June 4, 2010

Letters to the Editor

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Column about devotions was possibly confusing and misleading

A question was raised about Divine Mercy Sunday in Father John Dietzen’s “Question Corner” in the May 21 issue of The Criterion. I fear that the column’s headline, “Some prayer novenas and devotions are not approved by the Church,” and Father Dietzen’s response were possibly confusing and misleading.

Approval for Divine Mercy Sunday was given by the Church on May 5, 2000, in a decree issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Priests, parishes and the faithful have thus been granted every right in liturgical law to practice this devotion.

Though it is always important to avoid legalisms and external showings only in the practice of devotions, these pitfalls should not discourage us to practice such prayers. Such discouragement might alienate those who truly do need such devotions, which include all of us.

If someone has difficulty accepting the requirements of a devotion in order to gain an indulgence or some special grace, then one should look upon these conditions with the eyes of their soul. For example, if part of fulfilling the Divine Mercy devotion requires us “to perform an act of mercy toward another on a specific day,” then we should, with a loving and obedient heart, submit as perfectly as possible to this request that the Church has approved.

Authentic love for Jesus and his Church compels us with a zealous fire to accept that performing the necessary requirements to gain a special grace or indulgence is given to us in the best interest of our soul, and then drives us to carry them out with great love.

Father Dietzen also wrote about how some people have an “eccentric fascination with purgatory.” It is instead important to not forget about purgatory—an extremely important, yet so little heard about, dogma of our faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states clearly the teaching on purgatory (#1030-#1032), and “commends almsgiving, indulgences and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.” It would be wise for all of us to read and study these passages, both to help our own souls to avoid purgatory and to help those who are being purified there.

Concern for the poor and holy souls in purgatory is a devotion that is full of love and one that all priests should encourage their flocks to embrace. And we should remember to ask the poor souls to pray for us as well, particularly to help us avoid the same mistakes they made while here on Earth.

God is so merciful and good to give all these wonderful devotions to us through his Church. We give him the most honor, praise and glory when we use Church-approved devotions and help promote them to others, not tear them down and question the hearts of those who strive to embrace them in their prayer lives.

- Monica Siefker, Bloomington

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