Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Letters to the Editor
(From the April 7, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
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Inland Register, P.O. Box 48, Spokane, WA 99210-0048
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I once read that Mother Teresa of Calcutta required that in order to join her Religious order it would have to be discerned beforehand that the novice must evidence the gift of a joyful spirit.
This story came to mind again when the wife of a deacon recently told me that at a gathering of deacons and their wives, she felt a lack of God’s Spirit exuding from the men. Perhaps her perception was wrong, for I know a number of deacons who are wonderful examples of true dedication in joyfully serving God.
However, I must admit that I have not seen a whole lot of exuberance in the clergy these days, and I have come to conclude that it is not entirely due to the most current press the Church is receiving. It seems to me that the lack of zeal has been evident for a much longer time.
I cannot help to think that a lot of the subdued attitude we see in the clergy is a result of the world’s pressures, which constantly drives us to mediocrity. I hear many accounts where the priests’ own brethren have ridiculed their fellow priests, in essence, because some priests have made the lukewarm priests look bad.
Many times I have heard where priests have verbally beaten their fellow priests into the ground and it seems to come across to the outside observer that it is probably due to jealousy more than to anything else. Professor Scott Hahn commented after encountering an arrogant response from a clergy member, by stating, “Our poor priests, they are overworked and under-prayed.” So let us renew our efforts to continuously lift up our clergy in prayer.
But I would ask you also, as I was instructed to do by the late Jesuit Father Tony Lehmann: “Not only to pray for our priests, but pray that the priests pray.”
So to all our priests, but especially to the seminarians – and I think I can speak for most of us sitting in the pews: We are much more edified by a man who shows the spirit of a “fired-up Catholic” priest, as theologian Tim Staples would say, as opposed to someone who just shows up to say Mass. (And believe me, we can tell the difference.) Therefore, young men, do not let those who will pull you down to worldly mediocrity get the best of you. Be joyful in the vocation that Jesus has gifted to you.
If St. Maximilian Kolbe had listened to his critics when he started his publications of the Immaculata Magazine, shortly following his conclusion of studies for the priesthood, he would probably not be known as he is today. I can assure you seminarians that in this world there will be an abundance of those who will try to break you down to a level of mediocrity. So hang in there and remain joyful.
Thank you, God, for our priests and seminarians you have so generously gifted to us!
Tom Kelleher, Spokane
I noted Bob Wormley’s letter on comparative preaching among Catholic and Protestant services (IR 3/17/05). I also have enjoyed worshipping with different denominations and affirm his observations on many Protestant preachers who stress active personal relationship with Jesus and one another.
Perhaps he was too hard on many homilists. I believe many homilies I have heard were good ones, urging me to a better life. I have received many insights to help me understand many teachings in the Bible.
The homilies I have a problem with are the exceptionally good ones: those that proclaim ways that God expects me respond to his teachings. And then the homilist drops the ball.
The easiest illustration is probably a homily on forgiveness, in which I am exhorted to perhaps recall someone I need to forgive, and urged to do so. And then the speaker drops the ball and resumes the liturgy. Instead, why not take a few minutes and “strike while the iron is hot”? Would this not be a good time to continue something like this? “Now is a good time for each one in the congregation to take a few minutes to call to mind someone you need to forgive and make an act of forgiveness right now. If the injury seems too deep to forgive, let’s pray right now for God to help you to forgive what you can’t do by yourself.” Then a moment of silence to let the Holy Spirit do his work — now, resume the liturgy.
Is this not worth a try?
Kenneth O. Lindblad, College Place, Wash.
Let’s not misread Bob Wormly’s conception of religion expressed in his letter (IR 3/17/05). What he expects from the Catholic Church is already being provided by existing organizations like the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club.
Perhaps he doesn’t like doctrine or catechism, which already are minimal in our churches, but do we really need to replace our fine fraternal organizations? The KCs have lots of liturgy that should appeal to Wormly and the Elks’ 11 a.m. liturgy shouldn’t burden him too much!
Perhaps if we return some doctrine to our sermons, we might even return to five Masses on Sunday instead of two or three.
John M. Michels, Spokane