SIR – Your leading article (November 20) poses the question: how do we proclaim the faith? Pope Francis urges every one of us to be an agent of evangelism – a sort of James Bond figure armed with a rosary instead of a pistol. Should we organise flash mobs doing Gregorian chant or stand on a soap box bawling at passers by? It’s all a bit tricky and many of us are shy about out faith. One senses a certain divine exasperation.
Here in Hereford we’re running an Alpha course – the first in our diocese, apparently. Four of us will deliver the talks. The only controversy has been about food, not theology – pasta versus curry.
We start just after the First Sunday in Advent. Odd time of year to be running a course like this, one parishioner sniffed: people are busy in the run-up to Christmas, too exhausted to concentrate. Maybe. But we feel Alpha is something concrete we can do to proclaim the victory of Christ. Everyone can muck in. We shall pray for Paris. Victory over violence cannot be won by air strikes alone, but by prayers and tears. At the end of the film Spectre, James Bond chooses love over murder. The Gospel urges us to get up and take similar action.
Yours faithfully, Andy Milne Dilwyn, Herefordshire
Don’t stop the music
SIR – I enjoy polyphonic music. I was brought up in Chiswick parish in West London, which had a paid choirmaster, and I joined the choir at age 11. Singing the polyphonic motets of such as Palestrina, Byrd and Weelkes was both uplifting and gave an excellent musical training.
However, for many years now I have loved folk Masses and it is a shame to see the music I love in the liturgy being described as “bad” music by Damian Thompson (Cover story, November 6). Nasty swipes at musicians such as Bernadette Farrell and Marty Haugen ignore the reality that their music is loved and used in a huge majority of parishes. Go to any of the packed workshops they run from time to time in Britain and you will see the connection people of all ages feel with their music.
It is not just music; the words reflect the social teaching of the Church which engages with the “signs of our times”. When Bernadette’s Christ, Be Our Light was sung at Hyde Park during the visit of Benedict XVI, the waves of the chorus across the huge congregation was intensely moving. Marty’s God of Day and God of Darkness was sung at the Leeds Justice and Peace day on Laudato Si’ a few weeks ago because the words were relevant to making a commitment to work for peace, justice and God’s creation as part of the Church’s mission, as called for by Pope Francis in his recent encyclical.
I would suggest to Damian to be more tolerant of the varying worship styles. We are all praising God with diversity and love… in my case through playing the guitar, and even percussion! And my three sons in their 20s often play along, too. Let’s affirm the various musical traditions in our Church and, indeed, respect the dedication of all Church musicians.
Yours faithfully, Ellen Teague Harrow, North London
How to beat ISIS
SIR – Want to hurt ISIS? Then welcome the refugees. ISIS hates the fact that millions of Muslims have walked away from their caliphate and headed to Europe. The flow is anathema to ISIS, undermining the group’s message that its self-styled caliphate is a refuge. They have repeatedly put out messages to the refugees ranging from pleading to warnings to outright threats. In just four days in September they released a dozen videos aimed at the people fleeing Syria. Welcome the refugees, help them, watch them flourish in the protection of our society and the Islamic State will get smaller and smaller without a single airforce sortie.
Yours faithfully, Roy Isserlis Ormiston, East Lothian
SIR – Mary Kenny’s argument (Comment, November 13) that a Christian should seek to be simply an example of good conduct and not talk about their faith has a serious flaw, which is this: how would anyone know that you were a Christian just by your mode of conduct without any confirming verbal expression? Would they not think that you were simply a nice, kind humanist without any faith attachment?
And the fact that “19 per cent of non-believers said they wanted to know more about faith commitment” is a staggering statistic. It means that one in five of all the people we meet would like to know more about the Christian faith – that is considerably more than I would have guessed and is a very encouraging statistic for someone who enjoys sharing their faith in Jesus.
Yours faithfully, John Lovett Bedale, North Yorkshire
An Irish tragedy
SIR – The fact that Irish television will no longer broadcast the traditional Angelus is not due to secularisation alone.
For two generations the Irish Church has been subject to a watering-down of doctrine from both the pulpit and the classroom. Catholicism makes no sense if we do not realise the reality of hell and the escape plan God has provided us with. Take Catholic teaching out of the context of its magisterial and Gospel claims and you are left with an incoherent message.
The sad fact is that what successive English Protestant governments and Oliver Cromwell failed to do, modern Irish catechetics has helped to achieve.
Yours faithfully, Robert Ian Williams By email
SIR – Over the years I have experienced all the problems mentioned in the article by Anna Arco on Cardinal Schönborn (Feature, November 13). I have discovered that I cannot grow in genuine mercy without much recourse to the Lord’s teachings. Especially, I need to grow in personal repentance.
Yours faithfully, Fr Bryan Storey St Paul the Apostle, Tintagel, Cornwall
SIR – Your report (November 6) of the recent cricket match between the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI and St Peter’s Cricket Club is a little wide of the wicket. Archbishop Welby was not at the Capannelle ground on October 24, and the crowd fell more than a little way short of the 1,000 people you describe.
However, neither fact diminished anyone’s enjoyment of the event, nor the warmth of friendships renewed and strengthened through this significant ecumenical endeavour. There is already talk of next year’s fixture.
Yours faithfully, Serenhedd James St Stephen’s House, Oxford
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