Mary and Joseph: A model for changed plans

Re: “God’s ‘better plans’” (Eye on Culture, Dec. 20).

Teresa Tomeo’s column about her upset Christmas plans was well done, but it overlooked one important point, namely, that a similar experience marked the very first Christmas, too.

Surely there had been supportive women in Nazareth who had volunteered to assist Mary with Jesus’ Nativity when the time came, but all those plans were dashed when she had to journey to Bethlehem with Joseph and went into labor alone and without their help! Perhaps we should all model our Blessed Mother’s humility, grace and acceptance when our plans are disrupted as were hers.

Gary Yarbrough, Parsons, Kansas

Islamic extremists

Re: “Religious tolerance” (God Lives, Dec. 27).

Thank you for that much-needed Catholic and historical viewpoint. Without overstatement, I truly and honestly fear for the safety and well-being of our fellow Muslim Americans. On the other hand, radical Islam today recruits across borders and recognizes no national identity; it’s ideology is apocalyptic and nihilistic, seeking only death and destruction. How do we know who is who in this stew of beliefs that comprise modern-day expressions of Islam? How can we ensure the safety of all our people from this extremist ideology?

My solution is a daily Rosary for our citizens and for the conversion of radical Islamic fighters. Thank you, and God bless.

Pat Sonti, via online comment

Reading the Bible

Re: “U.S. Church to celebrate National Bible Week” (News Analysis, Nov. 15).

There have been several comments in Our Sunday Visitor the past few months about the Catholic Church not encouraging the reading of the Bible. That is true in one sense, but included in the front pages of my Douay-Rheims Bible are letters from Pope Leo XIII (1898) and Pope Pius VI (1778) that not only encourage reading the Bible regularly but even grant indulgences for reading the Bible along with our familiar “Come Holy Spirit” prayer! This is true for many other Douay-Rheims Bibles I have seen. I used this Bible in my Bible studies in the late 1940s until the publication of the New American Bible in 1971. So, this was widely published in most Catholic Bibles prior to Vatican II and the publication of New American Bible. How many read and participated? Probably not many, sorry to say. But the encouragement to read and pray the Bible was there from the popes.

John Gishpert, Denver

Ills of birth control

Re: “God’s spin cycle” (Spectator, Nov. 8).

When I read the end of Greg Erlandson’s editorial mentioning the need for a “right solution” regarding divorced and remarried Catholics and Communion, my first thought was, “That’s impossible”; my second was a simple answer that should please both those looking to maintain proper doctrine and those desiring to offer mercy (as well as those of us concerned about both).

It emphasizes an essential teaching of the Church on marriage while at the same time providing a quick path to a declaration of nullity for perhaps 80 percent of marriages over the past 40 years. It boils down to one simple question: At the time of your wedding vows, did you intend to practice artificial contraception in order to prevent pregnancy? I can only think that the overwhelming majority would answer in the positive; all statistics point in this direction. One might counter that they answered “no” to this question during marriage prep, but I would imagine that some just lied.

It must be recognized that birth control is at the heart of the culture of death, that the Church and the marriages entered into in the Church have been very much affected, and so most marriages might be invalid. And let’s pray that the improvements to marriage prep offered by the bishops at the synod will serve to resolve the problem of rubber-stamping “Catholic” marriages.

James Kurt, Sarasota, Florida
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