Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 5, 2002
WCR Letters to the Editor
Keep the ritual, routine
Re: "Keep the ritual, routine rhythm of Mass" (WCR, April 21).
Rose-Marie McCarthy expresses a very valid concern. As a "cradle Lutheran" until recently, I have a deep appreciation for Martin Luther's stand against what he called "dilettantism in worship," that is, the novelty for novelty's sake in worship which draws attention to itself and away from God.
It is surprising to me that our nine Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Edmonton are not flooded by Latin-rite Catholics who share this concern.
Recently we introduced a distressed friend of ours to worship at one such parish. Although over 70 years of age and quite familiar intellectually with the Eastern Catholic tradition, he had never yet set foot in a Ukrainian Catholic church. He hasn't missed a Sunday since Christmas.
God has given faithful Catholics in much of Alberta a viable alternative to "all the commotion going on" - the dilettantism, if you please. It's what the holy father calls "Christendom's other lung."
He hails it as a big part of God's answer to the superficiality and irreverence that have swept through Western culture, including much of the Church (Ex Orientale Lumen).
As practising Latin-rite Catholics, my wife and I can't thank God enough for the opportunity we have in Alberta to breathe through both lungs.
Volunteer choir makes valiant effort
Re: "Keep the ritual, routine rhythm of Mass" (WCR, April 21).
As a member of the music ministry at my parish, I must object to several comments made in the above-mentioned letter. I can attest to the countless (volunteer) hours that musicians and singers put in behind-the-scenes to ensure that the songs are relevant to the readings of that Sunday and the liturgical season, that there is an appropriate mix of contemporary and traditional music, and that all choir members learn the songs.
Our choir spent more than 12 hours practising for Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday Masses alone. Most of us are not professional musicians. We are people such as yourself, who care about enriching the Mass with music, and helping the congregation participate more fully.
We don't expect recognition - our goal is to lead people in singing, not to put on a show. However, we don't deserve all the complaints either,
For example, after many months of parishioners telling us they were tired of the same old Mass parts; our choir director spent several months learning new ones. When we sang them, people complained they didn't want different Mass parts!
In another choir, a girl finally worked up the courage to sing a solo part. After Mass, a parishioner told her that her voice was flat. Believe me, we are trying our best.
I am also somewhat perplexed that someone who cares so much about the Mass would begrudge an extra half-hour if Mass happens to exceed the 60-minute-time-slot they scheduled. Please, take the time to welcome a new member into the Church by joyfully witnessing his or her Baptism, or volunteer for a liturgical ministry. I guarantee you'll no longer find Mass exhausting, boring, tiring or frustrating.
Look within and find the answers
By the time that you receive this missive, I will have retired from my job as Prison Guard at the Edmonton Institution, after 14 years, and about five Roman Catholic chaplains.
Sister Elisabeth Coulombe (WCR, April 21) is bemoaning the fact that volunteers will not come to "The Max" to deal with the prisoners, however she does point out that in that sea of goodness there are 240 persons.
If volunteers are needed, in particular musical ones, perhaps the talent, which she seeks, is available from the talent pool that she is ministering unto, and it could be that no outside volunteers are really required.
I seem to recall that if you give a man a fish, he eats for one day, but if you teach him to fish, he is fed forever.
One other point that rather sticks in my craw is the quaint notion that "the inmates are depressed and have no families." Not all inmates are depressed, and many inmates do have families who visit on occasion.
It is impossible to make a blanket statement that truly applies to all inmates, except that most of them would prefer not to be incarcerated.
I do not have available a breakdown of these people by religion, but even if half are RC, does it not produce a telling point when only less than 10 will show up to hear an address by the archbishop?
One reason for the lack of volunteers could be the perceived potential for violence, which seems to be fairly normal among most outsiders that I have spoken with.
CWL brief questioned
My sincere apologies go to your staff writer, Ramon Gonzalez. I presumed that he had misinterpreted the brief presented by the Catholic Women's League of Canada to the House of Commons standing committee's hearing on marriage and the legal recognition of other unions (WCR, April 14). Surely a Catholic women's group would not support common-law and same-sex unions!
Incredulous, I downloaded a copy of the CWL discussion paper from their website (www.cwl.ca/MemberResources/recent_udates.htm). To put it bluntly, I was appalled at what I read.
The CWL national executive members state that their responses "provide a balance between upholding Christian values and respect for human dignity." What rock have I been hiding under? Since when do Christian values not respect human dignity? I thought that Christians are called to personify dignity, as Christ did.
Fortunately, the CWL executive is "firmly committed to the strengthening and protection of marriage." Good point. They are "concerned about the fragile nature of a society which attempts to adapt its institutions to conform to current trends." Another good point.
But in the same brief, the league also urges Parliament to enact a statute that "allows for civil unions to be registered between heterosexual couples and same-sex couples," complete with all of the accompanying benefits.
It seems the CWL may be speaking out of both sides of its mouth. By granting status to other unions, does the government thus strengthen those unions at the expense of marriage? Sometimes we say too much.
The league issued a clarification statement on April 23. It reinforces their commitment to maintain the current definition of marriage, but it unfortunately does not address any of the inconsistencies found in their brief.
The CWL claims to be the largest women's group in Canada, and wrote this brief "on behalf of all league members across Canada". I have been a CWL member for nearly 20 years but, after this, I find it difficult to see how the league can continue to speak for me.
Sorry, Mr. Gonzalez. You were right after all.
The Miracle of the Vistula River lives
When dealing with the geopolitical issues and history of our complex world, many of us, not unlike Pontius Pilate, tend to be rather skeptical about truth. But, as Dignitatis Humanae teaches, "Man tends by nature toward the truth" (cf. Catechism 2467), and while truth may take decades or centuries to emerge, it inevitably does.
Mrs. Pierzchajlo will be pleased to know that the truth about The Miracle of the Vistula River has found its proper place in the Western history books. (WCR, April 14.) One of the most authoritative and prestigious history book so far, Europe, A History, by Norman Davies, (Oxford University Press, 1996), is quite clear when it describes the recent history of the Polish nation, its suffering, betrayals, crucifixion and glory.
It also quotes at length the words of the British Ambassador to Berlin, who had personally viewed some of the action near Warsaw. The battle was later described in the book The Eighteenth Decisive Battle of World History (Lord D'Abernon, London 1931).
The ambassador, comparing the importance of the battle to the victory of Charles Martel, glorified the Polish victory in these words: "Had Pilsudski and Weygand failed to arrest the triumphant march of the Soviet Army at the Battle of Warsaw, not only would Christianity have experienced a dangerous reverse, but the very existence of western civilization would have been imperiled" (p. 937).
At that moment the best of Christian Europe, which included personalities such as Charles de Gaulle and the future pope Pius XI, stood against the "best" the Red Devil and his "hordes of Antichrist" could muster, about a million men on either side, with many more millions in reserve waiting to engulf the whole world in the Soviet War Communism.
Pilsudski stood against the feared Red Hannibal, General Tukhachevsky, the military "genius" of the Soviets, the conqueror of Siberia and the theorist of the brutal revolutionary warfare derived from the barbaric tactics of Batu Khan, which the Soviets applied again in the Second World War.
When Tukhachevsky launched his phenomenal offensive with the words, "To the West! Over the corpse of the White Poland lies the road to world-wide conflagration!" he was not kidding. In the meantime Lenin issued a command to shoot as many landlords as possible.
The speed of the advance took everybody by surprise, yet the Western governments dispatched only a handful of generals, but no reinforcements. Pilsudski's desperate counter-strike decapitated five Soviet armies, three of which were totally annihilated.
Davies' book, which is worth buying just for its excellent Introduction, can be seen as the triumph of good over evil in the world of scholarly history. Yet one must not forget that such an effort could not have come without those who stood up for the truth in the scholarly and literary world.
While the indifferent America and non-Catholic Europe slept (President Roosevelt "slept in his chair" during the blazing row between Eden and Molotov when they discussed Poland at Teheran), the message about the importance of a united Christian Europe, and the central role Poland played in such a scheme, was propagated by Catholics like G.K. Chesterton, Belloc, Dawson and Baring and their circle of friends.
Chesterton in particular became the defender of Poland, and his works are full of praise for the bravery and sacrifices of the Polish people in defence of Christianity. Chesterton was one of the few who immediately understood the importance of the famous charge of the Polish cavalry on Aug. 31, 1920, the last great cavalry battle of European history, in which 20,000 horsemen charged and counter-charged in full formation, until the Polish uhlans stopped the tide of the Red Horsemen.
The Red Army was crushed, and Lenin was forced to sue for peace. Poles in those days understood the importance of friends like Chesterton.
Dress must respect modesty
I think the picture on page 24 in the March 31 issue is a scandal.
St. Padre Pio would turn women away from Confession if their skirts were too short and I don't think we're referring here to mini-skirts.
The Church has given us the norm for modesty which I've read but don't know exactly where to find it right now.
I know two fingers breadth below the collar bone was one limit and the sleeves should go to the elbow.