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. 21, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. My husband of more than 20 years isn’t Catholic but he has attended Mass faithfully with our family during all those years. He believes our Communion sacrament is the true body and blood of Christ. The priest who married us said there are exceptions that non-Catholics could receive Communion under some conditions. Can you explain those conditions and how he could receive?
A. The Q.B.’s first thought is that your husband be open to the possibility that the grace of God, always a mysterious force, might lead him, guide him, nudge him, persuade him or push him to join the Catholic faith community. The grace of God might seem ever so distant or it might be just a little millimeter away that needs a gentle awakening. At least be open to the possibility.
The grace of God might come as the “tiny whispering sound” that convinced Elijah, or it might be a knockout blow that leveled feisty Paul to the ground and blinded him to get his attention. The grace of God is unpredictable and it’s always there.
Yes, there are certain conditions the Catholic Church attaches to the privilege of sharing Communion with non-Catholics:
An urgent need. Not necessarily danger of death but some sort of grave inconvenience. That’s what sacraments are for.
• Unable to have access to the minister of his church.
Beside those stringent requirements there is the possibility of other less urgent situations that allow non-Catholics to share Eucharist in good faith. The local bishop is always the prime teacher and guardian of the sacraments and it’s wise to consult him for guidance.
With the resident bishop’s permission, for instance, a non-Catholic with true belief in Catholic Communion could share Communion at a wedding Mass or at a funeral Mass of a spouse with the same faith convictions.
You may have noticed that all those are singular exceptions, case-by-singular-case dispensations from the general rule that Catholic Communion is not simply inter-changeable with Protestant theology.
Which brings us back to the first two paragraphs. Be open to the possibility that the grace of God may whisper in his ear that he might be ready to take one more step to share Catholic Communion as a Catholic.
Q. Will you please settle this if you can about the warning in the Book of Revelation 13: 16 that a certain beast with the number 666 is coming closer? Judging by the events around the world it seems to be true.
A. Six-sixty-six is one of those great golden oldies that rises to the surface like wild flowers in the springtime. Itinerant preachers earn a living with it and Bible dabblers offer it as proof that their grasp of the written word is true.
The answer lies in an ancient numbers game called “gematria” that gave letters of the alphabet certain numerical values. Rules of the game were easy. Roman numeral V is worth five, X is worth ten, C is 100, etc. To win the game you had to convert numbers into letters and figure out the name of the person.
The horrible beast 666 was the emperor Nero, the monster man who massacred Christians for sport in his games in the Roman Colosseum, whose name no sane writer would print. Author John cleverly used gematria to describe the beast. His readers knew that. In Hebrew letters, Nero is NRWN and Caesar is OSR. (In ancient Hebrew, vowels were inserted as needed. Papyrus was not wasted.) Here’s the answer. N-50, R-200, W-6, N-50, then 0-100, S-60, R-200. Add the numbers and you win. The beast is Nero Caesar.
Some early printed editions of the Bible were in Latin so Nero was missing an N. Those editions gave the number of the beast as 616. Many years ago an amateur bibliophile figured that Ronald Wilson Reagan had a chance with his triple six, but saner heads prevailed.