I was reading my brother inmate’s issue of America and came across “The Home Team,” by Kerry Weber (5/26). At first her column saddened me because I do not have similar memories with my own family, especially with my father. Upon a second reading, however, as she recalled her family’s repeated viewings of “Field of Dreams,” I felt hope and the words of the Prophet Joel rang out in my heart: “And I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten…” (2:25).
As foolish and sinful as my early years were, God can and will “repay” me by using them to bring glory to His name. I’m not the first prisoner to claim a deep faith in Jesus Christ. I am not the first person to write poetry from prison. But I have heard his voice, and in answering it he has empowered my talents for his purposes.
My father lives in a trailer park in Florida on his own, and we still strain against the pains of my youth. Small hurts become big ones, and large ones become deep valleys of woe. Despite all of that, I can now pray for my father, and God answers my prayers by chipping away at the ice surrounding my own heart.
Like Ms. Weber’s family, I feel my feet dug into the lush Iowa grass, only it is with my own family, restored and renewed in Christ. Old pains become laughter, old wounds heal, old loves grow and our years are brought forth shining and new. Just a short while ago I received a letter from my father; he read some of my poems, and he loves them.
Thank You, Sisters
Re “Vatican Official Offers Fresh Criticism of U.S. Sisters” (Signs of the Times, 5/26): Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rebukes in what he himself calls a “blunt way” the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (which represents about 80 percent of the women religious in the United States) for promoting futuristic ideas he described as “opposed to Christian revelation.” It is ironic that these wonderful women should be rebuked, when for most of their lives they have lived in the way Pope Francis is recommending for all of us. They have been on the front lines of bringing “good news to the poor,” treating everyone with respect, living simply and giving of themselves to help those who need it most; they have run inner city schools, hospitals and residential facilities for the elderly and homeless. Their good works have brought God’s love and mercy to literally thousands of people. Most of these women are now middle-aged or older and are still working. To me they are the heroes of the church, and it would be wonderful if this “heavy burden could be lifted from their shoulders,” and they could receive the appreciation they deserve.
I read with interest “The Sacred Heart of Texas,” by Christopher T. Haley (5/26), a review of Houston’s co-cathedral. Based only on the images provided in the article and online, however, I must admit that I do not share the author’s enthusiasm. For me, it is difficult to find creative and contemporary solutions in the liturgical space of the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral. The use of modern architectural elements and materials are not very much in evidence. The interior suggests the piers effectively used in England’s 12th-century Durham Cathedral. The full, conscious and active participation of the laity in the liturgy as described in the liturgy document from Vatican II is more effectively expressed by a seating arrangement that brings the faithful closer to the celebrant and to the altar. Viewing an enlargement of the crucifix, it appears very much a standard church catalog image. Perhaps a more creative image would have been a Chicano Jesus, considering the cathedral’s locale.
I applaud the focus on the students that Professor Daly takes in “The Ethics of Exit” (6/9). But one of the approaches he suggests for making decisions in these cases is casuistry—the comparison of cases. Using this approach, administrators might make very different decisions about two scenarios that seem alike to students who don’t know all the details or who don’t know how the administrators compared them with other situations. How would one explain those different decisions to students?
Protecting the Poor
I respectfully disagree with Bishop McElroy’s comment in his article “Political Vocations” (6/9) that “the rejection of the rightful role of government in the protection of the poor has become a virtual litmus test for Republican identity.” I identify myself as a Republican and am unaware of any Republican who rejects societal protection of the poor. Instead, Republicans reject a government-first approach to poverty issues. We believe the issue should first be addressed by the individual, then by family and then by charity, and, when none of the above is available, that society, through government action, should always protect the poor. I respectfully reject Bishop McElroy’s conclusion that Democrats have the moral high ground on this issue simply because their first recourse is for more governmental involvement.
An Indiscriminate Crime
In “Soccer’s Shadow” (Current Comment, 6/23), the editors discuss the problems of the sex trade and prostitution caused by the FIFA World Cup. The piece only mentions females, however, as victims. Males are victims also, but their rate is underreported because of many factors. I encourage America to include both sexes when reporting on this horrendous problem. Part of solving a problem is to describe it accurately and fully.
Though very much in agreement with the stand taken by Kevin Clarke on gun violence in “Outrage Again” (6/23), initially I was not sufficiently moved to respond—until just a few days later, when news came of the tragic shooting death of a 19-year-old young man recently back home after completing his first year at college. An emotional memorial took place at the Catholic prep school from which he graduated with honors and where he was a eucharistic minister, a respected leader and athlete. An overflow of mourners flocked to the funeral Mass to hear eulogies from the departed’s siblings about losing the loving big brother whose example they had always strived to follow.
Only a few days later, a 17-year-old cheerleader, who had just received her diploma from a nearby high school, was shot and killed while walking home with her boyfriend. She had been looking forward to attending college in the fall to pursue her dream of becoming a registered nurse.
When is enough truly enough? I should probably feel as foolish as Mr. Clarke in suggesting that perhaps the time has come to integrate the themes of peace and nonviolence across the curriculum in our schools so that our young people may be afforded the wherewithal to live long enough to make a change for the better in this world.
Followers respond to the announcement that Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., will be joining America as U.S. church correspondent.