Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2001
WCR Letters to the Editor
Most spirituality devised by men
In his review of Mitch Finley's book (WCR Jan. 22), Dean Sarnecki seems to say that he himself is unable to find resources on male spirituality while those on female spirituality are "quite common."
As a long-time student, teacher and practitioner of Christian spirituality, I would like to point out that, until recent years, all our material on spirituality has been written by men from a male perspective.
Therefore, one can pick up almost any book on spirituality (unless it is specifically female) and it will be male oriented even if it isn't identified as such and does not talk about it being for men.
One can take, for example, Ignatius' prayer and spirituality, one of the most predominant in western Catholicism, which is based on Ignatius' own experience and, therefore, obviously from a man's perspective. Others come to mind such as Benedict and Francis of Assisi or more recently the popular spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen.
I believe it is important to remember that the chief elements of our spirituality are basically Christian, not male or female. Implementation may differ according to different personalities (some aspects dependent on gender), hence we are blessed with a variety of spiritualities in our Catholic background.
It is true that women have most often been the teachers of the faith through home and school. But these women were formed in spiritualities elaborated by men. Only in recent years have women begun to look at their own experiences of the faith and developed some elements that apply more to feminine aspects of humanity.
To say that the Church "has feminized the liturgy and many of the structures and devotions" leading, it is implied, to disaffection by men, seems not a little exaggerated. Weren't any men disinterested in religious practice before Vatican II?
Love of God, a relationship with Jesus, prayer and understanding of the Bible which, it seems, Finley believes men need for their spirituality, are important for all Christians. How men and women practise these may well differ.
Developing more effective means for men to live their Christian life is laudable but then don't make it sound as if women are hindering men.
Since a review generally gives some critique of a book's ideas, I believe Sarnecki could have offered valuable input in this respect.
Sr. Louise Zdunich
Bishops over-reacted to Clarkson's note
Re: the Canadian bishop's attack on Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson for sending congratulations to the gay couples recently "married" in Toronto. (WCR, Jan. 22)
Bishop Gerald Wiesner wrote that Canadians would inevitably perceive Clarkson's action to be "divisive and political," but many-including myself-would not have heard about this minor detail had the bishops not chosen to drag it into the spotlight.
Even so, I do not find Clarkson's actions "controversial and offensive" as Wiesner suggested, and doubt that many Canadians could read so much offence into her small gesture.
Wiesner judged that Clarkson's duty is to represent all the people of Canada and to respect its laws, but to my knowledge, the people involved were also Canadians and broke no laws with their ceremony. If Clarkson cannot send a simple message without first polling Canadians and bishops, she will be significantly handicapped in her position.
Clarkson's role, however, is not to act as moral judge or legislative barometer; her position is diplomatic and her actions hold no sway in legal matters. Even as acting head of state she has no power to set policy. She sent a greeting to a function that she had been invited to attend; this is only common courtesy, one of the primary duties of a diplomat.
While I feel Wiesner may have overstepped his position by presuming to speak for all Canadians, I respect his right to defend the sacraments and only wish he had done so directly rather than attacking Clarkson over her insignificant role.
Perhaps she offered a les volatile target than the gay community itself, but it almost felt as if an all boys club was attempting to put a woman of position "in her place."
Nuncio's digs too posh for Jesus
I was at first appalled, and then deeply disturbed after reading the article "Home of Vatican envoy among Ottawa's poshest" in the Jan. 15 WCR. This looks to me like another scandal in the Canadian Catholic Church, not too dissimilar to the sad events that have occurred in the Victoria Diocese in the last few years.
How can our holy Church justify owning and maintaining a $5.3-million mansion for the Vatican envoy to Canada? The taxes alone are $100,000 per year, then add to that the cost of utilities and upkeep. Even the U.S. ambassador has a cheaper home, valued at only $4.1 million.
In my mind, a residence even one tenth that value would be an affront to what our Church is supposed to stand for. I had assumed in the past that the Vatican envoy worked out of the Vatican and had an office in the Vatican, and when he came to Canada, he stayed at a monastery or diocesan residence.
What a surprise! Did we forget why Jesus came to us and why he established his Church? Did he ever establish a political power and set himself up as envoy, president or king? Did he set himself up in a mansion in Jerusalem? I don't think so.
I believe that our Church should divest itself of all its political power and focus on what its real mission should be. For now, I feel ashamed of being called a Catholic. It seems to me that today's camels are getting bigger and the needles smaller.
Article too upbeat about a sad state of affairs
It is a sad fact in our post-modern semi-pagan society that the mixed marriages have and will inevitably happen, perhaps at an increasingly alarming rate, as it was aptly illustrated by your Jan. 15 article "At home in 2 churches."
However, it wasn't so much that the article tried to show the real problems of mixed marriages, but rather the upbeat and positive tone that it was supposed to radiate about this mournful state of affairs, that was so disturbing.
Mixed marriages troubled the Jewish prophets and St. Paul just as they should trouble us today.
I believe the practices described in the article as well as its tone have gravely distorted the teaching of the Church, and that a proper follow-up on all fronts is needed. An article explaining the true teaching of the Church on mixed marriages would be a good start.