Why They Come
Re “A Nation of Immigrants” (Editorial, 1/5): I agree the issue of illegal immigration is more complex than a border fix. Shouldn’t we ask: why do they come? I had the mistaken impression back in the days of the Clinton administration that Mexican farmers would welcome the North American Free Trade Agreement. I thought U.S. companies would be working on both sides of the border for the good of all. Now I see these so-called “illegals” as more like refugees, fleeing from conditions that we as U.S. citizens help create and maintain. We continually wash our hands like Pilate. The Los Angeles Times had a report on the produce we buy from Mexico (“Hardship on Mexico’s Farms, a Bounty for U.S. Tables,” 12/7/14). The situation is not pretty. Many are not simply coming here to “improve” their situation but are escaping a certain life of slavery that we should abhor.
Jesuits are known for rigorous thought and logical analysis. “Majority Rules” (12/22/14), Mark Davis’s emotive review of Max Blumenthal’s Goliath, exhibited neither. Assertions that for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “only Jewish suffering matters” or that he “constantly evokes the Holocaust to oppose a Palestinian state,” preferring “a status quo in which the subservient population is managed,” are utterly unsupportable, vicious libels. Really risible is Mr. Davis’s pitiful contention that “any criticism of Israel is harshly condemned.”
How lightly, though, does Mr. Davis slight perpetual Palestinian provocations. Hamas’s thousands of random rocket attacks on southern Israel allowed civilians mere seconds to seek secure shelter. Its dozens of tunnels burrowed deep into Israel would have facilitated murder and kidnapping. Palestinian media are awash in incessant incitement against Israel and Jews. Terrorists are lauded as “martyrs”; any concessions are anathema.
Echoing Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Davis questioned Israel’s very legitimacy, unwittingly revealing the key to continuation of the conflict. Arab refusal to countenance a sovereign Jewish Mideast state has been a constant since the rejection of the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947. Israel has often seriously offered peace. When will the Arabs finally say yes?
Re “A More Perfect Union,” by Helen Alvaré (12/22/14): We are the godparents of two boys adopted from Vietnam and Guatemala. One parent has served as president of his parish council and is now a lector and choir member. The other parent has chaired the parish liturgical committee, served on the diocesan liturgical commission and is now a eucharistic minister. Both of these gay men have also taught religious education classes. Baptized and confirmed, the boys have progressed through the parish catechetical program. The older is a sophomore in a Catholic high school, and his younger brother will join him for middle school at the same campus. Their family is a role model for complementarity as described by Helen Alvaré: a spousal analogy of “God’s identity and relationship to humanity” and of “marriage and family life as the school of learning the meaning of life as loving mutual service and sacrifice—Jesus’ way of life.”
We don’t accept all Ms. Alvaré says, but we agree that complementarity must “begin with the radical equality of men and women”—as long as that radical equality acknowledges the God-given sexual orientations of these men and women and all that entails. Our two godchildren are not being raised by their biological parents but by their gay parents, who through their complementary (though not in the reproductive sense) and loving relationship have created a family life every bit as authentic and holy—and, yes, life-giving—as that of any heterosexual relationship we know of, including our own.
In “Family in Focus” (12/8/14), the Rev. Robert P. Imbelli writes that the practice of eucharistic adoration is “integral to the process of discernment we will undertake” ahead of the synod in 2015. Instead of eucharistic adoration, we might help ourselves as the people of God by first better understanding the eucharistic celebration we participate in weekly—the Mass.
While the Second Vatican Council did much to help us understand the Eucharist, we still lag in demonstrating to all how central this service is. I have even heard some ask that a Mass not be celebrated at their funeral since “it is so impersonal.” We have not learned that the Eucharist is the heart of who we are. Rather, we have surrounded it with politics and bad news instead of the good news that it is. So we continue to propound marriage as the symbol of Christ and his church, while knowing little about either of them.
All Are Called
I appreciate Bishop Michael F. Burbidge’s thoughtful piece, “The Ongoing Call” (11/17/14), and understand the need for vocations. As a bishop, his concern must of necessity focus on priests and consecrated religious. Yet I wonder if priestly and religious vocations would be better served by first focusing attention on the priesthood of the people as a starting point. At baptism, all the faithful are consecrated priest, prophet and king and called to serve Christ. Nourished by the Eucharist and strengthened by confirmation, this consecrated priesthood of the people constitutes the entire wellspring from which all vocations flow—married, single, religious and ordained.
While consecrated religious and the sacerdotal priesthood have specific and necessary roles within the church, so too do permanent deacons and those called to the married and single life. As Bishop Burbidge so aptly points out, the Year of Consecrated Life is indeed a wonderful opportunity to gratefully remember that all Catholic men and women have been consecrated—some to the priesthood of the people, some to sacramental priesthood. Together, the people of God are indeed diverse, and each in his or her own way witnesses to the good news of Jesus and helps us look to the future with hope.
Angela Alaimo O’Donnell is identified in her columns as a writer, professor and associate director of American Catholic Studies at Fordham University—but this description is incomplete. It does not allude to her as a published poet of note. Too many poets in the United States seem to hide or be hidden behind a spiritually secondary description, when their immortality will be in their poetry rather than in their essays or their classroom experience.
America’s Chicago correspondent, Judith Valente, is also a prize-winning poet. Mary Oliver, perhaps the only woman in the United States who can live well exclusively from her income as a poet, has written an introduction to one of Ms. Valente’s volumes of poetry.
Some of us know that people look at you funny if you identify yourself as a poet, but let’s not let these women be shy or be shy for them. With writers like them and Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., America enhances the literary and cultural dimension of this reader’s life.
Readers respond to “Marketing Motherhood: The Meaning of Vocation in a Secular World,” by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig (1/5).
As a mother of four children ages 7 and under, I really appreciated this article’s perspective. There are a great number of competing voices trying to prescribe parenting methods. And as a parent, you are judged for your choices almost everywhere, from people at the store to your own relatives. But the best thing I have found is to attune fully to the children I have—not the ones I wish I had and not someone else’s—and make decisions based upon their individual needs and strengths. Parenting is a humbling experience.
I wouldn’t dream of downplaying the value of motherhood, but single, childless women are invisible in the church. Or rather, they are very visible, but the church neither sees nor acknowledges them as having any value.
There is nothing in this article specific to “motherhood”—it’s really just an article about parenting. The assumption that only mothers see parenthood as a calling is not only inaccurate but very sexist and supports the antiquated notion that it’s up to the mother to raise the children. Thankfully there is a new generation of fathers who are actively invested in parenthood. I work full time, but I also take my kids to school, feed them, change them, play with them and put them to bed nearly every night. The times are a-changin’.
Since Ms. Bruenig pulls out the old Max Weber arguments, can I remind folks that Protestantism should not be identified with capitalism? Some Protestants celebrate capitalism, as do many Catholics. I’m not among the pro-capitalism Protestant crowd, and I do not believe there is anything in the essence of Protestantism that lends itself to capitalist ideology.