Role of the Laity
The article “Role of Laity Spelled Out By Vatican” on the front page of the Nov. 30—Dec. 6 issue of the Register disappointed me. The document it discusses is an “Instruction” on liturgical norms, but parts of the article imply that the Vatican is placing limits on any sort of ministering by non-ordained faithful.
The document itself is careful to note that misunderstandings are rife around the word “ministry” and defines it in specific terms. The article does not clarify the word, “ministry,” but simply uses and quotes it out of context, advancing the misunderstandings that the document, in part, was issued to correct.
Likewise, the document explicitly states: “This is not the place to develop the theological and pastoral richness of the role of the lay faithful in the Church that has already been amply treated in the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici,” belying the Register's headline, and the title of the sidebar, “The Limits of Lay Ministry.”
I have come to trust the Register's fair and well-researched articles, but this article was neither and actually misled me as to the purpose and content of the document. The document lays out primarily liturgical norms to avoid confusion as to the role of the ordained priest, and was directed to bishops for implementation.
The document as I understand it is not a teaching on the kind or manner of lay mission outside liturgical celebrations. This and any other official documents are available through the official Vatican website (www.vatican.va) and many are available through the Paulist Press. I encourage readers to look up Christifideles Laici, and the editors and writers of the Register to double-check their research in the future.
Robert King Seattle, Washington
The Bible Code
Father Pius Murray's lengthy review of The Bible Code (“The Bible: A Soothsayer's Stock-in-Trade?”, Nov. 30-Dec. 6) was reasonable and fair in his presentation of the facts but not so reasonable and fair in his conclusions.
When sentences begin with, “He seems to imply,” that's always a red flag—indication that there is going to be more read into the object of criticism than should be read out.
Far from denying any supernatural origin of the Bible, the author, Michael Drosnin, includes the question, “Who could have done this?” addressed to the mathematician who discovered the code. The one-word answer was, “God.”
The code presents predictions of specific events in much the same detailed ways that Scripture has always recounted. The book concludes with mathematical formulas showing that the odds against the code being chance or coincidence are more than, clearly ruling out anything but intention and plan on the part of the Author.
The Bible Code does not in any way deny that the Old Testament spoke to contemporary people or to us in the same ways: challenging us to conform to God's laws. Rather, the book simply presented a new dimension of God's revelation to what we already knew.
Remember how the religious authorities of Jesus' time responded to his new relation. They were so attached to their limited awareness of how God communicated, that they were ready to kill rather than accept a new and more wonderful way that the Lord wanted us to.
Our best bet is to accept all the ways God wishes to communicate to us. Otherwise we will limit God's access to our minds and hearts and lose a significant measure of his blessings.
Father David Altman Huntsville, Utah
- December 14-20, 1997