South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, March 2, 1984 Page: 4 of 16
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March 2,1984 • 4
By William G. Bilton
The holy season of Lent—one of the oldest obser-
vances of the Church year, dating back to apostolic
times—is once again upon us, The custom of setting
aside 40 days as a penitential period of preparation for
the joyous celebration of Easter can be traced back to
the Third Century.
On Ash Wednesday—in churcher throughout the
world—the faithful will be reminded of their human
murtaiity and of the necessity of doing penance ior sin.
as the priest places ashes on the foreheads and
reminds us that from dust we came and to dust we
Remember you are dust and to dust you will return are words that
many in today’s world do not want to hear. In their pursuit of
pleasure and the gratification of every desire, they try to shut
out from their minds the certainty that their earthy bodies will
sooner or later be separated from the souls which give them be-
ing and revert to the handfuls of day from which they were
Similarly, contemporary society rejects the truth that all of us
have committed offenses against God and must make amends
for them. We are, in fact, told by some so-called authorities on
human behavior that there is no such thing as personal accoun-
tability— that the things we do, be they good or bad, are not the
result of our own free choice, but can be blamed on our parents
or the environment in which we grew up.
One best-selling author ridicules the concept of personal guilt
and assures his readers that feelings of remorse are a waste of
time since the past is past and over and done.
But Christ made it very clear that we will be held responsible
for everything we do, that every sinful action must be atoned
for. We have been warned that nothing defiled can enter
But He goes out of His way to assure us that He is not a vin-
dictive God who demands the last ounce of retribution for our
sins. He constantly reminds us of His limitless mercy and His
eagerness to forgive us when we show repentance and a deter-
mination to mend our ways.
Len- gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our contrition
and to wipe away the temporal punishment we have incurred
through our offenses.
One way to demonstrate our determination to mend our
ways is to get away from others for the proper nutui. of our
spiritual lives. Time and time again in the Gospels, Jesus goes
off by Himself to pray He spent 40 days in the desert alone.
We can fashion a desert in our own lives to seek to recapture the
essence of Lent.
This may mean making space within our homes to which we
retire during Lent to be alone with the Father. It may mean
practicing forms of self-denial that have particular relevance to
our own lives. It may mean facing a difficult situation with so-
meone we love, so that together, we not only mend our ways
but save a precious, loving relationship.
Whatever we do, we should do it recognizing that while some
Lenten regulations have been relaxed to a degree in recent
years, the importance of doing penance has not been diminish-
Official newspaper of the
Diocese of Corpus Christi.
Published 45 times a year. Subscriptions $7 annually.
Bishop Thomas J. Drury
Kerrie Clos Salo Otero
Bishop Rene H. Gracida
William G. Bilton
Executive Editor and General Manager
1200 Lantana St.
Second class postage
Corpus Chnsti, TX 78407 (coo) paid at Corpus Christi, TX
(USPS - 540-8601)
The Human Side
The big question
media of communications?
By Father Eugene Hemrick
NC News Service
What are statistics for? In my research work in
the Church, that is a question I am forced to ask.
A friend helped me put the question in
perspective recently. “You have reported so
many statistics telling what we know about
Church ministries. But what don’t we know?
What questions aren’t getting asked?”
My first inclination was to go back over some
studies already conducted. Often when a study is
completed it raises more questions than it
For example, in a recent study, one-third of
U.S. directors and coordinators of religious
education programs indicated they felt their pro-
grams were not effective.
But what does “not effective” mean? Are the
religious educators referring to uninteresting
religion classes? Do they mean that one or two
hours of religion a week is not enough time?
Could the problem be with teachers whose
training is less than adequate? Or, is the problem
with parents who don’t send their children to
classes, or who arc non-supportive?
Does “not effective” imply that religion
classes are unable to compete with the mass
Such questions can challenge us to consider
new possibilities. Exploring new possibilities br-
ings an experimental atmosphere into things. In
the classroom, for example, this is that attitude
that says, “Let’s try a new approach and
measure the results of our efforts.”
As I reflect on my friend’s question, there is
another question that I feel needs to be asked;
“How many people in Church ministry look
upon their work with an experimental attitude:’”
By experimental, I mean the willingness to test
new possibilities in order to make improvements.
Implied here is a research mentality which sets
up a goal, then measures how effectively it is be-
ing reached and makes continuous readjustments
for better results. Constant reflection is crucial.
Tfce experimental attitude asserts itself under
pressure and chooses how to allocate its time. It
prefers a well-thought-out race to the rai race.
In working with statistics on Church
ministries, I have come to believe they serve best
by what they imply. They Imply a questioning
attitude, one which says, “Stop! Let's take a bet-
(Copyright (c) 1984 by NC News Service)
Father Eugene Hemrick is director of
research for the National Conference of
Vatican ties and
By Liz Armstrong
NC News Service
WASHINGTON—When the Senate began
considering the nomination of William Wilson as
U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, it found itself
immersed not only in a diplomatic question but
also in religious issues, chief among them,
As members pondered the Wilson nomination
and a separate State Department request for a
transfer of funds to support a new U.S. embassy
at the Vatican, unhappy constituents loudly ob-
jected to a formal U.S.-Vatican diplomatic rela-
Regardless of the ultimate outcome of congres-
sional actions on the Wilson nomination or the
transfer request, some opposition is likely to con-
tinue, although critics’ fears might be eased over
time if the new diplomatic relationship proves
successful and, as supporters of the idea expect,
non-threatening to Church-state relations.
The largely Protestant opposition raised
numerous arguments against formal
U.S.-Vatican ties, with the alleged violation of
the constitutional ban on establishment of
religion leading the list.
Those sympathetic to diplomatic ties say that
formally recognizing the Vatican and its
diplomatic status as a political entity in no way
establishes a state religion in America. “This is
surely not establishment of a state religion by
sending an ambassador to the Vatican,*’ said
Rep. George M, O’Brien, R-Ill., during a
House subcommittee hearing.
However, the second part of the “establish-
ment” argument might prove to be more persis-
tent: the view that formal U.S.-Vatican
diplomatic ties would oiomote preference for the
Catholic Church over other denominations.
Critics also said that the U.S. ambassador Is
not to be sent to the state of Vatican City but is to
be accredited to the “Holy See. ” The Rev. Dean
Kelley, director for religious and civil liberty at
the National Council of Churches, said the Holy
See “is an ecclesiastical entity: A ‘See’ is the seat
of a bishop and ‘holy’ is a quintessential^
Other arguments against formal tie were rais-
ed as well:
—That formal ties between the United States
and the Vatican will link too closely the U.S.
government and the Catholic Church, and by ex-
tension all churches, perhaps posing threats to
Catholic and other Christian missionaries
overseas from groups who could equate attacking
a Christian missionary with attacking the U.S.
—That formal ties are unnecessary because
the practice of having a presidential “personal
envoy” to the Vatican already provides for in-
teraction between the U.S. government and the
Finally, the fact that it was apparently Wilson
himself who sought the formal diplomatic ties
with the Holy See prompted the question of
whether an exchange of ambassadors was not
motivated, at least in part, by personal as well as
Given the issues raised by the Wilson nomina-
tion and by the establishment of formal ties, con-
cerned Catholics, Protestants and memb-rs of
Congress are likely to follow the development in
the next several years of the U.S.-Vatican rela-
tionship with keen interest.
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Bilton, William G. South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 19, No. 35, Ed. 1 Friday, March 2, 1984, newspaper, March 2, 1984; Corpus Christi, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth840596/m1/4/: accessed December 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .