The National Catholic Review
On the Reservations

The article Looking Into the Heart, by Peter A. Clark, S.J. (2/21), is a joy. It is another expression of seeing God in all things that was exemplified in his article and one more clear example of the gift of America. There continue to be innumerable articles, stories, reflections that give more and more expressions of lives lived in the midst of seeing God in all things. Thank you.

The article again evidences the power of the written word to draw us ever nearer to the God who loves us so and the power of action in the name of the Lord to remember that God is with us. Perhaps more important, from my own experience it seems ever clear that the action and events described are evidence of a God who is merciful to the Navajos, their guests and all of us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all seized this moment to experience the mercy of God and reach out to freely grant this mercy to others we meet on the reservations we have created in our lives?

Thomas Ludlum
Glen Rock, N.J.

Such a Good Program

The editorial on Social Security, Not So Fast, Mr. President (2/14) was good, but it did not go far enough. Mr. Bush assumes that because we senior citizens will be protected from benefit changes, we will have no objections to his private accounts. No one mentions that the people who will be hurt the greatest by a reduction of benefits are those in the age group 40 to 55.

These are our children, the same ones who also suffered from the outsourcing of jobs, who lost benefits because of buyouts, who are trying to put their own children through college. They will not be in the new system long enough to accumulate much money in private accounts.

I have two questions for Mr. Bush. Why has this been such an agenda item for you since before you even ran for president? And if this is such a good program, why is it necessary to travel all over the country, on taxpayers’ money, to sell it?

Mildred Rahrig
Delphos, Ohio

Fascinating Changes

The Feb. 7 issue of America had the expected articles of interest, including a scholarly piece on John Courtney Murray, S.J., and an equally fascinating look at the Index of Forbidden Books (something that I remember largely ignoring in my years at Brooklyn Preparatory and Fordham). Who knew that English was a barbarian language? As such (in the eyes of the dominant Jesuits and Dominicans), most works written in English were not examined. Holden Caulfield was safe!

Two other pieces in this issue seized my interest: Phyllis Zagano’s thought-provoking look at the recent decision by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church to restore the female diaconate and, for an analogous reason, the advertisement on page 46 for the Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University.

Dr. Zagano’s article, along with her book on the restoration of the diaconate in the Roman Church, would certainly (apart from language) have met the criteria for the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. If for no other reason, it should be required reading.

The Seton Hall message reminded me that well into the 1960’s, when the only female students at The Hall were in the College of Nursing, the university took steps to protect their seminarians from the temptation supposedly posed by the nursing students. The library was open to the young ladies only for certain hours, presumably those hours during which the seminarians would be otherwise occupied. Additionally, lunch was supervised by an elderly cleric in a black cape, who carefully but forcefully herded the young women into a designated, single-sex area of the dining hall, muttering comments about daughters of Satanthe New Jersey equivalent of segregated lunch counters.

My visceral reaction to the advertisement was wondrous amazement that the stated contact person for the Seminary School of Theology is the associate dean, Dr. Diane Traflet. Irony aside, Bob Dylan (who no doubt would be banned by the Index if the inquisitors could understand him) was right: The times they are a-changing.

Thomas I. Hayes
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Spirit Is Willing

What a thoughtful article about prayer, even when the knees won’t permit kneeling at the bedside or kneeler, In Praise of Horizontal Prayer by Frank Moan, S.J. (2/14). I have entered that period of time when the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Nevertheless, my prayers are said, standing by my bureau with an array of pictures of the Sacred Heart, Blessed Virgin and Jesus.

Thanks for sharing this devoted priest’s continuing prayers.

Anna Seidler
San Francisco, Calif.

Persuasive Example

God knows Msgr. Robert W. McElroy’s tribute to John Courtney Murray celebrates a life to whose influence we all owe much (He Held These Truths, 2/7). America and the world are the better for this Jesuit’s having lived and having paved the way to interfaith tolerance, despite some glaring exceptions of more recent vintage.

But could we not, factually as well as in charity, dispense with this tiresome kneejerk libel of the laity as supposedly preoccupied with and wallowing in materialism? At least until the clergy, and especially our bishops, set a more persuasive examplefor starters, by backing off from a lifestyle that hardly tempts one to credit them with anything like dedication to sackcloth and ashes?

Jim Conniff
Upper Montclair, N.J.

No Dire Consequences

Instead of devoting almost half his article, Prudence and Eucharistic Sanctions (1/31), to prophesying dire consequences of withholding holy Communion from the likes of John Kerry, Msgr. Robert W. McElroy should have suggested, as do I, that our bishops simply remind their priests and lay eucharistic ministers of their duty, as well as their right, to withhold the sacrament from those who they know (repeat know) obstinately persist in manifest grave sin (Canon 915). I prophesy no dire consequences therefrom.

Thomas F. Troy
Bethesda, Md.

Pillow Prayers

I found the article In Praise of Horizontal Prayer, by Frank Moan, S.J. (2/14/05), both interesting and inspirational. A major part of my own personal prayer life is offering similar prayers to God while in bed. I call them pillow prayers, and to a great extent they mirror those of Father Moan. For me, these pillow prayers are not only importantthey are also relaxing!

Vincent Jerome, F.M.S.
Miami, Fla.

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