Combat rosaries gave young Marine comfort at boot camp

I can’t thank Ranger Rosaries enough for the beautiful rosaries supplied to my son while at Parris Island, S.C., this past summer (“Combat rosaries link service members to faith,” Nov. 15). Boot camp was a grueling experience. Between the stresses of being away from home for the first time, the combined punishment of the South Carolina heat, voracious sand fleas and the ever-so-charming drill instructors, he relied strongly on his faith to endure, and he cherished the time he spent in chapel. Emptying his seabags upon arriving home on leave, he showed me the beautiful rosaries he received. He had one in every pair of camos. I know he didn’t mean to be greedy, but they meant so much to him that he didn’t want to ever be without one. Now I use one to pray for him, his fellow Marines and, God willing, peace in the world. God bless you for all that you do.

— Name withheld by request, Denville, N.J.

Needed: Brave men

Greg Erlandson’s article “Brave Hearts” (Spectator, Nov. 29) was a breath of fresh air! The exchange between Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) was unknown to me. Bishop Tobin’s forthright exchange with Rep. Kennedy is sorely needed in this day and age. We need more “brave hearts” willing to speak with authority to the political pseudo-Catholics who present their twisted ideology about our faith.

— Louis H. Groen, Cincinnati, Ohio

Become as little children 

Robert P. Lockwood’s column “Do dogs go to heaven?” (Catholic Journal, Nov. 22) finds support in ways he might not suspect. Ask a child where pets go when they die, and they will say to heaven. Who’s to say they aren’t correct? Doesn’t Jesus say we must become as little children? Kids and animals have unconditional love, so perhaps they know better than we do about such things.

— Jere Joiner, Divide, Colo.

Unfair portrayal? 

“A Thanksgiving Paradox,” by Mark Shea (In Focus, Nov. 22), savagely assailed the Pilgrims and Puritans, courageous people of faith, who played an important role in the early history of our nation. While there was much truth in the article, it offered a heavily biased and frivolous review of history and contradicted completely the ecumenical spirit of Thanksgiving and of these times.

I was very disappointed to read such a bigoted and shallow piece in OSV. You owe your readers better scholarship and less polemics.

— Ralph Lord Roy, Plantsville, Conn.

Mark Shea replies : Rather than “savagely assailed,” I think a better description is “impishly tweaked.” I find it a testament to the health of the human spirit that American Protestantism overcame Puritan manias and is now fighting to keep what their ancestors called the “Romish feast of Christmas.” That I note the irony does not mean I don’t appreciate the deep imprint the Pilgrims have left on our culture. My article was affectionate, not bigoted.

Lessons from the past 

As a practicing Catholic, I normally follow the Church’s leadership without too much questioning. However, from my own business experiences I am somewhat troubled by our Church’s apparent support for President Barack Obama’s health care reform.

Around 1970 I was a young pension consultant. I was proud to be part of the best private pension system in the world. Then a poorly funded pension plan went bankrupt. Our politicians held hearings to save our pension system and rushed through the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

ERISA was filled with provisions for the issuance of future regulations. Our once thriving private pension system was subsequently deluged with burdensome, misguided regulations.

In 1974 more than 75 percent of employees were covered by traditionally defined benefit pension plans. Thirty-five years later, less than 20 percent of employees are covered by traditionally defined benefit pension plans. Now, many older workers do not have much of a pension upon which to retire.

Currently, we supposedly have the best health care system in the world. It has some problems. Will Obamacare do to our current good health care system what ERISA did for our once great pension plan system?

— Walter J. McLaughlin, New York, N.Y.

Well said, OSV 

I add my unanimous approval of your redesign, though I was a regular reader of your good weekly all through my seminary days, 1940s and 50s. You and your excellent staff bring to our faith life what we need to know to answer all the issues when we run counter to our anti-life culture, that was best said in the Nov. 15 editorial (“Signs of The Times”).

Though actively retired at 82, I see the dire need of Catholics’ need to read OSV so “they may be able to give the reason for their faith.” More pastors should have copies so the attractive format may foment curiosity and, ultimately, readership. May you and your dedicated keep up your labor of love.

— Father John Shaw, Toppenish, Wash. 

Editor’s note: We have received numerous requests for contact information for Ranger Rosary Inc. The Annapolis, Md.-based organization’s phone number is (410) 990-4100 ext. 4714, and e-mail address is Chaplains who would like to request rosaries should contact