Re “Love on the Margins,” by Astrid Lobo Gajiwala (7/10): I will celebrate 50 years of marriage in December this year. My wife is Methodist, and I am Catholic. My parish priest 50 years ago passionately advised me to cancel my marriage plans. It wouldn’t work, he said. I respect my wife’s traditions, attend her services and, frankly, do not see an ounce of difference between her family background and mine, other than the accident of family denomination.
As a church organist and music director, I have served about five Catholic parishes, three Lutheran, two Methodist and one United Church of Christ during my career. All experiences were wonderful. To most staunch Catholics, I am a failure. But I would not change my life experiences. I choose to respect the spiritual goodness in all people.
Re “The Uncertain Future of Parish Life,” by T. Howland Sanks, S.J. (7/10): Thank you for a most informative review of several new books that relate to the future of Catholic parishes in the United States. That there are fewer priests to serve parishes and that multiple parishes are sharing their services are certainly changes for U.S. Catholics, but this is similar to what the majority of Catholics in the world already experience. As the author states in his last paragraph, what is needed are some new, imaginative approaches to serving pastoral needs. America should focus on this call and invite authors to submit their views about the future of parish life.
Inclusion, Not Exclusion
Re “The Queens of Chavara,” by Paul Wilkes (7/10): I am a former volunteer of the only AIDS hospice that served northern Ontario. Unlike some families and members of society, the co-founders of the hospice did not give up on patients. The AIDS hospice is now a regular hospice. We all need love, not judgment, inclusion and not exclusion.
A Variety of Thoughts
“A Synod, Not a Solution,” by Maureen Day (7/10), returned my thoughts to a question that was asked by our pastor and directed at the lectors: “What are your thoughts regarding Mass?” Sunday Mass seems to me like a celebration of worship; my wife and I love the music and seeing the young families. Weekday Mass might be described as peaceful, with more time for reflection—I like to sit in the back. Sometimes I join the priest who says Mass at the hospital since there is often an empty chapel with only the patients in their rooms watching. Our county nursing home has Mass at least once a month, which stirs a person’s thoughts about the end of life. Different settings bring us a variety of thoughts.
Thanks to Maureen Day for a most interesting article! Having laypeople participate in a diocesan synod gives reason to hope for positive change in the church. Simply acknowledging that laypeople are the experts in matters of family life is a step forward. We can have hope now that one bishop has opened the door to dialogue.
Re “The Unlikely Story Behind ‘With God in Russia,’” by Daniel L. Flaherty, S.J. (6/26): Thanks to the author for recalling how he composed With God in Russia together with Walter Ciszek, S.J. The account brought back to me my reading the book aloud to 200 or so fellow Jesuit seminarians in philosophy studies at St. Louis University.
Re “Lords of Charity,” by Nathan Schneider (6/26): Philanthropy is at its best when it is democratized. As president of the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota, the largest Catholic community foundation in the country, I believe the community foundation model offers a strategy for encouraging more democratic philanthropy.
Anne Cullen Miller
Saint Paul, Minn.