Letters 07.26.2009

Obviously a Priest

I read your article about Father Timothy Vakoc (“At Start of Year for Priests, a Chaplain Dies,” July 12). The article alone was very well-written, but the full-color picture of Father Vakoc, obviously handicapped and so obviously a priest, was so blessed I had to write a thank you!

Jeannee Waseck

Lexington, Kentucky

Evangelical Appreciation

As an evangelical Christian (I’m not crazy about the term “Protestant”), I appreciated “Bodies, Minds, Protestants and Sacraments” by Mark Shea in your June 28 issue. I thought it was enlightening and fair, though, of course, there are nuances and rebuttals that couldn’t be addressed in such a short column. (Some evangelicals have a sense of the sacramental, for example.)

I thought the piece did a good job of summing up a great strength of Catholicism. It also explained why Catholic artists have often made more powerful works of art than evangelicals do — “sacramental” beats “disembodied” in the arts every time.  

Richard Wilkinson

Fairfax, Virginia

Talk to Jesus

I am not satisfied with Father Bob Colaresi’s response to “Driven to Distraction” (July 12) — that neighbors don’t see each other for a whole week and church is the only time for them to talk. What about phones, cell phones and all the other modern conveniences to contact your neighbors during the week? There are also many ministries they could join if they wish to keep in touch.

Silence before any Mass should be mandatory. Let’s prepare ourselves for Mass by connecting with Jesus before Mass. 

 Frank Cielocha

Machesney Park, Illinois

Heroic Home Schooling

It was with great excitement that I read your editorial on “Home-School Reasons” (June 28). I attended Dr. Fahey’s keynote speech, and I was elated at his candor and straightforward manner. I am a home-schooling mom who works full-time as well, and I could really identify with the issues Dr. Fahey spoke about and appreciated that he did.

Home schooling doesn’t need to be defended as the editorial tries so hard to do. It just needs to be presented in realistic ways. Dr. Fahey did just that. He brought to light the importance of community (home-school groups) and the importance of the father as the head of the family and not only a leader in the education of his children, but a model of a good learner.

I would have liked the editorial to have been more focused on the real issues of home schooling, more than just defending it.

Home schooling is here to stay; it totally stands on its own with its achievements over the years. There are working young adults in the world now who are beginning their families and choosing home schooling for the education of their children. Why? Because, as Dr. Fahey mentioned, home schooling is heroic! And our young adults are attracted by heroism, as modeled by their parents and the lives of the saints, which is part of any Catholic home-schooling education. Kudos to Dr. Fahey! It was a great speech that lifted up the spirits of a really burned-out home-schooling mom.

Elsie Turoci

Kinderhook, New York

Power of Prayer

In the June 14 issue, a letter was submitted by David Widdoes (“Notre Dame: The Last Straw”). I would like to offer a brief critique on his letter. David expresses his concern about conditions at Notre Dame as they relate to honoring President Obama, the evils of abortion, the Terri Schiavo case and the hypocrisy of Nancy Pelosi. I feel quite certain that more than 90% of the readers of this newspaper concur with David.

I would respectfully disagree with David on his course of action. He indicates that he was a devout Catholic, going to daily Mass for a period of 10 years and became a lapsed Catholic after his bishop failed to aggressively oppose the Supreme Court on the Schiavo matter.

I have been going to daily Mass for more than 70 years. I have been scandalized by the actions of many, not all, priests, bishops and laymen as well. Because of their many sins as well as mine, I began praying that all of our priests and bishops would become more exemplary, and, more importantly, that I might become a better Catholic. My hope and prayer is that David will join with me at daily Mass and pray that we will all become better Catholics.

James J. Clauss

Dunmore, Pennsylvania

Love God, Then Others

Thank you very much for continually offering excellent articles that help to spread the Gospel and inspire men and women to appreciate the Catholic faith. Unlike some other publications that use the name “Catholic,” the Register always approaches issues from the perspective of faith. Your paper fosters fidelity to the Church and hope in Christ. Many faithful Catholics are sincerely grateful.

In particular, I wish to applaud Father Dwight Longenecker for his fine commentary “God Lovers and People Lovers at Mass” (June 21). He articulates several points I have long pondered. So much of our parochial experience of the sacred liturgy has become narcissistic and its priorities have been inverted. How true is it that if we do not learn to love God in our worship — with a passion that manifests itself in reverence, beauty and fidelity to liturgical norms — we will never learn to love God in each other. If we do not love Christ in the Eucharist, we may never learn to love at all.

Finally, thank you for the positive and enthusiastic approach you have taken to the Year of the Priest — and for the lovely reflection on the priesthood titled “Thank you, Father” (June 14 editorial). Where others have re-created the Holy Father’s vision for this special year in their own image, you have wholeheartedly embraced its potential for spiritual renewal. Thank you, and may God bless your efforts in his name.

Father Matthew J. Albright

Parochial vicar, Saint Michael

the Archangel Church

Canton, Ohio

Regarding “God Lovers and People Lovers at Mass”: Amen! Let’s keep our priorities straight — God first, then neighbors.  All we have to do is to look at Revelation: The liturgy is a foretaste of heaven. 

When it comes to the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the question to ask is: Does a certain practice focus on God or the people? If we focus on the vertical at the Mass, it will help us to focus on the horizontal outside of Mass.

 Joel Fago

Sierra Vista, Arizona

About Father Longenecker’s article on God lovers vs. people lovers: Jesus told us to love God first, then love our neighbor as we love God. Today’s world sees from eyes not of faith, but of the world. We simulate what Christ spoke of because we don’t know him. This proves our longing, but because we build on sand, our works crumble at the slightest tempest. Love of neighbor as an outpouring of love of God results in a foundation of solid rock. Naturally, this is the way God wants it, with fruit that lasts.

Love of God requires silence and beauty to hear and see him. I have found myself searching out quiet, beautiful places where he is physically present to commune with him. It is like food and keeps me strong. It has nothing to do with personally liking silence or liking the communal forms of Mass. It is not “me” centered. It is about him and residing in his presence. In that sense, Father Longenecker is right, and I long to help others feel his presence in this way. Christ knows and has set the Holy Spirit to work, building up an army through the New Evangelization to bring back the peace of Christ to a starving world.

So, pray for the consolation of love and peace, and when the Paraclete comes, you will be emboldened beyond your wildest dreams to go out and make disciples of all men in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else will do. Be patient, pray and wait.

Michele Coldiron

Executive director

California Catholic Women’s Forum

Los Angeles, California

West’s Good ‘Fight’

Regarding “Theology of the Body Fight” (June 21): The reality of our culture is shocking. Kids are exposed to all manner of sexual exploitation from a young age and are taught to conflate their personal value with their sexual value. Worth is determined by “hotness,” and there’s no merit given to chastity or self-restraint. Pornography is absolutely rampant, and kids don’t even need to buy lewd magazines when 14-year-old girls send topless photos of themselves to classmates. Consequently, when a person — especially one who accepts and lives the Church’s teaching on sexuality — is able to make the truth accessible in this malaise, his actions are to be commended instead of vilified.

Thus, it was with sadness and frustration that I read of the recent criticism of Christopher West and his efforts to share the late Pope John Paul II’s vision of sexuality with the world. As a graduate of the Pope John Paul II Institute, high school teacher, and theology of the body educator, I find West’s approach an effective and refreshing alternative to the sex/body ideas long fed us by the sexual lies of our “celebrity culture.” While some take offense at West’s purported disrespect for the giftedness and sacredness of sexual intercourse and sexuality in general, I believe that in reality West has a profound respect for the integration of the body and sex — and this respect is transmitted through his books and presentations.

Christopher West is fighting the culture war in a heroic and immediately accessible way. While some of his language may need nuances and his comments on Hugh Hefner were poorly worded or unfairly reported, West’s skills are undeniable. His approach is construed as distasteful and inadequate by some American Catholic intellectuals, but from the vantage point of one who has spent nearly a decade in secondary education, West appeals to young people in a way that few others can replicate. The need for theologians and philosophers is undeniable — but equally necessary are those who are able to parse the writings of the very same theologians so that more than a select few are able to understand. It’s impossible to win a war if we don’t know what we’re fighting, and West does an admirable job of identifying tactics of destruction and equipping people to resist them.

Elizabeth Pietropaoli

Manchester, New Hampshire


“The Plot to Kidnap Pius” (July 12) erroneously stated that Erwin von Lahousen was executed for his part in the assassination attempt on Hitler. Although von Lahousen played a role in the plot, he avoided capture and testified at the Nuremberg trials in 1946. The Register regrets the error.