National Catholic Register


Letters 03.02.2008

BY The Editors

March 2-8, 2008 Issue | Posted 2/26/08 at 3:26 PM

Liturgical Abuse?

Having enjoyed the wonderful book Why Catholics Can’t Sing by Thomas Day (head of the music department at Salve Regina College in Rhode Island), I am usually sympathetic to Webster Young’s arguments. But when he claims the song “Keep in Mind’ is one of the “high points in new Catholic music” (“Some Good Catholic Music,” Jan. 27), Young is encouraging liturgical abuse.

I assume Young means the memorial acclamation when he writes “Gospel acclamation.” This very song was addressed in a question-and-answer column in another publication recently, and the responding priest wrote that deviating from the canonical acclamations is liturgical abuse.

In this case, the song departs from the canon of the Mass (Christ has died; Christ is risen ...) to say “Keep in mind that Jesus Christ has died for us and is risen from the dead ...” The Lord knows there is enough ad-libbing going on in most Masses already. Please don’t advocate for more.

Regardless of your opinion of Webster Young’s opinions, I highly recommend Thomas Day’s lively discussion of why we were the way we were before Vatican II; what we have become since then; and where we may go from here.

Lawrence Cronk

Deming, Washington

Editor’s Note: Singing the refrain of Keep in Mind as a memorial acclamation is an abuse. The song is actually much longer, and is intended for other points in the Mass.

Bravo, Father Dwight!

I think that Father Dwight Longenecker is right on in his article, “The Tale of 2 Churches” (Feb. 10).

Leviticus 19:2 says, “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” It does not say, “Be happy for I am happy.” The article really gives me a clear understanding why my children (and so many other people) have walked away from their faith — they are only seeking happiness.

Love requires suffering, and happiness does not, so the love of God is too tough for these “live-for-today” young folks. I’d say our big task as evangelizers is to create a hunger for holiness in our near-pagan friends and children. I hope Father Longenecker has some ideas for that!

Barbara Levich
Seattle, Washington

Work Harder, Suffer More

Regarding “Tale of 2 Churches” (Feb. 10):

I agree with Father Dwight Longenecker in large part. “The two opposing views can be called ‘Happy Here” and ‘Happy Hereafter.’” But I disagree with him that “the two groups are distinguished not so much by what they do.” Mine is a small disagreement but worth stating.

Whenever I visit another church for Mass, there are telltale signs in the liturgy. One such telling example is if the congregation does not kneel during the consecration. The two opposing views differ most in humble reverence before God and in the seeking of and reliance upon grace. Those adhering to one view cannot humble themselves to be fools for Christ. They can only bring themselves to do what makes sense — as measured by their human judgment and with an inflated sense of dignity.

Having said this, I agree then with Father Longenecker that for this other view (for whom the pursuit of earthly happiness becomes the driving force), “religion becomes utilitarian … the priest ceases to be an agent of God’s supernatural grace … the pulpit becomes a platform for pious platitudes,” and that “the confessional ends up empty.”

I would add that the Holy Eucharist does not transcend being merely a celebration or common meal. And that the sacraments are truncated of much of their meaning.

We should all work harder for God (as this other view admirably seeks to do) but we all should also humbly pray, worship and suffer more for God.

 Terry L. Classen

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Parents as Teachers

Regarding “The Cluelessness Crisis” (Jan. 27), as usual, Melinda Selmys’ analysis is insightful and hard-hitting. Her discussion of the contemporary education system is eye-opening and her enumeration of its essential flaws is dead on.

However, I am disappointed that she seems to have overlooked the most fundamental cause of the education crisis: the lack of parental involvement in the education of children.

Parents are supposed to be the primary teachers of their children, but this is rarely the case in modern America. I think the great amount of money we as a society are willing to pour into our school systems is indicative of the great responsibility we expect those schools to shoulder for us. Schools are often all but entrusted with the very rearing of our children.

I worked for a year in my parish’s religious education program and was very disheartened to learn just how common it is for parents to expect one or two hours per week to suffice for their child’s religious education, as if the religious experience and a strong moral development could be facilitated on Wednesday evenings and/or Sunday mornings alone.

One priest who spoke to the religious education teachers described how one’s religion really has to be like a marinade in which one’s whole up-bringing is saturated. Then it sinks in. Then it lasts.

Sadly, in our society religion is often treated more as an exotic dipping sauce than a rich marinade. As long as our children are exposed to it, we’re covered. Our overwrought reliance on formal education for the rearing of our children seems to stem from the same minimalist attitude.

We want the best for our children, yes, and we’re willing to pay for it, but we’re not always willing to provide it ourselves, and that’s where the root of our problem lies.

Jessica Wierzbinski

Wichita, Kansas

Anti-Life Candidate

I was disappointed to see your page-one article, “Ron Paul Draws Passionate Support” (Jan. 27). The article virtually endorsed Paul for president. Yet, his views clearly contradict the Catholic Church in a number of areas.

For one thing, any law that allows directly willed abortion for any reason is an unjust law. Catholics are obligated to oppose any unjust law. The Bible says, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Ron Paul clearly supports the right of states to allow abortion if they choose to do so. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution clearly does not allow states to allow abortion.

When he ran for president in 2000 as the candidate of the Constitution Party, Howard Phillips pointed out that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution clearly forbids states to allow abortion, since it states that no one shall be deprived by the states “of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” It also declares that states may not deny anyone within their “jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

To allow the murder of the unborn and at the same time ban the murder of others deprives the unborn of equal protection under the law. It should be added that the Constitution is based on the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that there is a right to “life.”

Ron Paul advocates laissez-faire economic policies. These are condemned in the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor) issued in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII and many other papal documents.

I hope that Catholics will evaluate these points before voting.

Joseph V. Simon

Richland Center, Wisconsin

Knight-Endorsed Article

Congratulations, guys, for your Dec. 2 story, “Teachers vs. Priests.” My letter to the editor may be a little late, but I still must let you know how much I was pleased with Wayne Laugesen’s article.

I think every Catholic newspaper and magazine should be running a story and revealing the facts which your story has done.

Many of us have known for quite some time how the news media will slander and defame the Catholic Church while being silent about the enormous vice that is to be found elsewhere.

But there are many, many more who need to be aware of this.

I read your story to the members of my council of the Knights of Columbus, and I would recommend others disseminate the information contained in your article.

Bob Barattini

West Palm Beach, Florida

Editor’s Note: We offer the article free for all online at Type Teachers vs. Priests in the search field.

Zero-Population Bomb

I was surprised to see that you bothered to print the letter “Population and Nature” (Dec. 23) that was repeating 50-year-old false “Population Bomb” scare tactics.

With Europe and Russia facing social and financial collapse due to their birth rate that, at 1.3 per woman, will cause them to lose one-third of their population every generation, to worry about overpopulation is ridiculous.

Who will support all the old folks till they die is the question.

America is on the edge. Minorities have largely helped to increase the rate to 2.1 children per woman, when 2.2 is needed to break even. Muslims, with their strong religious beliefs, are at 5.6 but falling. Japan’s economy is in a permanent decline due to its low birthrate (especially as they abort 17% more girls than boys). China’s forced one-child policy will end its great rise in one generation.

What was even more surprising to me that his letter was followed by an editor’s note, not pointing out the above statistics that are now common knowledge, but saying that all those people could fit in Alaska.

Roland de Marcellus

Piedmont Triad, North Carolina