Comment Opinion & Features

Letters: Do we treat our churches with the respect they deserve?

We need to get our own house in order

SIR – Matthew Schmitz (Cover story, August 9) asks how it is that when our churches are desecrated, the once-Christian West does not know how to respond.

We need first of all to understand that “the West” no longer refers to a strictly geographical location – in their varying degrees, all industrialised nations manifest some degree of Western outlook. More to the point, perhaps, are Christ’s words that He brings not peace but a “sword”. Conflict is inevitable where people differ in spiritual outlook. Then again, is it that the West does not know how to respond, how to defend Christianity, or does not want to?

Looking around the world, most parts accept legalised abortion, divorce, contraception, euthanasia, a revised legal meaning of marriage and so on. We live in the culture of death as foreseen more than 40 years ago by St John Paul II.

As a world, we are not always living in keeping with God’s commandments. Religion is portrayed as divisive, a medieval superstition, nonsense and so on; openly or covertly every effort is being made to stamp it out. There is a power at work bent on secularising every aspect of human activity. Can we expect such a world to come to our aid when our places of worship are violated? God is not exactly welcomed by everybody.

While we as members of God’s Church might not be responsible directly for acts of desecration, are we as reverent as we might be? For whatever reasons, we seem to be becoming a Church that “learns and listens” rather than “teaches all nations” in line with Christ’s mandate. Do we treat our churches with the respect that they deserve? After all, each church is God’s house.

Similarly, at one time it was the custom that following the end of Holy Mass, the faithful would remain behind to offer prayers of thanksgiving. The custom now seems to be to slide into casual conversation, not infrequently at high volume, and even some of our priests are not immune to this habit. If we do not show the Eucharist proper respect, then we will respect nothing.

Maybe we cannot expect the world to rush to Christianity’s defence in any short timescale, but manifestly we need to get our own house in order. In the meantime, we need to enter into a meaningful prayer life, offering some kind of reparation for acts of desecration and the many other transgressions against God’s law.

Jozef Bubez
Burgess Hill, West Sussex

Vatican II helps me minister to the sick

SIR – Jackie Wilkinson (Letter, August 16) mentions the joy of the greater prominence of the Liturgy of the Word in the post-conciliar era.

I was a nurse in my youth and, thanks entirely to Vatican II, for the past 30 years I have intermittently been a Eucharistic minister to the sick. The consequences of being able to communicate the truths contained in the daily Mass readings have seemed almost God-given.

The matron of a care home one day approached me and said: “Tom is always much calmer when you have left him; however, he is fighting death – I wish he would let himself go.” The reading for the day was “One day in your courts, Lord, is better than a thousand elsewhere.” I said: “Tom, heaven is a wonderful place.” He died peacefully within half an hour of my leaving him.

Another communicant was in the choir and a reader, but now, alas, in the early stages of dementia. She reads the first reading and often comments on it, then will sing the responsorial psalm.

I have a treasury of such stories. They would not have existed in pre-Vatican II days and this intimate sharing of Scripture would be impossible if I were obliged to read it in Latin.

Elizabeth Price
Linton, Kent

United with Newman

SIR – Countless disciples of Blessed John Henry Newman will be unable to attend his canonisation in Rome, and some will not be able to attend any of the events that are certain to be arranged in Britain and Ireland to celebrate the great event.

How may they best mark the canonisation in their own personal lives? May I suggest a simple, yet powerful, way in which a person may celebrate the canonisation as a disciple of Newman, albeit perhaps in a hospital bed, or at home watching the canonisation on TV?

Shortly before he died, Newman wrote a letter to a friend, and he ended it with these words: “I shall venture to send you what I may call my Creed overleaf.” His “Creed” is his translation of the prayer called Anima Christi.

Were one to recite Newman’s translation of the prayer as an act of thanksgiving after he has been canonised, one would be in union with Newman; and with the Church, as it is his translation of the Anima Christi that is in the Divine Office; and in union too with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This is Newman’s translation: “Soul of Christ, be my sanctification / body of Christ, be my salvation / Blood of Christ, fill all my veins / Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains / Passion of Christ, my comfort be / O good Jesu, listen to me / In thy wounds I fain would hide / Ne’er to be parted from thy side / Guard me, should the foe assail me / Call me when my life shall fail me / Bid me come to thee above / With thy saints to sing thy love / World without end. Amen.”

Fr Michael G Murphy
Cork, Ireland

A priest’s armoury

SIR – I am privileged to visit Buckfast Abbey in Devon periodically. However, it is with substantial regret that I am unable to receive Holy Communion, because I was brought up in the Church of England.

I could take the RCIA course, but I find the suggestion implied by the Rite of Christian Initiation inappropriate as it implies that, as an Anglican, I require “initiation” into the Christian faith.

I also object, as a 56-year-old man, having to take a course in Catholic doctrine to receive a sacrament that the Roman Catholic Church makes available to children of an age when they are just as likely to believe in Father Christmas as the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have read in the Catholic press previously that when asked, many of those claiming to be Roman Catholics hold views on subjects that are not those of the Roman Catholic Church.

Now it appears that half those who call themselves Roman Catholics in the US do not hold the same view as the Roman Catholic Church on whether Jesus is present in the Eucharist.

So, where does this leave those non-Catholic Christians wishing to receive Holy Communion from a Roman Catholic priest, who are currently required to take a course of initiation in Roman Catholic doctrine, to which substantial numbers of those currently receiving Holy Communion as Roman Catholics do not themselves subscribe?

In my own view, the principal function of a Roman Catholic priest is to wage war on Satan.

I would also argue that the principal weapon in a priest’s armoury is what is, in my view – as a former practitioner of the Spiritualist religion – the very real spiritual presence of Jesus made manifest in the Eucharist.

Peter Couch
Plymouth, Devon