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placeholder May 9, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
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Approaches to forgiveness

Father Robert Barron’s column (Forum, March 21), “Why should we go to a priest for Confession?”, argues persuasively for the necessity of auricular confession to a priest. However, there is an equally persuasive theological argument for the Eucharist being a primary sacrament for the forgiveness of sins.

In the Mass we frequently ask for forgiveness: in the Penitential Rite, the Gloria, the Lord’s Prayer, the Lamb of God. At the very heart of the Eucharist, Jesus is quoted as saying at the Last Supper: “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 20:28).

Eminent theologians have argued these words from Matthew’s Gospel were included in the Eucharistic Prayer by the early Church to remind us that when we celebrate the Eucharist with sincerity, our sins are forgiven.

For Matthew, “the forgiveness of sins” was a primary purpose of the Eucharist. (Eugene LaVerdiere SSS, “The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church,” The Liturgical Press, 1996, p.66)

The doctrine of the remission of sins conferred by the Eucharist has had a long and varied history of use and neglect in the Church. Granted that the forgiveness of sins is not the chief object of the Eucharist — Christ made the forgiveness of sins an essential dimension of it. (John Quinn, SJ, Worship, Vol. 42, No.5 1968).

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) made the following statement, which sounds very foreign to today’s Catholic ears: “The holy Council teaches that this [Mass] is truly propitiatory and has this effect that if, contrite and penitent, with sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence, we draw nigh to God, ‘we obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid’ (Heb 4:16). For, appeased by this sacrifice, the Lord grants the grace and gift of penitence and pardons even the gravest crimes and sins.” (Cited in W. Bausch, “A New Look at the Sacraments,” Twenty-Third Publications 1977, p.157.)

Catholicism has a rich history of Eucharistic theology that supports a different approach to Father Barron’s emphasis on the necessity of confessing to a priest for one’s sins to be forgiven.

Jim McCrea

Bias in sainthood

I do not intend to take away from the beatification or canonization of others by the Church, but it is very clear that the great bulk of those have been clergy and religious. What is needed in the Church is to raise up for veneration and modeling married couples whose lives can inspire and support married life at this time of history.

The reality is that the last married couple to be so honored was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001, the first in 500 years. The press notice from Vatican City at the time noted that Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi were married in 1905 and, after 20 years of marriage, decided to sleep in separate beds, living like brother and sister for another 26 years.

With respect for their lives and decisions, there is a bias against honoring those who in marriage live fully sexual lives. Protecting marriage can never be real unless those honored for veneration are couples who indicate by their holiness and outward service to others that their virtues are not lessened but enhanced by their sexual relationship.

Father Jim Schexnayder

Responding to relativism

“That may be true for you but it is not true for me,” says the world. How do we respond? We respond with the truth, the recognition of reality. Reality is what it is by the law of identity. Ask them, “If I drop a bowling ball on your foot, do you think it will hurt?” If they argue with you, suggest experimenting with an actual bowling ball. Yes, the law of gravity is real (for everyone).

People avoid the truth. Creating ambiguity about the truth establishes the absence of moral authority, and then I can define what is right and wrong. People wish to take on the role of God and avoid moral obligation. This sin is as old as Adam and Eve.

The truth is that God defined the universe at the beginning of time, and therefore reality stands there to be discovered rather than defined. The Supreme Court is wrong when it says, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life” (505 US 833, 1992). Life is not an abstraction.

God desires us to live life in full, and that is why we should go to Mass and take part in God’s plan. Tell them the truth is that God loved us so much that he sent his only Son, so that we may live abundantly. Yes, God is real. Tell them the Good News.

Mark James Gonzales

Enemy of all religions

Re: “The last acceptable prejudice rides again” by Father Robert Barron (Forum, April 25).

Father Barron takes exception to the anti-Catholicism in certain publications. He exhibits the same demeanor toward Scientology. He laments the lack of understanding about the Catholic religion but does the same by downgrading Scientology.

Catholicism and Scientology have much in common. Both religions believe in an afterlife. Both have a strong ethical code and believe in right and wrong. Both have a confessional procedure.

But there is an avowed enemy of all religions. This enemy? Psychiatry. Here are some direct quotes from 1954, when the World Federation of Mental Health laid out its plans for future control of the world’s populations:

“To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism and religious dogmas . . . . The re-interpretation and eventual eradication of the concept of right and wrong are the belated objectives of nearly all psychotherapy. If the race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil it must be psychiatrists who take the original responsibility.”

Sharyn Obrigewitsch

Voice report incomplete

I was shocked and dismayed to see that The Voice (April 25) made no mention at all of Divine Mercy Sunday, except for a tiny mention under the Dateline section of St. Philip Neri Church in Alameda.

Hurray for St. Philip Neri Church. The chronology of the life and accomplishments of John Paul II made no mention of his institution of Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonization of St. Faustina, Our Lord’s secretary of Divine Mercy. This feast was given to us for our times and our need for God’s mercy. The gift of the plenary indulgence should be shouted from the roof tops, yet The Voice chose not to even mention it. What a shame!

Sheila Torres
Walnut Creek

Plea for understanding

The spiteful letter written by the mother of a gay son (Forum, April 11), left me saying a prayer for her and her unfortunate son.

Jesus might say I have created blacks, whites, red, gay people and all others in between.

Why do so many Catholics and people of other faiths find it so difficult to understand human equality?

Patricia Avina

Revive daily prayer

Our Muslim friends have a great practice of engaging in prayer five times a day.
This started me thinking of the Catholic practice of The Angelus prayer that we recited in my childhood years three times a day, at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. Even the church bells would remind us, and ring out their chimes.

What about a revival?

Patrick McCabe

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Letters to the editor provide a forum for readers to engage in an open exchange of opinions and concerns in a climate of respect and civil discourse. The opinions expressed are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the Catholic Voice or the Diocese of Oakland. While a full spectrum of opinions will sometimes include those which dissent from Church teaching or contradict the natural moral law, it is hoped that this forum will help our readers to understand better others’ thinking on critical issues facing the Church at this time.

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