Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the June 12, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Would you please provide more information on the anti-popes? We were always told popes were successors in a line from St. Peter, as in, ďthou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.Ē What does that mean? When thereís more than one pope how can we be sure which one is the true successor of Peter?
A. Any church can have a bad century now and then. Given the fact that our venerable old Catholic church has survived the worst of times when everything from the papacy on down was in turbulent confusion there are only two possible reactions.
We can throw up our hands in despair and say the plan of Jesus was never meant to survive such terrible damage or we can learn from the troubles we brought on ourselves and admit the Holy Spirit still guides this grand old Catholic church ďto the end of time.Ē (Matt. 28:20)
But letís be careful not to mix centuries. In those troubled times communications were primitive. The spoken word existed as far as the voice could carry and the written word was reliable only as far as feet, human or animal, could deliver.
We live in a different world. We have reliable mail. We have cell phones. Anyone can be reached by text messaging.
In the troubled days of medieval popes, travel was always on foot and safety was a major concern. Leonardo da Vinci made a few sketches of a flying contraption but that was centuries before the Wright brothers were born.
We can travel anywhere on short notice. Pope Benedict XVI, on his recent visit, could have had a doctrinal dissertation with our very own Pope Popular I, if we had one. We can talk directly to the folks we want. Itís a different world.
All counted, we have had 34 anti-popes, most of them in the 10th to the 12th centuries and most of them honestly confused by dis-information and travel restrictions.
We havenít had double papacy in 500 years, and we wonít see one again.
Q. We were South again for the winter where we attended a real Latin Mass. My husband didnít care for it because itís a foreign language to him, but I liked it a lot because it brought back nice memories. Can you tell me why we donít have Latin Masses closer to home so I can visit?
A. Nostalgia can be a powerful attraction, but that raises a powerful question. If you find a Latin Mass close to home, will you attend because you feel itís a sentimental journey, or because you think itís a finer form of worship?
There are not many 60- to 70-something priests who can accept the call to celebrate any type of Latin liturgy. In the days when giants walked the earth, dogmatic and moral theology text books were in Latin, some written tests were in Latin, the breviary was in Latin and, above all, the Eucharistic liturgy.
Adjustments will have to be made in the role of altar servers. Will they again be school boys who liberally butchered the Latin responses they memorized? Will the Latin Scriptures be read at the altar facing the back wall? Will the vestments again be in fiddle-back style, with color coded maniples? Will box-top birettas be worn coming and going? And, of course, a Communion rail with kneelers and Communion in bread only.
It will take some doing. Apparently the Holy Father would like to bring healing to those folks whose feeling were hurt by the sudden demise of the liturgy they loved the best.
Q. Did you notice Pope Benedict did not attend his dinner at the White House? He skipped and went someplace else. Can you explain why?
A. Popes keep their own schedules. We can be sure the residents of the White House and staff people were aware Benedict XVI wasnít coming to dinner.
You may have noticed the pope broke his tight schedule to visit a very sick patient in a hospital. Apparently he thought bringing comfort to an ailing patient was more important than enjoying a fine dinner in the resplendent surroundings of the White House.
(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)