Worth Reading

I was delighted to read the articles by Robert Ellsberg and the Rev. Gerald S. Twomey concerning Henri Nouwen (9/8). My son, a priest, gave me Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey, for my birthday in April 1999.

Since that time it sits on my kitchen table, and I don’t miss a day without reading it. It is truly a beautiful book with inspirational thoughts for every day of the year.


Keep it on your kitchen table or your nightstand, because it is really worth reading!

Frances C. Higgins
West Chester, Pa.

Communion of Saints

Stafford Betty’s article (9/11) Life After Death Is Not a Red Herring makes no mention of the specific evidence those of us who are really older feel we have. By now, I know too many saintly souls who have died, but yet live in the Spirit. I feel that they, like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, are spending their heaven doing good on earth, as she promised to do. Some of my present moments are spent being in touch with these spirits and hearing words of reassurance and guidance from them. I wonder how many of your readers can vouch for a similar experience. It seems to me that we are underlining our belief as we say the CreedI believe in the communion of saints.

Jeanne B. Dillon
Summit, N.J.

Those Who Do

The essay Preaching: A Ministry Still in Distress, by Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M., (9/18) goes right to the heart of the abysmal level of preaching in today’s Catholic Church. Like many of the unordained, Sister Camille does have the gift of preaching. In fact, she has it in abundance. But far too many of our priests simply do not. Sorry, but the charism of preaching does not always accompany ordination.

All over America, week after dreary week, too many Catholics absorb too many ill-prepared, disjointed, unimaginative homilies, while our bishops continue to exclude qualified lay people and women religious from the preaching ministry. The bishops say they are only trying to protect us all from liturgical abuse. If they really want to protect us, they should sit in the pews themselves, unannounced and anonymous, hear the abuse too many of us are getting at homily time and do something to fix it. That something would include altering the relevant canons, identifying those who have the gift, like Sister Camille, and putting them in the pulpit, and politely directing those who do not have it to leave the preaching to those who do.

Bob Keeler
Stony Brook, N.Y.

Interim Possibilities

I have several suggestions for Sister Camille D’Arienzo, who would like to be allowed to preach in the Catholic Church (9/18).

She can write a new textbook on how to write a good homily. Her publisher can sell it to priests and seminarians.

She can write a book of homilies to be used by priests who have difficulty preparing their own.

She can write for publications that give daily meditations for the entire calendar year.

She could move to a parish that does not have a priest and minister at that church, where she might be allowed to preach.

Joseph P. Nolan
Waterbury, Conn.

Mediate the Situation

Bishop Blase J. Cupich suggested three conditions for any abortion debate in Abortion and Public Policy (9/11). I would add a fourth: Keep in mind that law should be fashioned to achieve just order in society.

My point is that in addition to a moral posture, there is a legal or jurisprudential approach. Simply put, the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution retains the rights of all the people. In the 18th century the common law recognized the crime of great misprision, the intentional miscarriage of a child during pregnancy. Thus, the unborn child had a protected legal right to live.

One more point. A woman really has no moral right to choose; she has a license to choose to abort. Her legal right to choose clashes with the child’s legal and moral right to live. In this situation what is needed is not a criminal law prosecution against the mother but a dispute resolution process to mediate the situation. Courts of law do this every day.

Anthony F. Avallone, Esq.
Las Cruces, N.M.

Acceptance or Approval

I wish to comment on the article by Valerie Schultz, The Way Things Are Going (8/14). It seems to me that Ms. Schultz’s plea for tolerance for her daughter and other publicly declared lesbians deserves an editorial comment by a moral theologian. We are asked to treat lesbians and gays kindly and to overlook their agenda to enshrine their lifestyle as normative. While Christ told his followers and us that the cardinal rule is to love one’s neighbor, it does not mean approval of their behavior. Does it mean that the lesbian practice of implanting into the uterus an embryo from in vitro fertilization by an unknown male from a sperm bank should be considered within the moral law and be certified by the church, or even as sound medical practice that may risk emotional problems for a child, father unknown, who came out of a petri dish?

A now deceased and fine Jesuit priest put the perspective on same-sex orientation in a nutshell. While we accept love between members of the same sex, it does not mean that such love must be expressed genitally. The gay-lesbian lifestyle seems to include such expression and is promoted by their alliance and propaganda. In this case, parents of children have acted rationally in opposing advocacy of this life choice by teachers in religion classes.

Is there not a difference between tolerance (acceptance) of the person and approval of behavior?

Eugene E. Bleck, M.D.
Hillsborough, Calif.

God’s Children

Thanks to Valerie Schultz for your courage and her voice in the church today (The Way Things Are Going, 8/14). I could, with a few substitutions, have written the article. I teach English in a Catholic high school, and I feel that I, too, am one small voice for a change in outlook for the gay population. In my 25 years at the high school, I have been the haven for many gay students as they struggle with their identity and the fear of telling their parents. Many of these students have stayed in touch with me for 20 years. One young man came to visit this spring, and his words have stayed with me. Mrs. Cavanaugh, you cannot stop teaching, because for me and many other gay students, you were our hope and our only source of understanding in the adult world. So I will continue to minister to those on the fringes of society, because I firmly believe that this is what Christ did and would do today in our world. I love my church, but I will not exclude this segment of the population. They are our children, and they are God’s children.

Kathleen Cavanaugh
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

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