National Catholic Register


Letters 06.28.2009

BY The Editors

June 28-July 11, 2009 Issue | Posted 6/19/09 at 1:13 PM


Thanking Priests

I searched for an appropriate “thank you” line to include in my note for an associate pastor’s 25th anniversary Mass. This was the first time I’ve visited the site, and I’m so glad I did. The editors’ “Thank you, Father” (June 14) is a beautiful and timely homage to our “fathers.” Thank you so much! And thank you, fathers!

Gloria Olenik

Cleveland, Ohio

Another Priest Movie

Regarding the publisher’s note “Year of the Priest” (June 14) and the reference to the “Top 10 Priest Movies”: What about the Otto Preminger film The Cardinal? He only becomes a bishop in the last third of the film and the film ends before he receives the red hat. The film is based on the book of the same name by Henry Morton Robinson. It’s a great film that shows a good bit of liturgy — and, now, no one should be “gun shy” of glimpses into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. After all, it had been the only show in town for 1,500 years.

Really, it’s a great story and a fine film — made in 1963. Tell your readers about it. It’s more “real” than Going My Way, though that was a wonderful film, too. God bless.

Father Michael W. Magiera, FSSP

Associate pastor, Holy Rosary Church
Indianapolis, Indiana

Patriotic Faith

“U.S. Catholic Population Rises” stated a Register Daily Blog on June 5. Christianity and our country’s ideals seem to go hand in hand with the early history of the United States.

Around the Fourth of July last year, my wife and I attended Mass at our parish church. The recessional song was “America the Beautiful,” a very moving, patriotic song which more times than not moves me to tears. As I sang the verses I began thinking, “Why is this patriotic song in a religious hymnal?”

Two of our country’s other treasured songs were on the pages preceding this one — but again, why in a church worship hymnal?

Later, at home, I read through all three of these hymns, and it was quickly apparent that these were not written purely as songs of patriotism, but as songs of prayer — prayers of asking, thanksgiving and praise.

“Praise the power that hath made and preserved us as a nation.”

“And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust.’”

“Our fathers’ God, to thee, Author of liberty, to thee we sing.”

“Protect us by thy might — Great God our King.”

“God shed his grace on thee.”

“God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control.”

“Til all success be nobleness and every gain divine.”

After spending a little time researching the authors, it was evident that the hymns were formed from Christian roots. For instance, “The Star Spangled Banner,” our national anthem, was written by Francis Scott Key, who was an ardent Episcopalian and known to live a pious life. There is an obvious connection between God and country.

“My Country, ’Tis’ of Thee,” another beautiful song written by Samuel Francis Smith, was our de facto national anthem for much of the 19th century. Smith was a Baptist minister and wrote these lyrics while attending Andover Theological Seminary. Again, this song speaks of God and country.

Back to “America the Beautiful,” written by Katharine L. Bates, who was not known to be connected to any particular denomination, but her father was a Congregational minister and she was known to be deeply religious. She doesn’t wait for the last verse to bring God into the picture. He is there throughout the entire hymn.

As the movement proceeds on to remove God from our schools, public places, coins, pledge of allegiance and even Christmas — how do you have Christmas without Christ? — we would do well to highlight excerpts from these three songs and then ask ourselves: “Is this what our forefathers intended?”

Bob Peichel

Oak Grove, Minnesota

Don’t Give Up

Regarding the letter “Notre Dame: The Last Straw” (June 14): Please, Mr. David Widdoes, do not give up on the Catholic Church. The devil loves it when a daily Mass participant no longer participates. I have heard Father John Corapi emphasize many times that the Mass is the most powerful weapon we have. We must use the weapon of the Mass, and the Rosary, too, to combat the evil one’s influence in the world today. Please remember that the priests and bishops are human and need our prayers very much. What an appropriate time to pray for them even more with the Year of the Priest starting.

We need to pray for each other’s strength and perseverance to “fight the good fight.” The beautiful painting of “The Last Vision of Fatima,” based on Lucia’s vision in 1929, shows how Christ suffered and fought the good fight. It also shows how much God loves us, by the graces and mercy that are flowing out to us and Christ’s blood flowing onto the Eucharist and chalice. We are so very blessed to be able to receive this life-giving gift of Christ at the Mass.

Alice Litz

Plano, Texas

Respectful Words

The letter entitled “Words Mean Things” in the Register’s June 14 edition by Richard L. Johnson made me strangely upset.

I agreed with the author’s premise — words give the speaker power, and by referring to 17-year-old girls as women in regards to Plan B distribution, it gives the pro-choice argument an advantage. However, I found his portrayal of 17-year-old women (yes, women) to be insulting and dismissive.

Mr. Johnson defines a girl as someone who is “not completely independent or capable yet of making major life decisions without advice or counseling.” As a 19-year-old woman, I don’t think that I am capable of making major life decisions without advice or counseling. As a 50-year-old, I also do not feel that I will ever reach that point. Not only should prayer inform all of our decisions, but “no man is an island unto himself.” Seeking help and advice is what makes us human. 

There must be a better way to define when girlhood stops and womanhood begins. Perhaps it begins too early in our culture. But that doesn’t change that I no longer identified as a girl once I reached 16. Many women reach that point sooner. To then call them girls is dismissive and insulting, accidentally demeaning their value to the world. As pro-lifers, we do need to watch our words. But we also need to have hearts overflowing with love and respect for women. Otherwise the battle is already lost. No woman wants to subscribe to a morality in which she feels disrespected.

 Margaret Gallina

Carmel, Indiana

Diaconate Blesses Many

I am responding to Deacon Gilbert R. Nadeau and his June 14 letter: “Deacons’ Role.” I am a wife of a permanent deacon. My husband was ordained May 23, 1998, by the bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland along with his classmates after their schooling at the seminary.

Becoming a deacon is not an easy road, but these are dedicated men who are also called to serve God and his people as clergy. The frustration that Deacon Nadeau feels is felt by many such men because very little is ever said of their roles in the Roman Catholic Church and the good work they do. The majority of them have full-time jobs to support their families, but spend most of their time doing what they were called to do in the vineyard of God.

I have seen firsthand how people respond to my husband and his ministry. He has married couples, baptized their children, visited those who are ill, whether they are in a hospital or at home, to bless them, pray with them and bring the word of God to them. When the Lord calls one of his children home, my husband also helps to preside at the funeral and burial.

Deacons do so much more; the list is long. Deacon Nadeau is right in what he is saying. I pray more men would join the priesthood because the Church does need them in the United States, but I also pray for men to think about becoming permanent deacons, too. Seeing my husband prostrate himself on the floor of the cathedral on the day of his ordination as the Litany of Saints was being sung by a packed cathedral holds a very special place in my heart and always will. The day God called my husband for a vocation in the permanent deaconate I was so happy he heard the call. He has touched the lives of many, especially mine.

Diane Doerpers

Highland Height, Ohio

‘Ida’ and the Church

In the article “‘Missing Link’?” (June 7), Kenneth Miller, Catholic professor of biology at Brown University, states, “Scripture tells us God made us from the dust of the earth, and science tells us we emerged from non-human life forms through natural processes.” To those who dispute these “natural processes,” i.e. human evolution, he further states, “The conflict is entirely unnecessary … Catholics should be allied to the truth above all, and that includes scientific truth.”

Perhaps professor Miller has never heard of the dogmatic statement from Lateran IV (1215), called the Firmiter decree, which states, in part: “God … creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by his own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body” (Denz 428).

My comment would be to note in line two the words “at once” and “created each creature from nothing.” It is my belief that this dogmatic statement (which agrees with virtually all doctors and Fathers of the Church, including St. Thomas Aquinas) requires the assent of faith, which would disallow believing in some mistaken scientific evolutionary “truth.”

I will end with a simple syllogism, noting that evolution requires mutation/disorder: Before the Fall, there was no disorder in creation. Adam, the first man, existed before the Fall; therefore, Adam is not a product of disorder in creation.

Brian Jacobs

Colfax, Washington

With the new hype evolving from the discovery of “Ida,” I believe it would be a great service to your faithful readers to reiterate the bottom line in Catholic teaching regarding the creation of mankind. The article points out, “The Catholic Church has long stated that there is no conflict between some form of species development and the Catholic faith.” This is correct, since, ultimately, true science and true faith can not contradict each other, as both have the same Author.

However, the Church teaches that as Catholics we must believe as a matter of faith: 1) God is the first cause of all creation, both physical and spiritual by a direct act of his will, and he continues to be active in that creation. 2) Man’s creation was likewise a direct action of God’s will and not an accident of evolution, and any theory that excludes the direct will of God in the development of man is to be rejected. 3) Each person has a unique, rational and eternal soul that was/is immediately and directly created by God, and any theory that claims the human soul is a product of evolution or subject to future evolutionary development is to be rejected. 4) It is the human soul which separates us from the brute animals that do not have such a soul and thus gives man a dignity that animals do not possess. 5) All persons regardless of ethnicity are directly descended from the one pair of original parents created by God that we historically call “Adam and Eve”; hence, there is an inherent unity in all humanity, and any theory that claims that the different peoples of the world evolved from different branches or groups and have not one and the same human origin is to be rejected. 6) Through the act of procreation God permits man and woman to freely participate with him in creating new individual human life; hence, the act of procreation is a participation with the divine and should be treated as such.

As Catholics this is what we must believe. Any “form of species development” that conflicts with these truths is not free to be believed.

By the way, this type of news coverage is exemplary of the depth and variety that makes the Register such a valuable and enjoyable publication. Keep it up!

Donald C. Marrero Jr.

Clinton, Louisiana