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 Jan. 14, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Isnít it odd to name a church and/or parish St. Maryís of Mount Carmel or Our Lady of Mt. Carmel? I canít find anything about Mt. Carmel, whatever that is. Why use a name thatís so confusing?
A. There is a place called Mount Carmel in northern Israel. Itís a high spot that terminates so close to the Mediterranean that a few armed men could guard the funnel of north-south traffic. For that reason the main route for troop movement was further inland at the mountain pass Har Megiddo. Thatís where Elijah confronted and defeated the priests of Baal. (I Kings 18) It was also the temporary residence of young Elisha. Bible fundamentalists believe that the great final battle between all forces of good and evil will happen at Har Megiddo, Armageddon.
Q. When a couple is married, they are called to be one. However, the Church keeps them separated: altar Society for her, Knights of Columbus for him. Why doesnít the church give some way to strengthen their relationship?
A. Ah, but we do, we do. In fact, there are organizations especially designed to keep wives and husbands together in mutual interests.
Marriage Encounter gets high praise from couples who have successfully taken the course. Marriage Enrichment does what you ask, and does it well. The St Vincent de Paul Society can offer two spouses excellent coverage in practical charitable work.
Thereís an Engaged Encounter for couples thinking about married life together. And thereís an old favorite Pre-Cana Conference that has a similar purpose.
Q. In regard to our faith, do all people face eternal life? Weíre thinking about the man called Lazarus in Johnís Gospel. He was pronounced dead, and then he was brought back to life by Jesus. Since he was returned to life and he cannot die twice, where is he now?
A. Lazarus has been dead for a long time. St. Paulís explanation that ďit is appointed for all men once to dieĒ should not be interpreted to mean some people might escape if they could just get past the first encounter with the angel of death. ďOnceĒ does not mean one time only.
The whole point of the story of the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:25) is that eternal life awaits those who have faith in Jesus Christ: ďIf anyone believes in me, even if he dies, he will live.Ē
Paul has more to say about death and dying than any other New Testament author. He has another fine summary about death in his letter to the Romans (5:12). Death came to many through the sin of one man (Adam) and now life is possible for many through the righteousness of one man (Jesus).
Q. A neighbor said she has read the entire Bible from beginning in Genesis and ending at Revelationís last page. She wasnít sure how long it took. What are your thoughts on this? If I could do it, what edition would be most and best?
A. You should politely decline. The Bible does not lend itself to endurance tests. Thatís not its purpose.
A friend of mine taught himself to play golf just by hitting the ball and walking around the course. For years, he enjoyed himself, even though he had a poor grip that gave him as many hooks and slices as straight drives down the middle.
One day he turned himself in to the club pro, who taught him the basics in a couple of days. He un-learned his bad habits and practiced with the right grip, back swing, follow-through for fairway, rough and green.
His game improved so dramatically that he wondered how much he would have enjoyed the game if he had taken a few lessons when he started.
Self-taught Bible readers are taking a chance getting set in bad habits. Without the basics they tend to be disputatious, because there are as many interpretations as there are self-taught readers.
If we cannot persuade you to try lessons, then at least start in the easy middle, with the Acts of the Apostles. Have a good commentary nearby. If you complete Acts in one year you will have done more than your speed-reading friend.