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 July 2, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. It seems to me that we Catholics need a basic dress code more than we need more talk about Latin or English Masses or whether we kneel or stand for Communion. Each summer we see some really sloppy people. Name it, we see it. Baggy shorts, worn T-shirts, bare legs, no socks, flip- flop sandals. Any good restaurant would evict them. Can we put a sign at the door?

A. Civility in manners and dress may be in short supply, but we can’t check people at the door.

One of the joys of being a semi-retired priest is visiting various parishes on weekends. Each parish has a different “feel.” It’s apparent when you’re half way down the aisle. People are happy and enthusiastic in joyful song or dull and moribund in their semi-silence. It shows in their dress, too. Fresh and clean in their appearance or slovenly and careless in their attitude.

Jesus was criticized for associating with the outcasts of society. “If this man were a prophet he would know who this woman is who is touching him and what a bad name she has” (Luke 7:39). Should she be turned away at the door? Should she be allowed get in line with you to receive Communion?

There’s the case of Lazarus, the curb-side bum living on table scraps from the rich man’s garbage. When he died he got the reserved seat of honor at the head table next the grand patriarch Abraham. Should he have been stopped at the door?

Item: We know the name of the bum, but not the name of the rich man “who feasted every night.” Isn’t that significant?

We might make a flimsy case using the parable of the slovenly dressed man at a wedding reception. When the king spotted that rude guest he was grossly upset. “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out” (Matthew 22:13). With a little training, ushers could be bouncers.

There is just one possible solution to this quandary: Our Eucharist should be celebrated with such reverence, with vestments of such clean good taste, in an atmosphere of such prayerful word and song that a total stranger entering that environment would feel as though he had entered a sacred place for which he was under-dressed.

Q. Keep up the good work. Please don’t keep saying “Communion line.” It’s better to say “Communion procession.” That gives the nice touch of solemnity our Communion sacrament deserves.

A. Correct. The Q.B. scrivener hereby accepts your suggestion.

Q. My mother gave me a medal that she has carried for years. It has a cross emblem on front and says Mount Carmel on the back. Can you tell me the significance of this old medal?

A. Standing at Mount Carmel you can see the modern port city of Haifa, Israel, on the Bay of Acre in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s easy to see why it was a major fortification along the famous Har Magiddo pass (Armageddon) used by ancient armies.

Mount Carmel is the place where the prophet Elijah took up residence in a cavern near the scene for his ordeal with the priests of Baal (I Kings 18:19). Christian hermit monks later came to live in the area, where ruins were found. There are some large storage tunnels with magnificent inlaid stone work on floors, walls and ceilings.

Crusaders in their battles for the Holy Land used it as a major supply station. Crusades were eight Christian military expeditions between the 11th and 13th centuries to drive Moslems out of the Holy Land. Both sides, Christian and Moslem, were guilty of cruel and rapacious excesses.

Over the centuries Mount Carmel has had a natural association with Religious communities, especially contemplative orders. There are more than a dozen Carmelite communities in the U. S.

You may have noticed that mentioning “crusades” is still a sensitive issue in the Moslem world. President George W. Bush used the word early in his first administration. His advisors suggested that he delete the word from his vocabulary, and he did.

But I digress.

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