Dear Editor, I must say I was grieved to see Peter Costello’s unfavourable review of The Saint Mary’s Book of Christian Verse, which I chose and introduced. Having enjoyed Mr Costello’s amusing biography of James Joyce’s father and knowing that he writes well of poetry himself, I would have liked to have had my book please him. I am writing now simply to parry a few of his objections.
He rates me for not including more Irish poets, particularly Seamus Heaney and John F. Deane, not to mention the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas. I had thought of including Heaney but since his work is under copyright and would not have been inexpensive to include, I was constrained to leave it out. I agree that there are poems of his that might be included.
As for Thomas, I was considering his poem ‘Kneeling’ but decided against it. Poems, at the very least, should make sense, and this poem does not pass that test. In the revised edition, however, after Mr Costello’s horsewhipping, I may very well reconsider Thomas. I see his appeal. I shall simply have to find something of his more suitable.
A friend of mine told me the other day that he once reviewed a book by saying that it should not be read by the fire: it should be thrown in the fire. Mr Costello did not go that far in finding fault with my poor book, but he did rather stint its good points. Irish schoolchildren will discover wonderful Christian poems by many wonderful Christian and non-Christian poets in the book and although not all of them are Irish they are all worth reading.
Thank you for allowing me to have my counter say.
Astoria, New York, USA
An essential part of spiritual growth
Dear Editor, We are becoming more familiar with the word of God, many groups within the Church in Ireland are involved in adult faith formation which promotes study of Sacred Scripture. Some of these groups are the Samuel Group operating in Meath diocese, the Neocatechumenal Way in Dublin and Armagh dioceses and Lectio Divina run by the Dominicans and others.
This is essential for the renewal of the Church where in the past we have substituted messages from Marian Shrines for the authentic Word of God which is only now becoming an essential part of our spiritual growth.
Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath
Objecting to new sex ed programme in schools
Dear Editor, I see that the Government plans to make contraceptives available free to young people and also to revamp the Relationships and Sexuality programme for our schools. Given also the acceptance already by so many supposedly Catholic schools of homosexuality as an “alternative life style” to be put on a par with traditional marriage, one can easily understand what the content of the RSE programme will be: sheer hedonism, free sex, with no moral principle other than the consent of the parties engaging in any kind of relationship. But, of course, it will be dressed up in the language of tolerance, inclusiveness and responsibility etc., things which have no meaning if objective, moral principles are ignored.
Is the minister for education, a Catholic, even aware of this planned corruption? What will be the response of supposedly Catholic chemists and teachers? And what will be the response of the shepherds who surely learned something about objective moral principles and intrinsic evil in their seminary training and have responsibility for souls?
Some faithful, lay, Catholic parents, and parents of other denominations also, who have concern for the souls of their children, will indeed respond and object. But what backing will they get from their shepherds who talk so much about the involvement of the laity? It seems to me that it is the involvement only of liberal laity that is welcomed today. If backing for faithful laity is as lukewarm on this issue now as it has been so often in past decades on most other issues – the landslide defeats of various referenda is evidence – then it will be another indication that the Church in Ireland is selling out to a world that going far away from God.
Fr Richard O’Connor
Dublin diocese should support pro-life march more
Dear Editor, I hope that a lesson can be learned from the lack of support from at least some of the parishes in the Dublin diocese. In this anti-Catholic Ireland, it can be assumed that many other pro-life marches will be needed. I appeal to the Archbishop of Dublin to ensure that the next march will have his full support and that an instruction will be sent to all parishes to mention marches from the altar.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
A pro-life Catholic should not support the death penalty
Dear Editor, The seamless garment approach to the sanctity of human life looks at abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, and social/economic injustices, as being issues that demand a consistent application of moral principles, on the basis of respecting life from conception to death.
Sadly, earlier this month, three Catholics on the United States Supreme Court — Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Brett Kavanagh – all voted in favour of the death penalty for a mentally ill prisoner in Alabama.
A Catholic cannot claim to be pro-life and in favour of the death penalty. To be pro-life means we cannot pick and choose about the values of human lives. All life is sacred.
Micheál Ó Braoin
Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare
Lack of priests is a wake up call, not an opportunity
Dear Editor, Irish people have an attachment to the Mass. Books have been written about how our ancestors braved the elements and the punishment of those who hated the Mass. Most of us will have gone to a priest to have him sign a Mass card as an expression of sympathy for the death of people close to us or for some other special need.
For this reason, I am somewhat bemused by articles and letters which look forward to priestless and subsequently Massless parishes. We know (I hope) that there is a merit inherent to the Mass that will never be replicated in a ‘communion service’. The banality of modern music played on modern instruments with clichéd lyrics will never replace the profundity of the ancient liturgy.
The lack of vocations and reduced number of Masses is a wakeup call and not an opportunity. Those who treat it as an opportunity will not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so we should follow the advice of St Paul in Galatians 1:8.
Kilcornan, Co. Limerick