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Here are some thoughts on Walt Sears' column "Sharing Food: (Forum, June 25).
The author raises excellent points about being mindful of the food we eat, the people who made it possible and the less fortunate who go hungry. It is indeed what we do at Mass at the blessing of the Bread and Wine — "...gift of the earth, fruit of the vine, work of human hands, may this Bread and Wine become our spiritual food and drink." It is only appropriate that we celebrate the sharing of food as a communal event and also a sacrament.
A very important contemporary aspect of the stewardship of Earth's bounty is that we have to be mindful of the Earth's welfare. The human tendencies for mindless consumption have put the Earth in danger through deforestation, aggressive farming and cattle raising all of which have brought on global warming. It is high time we developed an attitude of conscious consumption — consume only produce from organic farms, grown and distributed locally.
It is also high time we expanded our sense of stewardship, and our circle of compassion, to include the voiceless inhabitants of our planet — the fish, the birds and the animals. While it is difficult for many of us to alter the habits of a life time, it is possible to slowly enlarge our sense of compassion to include the higher mammals first, the birds next and then the creatures of the sea. It would help to remember that raising animals for food is more expensive, at least by an order of magnitude, in terms of water and grain consumption and thus greatly contributes to global warming.
It is only appropriate that we begin to eat more consciously and conscientiously — conscious of the true cost of food and with compassionate consideration for all of Earth's inhabitants and the Earth itself.
[Editor's Note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2416-18) teaches: "Animals are God's creatures. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals. God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing, work, leisure, [and] medical and scientific experimentation if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives. It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons."]
St. Augustine project
My daughter is that "mystery" parishioner who attended St. Elizabeth Middle School mentioned in the article (Voice, June 11) about St. Augustine of Oakland's Kenya Project. Her name is Soncerrae Walker. Due to a scheduling conflict, we missed the opportunity for her to share with the parish how she came up with the idea of the charity dance. She worked very hard on this charity dance.
In a homily, Father Mark spoke to us of the legacy Jesus left for us as Christians and as Catholics. My 14-year-old daughter was listening and decided, that Sunday, to create a charity dance for the Oakland Diocese seventh- and eighth-graders with all proceeds going to a pre-selected charity. Her concept, as she presented it to Sisters Rosemarie and Suzanne that following Monday, was to hold this dance annually, at a different school each year and allow each "host" school to pick the charity that would receive the proceeds from the dance. Hence, the graduating class of each school — each year — would leave a legacy of giving and togetherness from our section of the diocese.
Shortly after this, Father Mark had his "reverse collection" to aid the Kenya Project. My daughter presented the idea to the student council at St. Elizabeth and they agreed to host the dance with all proceeds going to the Kenya Project.
The student council created a slide show presentation that ran continually at the dance telling the story of the Tonga Parish Mission Orphanage, the children that live there and how the St. Augustine Parish Kenya Project planned to help improve their lives. They created posters that told the story of St. Augustine Oakland and the Kenya Project. The St. Elizabeth Middle School student council was determined to show that by working together they could make an impact on the lives of students not so very much unlike themselves.
Parents drove from their schools and brought their children and other students. My daughter and I took our "envelopes" from the reverse collection ($50 each) and bought 200 balloons with internal lights in them so each dance participant could take home a internal "light" to shine. Other St. Elizabeth Middle School student council members and parents provided water and snacks. They raised $700.
Soncerrae graduated from St. Elizabeth and will attend Moreau Catholic High School in the fall as a member of the Class of 2016. She is hoping, and the other student council members from St. Elizabeth Middle School are also hoping, they get a call next year to pitch in and help with the next Seventh and Eighth-Grade Charity Dance.
I have become increasingly concerned about the direction the Church is going lately. Specifically, the bishops' decision to oppose the Health and Human Services birth control mandate asserting it is an attack on religious freedom is instead taking away a woman's freedom to make personal choices.
The bishops should be focusing on helping the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, the unemployed and world peace rather than what women shouldn't do. During the Fortnight for Freedom, I will be praying for these and other social justice issues.
[Editor's Note: The bishops have a duty to proclaim the truth regarding the sanctity of marriage and of marital relationships which must always be free, total, faithful and open to life. While teaching that the use of contraception is intrinsically evil they nevertheless cannot do anything to prevent their use. In the US the Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services to the "poor, hungry, sick, imprisoned and unemployed" while being a voice for peace throughout the world.]
In the rash of rebellious-Catholic voices (or are they anti-Catholic Voices?) in the June 25 edition of The Catholic Voice I find an undercurrent of misunderstanding about the pedophile priests.
Most of the cases occurred in the 1960s and the 1970s; practically all of them were male-on-male cases, i.e. the assailants were sexual inverts; most of them had engaged in homosexual practices. The standard method for dealing with pedophiles at that time was to have them counseled by a clinical psychologist and then to re-assign them; I understand that in many school districts that is still the procedure, but in the Catholic Church we now de-assign such people permanently from pastoral office. Government servants, alas, cannot be sued for tort after a fairly short time limitation, unlike members of the general public (such as priests), so we do not hear much of the pervert teachers.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church is now much more wary of ordaining sexual inverts than it was before, mainly because they have a greater temptation to pedophilia than other people.
The pervert priests issue is not a particularly Catholic problem but a societal one, and the Catholic Church is dealing with it better than society at large.
John A. Wills
Ask for guidance
I was about to die ... but God was there with me. I was driving to my art class, pressing some powder on my cheeks, following a blue car, when suddenly I noticed a flashing red light.
I was at the railroad tracks! I stepped hard on the gas then I looked back and saw the Amtrak train zoom past me.
Often times, we take God for granted. Each time we wake up, ride a car, go to a meeting, we know this but we forget. We thought we were invincible, that we will live a long, healthy life.
But the truth is we don't own our lives. They are borrowed and can be taken away any minute. That's why we should ask for guidance in all the steps we make. And thank God for each moment that passes.
Do not be weary. God answers the littlest prayer all the time!
Stop HHS decree
I am concerned about President Obama decreeing that Catholic institutions must pay for medical insurance for their employees — an insurance that covers contraceptives.
I do not think the solution is for good bishops and priests to go to prison rather than pay for the medical insurance.
I think if we cannot stop Obama's decree, we should close down the hospitals, schools, Catholic Charities, etc. Then the good priests and bishops will be free to give the Church good guidance to supervise and teach Catechism for all ages, to say Mass and visit the sick and give the other Sacraments.
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