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Here are some thoughts for the Year of Mercy. The greatest mercy we can do is to help God save souls. This is the primary purpose of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the churches should open the confessionals more frequently and encourage people to use the great sacrament of mercy, Penance.
Priests can bring souls to Christ by preaching with clarity, courage and love. No more excuses for adultery, homosexuality and other sins. We want priests who will be like the Good Shepherd, when we go astray, lead us back to the truth and tell us, "Repent and sin no more."
Recently, the relics of St. Padre Pio visited our parish. The visiting Capuchin priest said that St. Padre Pio, who had the gift of reading souls, sometimes told people in Confession to, "Go away. You must repent first."
Because of poor catechesis, many Catholics don't know how to make a good confession, to be repentant with a firm purpose of amendment, the difference between mortal and venial sin or even if sin is sin. It would be a great mercy to "instruct the ignorant" on these crucial topics.
Jesus said to St. Faustina that the greatest miracles take place in this sacrament. He also said that when one goes to Confession to "... immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pass the bounty of my grace upon your soul." What a beautiful gift of Divine Mercy we have in the Sacrament of Penance!
The letter (Forum, June 13) addressing the killings of Christians in the Middle East triggered a number of questions that I would pose to the writer:
Do you seriously believe that all followers of Islam are killing Christians? Yes there are Christians being killed because of their faith but this is being done by a radical, terrorist group of Muslims that will kill anyone, even other Muslims who don't adhere to their particular violent interpretation of Islam.
Next question: Are you advocating a modern Crusade to stop these killings? The Church doesn't have an army or air force to accomplish such a venture, nor should it. This lesson was probably learned from the very Crusades the writer referenced.
What we all need to understand is that we cannot stop these zealots. It is up to the other followers of Islam to rein in these people. I hope you took the time to read the "In the Image of God" letter (Forum, June 13) to gain a different perspective.
Guide to the truth
As in the famous prologue to Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities," I believe that our age is in a profound way, "The best of times and the worst of times."
How so? We are in an amazing age of incredible technology and communication, on the cusp of medical wonders and cures.
On the other hand we see much evil and error, even in the Church. If the Church is not "salt," we're in big trouble.
That greatest writer of the 20th century and "Apostle of Common Sense," G.K. Chesterton, when asked for a short answer to the title of his book, "What's Wrong with the World," replied, "I am." Pride truly is "The Father of All Sin."
Ego (edge God out) leads us to say as Lucifer did, "I will not serve. I will not obey." May each of us look in the mirror.
How can we know good from evil? Recent letters to The Readers Forum have questioned the infallibility of Church Teaching and if we can rightly say that the Church is "The one true Church."
Do we believe The Creed? Is Christ the Head of the Church? Is Christ God? Could Christ allow His Church to teach error?
A famous quote concerning the 4th century tells us "The world woke up Arian." A great majority, even of bishops succumbed to this error. Heresy often is not so much a denial of the truth as a partial truth, i.e. Christ is a man.
Things are not usually black and white, but there is truth. If we reject this, we are actually saying that there is no God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is our sure guide. May we read and study, and "pray without ceasing."
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy there are two opportunities right in front of you. Visit the closest assisted living home and talk for an hour to whoever is there as a resident.
Yes, their memory is weak and comprehension is difficult but they can usually talk to whoever will listen, usually about their past. You will have raised the spirits of beating hearts.
Second, attend a funeral in your home parish. You don't have to know the family or the deceased. Like weddings, funerals are announced and not treated like a secret rite.
In Lenox, Massachusetts several years ago, the pastor asked at the 7 o'clock Mass if tomorrow the people could attend a funeral at 9 o'clock, since there were very few members in the family. He said we would support them by just being at the funeral.
Re: the letter, "One true Church," (Forum, May 23): I have been a Catholic for 74 years and never in my life have I seen such a statement.
I wonder what theological education the writer received, if any.
I went to my church one evening recently because they had some relics of St. Padre Pio and were having some kind of service.
It started at 7 p.m. A "procession" of at least 20 to 25 accompanied the priest to the altar to the accompaniment of a choir blaring out something in Spanish.
The whole service was presented in Spanish. Why? Padre Pio was not Spanish; he was Italian. I could tell the whole service was going to be more like a concert than a prayer service so I left.
We are in an English-speaking country and I feel I should be able to go to a service in English.
I don't mind that there are Spanish Masses or a Chinese Mass so long as these aren't my only choice. I don't mind that the weekly bulletin is printed in front in English and in Spanish in the back. I don't resent our bank ATMs having a key to print in Spanish: I am grateful when I am in France, that the French graciously offer separate keys for convenience for English, German and Italian on their ATMs in addition to French and separate language labels in addition to French on displays in their museums.
However, when you go to Mass in France, it is going to be in French with no apologies and I don't expect anything different since I'm in their country. When I went to Mass in Germany one Easter, it was in German again with no apologies.
When I went to midnight Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's in Rome, a priest came to the pulpit beforehand and announced the Mass will be in Italian "because we're in Italy."
In one of the last articles I read by the prominent priest, Father Andrew Greeley, he stated the Mass is boring, the sermons are terribly poor and the music is awful. Some friends say "you go to Mass these days and leave wondering, why did I bother going."
Enough with the whining about "Real Presence believers."
My maternal grandfather was a Baptist minister. My mother converted to Catholicism after she married my father. For almost 60 years she exchanged literature and discussed religion with the Jehovah's Witnesses who came to our door.
At age 91 she needed emergency surgery on Easter Sunday. Despite the best efforts of her Jewish surgeon, later that day my mother suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Because the hospital couldn't reach a Catholic priest she was given the last rites by a (female) Unitarian minister. When my mother arrived at Heaven's door I'm fairly sure St. Peter didn't ask to see her "Real Presence Believer" card before granting admission.
The Bible tells us Jesus said, "Love one another," not "Love one another if they're wearing the right team colors."
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