The Church recently celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. That day, I headed to Mass anticipating readings and a homily focusing on the significance of the crucifix, the very shape of which is a reflection of Christ’s humanity (the horizontal) and Christ’s divinity (the vertical). Indeed, the Scripture readings from Numbers, Philippians and John’s Gospel all illuminated the anticipation and realities of the cross of Our Lord. And the priest’s homily, I thought, got off to a pretty good start, giving historical perspective and tying the three readings together.
But then something interesting happened.
The priest pointed out that the crosses of our Catholic churches bear the image of our crucified Lord, whereas crosses in Protestant churches typically do not. This difference, he put forth, is the result of a difference in theological “focus.”
Catholics, so he stated, focus on the passion and death of Christ (while never denying the importance of the Resurrection), whereas Protestants focus on Jesus’ resurrection (while not denying the significance of his passion and death). He likened this phenomenon to that of two car enthusiasts admiring a classic automobile. One of them might be more interested in the body and design of the vehicle, while the other might be more intrigued by what’s under the hood: simply two different yet equally valid ways of looking at the same thing. And on that note, the homily concluded.
I walked out of Mass thinking, “Wow, talk about a confused message.” While it’s true that the differing Catholic and Protestant crosses reflect differing theologies, it makes little sense to say that these theologies share equal validity. (Actually, it makes no sense, since Protestantism is based upon a rejection of the authority that Christ conferred upon his Church.)
It’s one thing to try to be ecumenical by finding common ground with our separated brethren and leading them from that point toward the fullness of Mother Church. But it’s something quite different to talk about any religion that denies the truths of Catholicism as if it could be equally true.
In the end, it actually makes a good deal of sense that the crosses of Protestant churches are devoid of the image of the body of Our Lord, since these churches are also devoid of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
Branchville, New Jersey
Dept. of Injustice
Your article about the Little Sisters of the Poor being pursued by our Justice Department (“Obama Administration Continues to Target Little Sisters of the Poor,” Sept. 10, NCRegister.com), combined with Eric Holder’s resignation, got me thinking. In his six years as attorney general, Holder has done more to undermine the common good than any other attorney general I can recall.
Early on, Holder pursued Hosanna-Tabor all the way to the Supreme Court, trying to force the church to hire a homosexual minister. Fortunately, he lost that one, 9-0. Holder has fought persistently to overturn numerous laws passed by state legislatures if they were in conflict with his progressive agenda regarding marriage, voter-ID requirements or religious freedom.
As your article points out, Holder and the Justice Department continue to pursue the Little Sisters of the Poor all the way to the Supreme Court, despite knowing that if the sisters lose, they will shut down all their hospices and nursing homes rather than violate their religious beliefs. How would that outcome benefit anyone or the common good?
During his farewell tour, Holder touts his accomplishments on civil rights, despite his trampling all over our most basic right to religious freedom. His persistent efforts to thwart state laws requiring voter IDs are viewed as protecting civil rights, despite the high percentage of voter fraud that ensues when anyone can vote without proof of identity, much less citizenship.
His attempts to abolish state laws regulating the abortion industry are viewed as ensuring the civil right to an abortion. Can any of this be considered right? Does it contribute to the common good that unborn babies be killed or that people be allowed, even encouraged, to vote illegally and more than once? Does any of this comport with the good, as revealed by God in nature and natural law? If not, how can it be called justice?
It seems that under Eric Holder we now have a Department of Injustice, one that defies the Constitution rather than upholding it. Holder’s legacy is one of progressive activism that has striven to reshape our country in ways that redefine the common good as the exercise of absolute freedom, rather than adherence to God’s law, as revealed in Scripture and in nature. When human law begins to run contrary to divine law, society is at risk of committing suicide.
If this seems extreme, consider the trajectory we’re on with declining birth rates, declining morality and the deterioration of the Judeo-Christian principles that formed the basis of our Constitution.
We can elect legislators with the guts to restore justice based on what is right, rather than what is appealing to our increasingly secular society in its vain efforts to find comfort in its own dissolution.
Joe San Filippo
Fort Myers, Florida
Joan Frawley Desmond’s “SCOTUS Advances Same-Sex ‘Marriage’” (page one, Oct. 19 issue) expresses the betrayal felt by millions of American voters. The court’s stance raises questions about the integrity, credibility, loyalty and possible personal agendas of those in our judicial branch.
Catholicism holds the truth in the battle to protect traditional marriage; but religion has not been a respected authority in this nation for a long time. Our truth must find corroborating truth in that which secularism cannot fail to understand or deny.
Marriage is a fundamental right. Heterosexuality and homosexuality cannot both be fundamental rights. Two Supreme Court decisions, Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence and Garner v. Texas (2003), both refused to grant fundamental status to “homosexual sodomy.” The Bowers conclusion was called “unassailable.” How honest or reliable is a Supreme Court that circumvents two prior court decisions and grants the non-fundamental practice of homosexuality a fundamental status through marriage?
On July 16, the World Human Rights Court handed down its decision that Europe cannot be forced to redefine marriage. The World Court “enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.” Our Constitution upholds the same “human rights” as the World Court.
How can our Supreme Court fail to recognize the same truth and belief expressed by millions of voters in the United States — which at the same time serves to nullify accusations of discrimination and inequality made by homosexuals and judges? State bans should be reinstated and the marriages annulled.
Marriage is the free-will choice of each individual. Same-sex “marriage” in law does not allow free-will choice — it demands the participation of at least two people of the same sex. No human has the right to put into law a mandate for same sex in marriage or a mandate for any sex in marriage. It is an arrogant and dangerous assumption of supremacy over other humans.
The Bill of Rights protects and guarantees the fundamental, individual rights of each citizen from usurpation by the federal government and prohibits interference with existing rights. The right of voters to decide issues and govern themselves through representation is being gutted. Free-will choice in marriage is being appropriated. To accommodate same-sex “couples,” individual rights are being hijacked. Our congressional representatives need to intercede and take appropriate action.
My wife and I read the Sept. 21 issue’s page-one article “New York and Peoria Squabble Over Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Remains.”
We are ashamed at the fuss that the archbishop of New York and bishop of Peoria, Ill., are making. This is not a Christian attitude to present to the Catholics in this country.
Los Gatos, California
Pertinent to “New York and Peoria Squabble Over Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Remains”:
I do not usually react strongly to articles. I feel everyone has an opinion, but I felt a strong need to respond.
I am very disappointed in my fellow Christians — Catholic Christians, no less. Is this really what Jesus would do? Fulton Sheen has had to wait for a long time to receive recognition as a saint. I do not claim that I have any insight as to why it has taken so long, but I do feel such pettiness is below any reasonable reaction. We are one Church. How dare either side in this issue give such scandal; may God and Fulton Sheen forgive all involved.