Laity & Priesthood
The REGISTER's excellent article on the new Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests (“Role of Laity Spelled Out by Vatican,” Nov. 30-Dec. 6), neglected to mention the provision of the document that will have the most dramatic impact on American parish life: It orders the end of the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist at Sunday (and daily) Mass.
After stating that extraordinary ministers may be used “at Eucharistic celebrations at which there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion,” the document declares that one of the three “practices [that] are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches” is “the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass, thus arbitrarily extending the concept of a great number of the faithful” (Practical Provisions, article 8).
This provision (and the others in the document), if implemented, will go a long way towards dispelling the neoclericalism of the priests who tell the laity that they are not really participating in the Mass unless they are greeters, lectors, or extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.
‘Not Really Gay’
I will give Dr. Nicolosi (“You Are Not Really Gay,” Dec. 7-13) the benefit of the doubt and assume that he sincerely wants to make people's lives better by “repairing” their homosexuality. But let me share one person's story.
Thirty years ago, after extensive psychotherapy, I considered myself “cured” from my homosexual impulses, and I met and married a wonderful woman, with whom I had a son. We had frequent and enjoyable sex, and during our entire time together I did not have a single homosexual encounter.
Then after eight years of marriage, one morning on the way to work I aimed the steering wheel at the concrete abutment of a bridge crossing over the express-way, released my seat belt, and floored the accelerator. I swerved at the last minute, but I got the message.
To make a long story short, a few years later I had become the first president of the Lesbian and Gay Parents Coalition International, which now numbers over a thousand members.
I had also become what no therapist was able to make me, a truly loving person—happy, healthy, outgoing. Eventually I even returned to the Church, although not in a way that Dr. Nicolosi would approve of.
Over the years I have heard many, many stories like mine, of men and women who were “cured” enough to marry and live as outwardly cheerful heterosexuals for many years, fooling themselves, their spouses, their clergy, and maybe even their therapists.
Here's a suggestion for Dr. Nicolosi: Why not limit your treatment to lesbians and gay men who can prove that they somehow escaped the overwhelming and unrelenting hatred, condemnation, disgust, and scorn still heaped on them even today by family, Church, and society. If they can really demonstrate that they are not being pressured from outside, but that the desire to change really does come from within, then work with them.
But as for the vast majority of us, please—as a real act of Christian charity—leave us alone.
New York, New York
This morning I read in the REGISTER a paragraph, “Clearly, if we want Catholic culture, we are going to have great Catholic art and it isn't going to be plaster models.”
Bishop Myers of Peoria said that (Inperson interview with Bishop Myers, Dec. 7-13). And if you think art will contribute to a Catholic culture, I ask you to think what art has done for the cultures of the world. All the art in Rome, Paris, London, and Vienna didn't create a culture that stopped World War II. In fact, the War was started by a “nobrainer” painter who somehow thought he had a “divine right” of some kind.
After the great Depression, Joseph Schlarman, then bishop of Peoria, redid St. Mary's Cathedral into a showcase of liturgical art: rose window, Lady Chapel, and all. Schlarman died Nov. 10, 1951 (Bishop Myers was only 10 years old then). The next dignitary thought the Lady Chapel was too dark so he sent a painter in who painted and covered the black, red, and gold with a light pastel, even the pews. Then there was plenty of light, but where did the “art” go? It certainly would have been cheaper for everyone if the first curator had used “plaster of Paris.”
If we really want a true Catholic culture we have to eliminate the “spirit of the world” as far as that is possible. What is the “world”? Those who seek sensual, intellectual, and artistic pleasures of this life. The “world” despises and considers secondary the things of the supernatural. The spirit of the world conflicts with the spirit of Christ. Ask St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Perhaps a new time is coming into the life of the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in the July issue of Inside the Vatican, “Perhaps we must abandon the ideas of national or mass Churches. It is likely that there lies before us a different epoch in the history of the Church, a new epoch in which Christianity in the situation of the mustard seed in tiny groups apparently without influence which nevertheless live intensely bearing witness against evil and bringing good into the world. I see a great movement of this type already underway.”
Stuart Michael Karl
Santa Maria, California
- January 4-10, 1998