Jabez is Just Alright With Me

After reading “Catholic Critics Question Evangelical ‘Prayer of Jabez’ Phenomenon” (Oct. 28-Nov. 3), I wanted to express my disappointment with the comments made in it because of the superficial examination of the “prosperity/-word of faith” movement that it provides.

It's clear from some of the criticisms that the commentators are very unfamiliar with the people they are so quick to condemn; many objections they raise would be easily dispelled if they actually took the time to give the movement a fair hearing.

I myself have had very good results from this type of teaching: I worked my way out of a homeless shelter almost 10 years ago and have had no more than a few days of unemployment since in spite of all kinds of unpredictable factors. And I didn't understand what I did back then until a few years later when I looked objectively at these teachings and realized I had implemented them without explicit knowledge of what I was doing.

Also, consider what a ray of hope this is for people in other countries where the poverty is so bad that the only alternative is to sell your children into slavery or brothels.

Are you sure the motives for this teaching are as bad as you say? Should only Marilyn Manson have any influence or money in our society? Furthermore, I would suppose it is far easier to criticize the “movement” than to take on the highly disciplined, highly consecrated lifestyle it encourages.

Far from being only about crass materialism, I have not heard such lofty and practical application of the Gospels in any church of any denomination as I have heard come from them. I strongly encourage those on your staff who are open-minded enough to study their teachings on the fruit of the spirit, on love and on prayer for themselves because they're quite good.



Wakeup Call

Thank you, Ralph Martin, for telling it like it is (“Is a Great Awakening of Conscience at Hand?” Oct. 14-20). How I wish more priests would preach sermons like that on Sunday.

How I wish the people in the pews would go home and think about such sermons instead of turning on the football game. If the World Trade Center disaster didn't trigger mass repentance, revival and prayer, I suspect much worse will happen until we do get on our knees and forsake our idols.


Dumfries, Virginia

Cheers for Ben Wiker

Just a quick note to say what an excellent column by Benjamin D.

Wiker titled “Neither Patriot Nor Pacifist, I'm Left With: ‘What to Do?’” (Oct. 14-20).

He says so eloquently what I feel and have been unable to express, and so much more.

Thank you for printing such a fine piece.


Toledo, Ohio

The Oct. 14-20 column by Benjamin D. Wiker, “Neither Patriot Nor Pacifist, I'm Left With: ‘What do Do?’” impressed me deeply; it touched my soul. It should be required reading — or at least shared, as I intend to do. Then, “out of this evil,” as he writes, “good may come.”


Long Beach, NY

Editor's note: For those who have access to the Internet, Ben Wiker's Oct. 14-20 column — and much of our coverage of the war on terrorism — is available on our Web site, www.ncregister.com.

Doubly Tragic

In these tragic days, would it not be an even greater tragedy if the next baby aborted is the one who was destined to bring an end to the carnage in the world today?


Malverne, N.Y.

All God's Children?

In the interview with Chiara Lubich (“Is There Something No Attack Can Destroy?”, Oct. 14-20), I noticed a statement that seems to be popular nowadays with interfaith dialoguers: “We are all children of God.”

Such a declaration makes a mockery of the teachings of the Church on baptism (see the Catechism, Nos. 1265 and 1271, etc.). While any reasonable person would certainly support efforts to be charitable and at peace with those of other religions, nevertheless our bond with non-Christians remains that of God's human creatures created in his image and likeness. Only when we are baptized into Christ do we become adopted children of God, with the privilege of calling Jesus our brother and God our Father. Do we appreciate the magnitude of this gift?

I am a convert from a Jewish family. I was received into the Catholic Church 10 years ago.


Redondo Beach, California

Irish Ayes

I do not think David Quinn's criticism of the Republic of Ireland is justified (“Ireland Shares America's Hurt, But Offers Little” Oct. 28-Nov. 3). Ireland has done as much for the United States and Canada as they have for Ireland.

President Woodrow Wilson did nothing when Ireland was fighting for its freedom; Canada's seizing control of its foreign affairs and expanding “Dominion Status” to independence did the same for the Irish Free State. Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King of Canada did that in 1922 and 1923 in several bouts with British Cabinet Minister Winston Churchill.

Over the years and decades Ireland has contributed troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions and had some 16 killed in Lebanon. The last I read on Irish missions, their troops relieved Canadians of their esteemed Royal 22nd (“Van Doo Can Do”) Regiment in East Timor — protecting Timorese Catholics from terrorism and genocide by Indonesian Muslim extremists. A PBS “Out of Ireland” program reported via RTE News that the Irish foreign minister was opening seaports and airports of the republic to “U.S. forces.”



A Time For Healing

Thank you for including Rachel's Vineyard retreats for healing after abortion in your notices of upcoming Catholic retreats (Catholic Planner, Oct. 28-Nov.3). I volunteer with this wonderful organization, and am myself post-abortive.

In the United States, 43% of women, by the time they reach age 45, will have had one or more abortions. We see many women, and couples, on our retreats who have been walking faithfully with God for years, but who carry with them a deep sorrow from one or more abortions in their past.

Knowing of no way to acknowledge and experience their grief, for many people the only way to carry a connection to that lost son or daughter is through lingering feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and anger. Often, they express that they feel tentative about entering into a full, loving bond with their current children because of a sense that they are defective as parents. Also, the chronic low-level depression that may result from an abortion can keep a mother from fully entering into the role of active, engaged nurturance of her family that she so desires, or a father from feeling adequate as his family's protector.

On the other hand, one of the most common responses experienced as a result of attending a Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreat, or seeking other support, is a new-found peace and confidence in one's role as a parent, and blessedly deeper family ties.

Sometimes those who have experienced an abortion reject the idea of seeking spiritual and psychological healing because they feel that their negative emotions are simply their cross to bear in this life. They reject the idea of experiencing healing, peace, self-forgiveness and a joyful reconciliation with God about an action they have come to believe was gravely wrong.

The retreat weekend is a way to experience God's will, not our own, about how to carry this cross.

I encourage any of your readers who are post-abortive to seek healing. The Web address of Rachel's Vineyard is www.rachelsvineyard.org; their toll-free number is 1-877-HOPE-4-ME. The Rachel's Vineyard Web site has a page listing the retreat locations and times around the country. Another source for post-abortion reconciliation is Project Rachel, at www.mu.edu/rachel-/projectrachels.html.


Spring Green, Wisconsin

Stations of Conversion

Regarding “New Stations of the Cross Catch On” (Nov. 4-10):

I fully agree that the approach of Pope John Paul II can be applied with spiritual benefit to the faithful. The effort on the part of artists and composers of prayers or meditations to be “biblically correct” is laudable.

One hopes that attention would be paid as well to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Holy See with regard to the Jewish people. Otherwise, some may generalize from the involvement of “Temple police” and the Sanhedrin in the arrest and trial of Jesus.

“What happened in Jesus' passion cannot be attributed without distinction to all Jews then alive, nor to Jews today” (Nostra Aetate, No. 4). As the Roman Catechism of 1566 advised, recalling Hebrews 6:6: Any reflection on the Passion should focus on our need for conversion.


South Orange, New Jersey

The writer is director of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University.