Re “Electoral Responsibility” (Editorial, 10/29): Thanks for continuing to muddy the waters. It has become a tradition for me to cast my ballot for president every four years by going into the voting booth and holding my nose. It is a tortured exercise. I agree that defense spending is a national disgrace. I also agree that health care should be a basic right and that Roe v. Wade should be overturned so that voters once again get a say in how abortion is legislated. I don’t remember the last time I cast my vote for president and walked out of the booth without feeling that I had blood on my hands.
Re “Waiting for Gabriel,” by Timothy P. O’Malley (10/22): If possible, emotionally or financially, consider adoption. Six years ago we were where the author and his wife are now, and it felt like hell. I prayed a lot, but felt as if I were praying into a hollow well, and each month got worse. We dreaded family gatherings and the people at work had long stopped asking me, “Any plans for children?”
One day my wife, who was really sick of fertility drugs, etc., suggested adoption, and it was like the first break of sunlight after weeks of rain. A kind cousin, out of the blue, offered financial assistance (I guess I wasn’t really praying down a well), and a year later we had a wonderful little boy, Luis, from Guatemala. Three months after Luis came home, my wife started throwing up her breakfast, and we realized Luis was going to have a sibling (again, I guess I wasn’t praying down a well). A year to the day after Luis came home, little brother Danny was born.
Now those dark days seem a lifetime away. (Our boys are three and six.) But this fine article brought it all back. Keep praying, but consider, if possible, that there are lots of little ones out there praying for a nice home and kind, loving parents. Best of luck.
North Yarmouth, Me.
“On Their Way,” by Elizabeth A. Donnelly and Phillip E. Pulaski (10/22), is a lovely and inspiring article. I commend the authors for facilitating the development of their daughters’ lived faith. I worry, however, that young parents may read this article and feel immensely intimidated. It’s not always possible to send one’s kids to Catholic schools, fund overseas mission trips and come up with a host of inspiring Catholic relatives.
My husband and I have three sons, 16, 18 and 22. One of their grandfathers was an atheist, and they attend public schools. But they share a vibrant and active Catholic faith. My advice: Talk as a family about what is really important in life; find regular opportunities to pray together; develop small rituals around the liturgical year; discuss Scripture together and learn about the saints; find opportunities to serve others with your children; teach your children the fundamentals of the Catholic religion and also learn together about other faith traditions; most important, find a church with a congregation, clergy and faith formation program that will nourish everyone in the family.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this last point. Worshipping together in a vibrant faith community that revitalizes our minds, hearts and spirits has helped my boys to become not only faithful Catholics, but also retreat leaders, cantors, lectors and parish council members.
Two-Tiered Education System
Re “School Daze” (Editorial 10/15): On the whole, America did a much better job than the rest of the national press in offering a balanced, thoughtful assessment of the Chicago teachers’ strike that acknowledged the deeper issues and avoided union-bashing. But it also missed the opportunity to take a more critical look at Catholic education’s current and future role in our two-tiered education system. Why, for example, is America so quick to endorse merit pay and other “accountability” standards, measures based on standardized testing, when those same ideas are rarely implemented in Catholic education?
More fundamentally, I know of no Catholic school that does what traditional public schools are asked to do every day: educate every child who walks in the door, regardless of their socioeconomic status, language, special needs or level of parental involvement. Even the most laudable inner-city Catholic educational models, like Cristo Rey schools, depend to some degree on the ability to screen their students. The Catholic Church should ask harder, big-picture questions about its educational enterprise: Vouchers or no vouchers, are Catholic schools resolving or only deepening the division of U.S. schoolchildren into haves and have-nots?