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 Oct. 22, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. I learned somewhere, possibly from home, that the last line in the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom,” and so on, was added by Martin Luther. Also I noticed it was sung that way during the formal reception for Pope Benedict. Was that the original version of the Our Father?
A. The origin of that line is quite simple. It’s a marginal gloss that found its way into the original text by some bored, careless or deliberate copier. Scripture scholars can spot a gloss across a crowded room.
“For thine is the kingdom, the power...” (Matthew 6:9) was the familiar ending to many Jewish liturgies for centuries, the kind of line people knew by heart while pausing for silent prayer or looking for the next reading.
One day, an unknown copier wrote that familiar Jewish line in the margin of his page as a nice personal comment. Another copier inserted it into the main text right after “deliver us from evil” because it seemed like a good fit. In those days all Scriptures were hand-written.
Fast forward to the King James version (1611) where that line had become embedded in Matthew’s text for many years. But not any more. Protestant scholars agree it’s a gloss, so once more it’s just a footnote.
The Catholic Bible, based on the Septuagint-Vulgate work of St. Jerome, didn’t insert that line anywhere.
It’s not correct to refer to the Protestant Lord’s Prayer or the Catholic Our Father. We have the same prayer with a dash of Jewish liturgy: “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory....”
Q. They’re going after the Shroud of Turin again. I don’t know what to think. If they some day agree it really is the burial cloth of Jesus, what will happen to our Good Friday Mass and devotions like the Stations? Personally, I hope and pray they can prove its his real burial sheet.
A. The shroud, genuine or fictitious, is not a point of doctrine. That piece of linen cloth did not appear until the seventh century and it might take another seven centuries to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it’s the real article, or not.
Scientists do what they must do. There was a time when they were nearly certain the cloth was genuine. Whatever they decide will have no effect on Catholic practice, because our liturgy is based on the person of Jesus Christ, not his burial cloth.
Q. As I attended a Protestant service I happened to hear their creed in which they said they believe in the “holy Catholic church.” I was told that’s their real basic creed. How does that happen?
A. The Greek word katholikos means universal. St. Ignatius (d. 107) was the successor to St. Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. On his way to Rome for his execution he wrote seven letters to the faith communities under his care. He used the word universal to describe this new church as everyone’s choice. In Greek or English, it’s our Katholikos creed.
His people in Antioch celebrated his memory as early as the fourth century. In one of his letters he said, “I plead with you. Show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts. I am God’s wheat and I shall be ground by their teeth. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.”
But I digress.
Q. You have never explained how you write your Q. & A. column. As a regular reader may I ask this personal Q? How do you choose what to write?
A. Well, the Q.B. scrivener begins by opening the mail. Anonymous letters are tossed out. Nameless is worthless.
We try to get a good mix of ideas. Scripture is always a kindred topic open to wide interpretation. Doctrine. Canon law, too.
God is good and people are nice.