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Vision

Thank you for the insightful article by the Rev. Robert Kress on the priest-pastor (3/11). I have found the model of the overseer to be a useful tool for encouraging pastors to delegate responsibilities to qualified members of the parish. This frees the pastor to be about the equally important work of articulating and maintaining a vision in both pastoral and liturgical contexts.

(Rev.) Joseph C. Doyle
Ridgefield Park, N.J.

A Little Exaggerated

While as a Catholic I found some of the Ten Worst Anti-Catholic Atrocities (2/18) offensive, I feel the title Atrocities is more than a little exaggerated for things that are, at worst, tasteless insults to persons and things we hold sacred. We normally reserve the term atrocity for things like mass murder or ethnic cleansing. To apply it to blasphemy or ethnic-religious insults is to inflate the English language in a totally unwarranted and potentially harmful way.

I would also suggest that real atrocities against the church, which should elicit outcries of fury on the part of Catholics, are mostly committed by members of the Catholic community, who are identified as representatives of the church, at least at the local level, and who smear mud across the face of Holy Mother Church by behavior such as sexual abuse of children (and its all too frequent hierarchical coverup) and the betrayal of refugees who flee to a church or monastery for protection in a massacre. These are true atrocities, and the fact that Catholics commit them harms the church (before God and man) in a way that elephant dung cannot harm Our Lady, and silly plays cannot harm Our Lord.

Let’s get our values straight and fight the things that really harm the church.

Jaime R. Vidal
Quincy, Ill.

Success Rate

Parole Revisited, by George M. Anderson, S.J., (3/14) notes the elimination of parole boards in some states. The resulting mandatory parole releases (after a definite sentence rather than a range) have steadily increased. But, the older discretionary parole by parole boards is proving to be superior in keeping offenders from returning to prison, according to a report, Research Summary, from the Solicitor General, Canada (Vol. 4, No. 6, 1999). In every year between 1990 and 1999, state prisoners released by a parole board had higher success rates (in completing their term of supervision) than those released through mandatory parole. Among parole discharges in 1999, 54 percent of discretionary parolees were successful compared to 33 percent of those who had received mandatory parole.

Rudy Cypser
Katonah, N.Y.

Adequately and Safely

I am writing in response to your editorial of March 4, in which you criticize the treatment of the Taliban soldiers and Al Qaeda terrorists in your statement: Allegations that U.S. soldiers have beaten captives are alarming. The facilities holding prisoners should be immediately opened to international inspection by the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

I think a more relevant question is, what resources have the U.S. soldiers to deal with prisoners who may be combative and dangerous to themselves, others and the U.S. soldiers? If the prisoners are violent toward themselves and others, there should be appropriate means to redirect their behavior. If the U.S. soldiers guarding them do not have the professional and material resources to deal with verbal and physical violence, then we need to provide them with the means to guard the prisoners adequately and safely.

Criticizing the treatment of the prisoners without fully understanding the situation promotes misunderstanding and undermines the cause of peace. It is better to provide support to the U.S. soldiers trying to do their job.

Diana M. L. Newman
President, National Association of Catholic Nurses
Boston, Mass.

Shared Dream

Is Priest-Pastor as C.E.O (3/11) the best model? I don’t think so. Nor is manager the best image. Leader is the better term. I define priest-pastor as the leader who is to be the bearer of the dream and the instigator of change. This is a much better ideal for a pastor. Bearer of the dream means that the pastor plays a critical role in keeping the vision and dream of what the parish could be before the minds and hearts of the leaders and people. This is not the pastor’s dream alone. It is a shared dream of many, but the pastor (and staff) keeps this dream alive in the parish. Instigator of change means challenging parishioners to grow in an awareness of God’s call to holiness and service. The pastor keeps urging the people not to settle for the status quo or to become complacent with what is, but to seek for what could be. Others on the staff and in leadership positions, of course, participate in this push for change. If pastors saw their role as this kind of leader, then others could do the managing and administering.

Thomas P. Sweetser, S.J.
Milwaukee, Wis.

Transcendence

All praise to Timothy Padgett for his plea to restore some transcendence in our worship (3/4).

Our liturgy has indeed overborrowed from the entertainment media, and in consequence much of the tone of affective spirituality that once was its benchmark has been lost.

Does introspection take one to transcendence, as Padgett claims? A few years ago I was listening to an Agnus Dei excerpted from some centuries-old classical sung Mass on the local fine-music radio station in Albuquerque, N.M. After the final verse, there was a momentary pause. Then the announcer murmured in a quiet voice, Such a beautiful prayerdona nobis pacem. It obviously was a moment of introspection, and then of transcendence, for her and so for me, who had been reciting that verse virtually daily for some five decades.

(Rev.) G. F. Werner
Edgewood, N.M.

Mundane

Thank you for Kyrie and Kumbaya (3/4), which clearly and goodnaturedly expressed thoughts that I’ve been fumbling after for years. With 2,000 years of ritual, music and art to choose from, it puzzles me why the celebration of liturgy seems so often to settle for the trivial and mundane, so long as it’s contemporary.

Eileen Hosking
Franklin, Tenn.

Comments

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JUDY WALSH | 3/22/2002 - 12:13am
The report that "in general church leaders are pressing to ensure that men of homosexual orientation are screened out as candidates for the priesthood" (News, March 18,2002)is disturbing. Whether heterosexual, asexual or homosexual, any person can elevate and rechannel his/her sexual energy. Spiritual dedication, creative possibility and most of all fearless honesty is what seminaries need to deepen -- not psychological exclusion tests. Why couldn't a gay man be effective as a priest? Would he have to learn to love himself, share his trials in openness with others? The secrecy and pretense of perfection, and its accompanying loneliness, is the biggest reason for the current sad scandals. Let the whole Church grow up, and grow in love and honorable expectation. Ordination confers the visible reminder of our divine destination, not perfection.

Anthony F. Maciorowski | 3/18/2002 - 6:47pm
At one level, Kyrie and Kumbaya by Timothy Padgett (March 4, 2002) reflects the ideological and socio-political polarization of United States culture over the past several decades. Yet liturgy is not about adherence to a liberal or conservative political ideology. Neither is liturgy the sole domain of baby-boomers, or gen-X-er's. Liturgy is not restricted to a particular ethnicity nor economic class. It is the public prayer of all of the Christian faithful. As such, liturgy is first and foremost about unity as Christians. It is about the tradition and ritual practice of the apostles, the Patristic fathers, and the generations that have come before us, and all those that will follow after us. As such, the history and practice of liturgy is rich and broad. Mr. Padgett calls for a restoration of age-old customs. This is in fact was the goal of liturgical reform after Vatican II. However, Mr Padgett cites Reform Judaism as a model, and extolls the virtues of Latin for providing "... the same timeless transport a Jew feels when she speaks the Berakot, or that a Muslim experiences when he hears the Allah akhbar from the minaret." Although Christians, Jews, and Muslims share a tradition of assembling for prayer at certain times of the day, this common tradition is more akin to the Liturgy of the hours than the Eucharist. As valuable as these examples may be for illustrating the power of ritual prayer, linking such examples to liturgical music in order "to restore some transcendence in our worship" demonstrates just how misunderstood Eucharistic liturgy remains.

Music is important to liturgy, but it is not the source of sacramental transcendence. Regardless of style, music functions to serve the prayer of the people. The Eucharistic focus, first, foremost and always is Christ. We gather together as the body of Christ. We hear the Word of God (Christ as Logos) proclaimed. We commemorate Christ's life, death and resurrection. We witness the transformation of bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood. We receive that Body and Blood to enter into Christ's dying and rising. Eucharist is the sublime expression of transcendence and our unity as the Mystical Body of Christ. More Eucharist is not merely an isolated event of a particular parish community. The unity of Eucharist and it's inherent transcendence was admirably described by Teilhard de Chardin in the Divine Milieu. All the communions of life-time are one communion. All the communions of all people now living are one communion. All the communions of all people, past present and future, are one communion.

Mr. Padgett's article demonstrates just how much catechesis is still required to achieve a better understanding of the inherent transcendence of Eucharist. Liturgical reform after Vatican II was intended to promote full and active participation of all the faithful during Eucharist. We have not yet succeeded. However, long term success will be measured by our unity, not our divisions. A model for this unity may be found in the letter to the Ephesians. We are unified in faith, hope, One God, One Lord, and the Spirit. We are one in Christ. This reality transcends any personal, social, political, ideological, or cultural preferences that continue to divide the human family.

JUDY WALSH | 3/22/2002 - 12:13am
The report that "in general church leaders are pressing to ensure that men of homosexual orientation are screened out as candidates for the priesthood" (News, March 18,2002)is disturbing. Whether heterosexual, asexual or homosexual, any person can elevate and rechannel his/her sexual energy. Spiritual dedication, creative possibility and most of all fearless honesty is what seminaries need to deepen -- not psychological exclusion tests. Why couldn't a gay man be effective as a priest? Would he have to learn to love himself, share his trials in openness with others? The secrecy and pretense of perfection, and its accompanying loneliness, is the biggest reason for the current sad scandals. Let the whole Church grow up, and grow in love and honorable expectation. Ordination confers the visible reminder of our divine destination, not perfection.

Anthony F. Maciorowski | 3/18/2002 - 6:47pm
At one level, Kyrie and Kumbaya by Timothy Padgett (March 4, 2002) reflects the ideological and socio-political polarization of United States culture over the past several decades. Yet liturgy is not about adherence to a liberal or conservative political ideology. Neither is liturgy the sole domain of baby-boomers, or gen-X-er's. Liturgy is not restricted to a particular ethnicity nor economic class. It is the public prayer of all of the Christian faithful. As such, liturgy is first and foremost about unity as Christians. It is about the tradition and ritual practice of the apostles, the Patristic fathers, and the generations that have come before us, and all those that will follow after us. As such, the history and practice of liturgy is rich and broad. Mr. Padgett calls for a restoration of age-old customs. This is in fact was the goal of liturgical reform after Vatican II. However, Mr Padgett cites Reform Judaism as a model, and extolls the virtues of Latin for providing "... the same timeless transport a Jew feels when she speaks the Berakot, or that a Muslim experiences when he hears the Allah akhbar from the minaret." Although Christians, Jews, and Muslims share a tradition of assembling for prayer at certain times of the day, this common tradition is more akin to the Liturgy of the hours than the Eucharist. As valuable as these examples may be for illustrating the power of ritual prayer, linking such examples to liturgical music in order "to restore some transcendence in our worship" demonstrates just how misunderstood Eucharistic liturgy remains.

Music is important to liturgy, but it is not the source of sacramental transcendence. Regardless of style, music functions to serve the prayer of the people. The Eucharistic focus, first, foremost and always is Christ. We gather together as the body of Christ. We hear the Word of God (Christ as Logos) proclaimed. We commemorate Christ's life, death and resurrection. We witness the transformation of bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood. We receive that Body and Blood to enter into Christ's dying and rising. Eucharist is the sublime expression of transcendence and our unity as the Mystical Body of Christ. More Eucharist is not merely an isolated event of a particular parish community. The unity of Eucharist and it's inherent transcendence was admirably described by Teilhard de Chardin in the Divine Milieu. All the communions of life-time are one communion. All the communions of all people now living are one communion. All the communions of all people, past present and future, are one communion.

Mr. Padgett's article demonstrates just how much catechesis is still required to achieve a better understanding of the inherent transcendence of Eucharist. Liturgical reform after Vatican II was intended to promote full and active participation of all the faithful during Eucharist. We have not yet succeeded. However, long term success will be measured by our unity, not our divisions. A model for this unity may be found in the letter to the Ephesians. We are unified in faith, hope, One God, One Lord, and the Spirit. We are one in Christ. This reality transcends any personal, social, political, ideological, or cultural preferences that continue to divide the human family.

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