Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 15, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Society blamed for the loss of the sense of the sacred
Tony Vogrincic raises valid observations regarding Catholic liturgy ("Put beauty back into the liturgy," Letters, April 1), concerns which many of the faithful share but do not raise, choosing instead to drift into that dreadful apathy and indifference which has antecedents in Church history and which lasts up to the present day.
But, to be fair to the Church and its attempts to reform and make meaningful its liturgy in the modern context, the values and totally materialistic trends of the profit-oriented, property-owning - dare we say - pagan and post-Christian culture in which it (often uncomfortably) shares its life, are in themselves shabby, crude, non-aesthetic and anti-sacred - trends and styles reflected in its architecture, forms of entertainment, canned and cacophonous music, bizarre and distorted art and drama; all neatly summed up by Ezra Pound early in this century as . . . "the tyranny of the unimaginative."
Add to this the "tyranny of the majority," which is one of the more unwelcome characteristics of democracy itself, and the Church cannot fail to be influenced by the more ugly aspects of "modernism."
If the sense of the sacred has been substituted by the materialistic hungers of the mob thronging WEM, what hope can there be for a revitalized and holy Church once more?
I agree totally with Mr. Vogrincic there are some very disturbing and utilitarian trends in the liturgical changes taking place.
Surely, if we have any historical sense and awareness left, be it of the most meager amount, Catholics should be of the very last to throw out the baby with the bath water?
Focus comments on Communion posture
The letters published in the April 1 edition of the WCR by Tony Vogrincic and Mariann Sheptycki do little to further reasoned discussion surrounding the issues addressed by Bernadette Gasslein in her letter found in the March 18 edition.
Gasslein addressed the question of posture during the Communion rite. She grounded her observations in the law of the Church as found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (1974, 2000). Those references were clearly cited.
Mr. Vogrincic comments upon the question of posture during the Eucharistic prayer together with an excursus into the question of beauty in the liturgy. In no way did the Gasslein letter address either of those issues.
It would seem that Mr. Vogrincic fails to understand the distinction between the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion Rite. With regard to his observations concerning beauty, perhaps he might be encouraged to offer a thoughtful analysis of Father Peter Stravinskas' work for publishing as a book review.
There just might be something in that sort of effort which could be useful in encouraging good liturgy within the Archdiocese.
I would suggest that Ms. Sheptycki would do well to reread Ms. Gasslein's letter. The "uniformity and oneness" she so desperately wants is quite evident in the material cited by Ms. Gasslein. One of the reasons that the Church possesses a rich legal tradition is precisely to assist unity within the Body of Christ.
Rev. R.H. Keeler
Writer defines position
Tony Vogrincic (Letters, WCR, April 1) seems to think that my letter in the March 18 WCR addressed the issue of the posture for the Eucharistic Prayer.
It did not.
My letter addressed only the question raised by the original letter writer, which was the posture during the Communion Rite, which begins with the priest's invitation to pray the Lord's prayer and concludes with the prayer after Communion.
Vice-Chair, Liturgy Commission
Archdiocese of Edmonton
Church, sanctuary deserves silence
Re: WCR April 1 edition, page 15: "Entering God's house must be a spiritual, not a social event."
I applaud Camille Goutier because his observations are right on the mark.
And I particularly empathize with the statement: "waiting for the concert to begin."
Easter Sunday, we attended Mass at our home parish in Edmonton's west end. Arriving 45 minutes before Mass time, we wished to spend a quiet time in the sanctuary.
The fact of being early did not make one iota of difference. Two people seated ahead of us talked continually prior to the liturgy attempting to be current with each others' lives.
We did not move because we knew that wherever we sat the situation would be the same. This seems to be normal practice for our parish.
The chattering of the congregation just before Mass gives me the impression of an audience waiting for a concert to begin. And I must say that I have experienced quieter times in a concert hall prior to a performance than I did in this Church Easter Sunday.
In the three years I have been a member of this parish, I have often wondered how people's attitudes have changed so drastically.
I do not recall conversations in the sanctuary being so incessant or normal in my former parish in north Edmonton.
May I point out too that there is an area for socializing at the back of the Church where refreshments are served after every Mass.
And I agree with Mr. Goutier that with all the noise and chattering that takes place, there are no longer traditional opportunities to quietly meet God and adore him in peace.
One more point, I am not aware that the pastor or any of the priests have discussed the issue during Mass. I for one would appreciate that they do so.
After all, we are in the house of God.
Leadership role praised
Unfortunately, in the past, Catholic publications have not always had the courage to present and apply an important aspect of Catholicism to contemporary life, namely its social teaching.
The Western Catholic Reporter is bucking this trend. Most recently, in its editorial on Bill 12 and the publication of Bishop Henry's commentary on the same, the WCR has shown the kind of leadership that helps Catholics inform their conscience.
We are fortunate to have its voice.
Charter undermines Christians
I wonder how many of your writers, contributors and readers realize that Christians are the only group of people in Canada whose rights are being increasingly taken away by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Under the Charter you cannot deny a prospective renter access to your accommodations just because he or she wants to live under your roof with a mate of the same sex. It does not matter if the practice of homosexuality, or condoning it, is against your beliefs.
The same holds true for employers. Even if, in the end, a court does not force you to hire an atheist to teach in your Christian school, an individual can freely challenge your beliefs, drag you through the court system, and ensure you spend a lot of time and money defending your religious convictions.
Soon it may be confirmed by a court that a school and school board policy barring "dates" of the same sex from attending a Catholic school prom together is against someone's rights under the charter.
Catholic students', parents' and teachers' right not to be forced to watch this prom "performance" may not even be taken into consideration in the decision.
It's too bad if you are a nurse who considers life sacred. If you refuse to be a party to an abortion, you could lose your job.
Don't look for the charter to support you.
The hospital's, the doctor's, the patient's beliefs and wishes count. Even Morgentaler has credibility.
You, however, are merely a Christian and your beliefs have little impact. After all, if they did, you wouldn't be required to indirectly fund every abortion performed with your health care premium dollars.
The ultimate travesty, however, is that Christians themselves are unquestioningly supporting any and all "tolerance" movements, as a holy mission from God.
Christian tolerance is the acceptance and love of all people simply because each is a fellow creation of God.
This definition of tolerance does not, however, include an individual's behaviour. Christ was accepting of a prostitute and forgave her her sins, but he told her to "go and from now on do not sin any more" (John 8:11), clearly indicating that he was not condoning her behaviour.
The general secular perception of tolerance, supported by the Charter of Rights, is that not only is the individual to be accepted, but also his or her behaviour condoned, regardless of its nature.
You need only look at the recent court ruling regarding the "artistic merit" an alleged pedophile's collection of kiddy-porn poetry to understand how far off the path the charter's enforcers have wandered.
Teachers must offer voluntary services
There is a viewpoint on the withdrawal of voluntary services by teachers which has yet to be expressed in the media - that of faith. I am a teacher on sabbatical leave from Fort McMurray Catholic Schools completing a graduate diploma in religious education at Newman College.
Faith is an important consideration in the decisions I make and must be a consideration for all Roman Catholic school districts and teachers. There are some who will state that religious belief or faith, does not have a role to play when considering a withdrawal of voluntary services.
Faith is a core value of all Catholic teachers, no matter for whom they work and for all Catholic school districts. Before making any decision, we must consider the teachings of our Church and the demands of faith.
The Roman Catholic Church supports the legal rights of workers to strike, to take actions which result in improved conditions of employment. This, in my opinion, includes the withdrawal of voluntary services from the Department of Learning and those school districts, with whom the dispute exists.
In considering the withdrawal of voluntary services which affect students, the view changes. As a teacher in a Catholic school district, I have a role in building relationships, in supporting community, in working towards the establishment of God's kingdom. According to the Church's teaching on social justice, I am required to help improve the lives of the powerless, not take advantage of them, to worsen their condition. This is true for all teachers in a Catholic school district.
When considering voluntary withdrawal of services from students, Catholic teachers and school districts must recognize that it is the students who are powerless.
Does the withdrawal of voluntary services from students improve or build relationship? How does the school community benefit from a withdrawal of service? How does the withdrawal of services from students move us towards God's kingdom?
Some may argue that by withdrawal of voluntary services today, the situation in the future will be improved. Faith is lived today, not in the future. Jesus welcomed children, he treated them with respect, when his Apostles did not.
In considering the voluntary withdrawal of services to students, we should rely on the teachings of Church, the importance of faith and the model of Jesus as a guide in determining our actions. Catholic teachers, and Catholic school districts should continue to offer voluntary services to students. It is what we are called to do.
Church needs global prayer campaign
The April 1 Time Magazine with its lead article on clerical pedophilia, asks, on the front cover: "Can the Catholic Church Save Itself?"
The answer is "No, it can't." As has happened so often during its 2,000-year history, the Church will be saved by its Divine Founder who said, "And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
Again, he said: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
"Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 29:18-20).
The proof that the Founder has faithfully kept those promises is that the Church has survived despite betrayals and disasters that would certainly have destroyed any merely human institution.
The crying need is for an international campaign of prayer.