Regarding “They Looked at Him and Found Their Calling” (April 10-16):
We can see from a distance the teachings of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who identified himself clearly as a shepherd. He gave us all in this present generation the necessary guidance on how to be his followers in a unique way. We men who are called by him can use our voices to lead others to the path of God — which leads to eternal life — through our acceptance of the call to the priesthood.
Looking back to what vocation is all about in this, our present time: Our late, great Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, designated the fourth Sunday of Easter as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
Africa has grown so much in its understanding of vocations, especially in Nigeria and western Africa. Many young men and women were looking forward to entering the religious life or a seminary, but few are selected while many are not. Meanwhile other parts of the world, even the countries that have historically been strong in the Catholic faith, don’t have vocations — especially to the priesthood.
As Pope John Paul II reminded us, the faithful need shepherds who will guide them toward the light, the gate of salvation. We must pray for vocations so that there will be more laborers who will work in God’s vineyard.
Nigerian seminarian of the
Philippines and New York
Terri Schiavo is dead (“Terri’s Last Meal,” April 3-9). The only question that remains is: Did she die in vain?
We watched a judge who, fully aware of the fact that his decision was tantamount to a death penalty for Terri — and with at least two significant ambiguities in the “testimony” — sided with her “husband” and blocked every effort by those who sought to save her life. Subsequently, federal judges refused to intervene without examining facts — only process — and then went on to tell us that allowing Terri to starve to death was their “dispassionate discharge of duty” Why?
Perhaps because the real legal issue was euthanasia, setting a legal precedent for taking the life of a person who, because of age or disability, is deemed to be no longer useful — all under the guise of “mercy.” In so doing, they provided an atheistic solution to our Social Security and Medicare problems.
We have a judicial decree telling us that our Constitution mandates that we redefine marriage, a judicial decree that our Constitution mandates sodomy as acceptable human behavior and that pornography is “freedom of speech.” We are told that our Constitution is a living document that must be reinterpreted by the judges in the context of contemporary society (read: political polls).
The Constitution makes provision for change through a democratic legislative process; it makes no such provision for justices to change the document through “judicial reinterpretation.” When justices manipulate our Constitution, they usurp the constitutionally mandated democratic legislative process, which they have taken an oath to uphold.
If the Terri Schiavo affair turns out to be a wake-up call to our nation, our media, our political leaders and our judiciary — showing plainly that our judiciary is out of control and that our legislative process is being usurped by judicial tyranny — then Terri’s death will not have been in vain.
Ormond Beach, Florida
John Paul Stood Tall
Already the attacks on the legacy of Pope John II have begun, with critics saying he was a “conservative” who held back the winds of change that had begun to blow in the late 1970s, when his papacy began. But for him there were no conservatives or liberals. There was only truth.
Like Jesus, John Paul II was born to give witness to the truth and, like Pontius Pilate, he faced an incredulous and increasingly secular populace and media that asked, “What is truth?” The Vicar of Christ, the lineal descendant of Peter, told them — and in the process revitalized the world’s oldest Christian church and made it relevant in a world where the lure of moral relativism is strong.
Few outside the Catholic Church and not enough within could understand his marching orders, the same orders first given by Christ to Peter, that whatever he loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven, and whatever he held bound would be held bound. He believed in moral absolutes, not popular opinion, trends or polls, and attracted the youth looking for answers in a world that had none.
He resisted the calls of many to “modernize” the Catholic Church, to make it more “popular” and appealing. He never wavered from his belief in a “culture of life.” He was roundly attacked for his opposition to birth control and the ordination of women, and his belief that homosexuality was a sin. He believed some truths were eternal, and that faith in those truths could transform individual lives and human society.
Having experienced both Nazi and communist tyranny, he had little tolerance for those who believed that mankind had the power to lift itself up. The media will concentrate on his role in the downfall of communism, but his focus was more on liberating the human spirit.
He showed us how to live and he showed us how to die — with true dignity. He was a rock, the rock upon which Christ built his Church. Neither hell, the media nor popular secular opinion will prevail against it.
Daniel John Sobieski
Emotions in Motion
Regarding your April 10-16 special edition on the death of Pope John Paul II:
How do we thank God for giving us such a wonderful Holy Father?
If each of us who has loved him so dearly and who has experienced his love for us would make a commitment to follow his teachings, the world would be quickly transformed. Why is this so? Because his teachings are the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Simple truth, straight from Heaven.
Theresa M. Piekut
Wading River, New York
Letter to Papa
Dear Holy Father:
Reflecting on your life during the week of your death, I realized that I was very wrong about something. I want to tell you that I’m sorry.
In the winter of your life and in your final days, I am ashamed that I questioned aloud: “Why doesn’t he just retire? It’s ridiculous to have a leader of 1 billion people in such poor health.” Even worse, I asked: “Why do they keep putting him in that window?” But, oh, how wrong I was!
When I saw the multitudes keeping quiet vigil at your window as you lay in your final moments, and later applauding and cheering as your simple coffin was carried inside St. Peter’s, I saw the love you had for the world — returned a hundredfold. I could remember feeling that love as you waved your flowers to the music those many years ago.
I witnessed this past week that “no greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his friends.” You showed us how to love God and one another — in life, in suffering and in death.
I understand now. That’s why you didn’t retire. That’s why you kept coming to the window.
State College, Pennsylvania
I enjoyed reading “Canadian Marriage Bill Playing Out in Legislator’s Parish” (April 3-9) by Kevin Michael Grace. It described the courageous actions of Father John Lemire of St. Patrick’s Church in Cobalt, Ontario, in defense of Catholic teachings on marriage — reflected by his dealings with Member of Parliament Charlie Angus, who supports Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s bill to legalize homosexual “marriage.”
The Diocese of Timmins is most fortunate to have such a priest and, perhaps, Bishop Paul Marchand will see the wisdom of clearly taking an emphatic and public position on the subject, as well. In light of the bishop’s recent unpopular decision(s) to close churches, this could be an opportunity to help restore confidence in his leadership, while protecting the family in our society.
K. Dale Anderson
Regarding “Connecticut On Verge of Allowing Civil Unions” (April 17-23):
Folks who say supporters of the Kansas marriage amendment are somehow being discriminatory are missing the point. First, we must distinguish between absolute rights, like the right to life, and conditional rights, like the right to drive a car on the condition of obtaining a driver’s license. Marriage is a conditional right reserved for couples who qualify for that right by virtue of their sexual complementarity and their innate capacity to produce new life together.
On April 5, Kansans sought to ensure that judges would not be able to give legal status to an ill-conceived right. There is no right to homosexual “marriage” any more than there is a right to bigamy, polygamy, incest or statutory rape. Kansas followed 17 other states in affirming the God-given right to marriage that has been recognized by all societies and cultures from the dawn of human history.
Marriage is a sacred institution; it is the foundation for family life and the building block of society. Yes, marriages are often imperfect because people are imperfect, but that doesn’t mean we can try to re-define marriage. The marriage amendment is about upholding the uniqueness and the sanctity of marriage.
Gerald T. Yeung
Overland Park, Kansas
Passion of the Patient
Regarding “Terri’s Last Meal” (April 3-9):
When you look at the passion Gospels, and the suffering of this young lady along with the Holy Father, you see the entire Passion of Our Blessed Lord. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. Terri had her last supper when the feeding tube was removed. He instituted the sacrament of holy Communion, but did not partake of it. She was denied it by the courts. He was the innocent victim tried and sentenced by hypocrites and the unrighteous, as was Terri.
Meanwhile Pope John Paul II gave to the world the love and word of God. He, like Christ, came to all people with the words of love and peace that all men are brothers, but they heard him not. Two members of the judiciary should remind us of two who defended Our Lord, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
In the garden, Our Lord was betrayed by a friend. Terri was betrayed by those who said they loved her. The legal system, which is sworn to protect the young, old and helpless, did nothing of the kind. When Peter drew his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest, Our Lord said, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” But what sword is he talking about? The sword of steel? No — the sword of unrighteousness.
Just as the Nazis lived by the sword, they died by the sword. Their philosophy did not last and those who profited at the beginning lost all in the end.
I ask all men and women who believe in God, regardless of creed, to pray for our judiciary and elected officials: that they may have their eyes opened to the evil that they do when they remove God and his love.
Oblate of St. Benedict
Veblen, South Dakota