I think Bill McGarvey is being generous in “Credo...” (1/18), when he says the faith of many has not been thoughtfully engaged since their early teen years; I am not even sure how engaged it was in those years.
I have found the writings of Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I., very illuminating. He uses language concerning the “deep moral structure to the universe” that people who are tone deaf to “God language” might hear, which I’ll summarize like this: “God has a loving plan for your life, but it requires you to do God’s will and not your own will; and please discern between the two and do not assume because an idea pops into your head it is the right decision. God’s will might involve pain and suffering and sacrifice, but in the end you will be saving yourself from far worse pain and suffering.”
This is how I talk to my adult children, and while some may roll their eyes at me, I am hoping they will remember this long after I am gone and they are faced with the challenges in life everyone has to face.
It is interesting that Bill McGarvey focuses so much on sharing his own faith journey, describes some of the obstacles to maturing spiritually, and then, oddly, closes with, “don’t talk to me about your God…. I don’t believe in him either.” This has to be the least effective way to help another in their journey. As a chaplain, I would never shut down another’s view of God...including atheists. It is the height of spiritual arrogance. We all have much to learn from one another. Opening a pastoral dialogue to encourage sharing and finding any common ground, especially in pointing out where love is the sign of God’s presence, can open the path for growth for both.
Neglecting Older Singles
While I am happy to read “A Vibrant Vocation,” by Karl A. Schultz (1/4), the author still does not understand the problem. Our Catholic Church continues to pay homage to couples intending to marry but apparently doesn’t realize that it takes singles to create couples. And while some dioceses have young adult events, there is no ministry for older adults who are still single. Fifty years ago, the church was a hub of society, so it was a lot easier for Catholic singles to connect.
If one pays attention long enough, you can hear mutterings by folks wondering about the “man problem” in church (as many do not come any more). But as a single man, I can say there are few single women out there in church, and I think that many singles do not come because we sense a deep lack of community. We are forced to try to find it wherever we can—while preferring to have some of it in church!
Alone, Not Single
Thank you for this article. I appreciate the commitment to avoid generalizations about single life. Attention and sensitivity should also be given to people who are not single, but may appear that way because their partner is not active in the church. Not every “single” person in a parish is eager to join the dating pool!
Beyond Good Intentions
Re “Rights of Refugees,” by David Hollenbach, S.J. (1/4): People have been moving around the planet for thousands of years. The current situation in the Middle East is a horror. Furthermore—the refugee flow into Europe, Canada and the United States offers terrorists a certain method of infiltrating and causing death, destruction and havoc. We should cooperate with the Russians, Turks, Saudis, Jordanians and the United Nations to set up a good quality safe zone in the Middle East.
We should support the Middle Eastern refugees by helping them survive and thrive in or near their homelands. It is not true charity to do what makes us feel good—when there are better alternatives for those whom we would serve.
What, in real-world, practical terms, can be done to set up a “good quality safe zone” for Middle East refugees? Where would it be? Would you create a new country, taking land from existing countries (as the United Nations did to create Israel, with longlasting problems)?
How can we help them “survive and thrive” in their homelands? Most Middle Eastern refugees would much prefer to stay in their homelands rather than give up everything to move and live in refugee camps. The reason they are refugees is that their homelands are extremely dangerous, where war is totally destroying the economic base as well as infrastructure, and where the lives of thousands and thousands of people are at high risk.
Most refugees and immigrants to the United States were rejected when they first came, including Catholics from Ireland, Italy, Poland and elsewhere in Europe. Yet eventually they integrated into American society. For most, it took a generation or two to become economically comfortable, but eventually they did. Why are the Middle Eastern refugees different?
Case by Case
Re “Restoring the Right to Vote” (Current Comment, 12/21/15): If you are not willing to follow the law yourself, then you cannot demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf—not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. After all, the unfortunate truth is that many people who walk out of prison will be walking back in.
His Will Be Done
Jesus told someone, “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” As much as I hate the idea of felons getting to vote, I think his will, not mine, should govern—and I think I should not attach so much importance to what I want.
A Needed Reckoning
Re “Reconciliation at Georgetown” (Current Comment, 12/7/15): Thank you for this, Georgetown students, faculty and Jesuits. This is the work of knowing who we are. Slavery was the bedrock of our economic survival and flourishing for more than 200 years. Questioning or challenging this system then was like asking everyone to empty their bank accounts today. Now, a mere 150 years after the abolition of slavery in this country, maybe we are finally ready to honestly look at this terrible cruelty and injustice. It can only bring us to a place of better understanding of who we are as a nation and as a people. We may even realize that we need to formally ask for forgiveness.
The Poetry of Survival
Maurice Timothy Reidy’s review of “Spotlight” (“Big Dig,” 11/16/15) encourages Catholics to take responsibility for the church. I want to invite Catholics to listen to the voices of those who have suffered at the hands of perpetrator priests, nuns and lay employees. Few American Catholic priests, religious or laity moved from anguish to action. It takes courage and inner strength for survivors to process and to articulate their childhood trauma into meaningful words.
Norbert Krapf is a poet survivor who has crafted his trauma into meaningful expressions to share the depths of his hurts and betrayal at the hands of the pastor in a small German Catholic community in Southern Indiana. His collection of poems, Catholic Boy Blues, is subtitled “A Poet’s Journal of Healing.” His poems are the real story that The Globe’s investigative reporters were trying to uncover. Catholic Boy Blues gives first-person witness to the true nature of what children experienced at the hands of their perpetrators.