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Where are the women?
Our diocese celebrated a beautiful Rite of Election March 8-9, welcoming hundreds of women and men, girls and boys who will celebrate the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, did a beautiful job presiding and preaching. His attentive presence and warm smile for every single person whose name was called deeply touched me. I was heartened to experience the recognition of the rich and beautiful ethnic diversity among us in the altar servers, lectors and cantor for the liturgy, as well as the language diversity of the scripture texts.
However, I was deeply saddened that a diverse population that comprises one half of all the people in our diocese was excluded from any liturgical ministry. While I, along with so many women continue to serve my church, in spite of the painful exclusion of any females in presiding and preaching roles in our primary liturgies, I do find some blessing in the experience of gifted women lectors, cantors and altar servers.
The very rational for including ethnically diverse liturgical ministers and language applies every bit as much to the diversity of gender. When for such an important celebration, the liturgists planning the event make no attempt to include a representation of half the people of its membership, something is scandalously wrong.
Could we not have had a Latina woman or Filipina woman lector? Could we not have had a female altar server or a female cantor? There is a huge loss to the Church in the exclusion of women from these roles.
Works in Europe
The article, "Pope suggests Church could tolerate some civil unions," (Voice, March 10), had this comment by the pope: "It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety."
Civil unions or marriages are secular actions by the state that impart secular rights, benefits, accountabilities and responsibilities. It is common in many parts of Europe that the only marriage recognized by the state is that performed by the state. Religious ceremonies are incidental and based upon religious beliefs that may/may not be integral to the fabric of any particular state.
The Catholic Church has learned to live with this for many years now and the world as we know it has not come to an end.
The Catholic hierarchy needs reminding of the 2011 words of Albert Mohler, then president of the Southern Baptist Convention: "I think it's clear that something like same-sex marriage — indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that — is going to become normalized, legalized and recognized in the culture. It's time for Christians to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that. I think in the United States, Evangelical Christians in particular, have kind of grown accustomed to having our beliefs and moral convictions and ways of life supported by the state, by the larger culture and we're going to have to learn what it means to live faithfully as Christians when we do not have those supports. You know, it's one thing to live believing that you're in the majority position — everything comes pretty easy that way ..."
Kudos for your front-page coverage (Voice, March 10) of our diocesan scouts receiving religious awards!
The two strongest formative influences in my life (besides my parents) were Catholic schools and Boy Scouts. As a young scout, the only religious award was the Ad Altare Dei Award, which was earned primarily for mastering Latin Mass responses (for which the award is named) and serving Mass, normally for several years. Unfortunately, only boys could earn it as girls weren't allowed to serve at Mass, though ironically we were taught how, including the Latin responses, by women (who happened to wear habits).
I remember the first time altar girls participated at our parish — a "gentleman" yelled out "This is sacrilegious" and stormed out. Great to see roughly an equal number of girls receiving today's religious scouting awards!
Sharon Arata (Forum, March 10) quoted Canon 915 regarding how those persevering in grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. Let's see, what was the response of bishops to priest pedophiles who continued molesting children and, therefore, were "obstinately persevering in grave sin?"
Were they denied communion? No, they were just moved to another parish, where they molested a new crop of children, and were allowed to do even greater than receive communion, consecrate the Eucharist.
Too bad then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who wrote that politicians supporting abortion be denied the Eucharist, did not feel the same way about priest pedophiles. The bishops who denied communion to politicians also did not do so to these pedophiles.
Letters (Forum, March 10) were in favor of excluding from the reception of Holy Communion not only politicians who pass legislation permitting abortion, but also those who vote for them.
At the Last Supper, and repeated at every sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus gave/gives the mandate: "Take this ALL of you and eat of/ drink from it, for this is my body/the chalice of my blood ..."
Jesus placed no conditions. He meant it for Judas, who was plotting betrayal, for Peter who would deny even knowing Him, and for the other 10 devoted followers who were about to abandon Him when the going got tough.
He was speaking not only to the men and women present at the Supper, but to all of us as well. He gave no condition for worthiness. He did not exclude sinners or those not in the state of grace. The state of Sanctifying Grace was just coming into existence and would not be actualized until after the Crucifixion; the first recipients were not in the state of grace before receiving His body and blood.
No one, neither priest, bishop, pope nor assembly of Church officials, has authority to deny Holy Communion to anyone, regardless of the man-made rules of Canon Law (Precept 915) and others found in the Catholic Catechism. No man-made rule can preempt Jesus' own instruction for all of us to receive Him.
[Editor's note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385, says "we must prepare ourselves" to receive communion by examining our conscience, being worthy and if "conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion."]
Church and State
We are all obliged as Catholics to learn, grow and evangelize for souls of the Church. It is one of the seven precepts of the Church.
The concept of separation of church and state is not a Catholic concept and a dangerous one. Adolf Hitler was a cradle Catholic and Mussolini was also baptized Catholic as a baby. They abandoned their faith and set aside the Church's teachings and did what they were elected to do.
If I sin and you know about it, you are supposed to correct me even if it sounds mean or judgmental. Which situation is worse? You decide to separate your faith and let me die and go to hell, or you hurt my ego and pride bringing about a chance that I might reform my life and become better? It is actually a sin of omission if you don't speak up and help me. Jesus says, if you love me feed my sheep.
Every Catholic is required to learn and grow in their faith. I recommend those with strong "judge not" attitudes pick up a copy of the Baltimore Catechism. Jesus sounds judgmental about those who reject his teaching, if you read verse John 5:24.
After death we all want to die with a clean slate, so please take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and encourage others to do so.
Many in the "judge not' crowd seem to have a double standard and are quite comfortable with judging the intentions of the "arrogant" Church and Catholics standing up for the Church teachings. Why are we so comfortable questioning God, but not mankind? Who are we following?
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