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The Joy of Confession

First of all I wish to express my wholehearted agreement with Steve Clifford’s “Purity in a Porn Age.” Porn coupled with the computer is surely one of the disasters of our age. What adds to that danger is that little ones can see it without their parents’ control. Porn indeed reduces the human being to a Thing. And then there is the tragedy of addiction. Steve’s “four steps” reflect Catholic teaching, particularly the last step, which for us Catholics is the Sacrament of Confession (or “Reconciliation” as it is named after Vatican II). Even from a purely human point of view, “a joy shared is a joy doubled; a burden shared is a burden halved.” In fact, through the priest confessor we share this burden directly with Jesus. And we take courage in the words of Jesus, “There will be greater joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner than over a hundred just men.” –Frank Mascarenhas


Pacifists in Alcatraz

On Duane Stoltzfus’s “The Martyrs of Alcatraz,” Summer 2014: I left the Marine Corps as a conscientious objector after fifteen years, and joined the Mennonite Church in October 2001. Even today being a conscientious objector is difficult. I am ridi­culed by many Christians because I will no longer fight and kill for an earthly empire. –Micheal J. McEvoy


Bonhoeffer among the Assassins

This debate, like most debates on Christian pacifism, misses the point [Charles Moore, “Was Bonhoeffer Willing to Kill?”, Summer 2014]. The biblical Christ did not teach “pacifism” or resistance to evil by nonviolent means. If you want to follow Christ, then “love your enemies.” That’s the cost of discipleship. I wouldn’t look to ­Bonhoeffer for an example though. Nor the rest of us. –Christopher Russell


Katharina Hutter, Tyrolean Martyr

On Jason Landsel’s “Katharina Hutter, Heroine of the Radical Reformation,” Summer 2014: We are counseled in God’s Word to buy from him “gold refined by fire” (Revelation 3:18). Katharina and Jakob understood the eternal value of the Gospel of the kingdom of God. Their sacrifice for the living of a life of genuine faith showed forth the full value of being willing to give up everything, in order to gain everything. May such an example reach through the ages and warm our hearts and spirits to live life today with similar dedication to our God. –Randy Hall


What Kind of Church Did Jesus Want?

Kwon Jeong-saeng’s words are beautiful and true [“The Church I Dreamed Of,” Autumn 2014]. How often do we look elsewhere for God’s kingdom rather than right in front of our eyes! In the Lord’s Prayer we pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Do we believe that in heaven some people will be living in mansions while others will be living in garbage dumps? Do we believe that a few will be feasting while others are starving? Do we believe that in the kingdom it will be God’s will to destroy the lands and pollute the waters? Do we believe that in heaven there will be walls and borders to separate people? If we do not believe that it is God’s will in heaven, why do think it is acceptable here on God’s earth? –Patrick Carolan


Real Heroes

This “post-heroic age” logic has been applied within Christianity, too [Maximilian Probst, “Heroes: Now It’s Your Turn,” Autumn 2014]. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words, “But Jesus doesn’t mean we’re all supposed to do this,” or “By ‘sell all you have and give to the poor,’ he meant to not make an idol out of money.” It’s as if giving your life completely to Jesus is an outdated and extreme response. We do still need heroes, like Mother Teresa and Saint Patrick; I just wish Christians wouldn’t preach as though the heroic characteristics of such people were no longer achievable, or even desirable! –Ryan Albosta