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By his stripes we are healed.

I WONDER WHY PEOPLE LIKE HEIDI SCHLUMPF, FATHER Kenneth Overberg, S.J., and Matthew Lanier, whom Schlumpf quotes in her March cover story ("For us and for our salvation?"), seem to have so little understanding of, and sympathy for, the role of suffering and death in Christ's redemption of us. In making an artificial distinction between atonement and sacrifice, Schlumpf criticizes--maybe condemns--the doctrine that Christ chose to suffer and die for our sins. She simply sidesteps the essential teachings of Christ in the gospels, St. Peter, St. Paul, and 2,000 years of Catholic tradition in favor of contemporary sentimentality toward nonviolence.

We live in a world of pain. No sedative, no anesthesia, can remove pain from our mortal life. Christ used pain to redeem us, not by accident but fully cognizant as our creator, that since Lucifer and Adam chose disobedience to him, redemption would be regained only through pain and sacrifice: his own and our co redemptive pain and sacrifice. All Christians--no, all human beings--learn through wise experience that there is no love without suffering and no meaning in suffering without love.

It simply is not true that "the important part isn't that Jesus died, it's that he lived." The important thing is that he died and rose again from the dead and so conquered death in order to give us life.

Robert F. Patterson

Tarrytown, N.Y.

I was fascinated by Schlumpf's cover story since it is something that I have often thought about. When we lived in Mexico, I was impressed by the very graphic and bloody crucifixes commonly found in the churches. Our crucifixes in the United States are much more sanitized. I wondered if an explanation for this could come from the difference in the types of lives we lived. The Mexicans and other Latinos often have such difficult lives, filled with pain and suffering, while in our country we do everything we can to avoid any pain.

While I certainly believe in the redemptive power of Jesus' suffering, I think telling people to "offer up" their pain, uniting it with the sufferings of Jesus, can be carried too far. It may make people both masochistic and fatalistic.

I have speculated that the early Spanish missionaries to Latin America, influenced no doubt by their own spirituality, stressed too much acceptance of suffering, promising a better life in another world. This may have helped people endure injustices, but it did nothing to bring justice. Nor does it today. Jesus said he came to bring life abundant, not death.

Lucy Fuchs

Salyersville, Ky.

"For us and for our salvation?" affirmed my longtime aversion to St. Anselm's atonement theology and put into words what has been in my mind and heart for many years.

I also found it to be carefully balanced, but I'm sure you will be deluged with cries of heresy. Please ignore them. We need to be exposed to contemporary theology and U.S. CATHOLIC seems to be one of the best of the few beacons of light out there.

Dick Melchione

Southold, N.Y.
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Author:Melchione, Dick
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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