Protestants have long studied Fathers

I am very surprised that writer Mark Sullivan and Our Sunday Visitor are not aware that the study of patristics, or the Church Fathers, has been done for years in the Protestant Reform seminaries such as Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Michigan, Reform Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., etc., and is not a recent study, which Sullivan and George Kalantzis, director of the new Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies seem to claim (“Evangelical college launches a program to study Church Fathers,” Nov. 29).

It may well be that — because Wheaton College is Arminian rather than Calvinistic in its theology — the study of Church Fathers like Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil of Caesarea, Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo and Church history is a new program. But the Protestant reformers such as John Calvin and Martin Luther greatly revered the Church Fathers and often quoted them in their writings, which has been a great enrichment for those of us in the Reform Protestant Churches and their seminaries.

— John Clubine, Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

Latinos and life

In “Latinos soon to be a majority of Church” (News Analysis, Dec. 13) Valerie Schmalz quoted a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University that 64 percent of Hispanics favor a right to choose abortion and that the same percentage of Latino Catholics leaned or were Democrats in 2008. Do these pollsters bother to define a Catholic before asking if they are one? To claim a right to choose abortion puts them outside the Catholic identity. We have politicians who claim to be Catholic but don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership by being pro-abortion.

The Latino presence can be a blessing for the United States only if they are really Catholic by being against abortion. Does Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio have any data to bolster his cited belief that most Latinos remain pro-life?

— Donald Nauyokas, Chicago, Ill.

In defense of Bach

In “Deciphering music’s influence on the soul, in youth and adults” (News Analysis, Nov. 29) Emily Stimpson quotes popular recording artist Chris Padgett as saying, “Mozart and Bach led less than exemplary lives.” I am aware that Mozart had problems, but Bach? According to the biographical information generally available on Bach, he led an unusually exemplary life — notably free from the usual scandals that plague the famous. He was devout, and his work is a testimony to his faith. Let’s protect Bach’s good name.

— Sarah M. Menkin, Plymouth, Maine

Mary’s marital status

Concerning the article on Advent Week 3, “Lessons from Foster Parent,” the article states that Mary and Joseph were not married before Jesus was conceived (In Focus, Nov. 29). Jewish marriages were in two stages: the couple was actually married, the engagement being not as we understand it today; then, after a year, the couple lived together. So Mary and Joseph were already married at the time of Jesus’ conception.

— Marie Griffin, via e-mail

Little lessons

As I read“Everyday parish life” (Catholic Journal, Dec. 6), it brought to mind a delightful incident that I’d like to share. I was at our school, St. Joseph, one day walking down the hall. Two little girls caught my eye as I walked by. They were removing their boots and slipping into shoes. One little girl pulled out shiny black shoes with little black straps. She was about to buckle up the strap when the other little girl softly spoke out, “Oh, what pretty shoes you have, can I please try one on? I never had shoes like that.

”The first little girl took one off and handed it over to her. Slowly, tenderly the second girl put the little black shoe on her foot and smiled.

“I don’t mind if you wear my shoe,” said the first little girl. With delight in their eyes and smiles on their faces, arm in arm they went, each girl had one old pink shoe on and one shiny black shoe. What an example of sharing and caring these little girls learned at their school.

— Grace Mullen Stratford, Wis.

Paying our dues

I have a comment regarding Msgr. M. Francis Mannion’s article concerning purgatory (Pastoral Answers, Nov. 22). He stated, “Heaven is not a reward for being good; it is the state of being in Christ.”

I believe it could have been clearer if he had written instead, “Heaven is the state of being in Christ and it is achieved by good works and avoiding evil works.

”Some believe heaven is achieved by asking God to forgive their transgressions — without the aid of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yes, one can ask forgiveness and be forgiven, but that is only “part of the story.” If I break my neighbor’s window and he forgives me, I still have the obligation to make good the damage I have done.

Isn’t purgatory about paying “our dues”?

— Frank Cassidy, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Correction: A map in the Dec. 13 In Focus, “Where in the world are today’s Catholics?” had an incorrect figure for the percentage of Catholics in the Ukraine. The correct percentage is 10 percent, not 1 percent.