Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Our readersAugust 21, 2020

Re: “Discerning Out” (July 2020):

I have been doing vocation work almost my entire religious life, so I read with great interest about what happens when a seminarian or young woman leaves during formation (either by choice or when it’s discerned by/with superiors that they should not continue).

The author told important stories that deserve to be heard. However, it was almost exclusively negative stories of discerning out—in fact, some of the worst-case scenarios.

My congregation (Daughters of St. Paul) used to do some of these not-very-respectful-of-human-dignity “dismissals” (e.g., in the middle of the night), but thank God we stopped decades ago. I’m sorry that other congregations continue these rather unhealthy traditions. There are many seminaries/convents that have a long process of discernment before and during formation that includes the candidate’s full participation every step of the way: seeking the will of God together, what is the person’s true vocation, what’s the best fit for the candidate and congregation both, etc.; and if the journey ends in discerning out, end in very amicable partings.

It’s also important to remember that those responsible for vocation work and formation in seminaries and religious congregations are bound by confidentiality with regard to a person’s vocational journey. The candidate is not, and therefore only one side of the story will ever be told.

Helena Raphael Burns, F.S.P.
Daughters of St. Paul

Re: “‘All will be well’” (August 2020):

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman writes a decent reflection on Julian of Norwich. But there was no need to “translate” the dear nun’s words, which she was quoting of Christ, into contemporary English. In fact this is a disservice to the text. In contemporary English “will” and “shall” are considered equivalent. But in the time of Julian of Norwich they were not. “Will” in the first person added a notion of willingness and determination: “I will!” But “shall” in the second and third person added a note of obligation and debt: “You shall not steal.” Even today, this usage remains in legal documents with its “shall”s. So the correct text is: “All shall be well and all shall be well and every manner of things shall be well.”

This is not simply a statement of what is going to happen, but a statement of what must happen because God is the creator and sustainer of all things and ultimately God’s will must be accomplished regardless of human “freedom.” Aquinas points out that people are only free when they willingly embrace God’s will. So much contemporary talk about liberty is basically illusion.

Paul A. Hottinger
Naperville, Ill.

Re: The future of Catholic schools around the country is in doubt (Aug. 10, 2020):

The future has been in doubt since the 1960s, and Covid-19 is being used as an excuse as to why schools continue to close. Unfortunately, it’s the schools in neighborhoods most in need of an alternative to public school that continue to close, and it’s heartbreaking.

David Lorden

Catholic schools are seeing a bit of a resurgence. Their lower enrollments and larger facilities mean they can socially/physically distance, allowing for classes to meet five days a week, unlike most public schools here. Several Catholic schools in my area now have waiting lists, for the first time in many years.

Laura Kuhn

Re: Want a Good Job? Major in Philosophy (Aug. 6, 2020):

I graduated from St. Louis University 68 years ago. I graduated in the old honors curriculum, as they called it back then [which involved a substantial amount of philosophy]. I also accumulated a B.S. in electronic engineering and an M.B.A. degree over the years, while raising a large family (my wife is a saint). The dividing line between a liberal education for its own sake and for utility is not nearly as sharp in real life as it seems in theory. I needed all of the education that I got to do the things that I had to do at the time. I feel fortunate that philosophy was a part of that.

Charles Erlinger

Some of the reader contributions above were drawn from the comments on our website. Letters to the editor can be emailed to letters@americamagazine.org, where they are always gratefully received.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

U.S. Catholics are more polarized than ever in how they view Pope Francis, even though majorities on both ends of the political spectrum have a positive view of the pope, according to a new survey.
In this special round table episode of “Inside the Vatican,” America Editor-in-Chief Father Sam Sawyer and the Executive Director of Outreach, America’s LGBT Catholic resource, Michael O’Loughlin, join host Colleen Dulle for a discussion on the document “Dignitas Infinita” and the pastoral
Inside the VaticanApril 12, 2024
Miles Teller stars in a scene from the movie "Whiplash." (CNS photo/courtesy Sony Pictures Classics)
Played by Miles Teller, Andrew falls prey to an obsession so powerful that it robs us of the clarity or freedom to make good choices.
John DoughertyApril 12, 2024
In one way or another, these collections bear the traces of the divine, of the needful Christ.
Delaney CoyneApril 12, 2024