Insights and Answers
Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s challenging article, Our Daily Bread (10/3), raised many concerns about the function of the World Synod of Bishops in pursuit of its mission. I urge him, once the current meeting of the synod is over, to give us the benefit of his insights and his answers, if there are any, to his questions.
John E. Dean
I have just finished reading your excellent Oct. 3 issue. It was exciting to read Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s challenge to the World Synod of Bishops to tackle real and basic issues confronting the celebration of the Eucharist. I hope his spirit will be a common one among all the bishops at their meeting in Rome.
Prompted by Sending Us Forth, by Michael S. Driscoll (10/3), I would like to pass on a recollection of the closing of a Mass I still remember after many years. It was Pentecost Sunday. The priest focused on the Eucharist in much the same fashion as Michael Driscoll, using the Gospel words, As the Father has sent me, so I send you. It was also the weekend of Memorial Day and the Indianapolis 500 race. The priest asked if anyone in the congregation knew how the race began. Of course the answer was, Drivers, start your engines! He noted that is how people should leave this celebration, so he ended the Mass with the usual, The Mass is ended... then paused and added with outstretched hands, And O.K. people... at which the congregation added without any prompting, Start your engines!
A young boy about five pews from the front broke into an impromptu, Rummm, rummm, rummm. Laughing, the priest added, Boy, did he get the message, or not? The Mass ended and I really felt sent!
William J. Peters
Congratulations on your terrific special issue for the synod (10/3). It was a wonderful synthesis of contemporary eucharistic theology, especially welcome as we seem to be experiencing a move toward re-objectifying the Eucharist and separating it from the celebration of Mass. And speaking of Mass, I particularly appreciated Michael S. Driscoll’s reflection on the need for greater attention to the sending rite at our celebrations of the Eucharist. Every time I am invited to join in the recessional hymn it sets my teeth on edge, as if we need to sing the important ministers down the aisle, after which the gathered assembly just sort of drifts away amid a buzz of genial conversation.
George M. Miller
Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s article on the instrumentum laboris for the World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist (10/3), seems to be at least indirectly addressed to the bishops who will participate in the synod.
He addresses the two major issues facing bishops and priests in the United States, as well as in many other parts of the world: the absolute right of the faithful to daily Eucharist and the shortage of priests that makes that right a nearly meaningless theological dream in far too many places. With the long list of things that are already decided and therefore not open for any further discussion, our bishops usually have only two choices in response to the growing number of Catholic parishioners and the dwindling number of priest pastors to minister to them: either assign more parishes to already overworked and aging priests, or close/consolidate more parishes and then assign larger congregations to fewer priests.
My thanks to Bishop Trautman for his effort to remind his fellow bishops and the curia in Rome about this most central element of our Catholic faith.
(Rev.) Kenneth P. Lohrmeyer
A thousand thanks for bringing us Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s penetrating insights into the role of liturgy in our church. Most especially, thanks for having shown us an approach to leadership which is more pastoral, dignified and likely to be productive than the avenue of acquiescence. The special issue for the synod is a gift to the church.
(Rev.) Brian M. Rafferty
Make a Difference
Your editorial Loss and Gain, on Catholic education, (9/19) hit home for me and, I’m sure, for others. A recent edition of The National Catholic Reporter ran an article entitled Does Catholic Education Make a Difference? Results of their analysis found what we Catholic school parents have known all alongnamely, that Catholic schooling pays off in a number of ways. Among some of the benefits attributed to attending Catholic schools were achieving a higher level of education, greater educational attainment and, later in life, higher household income.
But most important, and indeed the real reason we send our child to our local Catholic school, is the spiritual connections nurtured in our schools, as the article pointed out, that showed the strongest effects of Catholic education. They found that those who received Catholic education are more likely to say that they pray regularly, that they would never leave the Catholic Church, that they are highly committed to the mission of the church, that they have a stronger attachment to the church and that their relationship to the church is quite important to their lives.
It is for these reasons that our family continues to believe in, and will work for, the success of our local Catholic schools. It seems clear that the answer to the question Does Catholic education make a difference? is a resounding yes.
Loss of Life
Rabbi A. James Rudin’s article, A Jewish-Catholic Friendship (8/29), was a magnificent tribute to Cardinal John O’Connor; it also reflects very kindly on Rabbi Rudin and his work with the Catholic community. But there was one point he made that cannot go unchallenged. In refuting the analogy between the Holocaust and abortion, Rabbi Rudin writes, "Abortion is a matter of choice, however painful or regrettable." The murdered Jewish victims during the Holocaust had no choice.
I was astonished to read this. Make no mistake about it, no unborn child who has had his life snuffed out at the hands of an abortionist has ever elected to die. And if abortion does not result in the loss of innocent human life, what exactly is regrettable about it? Rabbi Rudin’s exclusive interest in the rights of the motherto the wholesale dismissal of any competing right on the part of her childis disturbing.
William A. Donohue
President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, N.Y.