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 March 10, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

Duty of bishops
The Voice recently ran an article (Jan. 21) titled “Bishops approve curriculum framework for catechesis of high school students.” That is an improvement over the current status of teaching but does not go far enough, in my opinion.

In this nation, we very much need several compendia of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” for educational purposes at the elementary, high school and adult level. Since the discontinuance of the Baltimore Catechism, Catholic teaching has been a smorgasbord of religious instructions.

When Pope John Paul II issued the Catechism in 1992 he noted that “it is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to Catholic doctrine.”

In a nation where the media espouses secular humanism more frequently than ever, we need the bishops of this country to authorize and supervise the preparation of compendia of the Catechism as aforementioned. It is the duty of shepherds to feed their sheep. That duty cannot and should not be delegated to a variety of publishers.

George E. Pfautsch
Walnut Creek

Songs for inspiration
Dorothy Snodgrass hit the nail on the head with her letter on singing at Mass (Forum, Feb. 18). I, too, remember the songs she mentions; we sang them for years and never got tired of them because they were beautiful, melodious and uplifting compared to today’s sophomoric ditties.

If anyone has ever been to a service at an Episcopal church, they would be amazed at the beauty of the singing and the classical style songs in their music books. The congregations are familiar with them because they’ve sung them for years. With a good repertoire of remembered songs, one needn’t sing the same ones every week.

Most people today are educated and the current crop of music just “talks down to us.” We need songs that are more inspirational.

Marilyn Carville

A model of parish singing
Regarding singing at Mass, allow me to share what happens in Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill. Our pastor, Father Brian Joyce, comes out and says, “Let’s see how well we can sing” and to the accompaniment of our musicians and choir, all of us join in. Then he says, “Now turn to the person by your side and compliment them on their singing.”

When Father Aidan McAleenan, our parochial vicar, is celebrating the Mass, he also encourages everyone to practice before Mass starts, saying something like, “I know you can do better. Let’s try one more time.” And thus having cheered everyone on, we practice one more time.

Then when we actually sing the song during Mass, we sound very good. Another help is that the songs appear on the walls so people aren’t scrambling for song books. It surely helps when everyone is standing upright, looking straight ahead, singing and praising God.

Susan Lobo

Screens help with singing
Often I sit at Mass and listen to drab, dragged-out songs and music. They sound like someone reciting a non-rhyming poem.

Lately my daughter and I travel to Holy Rosary Church in Antioch because they have some pep. At the Sunday youth Mass at 5:30 p.m., they have a small musical group with guitar, flute, sax, and organ or piano. They play music while everyone holds hands, sways and sings. There are screens on both sides of the altar, which makes it much easier than fumbling around in a book looking for the songs. You leave there happy and full of pep.

E. Edwards
Location withheld upon request

Stop secretive societies
The other day I heard a political analyst assert that Mitt Romney was being handicapped by his Mormonism. One problem that polls have shown worries people is what the pundit described as the “secretive ceremonies” of that religion.

I was reminded of my own problem with the Catholic organization of which I have been a member for 25 years – the Knights of Columbus – and the secrecy that is a feature of that group. Secrecy was built into the Knights of Columbus in 1882 when it was founded by Father Michael McGivney. He seems to have been motivated by a conviction that the Catholic Church needed a men’s organization that would have the appeal of some of the secret societies that were popular in that historical era.

He patterned his new order to a substantial degree after the Freemasons. For example, the Knights would have degrees of membership. And, like the Masons, it would incorporate charity and fraternity (brotherliness in the Masons) as principles.

I have suggested to the Supreme Knight Carl Anderson that that Knights should be reformed, brought into the 21st century, but I have had no response from him. Secrecy is not in vogue in this day and age. People want transparency. They are suspicious of groups that are secretive.

The Knights of Columbus is a great organization, but it appears to be stuck in a bygone era in some important respects.

Donald King

Discrimination in Church
In the Feb.18 Voice, the pope is quoted as saying, “There are places and cultures where women are discriminated against or undervalued just for the fact that they are women.” How about in the Vatican, or in the Catholic Church in general?

George Fulmore

The opinions expressed in letters to Reader's Forum are the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Voice or the Oakland Diocese.

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In the Feb. 18 Voice, a photo incorrectly identified persons who attended a 2004 blessing of the site of the new Cathedral of Christ the Light. They are Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre, an order dating back to the first Crusade when a group of knights were entrusted with protection of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem believed to be the burial site of Jesus Christ.

Numerous restructurings of the order have taken place since then. In 1977 Pope Paul VI promulgated a new constitution that sets forth the order’s commitment to foster the practice of Christian life among its members, to work to preserve and spread the Christian faith in Palestine, and to be champions in the defense of the rights of the Church in the Holy Land.

Members in the U.S. wear a ceremonial uniform. For men it is a full-length white wool cape and black velvet beret. The women wear a full-length black cape and a veil or mantilla.

The Jerusalem Cross appears in red on the capes of both men and women. It was on the coat-of-arms of the Templar Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lower-Lorraine, leader of the first Crusade. It represents Christ’s command to spread the Gospel around the world, a mission that started in Jerusalem. It was part of the coat of arms of the short-lived Jerusalem Kingdom (1099-1203 AD).

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