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Catholic Voice

 November 3, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

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A mystical experience

In response to the letter “Latin doesn’t nourish” (Forum, Oct. 6), I would like to add that it nourishes me and many young Catholics. In contrast to the author who is a 45-year-old “cradle Catholic,, I am a 23-year-old convert. I was raised in a secular, nominally Christian household and was baptized and confirmed at Newman Hall Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley when I was a 19-year-old Cal sophomore.

Recently I have become involved with the Catholic student community at Newman. Some students and recent graduates carpool to St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland for the Latin liturgy on special feast days.

The Latin Mass is a mystical spiritual experience. With the beauty of incense and prayer, it is a time to contemplate the mysteries of Christ and to involve ourselves in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The rituals and the contemplative pace of the Mass bring into focus what and why we celebrate. Indeed, if my heart is in the right place, any service in any language or form is spiritually rich and meaningful.

As we believe in a Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we acknowledge and accept that people are called in different ways to worship the one true God. I thank our Pope Benedict XVI for acknowledging the beauty of Novus Ordo and Extraordinary Mass forms. And God bless him for his wisdom and acknowledging that there are “as many [ways to God] as there are people” (Ratzinger, “Salt of the Earth”).

Gina Gemma Lopez

A sign of distinction

I grew up in Los Angeles during the 30s and 40s, attending both a Catholic grammar school (St. John’s Military Academy, Sisters of Mercy) and a Catholic high school (Loyola, Jesuits) including all of the pomp and circumstance of the Latin Mass and other ceremonies.

As Catholics, we were different from other religions is using Latin for our Mass. It was stated that this was prescribed because Latin was a “dead” language where word meanings would not change with time, and that the Mass would be the same all over the world (Universal Church), not varying as world language meanings changed from time to time.

We were different, and with the High Mass and an organ and choir, it was impressive. I hope that we return to the glory days when we were not just the same as the many other churches of the world. Maybe attendance would also improve.

Byron D. Lott

Integrate Latin with English

In regard to the Latin Mass, Stephen Brainerd (Forum, Oct. 6) says he can’t “get any spiritual nourishment out of a Mass” when he doesn’t understand the language. Not to worry. First, the amount of Latin one needs to know can be learned quickly. Second, people attending a Latin Mass usually have a missal written in both Latin and English.

Which brings me to this proposal: Blend the old and the new Mass. Go back to Kyrie Eleison (that’s Greek), return to Latin for the Sanctus, the Consecration, the Pater Noster, and Agnus Dei. These are the “fixed” parts of the Mass. The variable parts (e.g.,readings, Gospel) would be said in English. However, I’d say the Gloria in Latin and the Nicene Creed in English.

Rituals are our way of identifying ourselves as a community in the present, our connection to past members, and our confidence in the future of the community. Our elimination of Latin from the new ritual symbolically appears to cast aside what the Mass was in past centuries.

We’ve held on to the basic structure of the Mass, but the Latin language was its most distinctive and defining characteristic. Some say that Latin was “merely” symbolic, but symbols are the unique way we express ourselves as human beings; they set us apart. In short, they are sacred. And you deal with the sacred cautiously.

It’s no sin to cast aside Latin; there were good reasons the Church had for doing so. But it would have been wiser to attempt a revision that emphasized integration, not one that led to choosing up sides, to the point of schism. We still have a chance to integrate, Deo gratias.

Tom Mader
Walnut Creek

Pride as Cuban Catholic

As a Cuban-American, it was with great pride that I reviewed in the Oct. 20 Voice the photo and caption about the forthcoming beatification of Father José Olallo Valdés in my native city of Camagüey.

Father Olallo, that saintly 19th-century priest, will be the first Cuban to receive such an honor. My family and I have been invited by the Archbishop of Camagüey to attend the ceremonies, which we will do with even greater joy because they will be held at our old parish church, Nuestra Señora de La Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), where we used to be parishioners for generations until we emigrated to the U.S. in 1966.

It was heartwarming to see even so brief a mention related to the Catholic Church in Cuba, which has been so troubled by international politics, and has suffered so much at the hands of a dictatorship, and yet has remained so steadfast in its loyalty to our Catholic faith throughout the last 50 years.

I hope The Catholic Voice will have a lengthier story about the beatification itself next month, such as about the pride that Cubans and Cuban-Americans in the Oakland Diocese feel at this wonderful honor back in our native country and about the state of the Church in general in Cuba today, one that still struggles daily but that also has great hope about pivotal changes coming in the foreseeable future.

Oscar Ramirez
Via email

Gay relationships are wrong

Homosexual relationships are forbidden by the Church for many reasons. The principal one being that “God created them male and female” (Gen. 1:27); another being that all sex outside of marriage is a serious sin. Any other opinion should not be expressed in The Catholic Voice. If you want to be a secular paper, that’s one thing, but being a Catholic is not a matter of opinion but a matter of faith and morals.

By printing opposing opinions, you are misleading the laity, who are already confused. You should be careful to print a rebuttal to letters that do not agree with the Church’s teaching because, otherwise, you are not exerting leadership.

Dr. Robert Spitzer, who originated the idea that homosexuals were born into this lifestyle, has already publicly admitted that he ws wrong. Hundreds of people have rejected this lifestyle through excellent programs such as Homosexuals Anonymous, Exodus International, and Streams in the Desert. All of these are run with the aid of former homosexuals and lesbians. The motto of the 12-step program is “God not only can, but He will help you.”

To those who are struggling with these issues, I say, Do not listen to secular America. Seek the Lord through meditation, prayer and a good support group. “The hand of God is never shortened that it cannot save. (Is. 59:1)

Barbara Meistrell

Refrain from judgment

I was offended to read in my Sunday bulletin the statement of the Catholic bishops of California regarding Proposition 8. I suggest a crash course in the study of the separation of the Church and State.

The third “counsel” of the bishops states that “we need to remember that we are all children of God possessed of human dignity and that each of us is created in God’s image.” It flows logically and spiritually: Who am I, as a child of God, to make a judgment on homosexuals.

Therese Hauer

Aides to the disabled

Our therapeutic horseback riding program at High Five Stables in the Hayward hills needs weekend afternoon volunteers to help stabilize our riding students, a couple of whom are in wheelchairs. We have a wheelchair mounting ramp and can train volunteers to help students mount and to ride.

Please see our web site at www.kariannowen.com/Wildhorse_.html. Interested persons can contact our program at penomee@yahoo.com, (510) 860-8188.

Kari Ann Owen, Ph.D.

Response to survivors essential

The magnitude of the sex abuse scandal could only have occurred in the Catholic Church, where forgiveness of sin is central to the Lord’s plan and the Church’s mission.

It is true that as the sex abuse scandal was festering there was unnecessary confusion and debate within the Church concerning the nature of sin and forgiveness. The necessary context for true forgiveness of sin was often absent. In the process, there was often a loss of focus on the beauty, truth and centrality of the family and marital love. As John Paul II reminded us, the love between husband and wife is a reflection of Christ’s love for his Church.

Also compounding the explosive sex abuse tragedy was a confluence of other powerful forces, including modern society’s idolatrous relationship with sexuality; a rabid anti-Catholicism in control of powerful institutions such as the media, academia, business and politics; as well as the global explosion of information technology.

As long as human beings trod the earth there will always be egregious misbehavior; certainly so within an institution of one billion souls. Hopefully, however, these problems will be on an individual basis, not institutionalized.

When a written complaint is filed against the Church, by definition it is automatically a formal complaint, regardless of who files it and regardless of its merits. Therefore, in our modern, sophisticated society, consisting of empowered individuals (often radically so), a written, timely response to such complaints is mandatory; it is a litmus test for propriety. Failure to respond in writing indicates that square one of processing such complaints is absent, resulting thereafter in an awkward and indefensible position.

In addition, the Church’s time-honored tradition of treating each individual with respect and nobility, regardless of status, mandates a written response to written complaints.

The great majority of priests live heroic, inspirational lives. They are true leaders in an age of dire need. Forthright, transparent and open written responses to complaints are painful, but much less so than the alternative. And, of course, the facts will prevail; truth will triumph.

The Church, like Christ, is both human and divine. This human dimension results in absorbing the world’s pain, but in the process each individual is appropriately toughened, strengthened, becomes resilient, and, most certainly, the Church will be victorious. Anything less is inappropriately “other worldly” and is a poor reflection of Christ and his Church.

Can we say that the sex abuse scandal is over? Probably yes, if each written complaint of sexual abuse presented to a chancery office receives a timely and appropriate written response.

Ronald G. Connolly, M.D.
Walnut Creek

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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