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII a step closer to sainthood.

Pope John Paul II, a man of deep faith, will one day be canonized a saint by the Catholic Church! The Holy Father was an inspiration and a model witness to the life of Christ, a Shepherd of Truth immersed in profound humility and immense love for both God and man.

His many writings and tireless, worldwide pilgrimages of faith were a source of strength, encouragement, confidence, optimism and enlightenment not only to Catholics but to all men of good will.

Pope Pius XII also possessed “heroic virtue.” It is an irrefutable fact that Pius XII and the Catholic Church saved more Jews in Europe during the Second World War than any other party, with the only exception being the Allied liberating armies themselves.

He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the practical situations of that complex period of history, he foresaw that only in this way could he avoid the worst and save the greatest possible number of Jews.

In 1946 Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, wrote a letter to Pius XII thanking him for helping Jews during the Holocaust and for “sheltering thousands of children, who were hidden in Catholic institutions.” Herzog further stated: “God willing, may history remember that when everything was dark for our people, His Holiness lit a light of hope for them.”

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario

Rejecting Life

Regarding “Some See Opening for Roe Overturn in New Court Ruling” (“Register Exclusive,” Jan. 29):

In deciding Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court didn’t merely avoid the fundamental question of when life begins — it specifically rejected it.

In fact, by noting that the case would collapse if “the personhood [of the unborn] is established,” it practically begged that the question be settled by another body or at another time. While our knowledge of human development has grown since 1973, the greatest factor supporting a personhood amendment is simply wider access to that knowledge thanks to the sonogram, cable TV programs that graphically depict the beginning of life, and efforts by pro-life organizations and individuals who aren’t afraid to challenge long-held distortions. It is now clear to the majority that abortion takes the life of a complete, distinct, living, unconditionally viable and fully human being, as I have written publicly and unchallenged several times.

More than three decades after the Supreme Court decided that abortion was just, public opinion is marching the other way, with a majority of Americans now declaring themselves pro-life, many harboring an ever more realistic hope that the decision will ultimately be overturned or nullified.

Kevin Rahe

Rockford, Michigan

Attractive Evangelization

We enjoyed Father Dwight Longenecker’s article “Does the ‘Springfield Spirit’ Point the Way Home to Protestants” (Jan. 17) tremendously. Father Longenecker makes excellent points on how to attract evangelicals and sincere Protestants to the Catholic Church.

Fourteen years ago, our family found St. Anne Byzantine Catholic Church in San Luis Obispo. Divine Liturgies at such churches are indeed a foretaste of heaven. Reverence, poetry of language, friendly congregations where everyone is known by name, and fellowship so precious and warm, making any new persons right at home, is indeed a gift from the Lord.

May the Holy Spirit bring non-Catholics into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that Jesus founded.

Mr. and Mrs. Constantino N. Santos

Atascadero, California

Jay Study Flawed

The John Jay study (“John Jay Study Divides Observers,” Dec. 20-Jan. 2) strikes me as flawed. In the ’90s, The New York Times did a similar spin, calling a homosexual problem in the Catholic Church pedophilia.

The unfortunate intersection of our sexual revolution of the 1960s with the direction of change of Catholicism after Vatican II led to disaster in our seminaries. Too often openly homosexual men were welcomed and heterosexual men made unwelcome. Reform changed that.

Anyone desiring a detailed study of that sorry generation can read Goodbye, Good Men by Michael Rose. The Faithful Departed by Philip Lawler is helpful, too.

Rosemary McNulty

Guilford, Connecticut

Lightbearer no Longer

Regarding “Laughing at Lucifer” (Feb. 14): I prefer to refer to Satan as Beelzebub, lord of the flies. He forfeited the glorious name and title “Lucifer” when he said, “I will not serve.”

As Lucifer, he would have been like “Viceroy”; i.e., the greatest servant to the King of Kings, the Son of God.

Ever since Mary said to the angel Gabriel, “Be it done unto me,” she is entitled to the name that means “carrier of light.” Jesus is the Eternal Light, and Mary carried him. The very first verse of the Gospel according to John, when read with Gabriel’s greeting and Mary’s answer, is very consoling and interesting.

Bill Snyder

Kissimmee, Florida

‘Pro-Choice’ Bias

Regarding your March for Life coverage: We Catholics should not be surprised that most Americans (and most Catholics, unfortunately) know so little about the March for Life in Washington.

I read three newspapers: San Bernardino’s The Sun, Riverside’s The Press-Enterprise and the Los Angeles Times. Not one of these papers even mentioned the march this year. No story or photos. However, both The Press-Enterprise and the Times found plenty of room for articles about the trial of Scott Roeder for the killing of abortionist George Tiller. People won’t know what’s going on when the news media refuse to report it. Bias, anyone?

Michael Lane

Fontana, California


In our special message “Lord, Hear Our Prayer for Haiti” (Feb. 14), we listed among our recommended aid organizations Cross International. The name and contact information were not incorrect, but they were incomplete. The full and complete listing:

Cross International Catholic Outreach

370 West Camino Gardens Blvd.,

Boca Raton, FL


(561) 392-9212