Xavier Magazine

Letters to the Editor

Smart and Stylish
As a frequent traveler, I know in advance that one of the key travel tips is to travel for comfort. Therefore, a Xavier sweatshirt is often the apparel of choice for many trips. On one recent journey, this attire seemed to be an advertisement. In the Cincinnati airport, one of the courtesy cart drivers honked at me and shouted “Go Muskies.” Upon arrival in Atlanta, and heading toward my connecting flight, I was approached by a gentleman who was looking at me as if we were friends. Trying not to appear confused, I nodded to him, as he shouted “Nice shirt.” I looked to see that he was wearing a Musketeers shirt. Finally, upon my destination to Dallas, I was walking to retrieve my luggage, when I was stopped by an airport employee. To paraphrase, he inquired if the Xavier logo on my shirt was the same one from the “University that has a good program, and more importantly, graduates a high number of athletes.” After a short conversation confirming this, I was on my way. Then I thought about it. Three airports, three comments on my alma mater. Way cool.
Doug Subotnik
Class of 1982, 1986

Move the Manatees
I read with interest your article on saving the manatees with sound waves. I spend a lot of time in the Ft. Myers, Fla., area and am aware of the issues involved. I have met several people who are native to southwest Florida and there is another side to this issue. Manatees are not native to this area, but were imported many years ago. Their grazing habits of eating the grass and root system in the river beds is not good. This is destroying the natural areas that fish need to lay eggs and regenerate. An argument can be made that the best thing for the manatees and the whole ecosystem of the area, is that they be packed up and returned to their original environment away from Florida. Best of luck in your research.
Don Mattcheck
Class of 1964

Feature vs. Feature
As editor of this publication, I take a strong objection to the feature article “Branching Out” as the obvious ridicule by Mr. [John Bookser] Feister of the philosophy and theology departments from 1940 to 1960. That, my friends, produced the moral teaching and background for your other article on Simon Leis. He was an unfortunate student of that era, as was I. A few other people came to mind that have been great benefactors to Xavier also were in our era. To name a few: Leo Boeslin, Bob Conway, Charles Schott, Tom Balabou, James Ryan, Jerry Devitt. I could go on and on with names you seem to have forgotten and, not the least, such teachers as Fr. Hethenigton.

What has this “new era” generation done for Xavier? They invited Bill Clinton over to talk. Wake up and pray for guidance. Don’t invite such flaky authors again to publish what they have little or no background or history of. To quote a news anchorman, Tom Brokaw, who writes about our “Greatest Generation,” ‘Where did this group of people get their guts and character?’ We were all part of it and, thanks to my personal theology training at Xavier, I’m still practicing and teaching the faith as a retired physician who has been re-certified by the archdiocese as a substitute teacher in the parochial system for grades seven through 12. My personal opinion is that a return to tradition should be reevaluated, especially in light of John Paul II encyclical Ex Cordon Eulesia. Thank you for your consideration.
Paul J. Haas, M.D.
Class of 1951

Eye Catcher
As an alumnus, I receive Xavier Magazine. I want to commend you for the superb and attractive layout, the design, color and concise, tasteful eye-catching articles and the creative use of space. One is drawn into the articles by just browsing through the magazine. Congratulations. It’s a top-ranking piece of creativity. You have every right to be very proud.
Marian Oldiges, R.S.M.
Class of 1973

I hear there’s a big stink on campus. “The Vagina Monologues” was booked by the student council, and [University President] Fr. Mike Graham has stepped in and cancelled the event, refusing to discuss the matter. While I am disheartened by this action at my much loved alma mater, it doesn’t surprise me—typical. To me, it further solidifies why, as an adult, I now am against the Catholic church and their hypocritical and patriarchal teachings and actions. If he thinks this won’t effect donations from my generation as we are on the brink of our earning potential, he is wrong. Such actions won’t be forgotten.
Colleen (Hartman) Cassity
Class of 1993

Test of Time
By his self-righteous, prudish bullying, Simon Leis has inadvertently done more to champion the First Amendment than Larry Flynt. Leis wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes in most places. Being “committed” and “unwaivering” and “strong” and “zealous” are virtues only if one is right. I hear Jerry Springer might run again.
Robert Brock

I am writing to register my unhappiness that you chose to run an article on Simon Leis. It has never been the role of government to enforce morality. Si Leis has embarked on a career of censorship and paranoia cloaked in a sense of civic duty. I am embarrassed that Xavier would do anything to promote his legacy of small-minded provincialism.
Thomas Baker

Short Story
I was interested in your 2003 winter issue cover story: “Stretching the Limits.” I have to say that I was very disappointed to read the “story,” which was two sentences long. Am I missing something?
Sarah Woller

Breaking Legs
Thanks for the wonderful article on Cathy Springfield and the Xavier Players. I was an avid member of the theatre department when I attended XU in the early 90’s and am so pleased to see them getting the respect and facilities they deserve. Cathy has long been on my list of “people who’ve made a great impact on my life.” Bravo and break a leg.
Becky Crist Johnson

Look Back
Xavier Magazine has to be one of the best in the country, and I have seen many, including my wife’s alma mater, and by her admission, Xavier’s is better. So congratulations on the fine, outstanding publication. I read it from cover to cover asap as it arrives, which some times takes me a couple of weeks. I enjoy the closings with the alumni profiles. The thought crossed my mind when I read them this time, that I might make the suggestion to include profiles of retirees, those who have gone before, the lay the ground work for those presently. When [University President] Fr. Graham has his very nice Christmas Mass and reception for the retirees, he always says we are the people who sometimes struggled to make the University what it is today. These profiles should be both faculty and administrators, and I might say that selfishly because I was an administrator for my whole career at Xavier, but also taught. I am thinking of a person like Irv Beumer who worked a couple of different positions before he retired as vice president of financial administration. He tells of times when they struggled to make payroll. But also faculty members like Dr. Johnson in chemistry, Dr. Anderson in psychology, etc.
John Wintz

Offended and Excited
I recently saw the spring issue of Xavier magazine, including the related articles by John Bookser Feister and the quoted comments of Howard Gray, S.J., of John Carroll University, and I was deeply offended. As a 66-year-old Catholic, born into Catholicism, and educated in the 1940’s and 1950’s, I took grave offense at Gray’s comments of when he said “Certainly the weakest theology we taught was in the period of 1940 to 1960. It was all too frequently catechism instruction with more notes.” According to your “mission statement,” Xavier magazine is supposed to “engage, educate and excite” us. You excited me, all right, but perhaps not in the way you expected. That mission statement also says that you “strive to…treat all topics and issues in an objective, balanced manner.” You sure missed the mark with these articles. Both Feister’s and Gray’s remarks reek with post-Vatican II bias. Their comments reek of triumphalism, elitism and hubris. A better headline for the articles might have been “My Catholicism is better than your foolish, old, out-dated Catholicism.”

Feister opined that “Ignatius Loyola would be jumping up and down with joy” [at the climate at Xavier today]. How does he know? Ignatius might just take after Feister with his sword. He’s dead, and we can’t ask him. Feister’s and Gray’s comments are opinion, and only that. If you have any intention of being true to your “mission statement,” let some folks from “Crisis” magazine and “Adoremus Bulletin” have their shot at responding to Gray and Feister. Xavier puffs out its academic chest with pride and boasts about its “inclusiveness.” Let’s see a little of that vaunted inclusiveness when it comes to Catholics of a “traditional” bent—those who know, for instance, that the ecclesiastical authorities have asked that all teaching staff at Catholic University show their faithfulness to Church teaching through such things as a loyalty oath, compliance with which has not been forthcoming. Finally, I’d like to challenge Gray to be specific with regard to what he claims was “the weakest theology we taught” during the 1940’s to 1960. According to people like this, the Catholic Church wasn’t invented until the Second Vatican Council. It was during this period that my own Catholicism was formed.

Under a photo on page 27 were these words: “In past eras, attendance at Mass was mandatory. Today, Mass is voluntary—and more widely attended.” This is patently untrue. The Church regards the deliberate missing of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days as a grave (mortal) sin. If you want a better gauge of the “effectiveness” of today’s “theology,” take a look at the lines for confession in our churches on Saturday afternoon and compare those to the ones in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. I was there then, and I’m here now. I can tell you about the difference.

There is no way that if I were a non-Catholic, I would convert to the Catholicism I see today in this country. The pre-Vatican II theology produced many saints, including my own mother and father, and several of my siblings. I resent the sentiments expressed in these columns, and I would like to see an apology and an opportunity afforded to qualified people to respond in an “objective, balanced manner.”
Bill Banchy


Word Play
Is there some ironclad rule that every article in your magazine has to have a “clever” pun as its title—even an article on Auschwitz? When you occasionally print something that can make people feel and think, there is no need to coat it in cuteness.
Richard Polt
Department of philosophy

Immodest and Inappropriate
My wife and I were both taken back by the photograph on the cover of the recent Xavier magazine with the header, “Keeping the Faith.” I looked first and didn’t say a word. I handed the magazine to my wife and watched her expression. Same reaction. Dismay. Shock. Disappointment.

Why? You associate the crucifix with the chest and open blouse of a young woman. Your picture is both immodest and inappropriate. To parody your article, “Branching Out,” St. Ignatius is probably “jumping up and down” this day but not with joy. He’s probably yelling, “You don’t get it.”

A more appropriate article with this picture should have headlined: “The Spiritual Paradox of Our Age.” In Hollywood style, you have associated, unabashedly, Christ with vice; the vice in this case, immodesty. In using this picture, you have also captured a “freeze-frame” image of the lax moral climate of a generation whose socialization habits reflect a generic “It’s OK” conscience. It’s a slack conscience formed not in the Ignatian disciplines of purity, modesty, chastity and holiness, but in the sensual and pleasurable “feelings” of self actualization and fulfillment, the same worldly feelings that ultimately leave one empty and wanting.

It’s not “OK” to use the image of a woman is such a casual manner. And it is a shame to associate the Redeemer with such immodesty. This picture also contradicts Fr. [Leo] Klein’s statement, “We want them to be intellectually clear but to be morally astute, to have a sense of God.” To have a sense of God is to have a sense the dignity of one’s person. To be morally astute is to be queenly aware of the slightest thing “of the world” or “of the flesh” that could lead us away from God.

As Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “As women go, so goes society.” When society looks so casually upon women and their bodies, it loses respect for the dignity of womanhood. Your photo, so casual and close-up, using a woman’s chest as a background for the crucifix debases the reality of each person as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

In an age where the vast majority of programs and productions are nothing more than quagmires of lust and violence, our Catholic institutions and our Catholic families must hold fast to that which is pure and holy, modest and chaste. In fact, our Catholic institutions should be bastions of purity. This calls for the discipline and the courage of St. Ignatius. It demands that each one of us exercise militant vigilance for the dignity and purity of every soul.

There should be no question where the line between purity and impurity is drawn. It just takes the full operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be astute and to keep those lines intellectually clear in every experience of our daily lives. We must pray for each other, for all of us, at one time or another, cross, mingle and blur those lines when we are tempted to cross the line. We should especially pray for those who dance on those lines, mocking purity itself.

Those who do the dance rationalize their sin as their individual right and freedom. Even the First Amendment grants such freedoms of expression. Others who do the dance would say, “Hey, it’s only a picture. If you think it’s impure, that’s your problem.” Well, that’s a cop out. God has given editors and producers authority and power but He did not give them the right to tempt others. Those who work in the public must be acutely aware of their responsibility before God. Even St. Paul talked about the serious nature of “teaching” and the consequence of its responsibility. Whether writers and publicists want to admit it or not, they teach, and what they teach may not necessarily be the truth, or, even if it is the truth, it’s revelation may not be what is best for the salvation of souls. For the sake of sensationalism and profits, many in the publishing industry compromise moral values and goodness, teasing and appeasing the base human instinct for sex without love.

In this case, a casual glance at a women’s chest can be a temptation for many people, but if the temptation is entertained and becomes sin, the one who offers the temptation shares in the sin. This is a burden of sharing that has been lost on a society that prides itself in its ability to warm itself by the fires of temptation without getting burned. As Catholics, we must be extraordinarily vigilant in our selection of what we feed our senses. We must also be very critical in what we teach, learn and share. Our choices affect lives and the lives of those around us. When it comes to images, we must be extremely careful in what we view for our eyes are the “windows to our souls.”

Our Lord said, “The pure of heart shall see God.” With the blatant impurity of our age, it is no wonder there is such a lack of respect for life, marriage, family and self. It is no wonder there is such dissatisfaction with family, spouse and self. Impurity blinds the eyes of faith, and when we cannot “see” the face of God, we will not “see” the sacredness and the eternal nature of our own being; nor will we ever appreciate the sacred gift of our sexuality. It is only when we begin to see more clearly source and destination of our life that we begin to appreciate the opportunity God has given us to live. We will never treasure the gift of our life or begin to comprehend the Divine value God has attached to each one of us unless we temper our desires and live our lives in the image and likeness of God, “Who is Love.”

A society that cannot “see” the source of its dignity or anticipate the experience of eternal joy has no incentive and finds no reason to bring new life into the world, or, for that matter, to care for life that already exists. That society, devoid of personal value and eternal vision, does not recognize that each soul has an eternal destination of life or death, and therefore, it has no concern for the souls of those who are most in danger of losing their eternal life.

No Catholic institution or any one of its organizations can allow itself to be lax in these disciplines of purity, modesty, chastity and holiness. If anything, we and the institutions who profess to be Catholic must hold these virtues in the highest esteem and scrutinize our expressions very carefully so that each expression is virtuous, even to the limits the world thinks extreme. The litmus test? It is always better to err on the side of goodness and purity to the extreme. Why? Because God, who is infinite purity, is the extreme. Who can know that perfect extreme? No one. We can only attempt to imitate it in being cautious to the extreme we can imagine.

If we imitate the purity of God, our expressions of purity can also be piercing lights of grace that stall the proliferation of vice. More importantly, that same grace which abounds in us and from us has as its source the bounty of Christ, which attracts and purifies those who are hungry for the experience of virtue.

The bottom line: a picture of a crucifix, Christ crucified, is ever appropriate and should bring to mind the life Jesus bought for us with His own. A picture of Christ on a partially bare chest just above a woman’s cleavage—that is not appropriate. We don’t need to look upon the one whom we have crucified and see, at the same time, the flesh of a woman that may lead someone into temptation and sin, which sin, if committed, would be another cause for Christ’s infinite suffering and death. Meditate on that one. It’s deep.

Best wishes to you and your staff. Keep it pure and holy to the extreme. When in doubt, imagine the Virgin Mary and try to emulate her purity and modesty. If you can’t imagine Our Lady, pray the Holy Rosary it is very, very powerful for purity.
Tom Hummer
Class of 1973

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