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 April 8, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Nothing was said about Catholic Easter duty again this year. Is that still in effect for us to confess and receive at least once a year?

A. We cringe at the idea of imposing sacraments as a duty especially those two: one for a clean conscience and one for the grace of God.

Should Mother Church demand that we receive those sacraments under threat of sin? Can she establish an Easter “duty” and declare it a sin if we miss it? Yes. “Whatever you bind on earth….”

The old Baltimore Catechism said “We are strictly obliged to make a good confession within the year if we have mortal sins to confess.” It’s solid theology that serious sins require serious remedies. Wise old Mother Church tells her children if they have a killer sin virus they need a powerful antidote, a sin-killer sacrament. And don’t put it off.

Q. Around Christmas time I received an offer to subscribe to a monthly magazine. I accepted the free copy. I did not return the subscription offer or my check either. I keep getting the magazine with notices of payment due. Where do I stand morally?

A. If you didn’t order, don’t pay.

You have a few choices. You can return their envelope with a No Thanks signature. You can tell them to come and get their copies. You can tell them if they send you postage money, plus storage charges, you will return their magazines.

You remind me of the book review columnist who said, “If I have to read the book, I charge extra.”

Q. This has stumped the people in our breakfast group. Regarding the story that Adam and Eve were first parents of the human race and Cain and Abel were their sons. If Eve was the first and only woman created by God, where do other later parents fit in? We are in doubt as to how this was God’s plan.

A. Genesis is not genealogy. Anyone who says the Bible must be the sole source of faith is heading for trouble.

Genesis is a reverent reflection on the immense creative power of God who created male and female persons, animals, birds, fish, reptiles, all creatures big and small and also designed our magnificent universe with its unlimited galaxies and “saw that it was good.”

Genesis is a story of innocence, human weakness, the reality of sin-damage, justice in punishing evil and mercy in forgiving contrite sinners, the need for atonement and the urgency of redemption. It’s amazing how much our primitive ancestors understood about human psychology.

After the murder of Abel (4:14) Cain must wander the earth as a nomad fearing for his life. From whom? Cain became the builder of a large city. For whom? Anyone who insists on an only-literal interpretation of Genesis should go back and read it again with a wider view.

Recently, using a larger lens, saw other galaxies more millions of light years away for the first time. How much more is out there? Is there no end to the immense creative power of God?

Q. This came up again, regarding proper names for Jesus our Savior. Isaiah says “his name shall be Emmanuel.” Then Matthew says the angel says “you shall name him Jesus.” Same announcement, different names. We know that is the Savior, Jesus, so why the mix-up?

A. If all evangelists, prophets and angels spoke English we would have no problem. Well, maybe. English has been through significant word revisions in the four centuries since Shakespeare.

Prophet Isaiah, about 700 BC, naturally wrote Hebrew. The name he gave our savior is “Emmanuel” – literally, “God is with us.” Matthew, about 70 AD, wrote classical Greek. He gave our savior the name “Jesus,” a Hellenized form of the Hebrew Yeshua, often shortened to Yesu, also the shortened version of Yehoshua. It means “God helps,” which is close enough to Emmanuel “God is with us.”

The Bible has been filtered through at least four languages before we get an English rendition: Aramaic-Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English. In the ’60s, five men of an American denomination decided to edit its very own Bible. One of them knew a little classical, not Biblical, Greek. What are the odds they would achieve an accurate translation?

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