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Voices Online Edition
Lent-Easter 2002
Vol. XVII: No. 1

Inside Voices

Editorial - Helen Hull Hitchcock

First of all, we want to thank you, our faithful readers, for making this edition of Voices possible. We are delighted to be back!

We believe this Lent/Easter issue will prove worth the wait. Our very active editorial board has contributed much to our in-depth coverage of serious issues that particularly affect Catholic women and families -- issues that we need to give our best thought, action and prayers.

Nearly everyone in the world has spent much time, these past several months, considering the events of September 11 and the aftermath. Whatever else, Americans have been jarred out of complacency. While we think there has been a lot of hyperbole in the tens of thousands of words that have been written since that day by political and religious commentators, every one of us has had to ask new questions and seek new answers. Evil took on new dimensions for us that day. James Hitchcock's essay offers penetrating insights on the subject of evil, a concept that has become alien to our self-involved society.

The many who have died, either in the terrorist attack or in the armed conflict that followed, have received millions of prayers from people they did not know. Those who have suffered the death of family -- fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and friends -- have begun the long process of learning how to live with grief. Confronted with terror, fear and suffering, all of us saw, in the human acts of heroism and simple kindness and generosity, that even in the midst of the darkest night there is a reason for Hope. We think you will find a letter we received via e-mail from a Muslim woman in Istanbul interesting. It offers an important perspective that we would certainly never have gained in other than these extraordinary circumstances.

The penitential season of Lent provides all Christians the focus we need to order our lives and to ponder Last Things -- the imminent end of our own lives on earth. Truly, "we know not the day nor the hour" when we may meet our own death. But we also know that the sure source of our hope is in the Resurrection. The brilliance of Easter follows the profound darkness of Good Friday.

French Catholic novelist François Mauriac's personal reflection on Holy Thursday, though written more than seventy years ago, still shines with the luster of faith. The excerpt in these pages may inspire you to include the slim book in your Lenten reading.

Pope John Paul II's reflections on the Christian meaning of suffering, his message for World Day of the Sick, February 11, are especially timely this year. As we know too well, the ominous spectres of abortion and euthanasia -- the "socially acceptable" killing of the most defenseless human beings -- haunt nearly every corner of our decadent world. Nancy Valko's poignant essay, Katie's Story, is one "sign of contradiction" to what the pope frequently calls the Culture of Death.

If September 11 did nothing else, it made Americans realize very clearly that we are not isolated from the rest of the world. Our responsibilities, also, extend far beyond our own borders.

Rita Joseph and Mary Jo Anderson, both close monitors of the United Nations, especially on the UN's growing involvement in coercive anti-life, anti-family, anti-women projects, have added to our understanding of these issues and how they may affect our society. Their analysis of feminist-inspired agendas promoted through the UN gives us an urgent call to action. (Related articles are elsewhere in this issue of Voices.) As an "NGO", we plan to participate in every way we can.

The perennially vexing subject of Catholic education -- that is, especially education of young Catholics in the faith -- is examined anew by Sheila Liaugminas. Parents and teachers will find much to ponder in her essay inside.

What we did...

While we had to put Voices on hold during the 2001 Advent and Christmas seasons, we were not idle, as those of you who have access to the Internet know. We worked very hard on our web site, and added many new pages to the Family Prayers and Devotions section. Gina Winston, who joined us in September, devised our new interactive liturgical calendar. Our plan is to post these calendars every month. Evidently our offerings struck a chord with many Catholic families. "Visits" to the site more than tripled during the month of December.

We also sent out more than 20,000 Christmas Novenas during November and December, and produced three lovely new "holy cards" (The Angelus, English and Spanish versions and Prayer to St. Michael).

New project - Updating Affirmation list to give to the Holy Father

A project that we are planning right now involves you. We want to collect many more signatures to the Affirmation for Catholic Women (click here). We think you will agree after reading the articles inside that there is a crucial need for the voices of faithful Catholic women to be heard -- clearly -- by our Church leaders, priests, bishops and the Holy Father, and by world leaders as well. The Affirmation makes it possible for every woman, no matter how busy, to affirm her full acceptance of Catholic teaching on key issues. Though we wish it were otherwise, these teachings are being challenged as vigorously today as they were in 1984 when the Affirmation first appeared.

Our plan is to send a new list of Affirmation signers to Pope John Paul II in May -- but we will need your help. Maybe you signed it years ago. But have your sisters or daughters or friends? Your parish? Your homeschool or pro-life group? Do help us, please.

May you have a fruitful Lent and a blessed Eastertide.

Sincerely in Christ,
Helen Hull Hitchcock

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