Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the Aug. 21, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. All my life, it seems, there were those well-known six Precepts of the Church, but now there seems to be a major glitch. We have only five. I checked the Catechism. One is missing. Does anyone ever check these things? Or has the church dropped one purposely?

A. You are correct. Six have become five. The missing one, you may recall, prescribed the regulation as applied to the sacrament of marriage incumbent on baptized Catholics. Do you recall the five?

• You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
• You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
• You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
• You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.
• You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.

They have a sense of mandatory obedience that’s reminiscent of the Ten Commandments. The positive position “You shall” and its negative prohibition “You shall not” are typical of law enforcement style of regulations. Of course. Those are basic commands and precepts.

We ought to observe those regulations as the indispensable minimum compliance in our moral effort to grow in love of God and neighbor. If we can’t observe the minimum five precepts, what’s left? Should we settle for a personal choice of any four or three?

Our faith makes demands of us, but those are demands worthy of the dignity of mature people.

Q. You did it again when you shamed the statements of the late Veronica Leuken of the Bayside shrine. Nothing good will come of this when you, as a member of Catholic clergy, speak disparagingly. You might consider a retraction without further remarks.

A. We must allow Ms. Leuken’s revelations to speak for her. In 1975 she said she was privy to secret information that three top Vatican officials, in conspiracy with Satan, had drugged Pope Paul VI and kept him prisoner inside the Vatican. The plot thickens. The pope who appeared in public functions was an impostor, a secret agent of Satan, whose face had been surgically changed to resemble Pope Paul VI.

That outrageous tale is a match for the legend of Popess Joan. Somewhere between 800 and 1200 a woman of uncertain origin disguised herself as a man (shades of Isaac Singer’s “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy”), became a priest, a cardinal, and then – saints be praised! – pope. The ruse was discovered when she gave birth while walking in a solemn papal procession in the aisle of St. Peter Basilica – which had not yet been built.

Q. For a second time our pastor has changed the daily Mass schedule so he could accept a funeral Mass for a man who isn’t even Catholic. I’m asking if that’s allowed by law. We think some consideration should be made for all us Catholics who miss our Mass when he does that.

A. Your pastor sounds like a gentle, considerate, prayerful man who strives to spread the Gospel Good News to people who are hurting. Is there anything as painful as the death of a loved one? A spouse? A grandparent? The counsel of Jesus is simple: Bury the dead.

Revised Catholic canon law has a human side. Canon 1183-3 speaks clearly: “In the prudent judgment of the local ordinary, ecclesiastical funeral rites can be granted to baptized members of some non-Catholic church or ecclesial community unless it is evidently contrary to their will and provided their own minister is unavailable.”

That’s a sensible statement, you may agree. It negates even the thought of seeking deceased non-Catholics for burial. It offers ritual prayerful condolence to people who are hurting.

The Q. B. scrivener suggests you attend the funeral Mass and receive Eucharist to join in prayers for that family.

(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)

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