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 Feb. 3, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. As a practical matter how is it possible that God has judged every person who has lived and everyone who will live and die until the end of time? The Catechism of our religion says everyone faces that. Billions of people multiplied by more billions make trillions, quadrillions and so forth. How can that be done without even one mixup?
A. Eternity is timeless. In fact, the definition of eternity is timelessness. God is not limited by clocks or calendars.
Personal accountability presents no problem for God’s creative ability. Every person among those quadrillions multiplied by quintillions has a unique DNA imprint unlike any other person who has lived, lives now or will live. Our DNA is our personal 10 formula that is different from every person among all the gazillions in the human race.
DNA factors were discovered just in the past few decades, which ought to make us wonder what other surprises God has hidden in our human nature. As a poet said. we are wonderfully and fearfully made.
God is not limited by even the largest numbers. In fact, mathematicians have coined a word to describe that ultimate final largest number they can conceive beyond which there is nothing. It’s called “google.” With reverence and awe, we admit God created google. If you have a few minutes you might read God’s response to Job: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me, since you are so well informed.” (Job 38 & 39). Later Job responds, “I have been holding forth on matters I cannot understand ... And in dust and ashes I repent.”
A few pages of Job would make fine Lenten reading.
Q. Does the Catholic creed we profess say anything to condemn any belief in astrology and horoscopes? If so, why? Many people follow their charts in daily papers and they say it works for them. I’ve learned that Catholic popes followed their charts. Why not?
A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a few choice words that cannot be misdirected. No. 2116: “Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time.... They contradict the honor, respect and loving fear we owe to God alone.”
Besides all that, astrology and horoscopes do not work.
There was a time when barbers were the village surgeons. People believed that disease was in the blood so bloodletting was a cure for human ailments. Medical research has come a long way since then. There was a time when people thought the northern lights were sparks from clashing swords of dueling gods. We know that’s not true.
There was a time when people believed an alignment of certain planets on our birthdays influenced our patterns of behavior. Modern genetics says that’s silly. Genes and chromosomes at conception are determining factors. Astrological charts are nine months too late and 300 years out of date.
Q. This came up when Orthodox friends explained why they have Christmas at a different time than Catholics. Why not just agree to disagree? How does our Bible handle this question?
A. Your Orthodox friends are closer to the right calendar dates than we are but they aren’t totally correct either. The Bible, Old and New Testaments, provides no useful information about calendars.
The mastermind behind calendar reform was Dionysius Exiguus, Denis the Short, (d. 545), a monk and scholar who started the move to replace the ancient enumeration of the Roman calendar that was based on the founding date of Rome.
Denis wrote a dissertation, “Cyclus Paschalis” (Easter Cycle) explaining that the birth of Jesus Christ was much more significant than the old legend about Romulus and Remus founding ancient Rome. Denis was great in faith but weak in math. His new calendar was off by four to seven years. B.C. meant before Christ and A.D. for Anno Domini. Naturally his theory was tested. Non-Christian countries preferred C.E., meaning Common Era (but also Christian Era) and B.C.E. as Before Christian Era.