Homilies as religious education tools

In your editorial, you state the need for adult religious education (“Keeping Catholic,” March 14). I very much agree and am often surprised by how much I do not know, very frustrated by how long it took me to hear about numerous teachings and worried by the lack of understanding of Catholic doctrine by most Catholic adults. Being 52 years old, having been through numerous classes to help me teach children’s religious education, two-year adult ministry formation classes, numerous retreats, small-group sessions, Bible studies and Lenten missions, and having read many religious newspapers, magazines and books, I have slowly become better educated about my Catholic faith. 

Every time I hear about the great need for adult religious education, I simultaneously see cold water thrown on the simplest solution — the homily during the Mass is “not to be used” for religious education. This has to be overcome if the bulk of Catholic adults are to be brought up to speed. The Mass is the source and summit of our faith. It is the fulfillment of the Church’s history, saints and teachings. It does not exist apart from them, yet is treated as if it is. 

— Art Osten Jr. via e-mail

Ruled by mercy

The cover of the March 21 issue has the interesting teaser line, “What TV Judges Can Tell Us About God.” Father Robert Barron’s article expounds very insightfully on that theme. On a related subject, a real judge told us something memorable about God decades ago. In a lecture at Yale University, Justice Benjamin Cardozo delivered these memorable lines: “There is an old legend that on one occasion God prayed, and his prayer was, ‘Be it my will that my justice be ruled by my mercy.’ That is a prayer that we all need to utter at times.” These wise words of his often inspired me during my 25-year service as a trial court judge, especially in juvenile matters. 

— Deacon Marvin Robertson St. Johns, Mich. 

Let military decide 

Russell Shaw may be an esteemed social critic, but a military expert he is not (“‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ makes sense,” March 21). He writes that repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be “disruptive.” However, the two men in the accompanying photograph, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen (both of whom were appointed by President George W. Bush), say that such a repeal is necessary. 

For nearly 20 years, Great Britain and Israel have allowed gays and lesbians to openly serve in their armed forces, which are considered among the world’s best. 

Shaw would do well to trust the military to make the right decision for itself. 

— Bill Chappell, Montgomery, Ala.

Unique opportunity 

In the March 14 issue of OSV, we are informed that an auxiliary bishop of Madrid has said that King Juan Carlos of Spain must sign legislation increasing abortions in Spain, and that the king is in a unique situation (This Week). 

He is, indeed, in a unique situation, one that allows him to choose life by refusing to give his informed consent to such an advancement of the “culture of death” in his country. This would make a powerful proclamation in favor of life to all people on earth. I do not know what the king’s personal consequences would be for this action, but I do know that Jesus has said that his kingdom is not of this earth. 

— Greg Maloney Show Low, Ariz. 

Dumbing down language 

I read Greg Erlandson’s column with much interest, as I have had similar experiences (“Word Games,” March 7). I really believe you hit upon one of the main reasons for lack of understanding of big words is the lack of taking Latin in high school. I went to a public high school, and Latin was an elective, but in my parent’s day, everyone was required to take Latin, English and one foreign language. 

Several years ago, at a social event, I was visiting with a Latin teacher. She said that 60 percent of English words are derived from Latin. I really believe this, as I am sure my Latin background continues to help me understand unfamiliar words. 

When I was drafted into the Army in the 1950s, some of my fellow Army buddies told me they couldn’t understand me. I thought about this, and decided that words are a means of communication, so I have since “dumbed down” my vocabulary, so much so that I no longer really have a decent one. 

I agree with you when you stated that our public language is growing simpler. Because it is simpler, our vocabulary is also simpler and therefore it is more difficult to communicate ideas, so some resort to loud gutter language — kind of like you read about how our early ancestors may have communicated by grunts!  

— John Gishpert Denver, Colo.

Kudos on articles 

Thank you so much for the article on the Anglican parishes that recently voted to join the Catholic Church (March 28). Thank you, too, for that article on the Good Friday “climb” at Immaculata Church in Mount Adams, Cincinnati. I lived in Cincinnati back in the day and remember well how such large, often multigenerational, families edified the city by their faithful performance of that hallowed tradition. 

My compliments to both writers — Tom Hoopes and Steven Rolfes. My week would not be complete without Our Sunday Visitor. 

— Eileen Whitsett Coldwater, Ohio