Re “Bishops Respond to Attacks on John Carr” (Signs of the Times, 2/22): Maybe I should not write anything because I am too angry right now at the person or persons who would do this to John Carr. He has kept the faith. I just hope he hasn’t finished the course. He gives credibility to the U.S.C.C.B. in a way no other person could. He is a defender of the bishops always, and he does not have a heretical bone in his body. He is an articulate, intelligent voice for the bishops and for the church. Those who have accused him of having an agenda of his own do not know John Carr. That he has a strong social conscience there is no doubt, but it is a Catholic social conscience.
James E. O’Leary
Corpus Christi, Tex.
Connecting to the Spirit
“Feed Your Spirit,” by Rabbi Allen Maller (2/15), was excellent. I would like our Catholic homilists to share his approach to fasting. There is almost no teaching to the general Catholic population about fasting. It is most often linked with the “woe is me” approach to penitence. Ancient cultures seem to have appreciated the fast as a means of remaining connected to their corporal and spiritual selves. Our own native American cultures practiced the fast in a variety of ways and learned, it would seem, a meaningful connection to a spirit greater than themselves. Thank you, Rabbi Maller.
Grand Junction, Colo.
What a wonderful story about Sister Elaine (“Ward Healer,” by Aaron Biller, 3/1)! I have been a board-certified chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains for 15 years and have had the privilege of serving in health care ministry in a variety of settings and locations.
The unique aspect of this ministry is that every day chaplains are invited onto holy ground, into truly sacred space. Health care provides a special “leveling of the human family” like no other. While many chaplains are like Sister Elaine, vowed religious, the vast majority of N.A.C.C. certified chaplains are lay women and men professionally trained and educated for this special ministry.
Truly this formally recognized ministry within our church is a practical incarnation of the call to ministry that the Second Vatican Council embodied.
Living Out the Gospel
Your story about Sister Elaine is truly inspiring. Having had some opportunities to join with others in hospital settings for prayer and reflection, I am aware of how impromptu moments of prayer with them integrate a sense of urgency and intimacy. It is humbling to be invited to join others when they are perhaps most fearful of the future, and to rely on the Holy Spirit to provide the words of encouragement and hope. For Sister Elaine to provide that support for so many years is remarkable. What a tribute to living out the Gospel in her life!
Mount Laurel, N.J.
Lifting All Boats
Re “Recession Drives Surge of Poverty in Suburbs” (Signs of the Times, 3/1): The primary cause of homelessness is lack of a decent job and lack of any job security. But while we are in this current recession/depression we are rapidly cutting huge holes in the safety net. Angry, struggling homeowners and low-wage workers rant against those who are supported by welfare, who are recent immigrants and who are most vulnerable to the present economic instability.
We must stop the selfishness and reach out as one united community of believers to lift all boats and take special care of those who are injured the most. If we can’t be true to each other in the worst of times, how will we play nice when the good times ever come back?
Spread Your Enthusiasm
Re “Of Many Things,” by James Martin, S.J. (3/1): I couldn’t agree more with your comments on enthusiasm for our faith. Funny thing about enthusiasm; it’s contagious!
Less Than Enthusiastic
Bishop Serratelli (“Welcoming the Roman Missal,” 3/1) writes that “we bishops hope pastors and the faithful will join us in seizing this opportunity with enthusiasm.” As a long-time priest I “seize this opportunity” to sympathize with Bishop Serratelli and others who work for the company, as they struggle to defend a translation that is simply awful. I am sure they know this, but of course they cannot speak on the record.
The whole new Missal should be trashed and a new one constructed, one that is the result of thorough consultation, without secrecy and without the usual power and control issues, and that is composed by our best and brightest. But before the new Missal is shelved, its progenitor, Liturgiam Authenticam, with its countless mistakes and assumptions, should be confined somewhere deep in the Vatican secret archives.
North Bend, Wash.
A Wake-up Call
Re “A Debt to the Future” (Editorial, 3/1): There is a simple way for Congress to hear from the American people. Require that all government bond sales be limited to purchase by United States citizens. I think that would provide a wake-up call.
Slashes and Cuts
How do we reduce our debt? First, stop spending! Stop creating more federal agencies (do we still need a Rural Electrification Agency?) and fiefs like special czars. President Obama is spending like a drunken sailor, especially to reward favored special interest groups. Eliminate all earmarks and cut federal programs and agencies that no longer serve the purpose for which they were created.
A statutory commission is no better than President Obama’s task force, which is nothing more than a cover to raise taxes. We need leaders who lead and who listen to the people. It all has to go through them anyway.
How to prevent inflation? Increase productivity by cutting all the monstrous red tape and regulations that are strangling the private sector. The wealth that has been created in this country did not come from government. It was created by free people and entrepreneurs. Elect leaders who understand this.
Farmington Hills, Mich.
The lay Catholics mentioned in both “Venerabile Subito!” (Current Comment, 12/14) and Letters (1/18) are indeed worthy of consideration for canonization. There is, however, one outstanding lay woman omitted. Mary Virginia Merrick (1866-1955), who founded the Christ Child Society in 1887.
This organization continues today with many chapters and hundreds of members. It has helped thousands of poor children with settlement houses for after-school activities, summer camps and Christmas gifts. Ms. Merrick was years ahead of her time in seeing a social need and responding, doing so from her wheelchair, having become an invalid at 17 years of age. This incapacity never hindered her efforts to bring about what we now call “no child left behind.”
Barbara Marie Kleck, C.S.C.
One Capital Exception
Re “Moral Convictions,” by Emily Brennan (Books and Culture, 2/22): In the earliest years of “Law & Order,” several of the cast would welcome my students to the set on Pier 23. Especially generous with their time were Steven Hill and Michael Moriarty. Hill, who played the D.A., Adam Schiff, spoke of his faith; his religious observances sometimes kept him off the set. Moriarty (A.D.A. Ben Stone) treated us with great respect and provided insight into the challenges of developing characters in the series.
“Law & Order” remains one of the few television series to sustain my interest. No doubt its moral convictions add to my appreciation. There is, however, one exception: the frequently expressed desire for the death penalty, especially by Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), who plays the Manhattan district attorney. That position is a far cry from that of the recently retired Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau, a stalwart opponent of capital punishment.
Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M.