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 Sept. 9, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Why are Psalm 151 and all four Books of Maccabees not in the Catholic Bible?
A. Various editions of the Bible have variable and moveable parts because the experts in the field Ė namely, the translators, copiers, editors, and linguists Ė do not always agree not only on the lists of psalms but even the meanings of certain words. For instance, the numbers of the Hebrew psalms do not match the numbers of the Vulgate psalms, although both books end with a nice round number 150. Thatís just a minor glitch, of course, because both versions are beautiful prayers in poetry.
The Book of Psalms is a collection of prayers for all occasions. It has poems about love, anger, remorse, joy, gratitude, penitence, grief, regret, thanksgiving and delight, sometimes on the same page. Some were set to music on a harp. King David wrote some of them.
The first two books of Maccabees appear in the Septuagint-Catholic Bible, but the second set, numbered three and four, are surely apocryphal. Written in Greek, in Alexandria, Egypt, about 100 B.C., they have never been listed by anyone.
The sensible Jewish axiom at that time was simply, ďIf itís useful, use it.Ē They didnít bother with an approved list, or canon, of inspired writings. If you found a book that suited your need, read it. They did not decide on an exclusive canon of Sacred Writings until their Council of Jamnia in 100 A:D. But I digress.
Q. What is the latest information you have about the Shrine at Bayside, N.Y.? Veronica Leuken alerted American Catholics to the need for prayer and penance, even though her appeal has been somewhat silenced. Tourists still go there, so I ask your opinion, church-wise.
What is unusual is that Veronica Leuken specialized in visions of doomsday with total darkness, earthquakes, hellfire, and unspeakable calamities unless we listen to her voices. Thatís not Bible teaching. Thatís not Catholic doctrine. Thatís not the Blessed Virgin talking.
The local bishop, who is responsible for purity of doctrine, not only disavows all endorsement of self-anointed visionaries, but also warns the faithful to please be a little more careful about following every guru who talks with celestial beings and improvises new doctrine to fit the cause.
If you cannot decide whether to follow the doctrine of Veronica Leuken or the diocesan bishop, you may have a bigger problem than you realize.
Q. Why does a Catholic bishop have what is called a ďtitularĒ diocese, usually with an unpronounceable name? Whatís the point? It seems to me that he might just get along without it. What say you?
A. Titular, or titled, dioceses are a nice custom. Since we can do it, why not connect our present faith communities with our ancient, really ancient, Christian heritage? Not many people can reach back into their Christian communities that prospered 15 to 20 centuries ago.
In the earliest Christian experience the Catholic Church flourished in parts of the world we now call Asia Minor. Those communities have been abandoned. People moved out. Only the names are left.
Try these: Trisipa. Paestum. Labicum. Septimunicia. Pinara. We have a nearly inexhaustible supply, enough to last for a few more centuries, if needed.
Every bishop must have a place to hang his hat, or miter. He needs a home base because there are no free-lance, un-attached bishops. This may seem to be a quaint custom, and it is, but itís also another link in this multiple family we call the Catholic Church. There is no other community of any kind in the history of the world that can approach the longevity of our Catholic Church.