The National Catholic Review
Certain Uniformity

Among the items in Signs of the Times on Aug. 4 is a notice that the Vatican says flexibility allowed on posture after Communion, even though the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 43, states that all are to remain standing until the end of Mass. The reason given for this statement by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is worth noting and should be observed as a principle regarding other postures at Mass, such as standing for the eucharistic prayer: The mind of the prescription of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture with the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly....

That explanation is in accord with the much-ignored principle of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 37, which insists that even in the sacred liturgy the Church does not wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community.

Charles E. Miller, C.M.
Camarillo, Calif.

Rich Colors

Christopher Pramuk’s wonderful article, O Happy Day! (8/18), reminded me of an experience that changed the way I look at diversity in the church. While traveling on business, I found myself in Miami on a Sunday and decided to attend the Mass for the Haitian community at the cathedral. When I arrived for the 8:00 a.m. Mass, I quickly realized that I was the one and only white person out of 600 or more persons in attendance.

I am ashamed to admit that I felt uncomfortable at first. I was different; the Mass was different in some ways. The music was filled with Caribbean drums, and the procession was long, perhaps 100 people, and included banners of rich colors. Once I moved past my self-consciousness, I realized this was a beautiful Mass. And although I did not understand one word that was spoken, I felt as though I had heard the message.

That was the day I learned more than just the theoretical value of racial diversity and the inherent dignity and equality of all races. That day, I learned the beauty of diversity. It is not the minority group only that suffers from lack of true integration. We all suffer when we miss the opportunity to share in the richness and beauty of all cultures.

Martin E. Wolf
Abingdon, Md.

Posture

As Rome burns (i.e., the current crisis in the church) some leaders of the church concern themselves with the posture of the faithful (Signs of the Times, 8/4). I am confident that our God is not concerned with our posture after receiving the Eucharist as long as one is pious and respectful of the great privilege just received. Did not both Jesus and Paul address the Jews and their myriad laws? One cannot help wondering if the next pronouncement will tell us to adjust the width of our phylacteries.

Joe Hebert
Alexandria, La.

Scholarly Service

The publication of the Pacelli memorandum on your Web site (www.americamagazine.org/pacelli.cfm) is a service to the scholarly community. Only this morning I received an e-mail message from a historian in Germany saying he hoped that Charles R. Gallagher, S.J., would publish the actual text (see Personal, Private Views, by Charles R. Gallagher, S.J., Am., 9/1). I can send the text to him and some other colleagues with a professional interest in this matter.

(Rev.) John Jay Hughes
St. Louis, Mo.

Thinking Beyond

As a new subscriber to America, I look forward to each issue, which is certain to be challenging, relevant and formative. I am not one who believes that politics has no place in a Catholic magazine, as I believe it is both impossible and inadvisable not to have our spiritual mettle temper our political thoughts and actions. I do, however, question the merit of giving editorial space to columns such as No Questions, Please (Terry Golway, 8/18) and Bush’s Nuclear Folly (Ronald E. Powaski, 8/4), which have no religious, spiritual, ethical or philosophical framework to them. These columns serve only as a forum for the authors’ opposition to the Bush administration. Please consider these columns against the backdrop of a column such as Unjust War, Good Outcomes (John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., 5/19), in which the author presents an intellectual opposition to the Iraq war that challenges readers to consider issues of ethics and to think beyond the author’s opinions.

America magazine is a wonderful resource for thinking Catholics. I ask the editors to please continue to present columns and articles that will challenge readers and help us to think for ourselves rather than columns that simply express the author’s editorial viewpoint on political issues.

John Blakeney
East Meadow, N.Y.

Off Base

Terry Golway’s article No Questions, Please in the Aug. 18 issue criticizing President Bush is way off base.

The information on which the invasion of Iraq was based was overwhelming evidence and is supported by Britain’s intelligence and strongly reaffirmed by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The statement in the State of the Union address about an attempt to buy uranium was also supported by British intelligence and was written into the speech by others. President Bush has accepted responsibility and has made a public apology, just as has Pope John Paul II for past mistakes of the church.

For a Catholic publication to publish an article critical of President Bush in light of its own egregious sins is hypocritical. Let him without sin cast the first stone. Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you miss the plank in your own? Rather than pass judgment, we need to come together in support of our president and our service personnel.

Benedict J. Frederick Jr.
Pasadena, Md.

Comments

Steven Payne | 8/30/2003 - 3:53pm
To protect marriage, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops, recently said the bishops probably would approve adding to the Constitution the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) amendment, which states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

If the bishops do come out in support of DOMA, will they also state marriage is to be for a lifetime and support changes in the laws to make divorce harder? Will passing DOMA make spousal abuse, child abuse, adultery, and divorce disappear? How is it two men or two women wanting to make a civil commitment to each other are a threat to a man and woman wanting to get married, especially in the Church?

Perhaps the real threat to marriage is unrealistic societal and religious pressures on individuals to get married and have children whether or not they want it or are ready for it. Marriage has a lot of enemies, but gays and lesbians wanting civil recognition of their relationship are not necessarily among them.

Steven Payne | 8/30/2003 - 3:53pm
To protect marriage, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops, recently said the bishops probably would approve adding to the Constitution the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) amendment, which states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

If the bishops do come out in support of DOMA, will they also state marriage is to be for a lifetime and support changes in the laws to make divorce harder? Will passing DOMA make spousal abuse, child abuse, adultery, and divorce disappear? How is it two men or two women wanting to make a civil commitment to each other are a threat to a man and woman wanting to get married, especially in the Church?

Perhaps the real threat to marriage is unrealistic societal and religious pressures on individuals to get married and have children whether or not they want it or are ready for it. Marriage has a lot of enemies, but gays and lesbians wanting civil recognition of their relationship are not necessarily among them.

Thomas Wieckowski | 2/7/2007 - 1:35pm
As I was writing a check to renew my subscription for what I realized will be my 45th year reading America, I noticed the letter from the “new subscriber” (“Thinking Beyond,” 9/8). The writer was questioning the relevancy and value of the various columns offering an “editorial” position. I must say that I have always enjoyed the columns, and I welcome the opportunity to consider viewpoints from the various members of the extended Jesuit community at America House. To the writer, I offer the following advice born of a lengthening life: I didn’t like shrimp the first time I tried it either.

This is also a good time to recall one of my finest moments in my association with America magazine. A couple of years ago, I received a fund-raising solicitation addressed to “Rev. Tom Wieckowski.” The salutation read, “Dear Father Wieckowski.” Wow! For one brief shining moment, I felt as though I really belonged to something bigger than myself. I have the framed letter on the wall in my study, despite the suspicions of my wife about my pre-marital life.

America has been one of the truly enduring pleasures of my life. Keep the good stuff coming!

Recently in Letters