Prostration has long been a prayer posture among Eastern Christians

Re “Egypt: A land not afraid of Muslim-Christian paradoxes” (Openers, Jan. 16). 

I was surprised that you were surprised in Egypt to find Eastern Christians praying with their foreheads touching the floor. This prayer posture is known as prostration and was practiced by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-rite Christians for hundreds of years before Mohammed and Islam appeared on the scene. Muslims borrowed this prayer posture from Christians. Christians did not and do not borrow this very ancient prayer posture from the Muslims. 

In fact, if you were to visit Eastern Orthodox or Eastern-rite worship today, almost anytime, but especially during Lent and Holy Week, you would discover Eastern Christians (Greek, Russian, Egyptian, etc.) falling prostrate in prayer and worship before the altar and before the consecrated and/or pre-sanctified Communion elements. 

Prayer prostration is something I miss, now that I have moved into the Roman Catholic/Western-rite Church. I was Methodist Protestant most of my life. Then about 10 years ago I experienced a total conversion and was chrismated/confirmed into Eastern Orthodoxy (Greek and Russian), where I often fell down prostrate in prayer. 

About five years ago, shortly after Pope Benedict XVI became pope, I moved on into the Roman Catholic Church where about the only time you see some sort of prostration is at a priestly ordination or at the beginning of the Good Friday service where we adore the cross. 

— Frank Johnson, Orlando, Fla.

Our immigrant heritage 

I really agree with letter writer Irmi Casteel about how sad it was to see so much “hostility and lack of compassion toward the immigrants” that so many of the letters printed in OSV had about the DREAM Act (Letters to the Editor, Jan. 16). All of us come from immigrant families. My heritage goes back many years prior to Ellis Island (1892), and I doubt that many, if any, of the people of that time were “legal”! We really need to clean up our total immigration system! Walls didn’t work for China or Berlin. 

Thank you for printing both sides of the story. This was a rude awakening for me. 

— John Gishpert, Denver, Colo.

Stop illegal immigration 

In her letter to the editor, Irmi Casteel is “dismayed” at letters from OSV readers who oppose illegal immigration. She says that we should not judge rashly those who choose to come to the United States illegally. Isn’t it ironic that she rashly judges anyone who disagrees with her of hostility, lack of compassion and ignorance? 

Granted that the current immigration system is broken, largely because the federal bureaucracy can’t keep up with all the paperwork requirements. So dumping 10 million to 12 million more people onto the system is going to fix it? It would only be a continuing nightmare. 

The first step has to be stopping illegal immigration. When that’s accomplished, we can start working on fixing the system. 

— Michael Sullivan, Lincoln, Neb.

Singling out Catholics 

Thank you, John Norton, for “New report of abuse cover-up, enabling ... in public schools” (Openers, Jan. 2). I have believed this for some time, but [lacked] the words to express what you did. 

As I sit on the board of directors for a child abuse assessment center in Salem, Ore., I have seen that “stranger danger” is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to sexual abuse of children. We educate local community members that most abuse happens by adults who are trusted by a particular child. Educators, relatives, clergy, coaches, family friends, etc., are not excluded from this, but priests, not just preachers of other faiths but specifically Catholic priests, are seen in headlines. You do not see the same hatred toward the public school system after a story like this breaks. 

First and foremost, it saddens me that these crimes happen, but second that the media is so out for blood when it comes specifically to Catholicism instead of the real issue, which should be protecting children. 

Again, thank you for your article. It will help me articulate similar feelings in the future. 

— Marjorie Dudley, via email

Homilies are key 

Re Msgr. Owen F. Campion’s “Catholic conundrum” (God Lives, Dec. 26). 

The reason why I parish shop is because I find that many priests no longer take the time to prepare a decent homily (particularly priests who are from another country). 

They read a commentary that they probably downloaded off the Internet. I own many commentaries that I read on my own — I don’t need a priest to read another one.  

I want to hear his own words. I have to travel far to hear a good homily, or turn on the EWTN Mass to hear the best homilies. 

— Anita Alvarez, Montebello, Calif.

Good fatherly advice 

The Jan. 9, 2011, issue was excellent; keep up the good work! “Way of the Fathers” (Faith) was very good with the history it spoke of, as were the other articles. 

God bless you for the great work you are doing with your weekly. 

— Frank Kopasz, via email