Let’s return to old favorite for catechesis

Re: “Passing on the Faith” (Editorial, Nov. 3)

My experiences as a parent and as a teacher in an elementary Catholic school proved to me that most catechetical materials in use for years now have led to a “dumbing down” and, in essence, an undermining and trivialization of the Faith. Students and their poorly catechized parents often receive basically a “loving, caring, sharing” approach to the Faith (“social justice”) without the full body of truths of the Catholic Church. In many cases, the result is “Catholics” who support abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, etc., and who vote for politicians who legalize these activities.

I urge a return to the Catechism as the primary catechetical source for all Catholic schools and religious education programs. My experience using the St. Joseph Revised Baltimore Catechism confirms that this is the BEST approach to teach students AND their parents who work with them. The Catechism has:

◗ Clear, complete, concise statements of the truths of the Faith

◗ Q-and-A format for easy retention of material

◗ Discussion questions

◗ Scripture readings for Biblical authority for the truths

◗ Reinforcement exercises and projects

◗ Prayers and additional resources

I urge all bishops to return to what worked, namely the Baltimore Catechism, for all students in Catholic schools and religious education programs.

Marion Smyth, Finksburg, Md.

Don’t forget confession

Re: “Clock’s ticking on the Year of Faith ... but it’s not too late” (Openers, Nov. 3).

No, it isn’t too late to catch up before the Year of Faith is over. But missing in Gretchen Crowe’s otherwise fine article urging Catholics to pray, learn, experience and keep going are other requirements, mainly the one many Catholics seem loath to do these days. Unless we lay out our sins verbally before God in the presence of his priest, the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence will have been lost.

Jere Joiner, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Engage in public policy

“Catholics take stock of shutdown aftereffects” (News Analysis, Nov. 10).

This article lacked some perspective and context. During the sequester and the government shutdown, it has been documented that the Obama administration purposely targeted programs and events to make the results as painful as possible for many people. That included programs addressed in this article, and more prominent situations such as the World War II veterans being blocked from viewing the World War II memorial. This is no surprise given the HHS mandate emanating from the Obama administration. More people are poor now and reliant on government funding and programs because of the poor economy over especially the last five years, even though the Great Recession officially ended in May 2009. Government policy and programs impact our economy, either positively or negatively. The poor always suffer first and the most from a down economy. The Church needs to understand and help foster Catholics being involved in what becomes public policy and understanding its impact on our economy and religious liberty. Ironically, the next article facing this article titled “Secularization taxes France’s church-state relationship” is a harbinger of where we are headed.

A.F. Kertz, Glendale, Mo.

Translating Jesus

Re: “Jesus’ use of ‘hate’” (Pastoral Answers, Nov. 3).

Jesus does like to resort to what is referred to as first-century Semitic hyperbole. But in Luke 14:26 — “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother ... he cannot be my disciple” — Jesus is not using hyperbole.

Here we have to recognize that Rabbi Jesus taught his disciples in Hebrew. The Synoptic Gospels as we have them are based on a Hebrew undertext, which is revealed in the many literalisms and idioms characteristic of the Hebrew language. And Jesus was a master at their use.

As for “hate” in Luke 14:26, the verb in Hebrew also carries the meaning of “to love less.” Thus, the disciples are to place the Teacher above all others in loyalty and devotion.

You encounter the same issue in Genesis 29:31: “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb. ...” Jacob does not hate Leah; he loves her less than he does Rachel.

Jesus, difficult to understand in English translation in so many Gospel passages, becomes understandable when you put the Greek back into Hebrew!

Roy Hanu Hart, M.D. Alexandria, La.

Missing source

Re: “Freedom Behind Bars” (In Focus, Nov. 3)

Incredible — such a fine article on prison ministry without a single mention of the inspiring example of Sister Helen (“Dead Man Walking”) Prejean.

She is the “face” of Catholic prison outreach to many young people, and should have been given her due.

Nina Gaspich, Chicago, Ill.