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Catholic Voice

 October 6, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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Acknowledge singing servants

I wish to register my disappointment at the Voice coverage of the first Cathedral dedication event on Sept. 14. Anyone who gathered at the St Francis de Sales site for the pilgrimage to the new cathedral will attest to the glorious, prayerful and thrilling sound that graced this celebration of memory and transition.

I would like to thank the 60-plus voice choir and the skillful instrumentalists who accompanied them. If I had not been there myself, I would have gathered from the published account that there was no music that day.

In the diocese I have known and loved since I was child, it is the diverse spectrum of faith-filled people whose hearts, hands and voices make our celebrations so uniquely Oakland - and decidedly catholic. It simply is not our way to take these blessings for granted.

While this day was but one moment in the life of our local Church, it was an important one. Would it have been so hard to mention, even in passing, the good and faithful work of these singing servants?

Janèt Sullivan Whitaker

To sing is to pray twice

I received my copy of the Catholic Voice with the 40-page supplement of the cathedral and the initial dedication event on Sept. 14. To my disappointment, there was not one mention of the dedication choir in the entire publication.

I am a member of the dedication choir. We have been working hard since the beginning of August, rehearsing every week to prepare for the dedication. There are 63 members in the choir which represent many parishes in the diocese. We have members from as far away as Antioch all the way down to Fremont.

We not only rehearse, but we have taken on administrative roles as well as to ensure the smooth sailing of the rehearsals and the dedication services. I was sad to read that the highlight of the prayer service on Sept. 14 was when all the parishes came together to pour holy water from the respective parishes into the baptismal font of the cathedral. Nothing mentioned of the glorious hymns that the choir presented under the direction of Mark Sullivan or the musicians who played while we sang at the old cathedral site, the plaza and the Cathedral itself.

The last hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” in my opinion was the highlight of the service. The hymn reflects our thankfulness for the building of the new cathedral for the Oakland Diocese.

It was St. Augustine who said you sing and pray twice. Why is it that choir members and musicians who accentuate and glorify the Church in song, always get neglected?

Sebastian J. Romeo
Via email

A symbol of unity

Over the past few years, as my husband visited Oakland on business, he watched the ongoing construction of the cathedral. To him, from the outside, it looked like a giant flower vase.

If indeed it is a giant crystal vase, then all those who enter are the flowers lovingly arranged by God, where we are immersed in the life-giving waters of Baptism, are nourished by both the Eucharist and the Word of God, and bathed in the Light of Christ that will help us grow in our love for God.

The concrete base is not only the foundation of the building, but also the foundation of our faith, strong and solid. The glass panels that surround the exterior are like crystal facets, reminding each of us to reflect the Light of Christ to others.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light is truly an appropriate name; and gracing the Oakland skyline, it will shine for many years as an example of our faithfulness and commitment.

It was an honor to be part of the historic Festival of Light on Sept.14, uniting all parishes of the diocese in the symbolic blending of holy baptismal waters. The beautiful liturgy, punctuated throughout with superb music of the cathedral choir, gave special meaning to the blessing of various sacred spaces, and certainly pleased God in its praise and thanksgiving.

Sue Martling

What would Jesus say?

Imagine yourself strolling with Jesus along Lake Merritt. Jesus asks, “What is that big, new building over there?” You reply, “Oh, that’s our new cathedral, Christ the Light.

Jesus: you mean they named it after me? How wonderful. So in that building they must be doing what I asked of you?

Friend: What do you mean?

Jesus: Remember, I asked you to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe those without, comfort the sick and suffering and bury the dead. Is that what they do in that big building?

Friend: Well, they do bury some people there.

Jesus: What else do they do in there?

Friend: They celebrate liturgy, welcome tourists, make money at the gift shop, listen to organ concerts, offer a free medical clinic, admire art, house the bishop’s office and do the work of the diocese.

Jesus: You mean they need that big building to care for the sick, bury the dead and celebrate my presence?

Friend: Would you like to go in?

Jesus: No, I would rather keep walking, if you don’t mind. Maybe we’ll see my presence in the face, hands, feet and heart of someone we pass. Just maybe we’ll meet one of those I talked about. Someone who is hungry, homeless or suffering.

John Kiefer

Latin doesn’t nourish

The Catholic Church is trying to bring back the Latin Mass. I was raised Catholic; I am now 45 years old. Vatican II was in 1964. I was only 2 years old when the Mass was changed from Latin to English. I went to public school (no parochial school in my parish). I never was taught Latin. How does Mother Church expect me to get any spiritual nourishment out of a Mass when I don’t understand the language?

How many other cradle Catholics are in the same predicament? Either I go and sit in a pew for one hour each week and look at the people, walls, paintings, and physical trappings of a self-absorbed dogma-laden institution, or I go and find another church which will uplift and enlighten me into being a better human being and servant of God. As far as I see it, the choice is pretty obvious.

Stephen Brainerd

Out of touch

In 2002 Our Lady of Angels Cathedral was opened in Los Angeles at a cost of $200 million (in 2002 dollars). Cardinal Mahony resides on the grounds he dreamed of and planned for.

Last month Christ the Light Cathedral opened in Oakland, fulfilling a dream of Bishop Vigneron at a cost of $190 million. Total cost of both cathedrals is $390 million.

It saddens me to think of how far these two spiritual leaders are out of touch with the needs of their parishioners who are losing their homes, jobs and health care. In both cases other existing churches could have been upgraded to cathedrals — Blessed Sacrament in Los Angeles and Our Lady of Lourdes or Old Saint Mary’s in Oakland — and millions and millions of dollars could have been utilized for the common good.

Unfortunately, private donations have not met the cathedral financial needs and special collections are now starting. Christ said “Sell what you have and come follow me.” Apparently our spiritual leaders have forgotten this very important aspect of Christianity.

J. Eric Salmon

Important liturgical change

As a Roman Catholic married to an observant Jew, I cringe every time I hear the Holy Name YHWH (Yahweh) shouted out in song in my church. How and why this became acceptable or fashionable in our liturgies I do not understand.

To use this name aloud was not a part of our own tradition until very recent times. How offensive and sacrilegious pronouncing aloud the name of the God of Israel is to those who are the people of the God of Israel!

I thank you for the article (Voice, Sept. 8) on the coming liturgical change in this regard. On occasion my husband accompanies me to Mass. It will no longer be necessary for me to apologize for my community’s lack of understanding of both our own and our shared traditions.

Ernestina Shay

Only place of balance

How nice it is to have the Reader’s Forum in The Catholic Voice. Without it, I don’t see that there would be as much balance in the publication. Much of the rest of it assumes that we want to vote for Proposition 8 and Proposition 4, that we all want the latest news on the new cathedral on the front page, and that we are in full agreement that “Humanae Vitae” is relevant to our lives and our world today.

Of course, I think that none of that is true, so at least I find some balance in the Forum section. It also assures me that there are other Catholics like me out there seeking balance, not a mandate, especially when it comes to the voting booth.

George Fulmore

Eschew gum

Please do not chew gum in church, especially on your way to Communion.

Tom Lacher
Via email

Don’t forget 9/11

As we marked the seventh anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it is important to remember the deep and sad impact that day had on our great country. It was truly a gift for me to be able to share with the people of my parish, a small part of the heroism my brother Officer Vincent Danz displayed as he did his best to rescue as many people as possible from the burning towers of the World Trade Center.

Unfortunately, Vincent did not make it out of the towers and gave his life so that other lives could be saved. I remember Vincent saying once, “I am not real good at being the one who gives the orders, but I am real good at being the one who follows the orders.”

Like countless other families, the events of that day will be forever embedded in my mind and heart. As the years take us further and further away, I hope that we will not forget the evil that was done to our country, and allow ourselves to lapse into a place of complacency.

We must not think that because we are Christians, we are not responsible to fight for true freedom and an end to radical and extreme terrorism in our country and our world.

Pam Brady
Pleasant Hill

A growing criminal industry

Human trafficking, being quoted as modern day slavery, has been all over the news lately, both in the U.S. and abroad. According to Humantrafficking.org, “The United States of America is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking of persons. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually.”

Today, illegal sale of humans is a multibillion-dollar industry tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world, surpassed only by drug trafficking. Moreover, it is the fastest growing criminal industry. It is with this in mind that the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia has declared a corporate stand against the trafficking of human persons.

A first step in implementing this stand is to petition Congress to support putting an end to human trafficking. We have also been working with Catholic Social Services and other agencies to determine how we can be of assistance to those who have been trafficked and are now trying to reestablish their lives. Follow-up actions and activities will continue to be solicited from the congregation and pursued.

This corporate stand is one concrete way for the congregation to “take the necessary risks to be a healing, compassionate presence in our violent world, especially with women, children, and those who have no voice.” [Commitment Statement, 1996]

Lynn Patrice Lavin, OSF
Congregational Minister
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

For I was hungry…

So now that we have all of the new cathedral celebrations behind us, let’s get back to the work at hand, which Jesus called us to do:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25: 34-37)

Kate Dougherty

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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