Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
August 30, 2004
WCR Letters to the Editor
He asked, he received
In an article by Archbishop Thomas Collins in the WCR this summer I read this line: "If you really want something badly, you have to ask for it." Not bad advice.
I had been visiting friends in Fort Saskatchewan who had been part of many parish missions we did in past years and I shared with them my plans to go to Guatemala to serve in Chicaman a parish that includes 65 villages.
I had been told by my Oblate brothers in that country, the poorest of the Americas, that I would need a truck to reach the various communities they call "aldeas" but at the moment they could not afford one. Besides the trucks they had were old and in constant state of repair. One of their trucks has been in use for a mere 15 years.
Before I left their home my friends presented me with a very generous cheque. They accompanied me outside as I left and we saw the neighbour across the fence whom I also knew, and my friend - we'll call him Joe - started teasing him - we'll call him Jim - about contributing to the purchase of a truck for my future mission in Guatemala.
Jim told me that he'd contribute on one condition: that I write about my need for a truck in Guatemala in my column in the WCR and if I did that he would do his share. So I took on the challenge, wrote the article and no less than 90 of you, blessed readers, heard the plea and contributed most generously. And Jim kept his promise and proved to be very generous. I have to confess that I was deeply moved as day after day for a few weeks your letters and offerings kept pouring in.
A few days ago, back in Guatemala, I went shopping for a truck with my Oblate confrere and superior, Father Gerry LeStrat, and was able to purchase a double cab, four wheel drive, diesel Toyota truck at the cost of $25,000 with enough money left over from your donations for fuel for the next year or more.
That is what you have done, good and generous Partners in Mission, not for me alone but especially for the people of Guatemala. How can we express our thanks to all of you who have given and all of you who are praying for our missions?
Jacques Johnson, omi
Take another look at secularism's attributes
Although I have much respect for Father Ron Rolheiser, I have to say I find nothing in what he says in "The Bright Side of Secularism"(WCR, June 28) that I can agree with.
Father Rolheiser starts by saying that "the opposite of secularity is the Taliban."
Now it is simplistic and wrong to recommend an opposite extreme as a solution.
Yes, the opposite of fascism is communism but few would agree that either of those ideologies would be desirable. Simpler yet, one does not treat frostbite with extreme heat.
Father Rolheiser also appears to have a very poor understanding of Islam, its history, and the current situation in the Middle East.
Muslims do not have the same history as Christians regarding temporal rule and spiritual rule as taught by St. Augustine.
Christianity came out of the Roman Empire where we adapted to living under a temporal ruler over our worldly affairs and simultaneously having the church for our spiritual affairs.
This concept is foreign to Islam.
For Muslims, all political theory, economic theory, and law find their roots in the Koran.
For them to embrace secularism would be to apostatize.
Father Rolheiser then goes on to exalt Holland as a model secular country where such things as racism have been eliminated.
However, race related crimes do occur in Holland and at the same rate as other western countries.
As little as 50 years ago Holland was 50 per cent Catholic. The fanatical secularism that has taken place over the last 40 years has all but obliterated the Catholic Church there.
Also in Holland, according to a recent report, one out of 10 people have attempted suicide. Suicide kills more people than traffic accidents.
Added with the acceptance of euthanasia and abortion it is a far stretch to call Holland's current culture "compassionate."
He then says that the Church works in current immigrant communities where the people are "poor, uneducated, and culturally-marginalized."
Not only is this insulting to generations past, it is also insulting to new Catholic immigrants (most of whom hardly fit this description).
The central-European and Asian peoples who are predominantly filling the pews are among the most highly educated in Canadian society.
The reason why so much of the West has abandoned the Church is that modern man has built a new Tower of Babel where he sees himself as his own god and strives to build his own heaven on earth through hedonism.
The secularism we know finds its roots in the Enlightenment.
Some say that a "new dark age" is a more appropriate term. The Enlightenment is largely based on the repudiation of Christianity while simultaneously embracing individualism and materialism.
And many recent philosophers believe there is no bright side as secularism fanatically rejects a moral order above itself.
It seeks to destroy all virtues (family, piety, self-reliance) and turn them into vices. As it progresses to its final stage it becomes increasingly unstable, as there is nothing from the past it will not repudiate in the name of change (even its own Enlightenment roots).
What it destroys it is unable to rebuild and it leaves people with a sense of emptiness, as they cannot relate to its imposed forms of family, religion and other perennial realities.
A look in the dictionary defines secularism as "religious skepticism or indifference."
The second definition reads "The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education."
There are already enough secular messengers in the world and more then often their views are all we hear.
We do not need any more, especially from the clergy who should instead focus on bringing the light of Christ to the world.
Eucharist reverence underlined
In her article regarding the practice of distributing Holy Communion("Why can't I give Communion with my left hand," WCR, July 12), Sister Louise Zdunich misses the point altogether in trying to convince us that one hand is as good as the other.
What should be stressed - especially because it is rarely adhered to these days - is that the name "minister of the Eucharist" belongs properly to the priest alone and that the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the bishop, the priest and the deacon. Lay people can distribute Holy Communion only when the priest and deacon are lacking, when the priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.
A brief prolongation is not at all a sufficient reason (Redemptionis Sacramentum). This instruction is based on the authentic theological distinction that exists between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood which - while ordered one to another - "differ essentially and not only in degree" (Lumen Gentium, 10).
Redemptionis Sacramentum (92) also thus affirms that the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is still the norm though one may receive in the hand according to choice in areas where the bishops' conference with the recognitio of the apostolic see has given permission. In most areas today first communicants are directed to receive in the hand only.
The recent Vatican document also points out that the faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing. However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the sacrament. This is yet another custom rarely practised.
Despite numerous admonitions (Inestimabile dunum, 1980, Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests 1997), these and other abuses continue to spread.
The faithful should therefore be reminded that there are sound theological reasons behind these simple instructions and they ought not to be taken lightly.
There likely will not be an increase in priestly vocations as long as the faithful continue to treat the Eucharist without the proper reverence due to God and as long as they continue to show little respect for the ministerial priesthood by ignoring these important rules.
Readers should also know that the Vatican is intent on thoroughly correcting these abuses and to this end now advises (Redemptionis Sacramentum) all the faithful to report any such abuses to his local bishop and failing to receive a satisfied response to the apostolic see.
Letter to the Editor - 09/13/04
I think there should be a dress code for Church. I think it is disrespectful to come to Church in shorts or low ride pants or low cut dress or blouse.
A lady said to me one day, "I would go to Church if I knew what to wear."
I said to wear what you wear when you go to supper. I said when you go to Mass, you are having supper with God.
Letter to the Editor - 09/06/04