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Read it again boys!

Get with it Neil Ormerod, Chris Mc Gillion, The Tablet and Paul Collins; I expected much more from you! (The Devil is in the Detail – Feb. 1). I wondered why you were all falling about in raptures over our snag (sensitive new age guy) of a Pope, who has written an undeniably brilliant encyclical on the subject of God’s love, Deus Caritas Est.

I then realised that this encyclical was actually written by men, for men, with the loving authority of God the Father. It is written in language that speaks predominately to men and not women. Read it again boys, it sounds oh so familiar – women are: company for lonely Adam, prostitutes and goddesses in the temple, sought by man so that he can be completed, do I need to continue? 

Consider if women were more than “helpers” in God’s plan would it have taken this long for an encyclical to be written about the love God lavishes upon us and which we in turn share with others?

Paula McLeod, Hurstbridge, Vic  


Called to love

Professor Neil Ormerod’s article The devil is in the detail provides an excellent summary of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est.  In the first part of the encyclical, as Ormerod acknowledges,  Pope Benedict writes eloquently about God’s love, and this sets a beautiful tone for the new papacy.  The second part is more problematical in that it seeks to address just how the Church is to respond to God’s love.  The encyclical states “the church cannot and must not replace the state”. It explores the relationship between faith and politics and offers warnings about ideologies “aimed at improving the world”. 

Ormerod raises many interesting questions on how the Church’s welfare agencies and charitable organisations are to interpret this encyclical. It seems that differentiating between giving “back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God” is an ongoing quest for which there are no easy answers. If the devil is in the detail then God may well be in the big picture! Perhaps we might take a leaf out of the first part of Pope Benedict’s encyclical and ask ourselves: If God is love then what is the most loving thing for us to do in this or that situation?   The prophet Micah ‘kept it simple’: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”

Ed Sianski, Hobart


Not in the Mad Monk’s hymn book

The Prime Minister wants health buck passing to stop between Commonwealth and States and has organised a special meeting of COAG to discuss mental health issues this week. Has he considered the possibility that the buck should stop with him?

A 1000 page report by the Mental Health Council of Australia and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities commission has exposed that people looking for health with mental problems are being subjected to over-drugging and excessive use of electro-convulsive therapy.

I can’t help but note that the same drug that the Prime Minister agreed to prohibit from importation nine years ago as a special trade-off with Pro-Life Senator Harradine in exchange for a vote on a partial sale of Telstra, is the same drug that may be able to help. Stanford researchers in the US discovered in 2002 that while sufferers of psychotic major depression, a severe and debilitating form of mental illness, improve slowly or not at all with standard medication, the drug known as RU-486 can treat these patients quickly and effectively. “Some people in the study had been sick for years and were doing extremely well after just a week," said Alan Schatzberg, MD, and chair of the psychiatry department at Stanford.

I take it Tony Abbott will not be singing the praises of the drug at the next meeting of COAG. 

Mary Lander, Woden, ACT


Meeting Jesus in Holy Communion

In my boyhood days, and early teens, prior to Vatican II, we received Holy Communion whilst kneeling at the altar rails, and we received on our tongue. The altar boy walked along ahead of the priest, holding a silver or gold plate beneath our open mouths, so that if by any chance the host was dropped, it would not land on the floor. We were forbidden to touch the host, and told that if it should drop, under no circumstances were we to pick it up - we were to draw the priest’s attention to it and allow him to pick it up.  All of this tended to make the reception of Our Lord’s Body a very reverent exercise.

Since the removal of the altar rails, the general procedure of receiving Holy Communion has in my opinion suffered from a terrible drop in the attitude of reverence with which it should be approached.  It's more a case of "Here it is, come and get it. Don't waste time kneeling down. Get your host here standing up; take it in your hand, and then get out of the road, so the next person can get his/hers."

In some churches I have been to, an occasional recipient will genuflect just before he/she receives the Host, and that seems to me be a much more reverent way of receiving Holy Communion.

 Since it seems that it is mainly elderly people who attend mass these days, and many of them (including myself) have difficulty in genuflecting, an alternative could be to bow, before receiving Holy Communion:  The person could walk towards the priest to receive Holy Communion.  Pause as the person immediately in front receives communion, and wait until he/she steps aside.  Then either genuflect or bow whichever you are capable of doing.  Then step forward to receive Holy Communion.

This procedure would lengthen the time it takes to receive Holy Communion, but it would still take less time than it used to when we knelt at the altar rails. And it would certainly instil in the younger people who occasionally attend Mass that reception of Holy Communion is a special thing and should be done reverently.

I had a conversation with a priest about that on a Friday afternoon after Mass, and he rejected the idea.  On the following Sunday, I was rostered to assist in giving Holy Communion, and was standing next to that priest as we both gave out the Hosts.  His line of people finished when I still had one person in front of me.   My last one looked an absolute bum.  Thin and emaciated, his hair looked as though it had not been combed in weeks. He had a straggly grey beard, sunburnt hands and face, was wearing old trousers too big for him held up by a necktie, an old baggy tweed coat, and boots - all of which gave the impression that he had been dressed by St Vinnies years ago on one of their very bad days.

He didn't just genuflect. He knelt down on both knees, joined his hands in the typical praying hands style, threw back his head and opened his mouth. I gave him Communion on his tongue, and he blessed himself and went back to his seat.

I don't know who he was. I had never seen him before, and never since.  I made a special point of going to Father after Mass, and saying, "I didn't set that bloke up to do that. I've never seen him before!"

We are told that we should endeavour to see Jesus in every person we meet   ...  I wonder?

Ellis Ryan, Coonamble


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