Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 14, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Rolheiser off the mark in describing purgatory
Father Ron Rolheiser's article "Purgatory is the pain of entering heaven" (WCR, Dec. 10) in its attempt to clarify his previous article "The benefits of prayer for the dead" (WCR, Nov. 12) after letters of complaint were received is still off the mark.
Purgatory is the place where souls of the deceased go in order to complete their purification before going to heaven where no one enters unless he is pure.
The parable narrated to us in the Gospel of the invited quest who was found without the nuptial garment relates to this. No one enters paradise without the whiteness of the robe which we usually represent by the little white garment that the priest places on the body of the newborn the day of its Baptism.
Since it is with much difficulty that souls come to die in the baptismal innocence, it is necessary that they receive it in this place of purification.
An act of perfect contrition would suffice to give back this splendour to the soul by which, after death it could immediately fly to the embrace of its God. But it is so difficult to have a perfect contrition that generally all must pass through purgatory.
It is difficult to explain what is purgatory as we would need to understand what God is for a soul in order to grasp what the pain of the privation of him involves. God is essential to the soul as air is indispensable to our lungs.
As long as we are in the flesh the soul is as though insensible to the call of its God but when released, it would like to take flight towards God and the fact of being deprived of him shall be an indescribable torment. All the other pains compared to this pain will be secondary.
Immediately after death the soul of its own accord flies to this place of purification. It wouldn't be able to tolerate finding itself before God with the smallest stain and it would not want to come out of purgatory before its splendour was not partly of the place where, with God, must reign the celestial court, in all holiness and perfection.
These souls can do nothing for themselves, but they are able to do something for us who are still living in exile. They help, above all, those who ask to be helped by praying for them.
We can offer for them the merits of our good actions, our sacrifices, our almsgiving and our prayers. The prayer and the sacrifice that helps them the most is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pray each day to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the queen of purgatory, to descend to this dark prison to free the souls that have loved her the most during their life. Be certain that our invitation will be received by her with joy and be generously repaid.
College president addresses ethics centre change
Re: College Ethics Centre (WCR, Dec. 24)
I would like to clarify some of the issues concerning the transfer of the St. Joseph's College Ethics Centre to the auspices of the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation.
The college's board of governors was happy to accept the offer from the ACHC to assume responsibility for the centre for two reasons: The ACHC has been the single largest funder of the ethics centre, and the mission of both the ACHC and the centre go hand in hand in serving the Catholic health care community.
From the beginning, the college's governance of the centre was intended by the funders as a way to strengthen the centre's educational component, so that it could be a voice on the university campus in support of Catholic ethical reflection.
We hope that in the future, the college can continue to provide for the centre just such a link to the university community.
However, given the pressing needs of the Catholic health care community and the real concern on how best to use our limited financial resources, all parties concerned agree that the centre can better fulfill its mandate under the direction of the ACHC.
We offer our best wishes to Sister Cranston in her work and our thanks to the funders for their generous support of the St. Joseph's College Ethics Centre.
Fr. Timothy Scott
St. Joseph's College
Sick to death of gov't attacks on health care
We are getting sick to death with the everlasting onslaught of our health system by the Alberta government as emphasized by the announced propaganda campaign put upon us to soften the way for the secret report of Don Mazankowski.
This latest salvo follows closely on the heals of a recent report in The Edmonton Journal showing a bar graph of the costs of health care in Alberta from 1972 to 2001.
That was a most useless and misleading bunch of figures since there was no reference to inflationary effects, changing demographics, changing health care needs, changing health care technology; in short, it was simply hogwash designed to scare Canadians living in Alberta.
This latest effort is bound to be the same. We simply do not trust the Alberta government in its machinations.
Would it be too much (obviously, the answer is yes) to hold this onslaught off until the Canadian government report by Roy Romanow is completed?
We in Alberta have suffered under the autocratic rule of the Alberta Tories for too long already: witness the terrible price we are paying for the deregulation of electricity; witness the price we are paying for natural gas due in large part to deregulation plus the selling off to the U.S. of the feedstocks in natural gas; witness Bill 11 on health privatization; witness the heart rending letter in The Journal the other day from the single mother of four who has struggled to no avail with the Alberta government to get help for her daughter with numerous debilitating problems. The list goes on.
We are really sick at heart with the everlasting onslaught upon us. Will we only find rest when we are finally dead and gone?
Phillip & Eileen Walker
God's existence can be rationally proven
Father Ron Rolheiser includes a confusing passage in his column in the Dec. 4 WCR.
Having asked whether one can prove that God exists, he answers: "No, at least not in the way that would compel anyone to make an act of faith on the basis of a mathematical or scientific argument. God can't be proven in that way, albeit these proofs point to some important things. The existence of God can't be empirically proven."
The first thing to note is that if a conclusion is proven by mathematical or scientific argument, one would assent to it on the basis of the argument, and this would be, by definition, not an act of faith. Father Rolheiser's terminology confuses this point.
The more substantial point is the statement that "God's existence cannot be empirically proven." Most people would agree, if "empirical" refers to the kind of reasoning typical of Newtonian physics.
Father Rolheiser seems to mean more than this. He seems to mean that there is no rational argument of any kind, independent of faith, that proves the existence of God.
It would be well to note that here Father Rolheiser is stating his personal opinion. I myself think that the existence of God can be conclusively proven by human reason, apart from divine faith. A lot of people more intelligent than I have held that position.
This is not a mere theoretical quibble. The question of the possibility of rational proof for the existence of God is important on several levels (but that is material for more than a letter to the editor).
Fr. Jack Gallagher
St. Agnes Parish
Potter normalizes occult activities
Many letters these past weeks have talked about Harry Potter. If adults are in such turmoil, and lack spiritual discernment about the message Harry Potter delivers, can we imagine in what state of mind the children are after reading Harry Potter?
Should we be surprised to see them confused and not knowing where the truth is? I wonder who will help them to discern, truth from false, good from evil and right from wrong?
The bottom line of this confusion is a lack of faith. Our faith lacks depth and strength, and is very weak. "When the Son of Man comes to earth, do you think he will find faith in men's hearts?" This is the question.
Today we tend to rationalize everything to make it fit our false and non-biblical beliefs. We dilute the word of our Creator and distort the message of Jesus. When Jesus comes back, will he find faith among us? We cannot serve God and mammon.
We glamorize and normalize occult activities and then we are surprised to see our children becoming aggressive against authority and among themselves. When we see evil disguised as good, we alter our judgment.
Can we not see that the devil uses witchcraft to bind men to himself and dehumanize them?
I see it everyday among the prisoners and my experience is that it comes from an absence or a lack of faith in "Someone real" and "Greater" than themselves.
Let us stand for our faith, and let us pray that someone will be inspired to write a book for children on how to discern the voice of the Spirit within themselves.
Then we would see our children more calm and less aggressive and not undermining morality in their lives. The consequences of this teaching would be more positive than reading Harry Potter.
Sr. Elizabeth Coulombe, sgm
Vindicating the Oblates
Editor Glen Argan's article in the Dec. 24 WCR on the TV documentary about the northern Oblates and Grey Nuns is timely and welcomed.
This documentary by Susan Cardinal will hopefully clarify misconceptions and prejudices elicited by the secular media about Catholic missionaries in the Canadian North and West.
I was the first white child to be baptized by Archbishop Breynat at Fort Resolution, N.W.T.
My teacher-father, J. Henri Lirette, and his hunter-brother, Charles, witnessed first-hand the evangelizing and devoted efforts of the Oblates and Grey Nuns of Montreal in the Far North.
Were they living today, they could comment positively about the unselfish zeal of those unsung heroes and heroines.
Permit me to recommend the following references:
- As Long as This Land Shall Last by Rene Fumoleau, omi, (McClelland/Stewart, 1973).
- From the Great River to the Ends of the Earth by Martha McCarthy (Western Canadian Publishers, 1995).
- Cinquante Ans Au Pays Des Neiges, 3 vols., by Archbishop Gabriel Breynat, omi, (Fides, 1948).
Henriette Marie Lirette
Tibet, not Mongolia
In my letter printed in the Dec. 10 WCR, I erred in referring to "Communist China's occupation of Mongolia," while intending to refer to the Chinese 1949-50 invasion of Tibet, and consequent occupation of that country. I apologize for any confusion my error made.