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 May 9, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 9Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Praise for O’Dowd teacher
I currently am a junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School and am taking Ms. Bonnie Sussman’s Holocaust history class. I applaud your recognition of such a great teacher (Voice, April 25).

Every day that my fellow classmates and I enter Ms. Sussman’s first period class, we are drawn into the tragic and dramatic, yet enthralling, material so delicately provided for us. Her expertise is far beyond what an article can explore.

Most recently, we have been studying the Warsaw and Logz ghettos. I have on occasion found myself close to tears over the touching and compelling stories, along with the impact of the pictures, that provide only a glance into the life of a
Jew, Roma (or Gypsy), homosexual, or the mentally disabled.

As a Catholic, learning this is not just an elective, but a necessity so that my generation can understand what wrong was committed, respect those who unfortunately fell to irrationality, and hopefully prevent and expel genocide from
our precious earth.

Thank you again for recognizing one of the great teachers in our community, one who enjoys sharing all that she has learned on a subject so dear to her heart.
Hilary Smith

Would Jesus be welcomed?
It was very touching and gratifying to see the news coverage given to Pope John Paul II in his final days and during his funeral. The attendance and the “pomp & circumstance” were very impressive too, but a true Christian might wonder what would have happened if Christ himself had suddenly appeared in the midst of all this, dressed in his original garb.

Would he have been quickly escorted away by the Swiss Guards and dismissed as “some nut who wasn’t dressed appropriately”? St. Peter’s Basilica is very impressive, but actions are more impressive yet.
Richard Gregg

Great job, Catholic Voice
As a retired Catholic Voice staffer and a former newsman of 40-plus years, I want to compliment The Voice on the outstanding in-depth coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II. It was exceptionally thorough in coverage of his life, his work and his impact on the world, the nation and our diocese.

The eight-page insert covering his life and works is something I will save.
The cover page photo of the empty chair and the Swiss Guard was most poignant. It immediately reminded me of the great 20th-century photo – John-John saluting his father’s caisson. The page one photo of the tearful crowd as the pope’s body was carried through St. Peter’s Square also spoke for all of us.
Just a great job by editor Monica Clark and the staff of The Catholic Voice.
Jim Dempsey
Walnut Creek

Marian song leads the way
What is it about a song — “Gentle woman, quiet light, morning star, so strong and bright, gentle Mother” –that brings a group of 40 women all to tears?

This was my experience at a celebration brunch of M.O.M.S. (Ministry of Mothers Sharing) last month at St. Mary Parish in Walnut Creek. Mothers gathered together to celebrated the journey of 13 women who had just completed eight weeks of sharing the bond they all share – motherhood.

Along the way they, with their spiritual leaders, found the time to grow. “Not too fast, make it last,” they were advised.

The rest of the women were celebrating their continuing spiritual journey as mothers, having spent their eight weeks discovering the guidance our Blessed Mother offered through the visionaries at Medjugorje. Each week covered a theme from the messages Our Lady has given.

Mostly she asks us to pray for peace and for hearts turned to her Son. She gently teaches the value and the love that come from the traditions of the Church. “Gentle Woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love…”

So as I ponder in this month of May, what is it about a song? Just as the sound of a cheesy tune coming from an ice cream truck will transfer me back to a simpler time or Johnny Mathis singing anything will remind me of “Christmases long, long ago,” so too will a song about Our Lady beckon me closer to her Son.
Marylea Battaglia
Walnut Creek

The model for marriage
May I remind Jim Murphy (Forum, March 7) of some of the teachings of our Catholic Church on the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.

When we married in church, both husband and wife vowed to honor each other through better or worse, in sickness and in health. Many people witnessed the action, and God sealed the bond.

Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Catholic Church. Many members of his Church have hurt him, have abandoned him, been unfaithful to him, but Jesus is still ever faithful to his bride, the Church. He has never given up on her, never hurt her back, never abandoned her. He is waiting for her to come back.

In a Catholic marriage, if a spouse should decide to walk out on his/her marriage for one reason or another, the one who stays needs to pray for the other and remain faithful to his/her marriage vows. When one party decided not to honor the vows anymore, this does not mean the other should do the same.

Our Church has never forbidden one spouse to be physically separated from the other in the case of abusive relationships. Our Church also doesn’t forbid any of us who went through a civil divorce (not by our fault but due to the demand of the other spouse, and not goofing around sexually) to receive Holy Communion.

Annulments in some very clear cases are justified to grant to truly deserved couples. Our Church is very wise to remind us to be extremely prudent in granting this special resolution.

Regarding the rest of the us, for better or for worse, especially in the sickness of our souls, how can any canon lawyer undo any thing that God has put together?
Lan Nguyen

In Memory of Pope John Paul II
I am old and decrepit. You say,
“Why doesn’t he step down?
He’s not fit to lead anymore.
He should let someone else take over.”
I say, “My love transcends the physical”
And I shepherd you, my flock.

You say, “He used to be so robust,
So vibrant and mobile, able to go
Anywhere and do anything.
Now look at him.”
I know I look like a broken, useless person,
But, I look at you and I shepherd you, my flock.

I am bent over, my hands shake.
My body moves involuntarily. It is so obviously failing.
Many persons are embarrassed to even glance at me.
This is a most difficult and humbling situation,
But I am not ashamed to be before you
Because I love you, my flock.

I appear at my window to give you a blessing.
I can only grunt. I am frustrated. I try my best to talk to you.
The mike is taken from my mouth because I am unintelligible.
In the name of God, I find the strength to raise my hand and bless you.
By that, I show you that I am still with you.
I bless you with all I have left, my flock.

My body is hunched and fatigued. I look like a hopeless person.
“He has fallen asleep,” they say. No, I am resting.
My mind is clear and, yes, even
overflowing with vital thoughts.
My life has been replete with many wondrous events and persons,
But, now, I am only thinking of you.
My gestures help me go beyond words, my flock.

In 1999, I wrote to you, “We should stop and meditate
On how quickly time flies, not in order
To resign ourselves to an inexorable fate,
But rather to make full use of the years we still have before us.”
In my “hopeless” infirmity, I give you an example of what I preach.
Be steadfast in your lives, even to the end, my flock.

I have forged ahead through the day and braved the night.
I have experienced atrocities, untold anguish and despair.
I have greeted princes, dined with presidents, and hugged a saint.
I have seen the poorest of the poor and the wealthiest of the rich.
I have been faced with death and have always chosen life.
I show you the path to life, my flock.

I have shepherded the sheep and the lambs
As I was chosen and meant to do on this earth.
I have held many a friend and kissed many a child.
I have completed my mission and I have given God my best.
Now it is time for me to leave and for you to follow.
Go forth, now, my flock. My love always remains with you.
L. Susan Cabrera
Via email

The reward of faithfulness
I much appreciated Julie McCarty’s column, “Letting Go and Letting God: The Prayer of Surrender” (Voice, April 25). We need to be centered on God and not centered on ourselves. God gives us nudges to do things and we must ask for the grace to obey God. We must be willing to serve God no matter what it costs instead of seeking to serve ourselves.
It is a gift of God to be taught and formed in the light of above teachings. Living in the light of these teachings is a sacrifice, but the rewards are infinite—the love and friendship of Jesus and Our Father and the Holy Spirit.
Catherine Clark

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