Inspired to ShareThank you to Kevin O’Brien, S.J., for the affirming and encouraging message in The Classroom as Holy Ground (5/26). Like so many teachers, I was ending the academic season with the year-in-review, still struggling with last minute makeup tests and lost textbooks. By fortunate coincidence, I happened upon Mr. O’Brien’s article and was indeed delighted to read the reflections of a fellow teacher. While Mr. O’Brien may be at the beginning of his career, I am a veteran of 45 years, who decided this past year, for whatever reason, to return to the vineyard.
I have not taught high school students since the late 1970’s, when I was a public school English teacher. The last 25 years as an administrator may have kept me in touch with the students, but there is nothing like being on the front lines. What an epiphany I have had!
As a member of the religion department of our local Catholic preparatory school, I have had a joyful challenge almost every day. The students unquestionably have changed, and yet so many times they remind me of their parentssome of whom I taught.
Mr. O’Brien is righttoday’s students need, more than anything else, understanding and patience and listening. My journey this year has been not only to travel with my students through church history but also to strive to know their life history...and understand their struggles and hopes and to learn about their culture. Most of all, to allow grace to operate in the classroom. It is good to be reminded that teaching is a great act of hope.
I begin this summer inspired to share Mr. O’Brien’s thoughts with my department and to return in the fall with the striking image of my classroom as holy ground and my students’ desks as altars. Now that’s an image that has the potential to provoke a real educational reform!
Life of the Family
I read The Vanishing Eucharist, by the Rev. Willard F. Jabusch, (5/12) with mixed emotions. I had just studied Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the most recent letter from Pope John Paul II, on the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the church. The very first sentence of the document reads, The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. Later the pope reiterates, The assembly gathered together for celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president.
As Father Jabusch points out, the presence of an ordained priest is not and has not been the reality in many parts of the third world and results in the loss of the eucharistic community. Now we are experiencing this in the first world as well. In our archdiocese, Cincinnati, for example, the faithful are being asked to dialogue on how to address the lessening number of priests in our parish communities. Many parishes will be without pastors in the very near future. Sunday eucharistic liturgies will not be a part of our tradition.
While the duty of the father of any family is to provide instruction and guidance, an even more important obligation is to provide food for the life of the family.
I fear that this basic need is not being addressed realistically enough in our church.
A. Joseph Barrish, S.M.
Power and Energy
The artwork by Bill Tsukuda for the article on Justice in Executive Compensation, by Edward M. Welch, (5/19) resembles the Anasazi energy wheel symbol. I wonder if power and energy are visualized similarly by different generations and tribal groups.
I agree completely with the letter from Michael McCue, O.S.F.S., (6/23) regarding the article The Vanishing Eucharist, by the Rev. Willard F. Jabusch (5/12).
Father McCue asks, Are we just talking to ourselves? Clearly, we should be talking to our church leaders. Why should not America, as an exercise in responsible publishing, send a questionnaire based on Father Jabusch’s article to each bishop and archbishop of our American dioceses, and then publish a composite reply?
Or why should not America invite several of the bishops and archbishopsone each, for example, from the southwest, the west coast, the east coast and the midwest to make an extended reply to the article?
Without some kind of serious follow-up of Father Jabusch’s article, America’s publication of it seems to serve no purpose other than an exercise in futile hand-wringing. And we, clergy and laity alike, have had more than enough of that.
(Rev.) George F. Werner
Share With Us
The Rev. Willard F. Jabusch’s article, The Vanishing Eucharist, (5/12) was powerful. His examples are right on target and the situation is getting worse, not better. When he speaks of how the American Protestant missionaries operate, coming and starting a church and then leaving it for the locals to run, I am reminded of what St. Paul did in the very early days of Christianity.
We have come a long way from those days, and maybe we should think about going back.
One morning, not long ago, as I was going to a weekday Mass at our parish (we are fortunate to still have it), no priest arrived. Apparently the appointed celebrant had overslept, and we all had to wait while someone called the rectory and while he prepared to come. While waiting, I was wondering why we needed him. I looked around the chapel and saw many others, lifelong faithful Catholics, totally dedicated to God and the church, who could represent us and lead us in prayer, who could share with us thoughts on the Scriptures, who could bring us together as a community.
In that same issue there was an article about a Mass Without the Consecration, as in the Anaphora. Will we ever find ourselves as a community at prayer, participating in remembering Christ’s sacrifice and not waiting for some kind of magic words that only certain persons can say?
Complexity of Factors
Regarding the article The Soldiers Came Asking, by Michael Griffin (6/23), I agree fundamentally that a significant part of our effort must be directed in support of the women and men currently in our nation’s armed forces. But I don’t think that the real risk of professional suicide that our service women and men face if they actively pursue a C.O. or S.C.O. status is made sufficiently clear. Even after being a reserve chaplain for only three years, I can appreciate their dilemma. A refusal to fight, i.e., accept a mission, could not only seriously compromise their careers, but also jeopardize the safety of fellow service members who are in their care or depend upon their support. It would have been helpful if the article addressed the pastoral message of the ordinary of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, that stated, Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience. Hindsight is always 20-20, they say. In the wake of the uncertainty of the accuracy of the pre-war assessment of the Iraqi threat, there may be another opportunity to make a conciliatory statement in hope of a more peaceful future. But in the consolation we owe one another in Christ, let us avoid burdening the women and men of the armed services, who already shoulder the burden of carrying out American foreign policy. This chaplain has come to discover that few people appreciate peace more than those who have to defend it far from home and in a strange land.
Santo Cricchio, O.F.M. Conv.