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 March 17, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Isnít the Catholic Churchís acceptance of relics just another form of animism?
A. Perhaps if we define our terms the difference may be evident.
Relics are inanimate remains of a revered saintly person, some part of the saintís body, such as bone or blood, or some article the saint used, such as a book or a pen.
Animism is the belief that all persons and objects are endowed with an indwelling life force that permeates not just persons but also animals, plants, tools, stones, insects, dirt and just about everything.
Relics come in three categories. First, a part of a saintís body, such as a bone or fragment of a bone. Second, something the saint used or touched, such as a notebook or an article of clothing. Third, something that has been touched to a saintís body, such as a piece of cloth. Relics of any class cannot be bought or sold.
The earliest reference to relics is the account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, burned at the stake in 155 AD. His followers sifted through the ashes and took whatever bits and pieces they could find, first class relics.
A friend proudly displays a scarf he was quick enough to catch in the front row of an Elvis Presley concert at the Civic. Some people might not bother to cross the street to get a genuine relic of Elvis but he would keep that relic in a vault if he had a vault.
Q. How important is it to be a registered member of a parish? My Catholic parents never belonged although they never missed Mass at the nearest church. I have moved away from home on my own so tell me any reason to register in my new residence.
A. A parish is a community of believers who share the same Creed, the same sacraments, their concern for each other and the maintenance of the parish properties. Canon law (c.515) says ďA parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church.Ē
Each parish is a community center where many good things happen, starting with baptisms, first Holy Communions, confessions with true forgiveness, confirmations, wedding ceremonies and funerals. There is no place on earth like a parish center.
About 25 years ago, some folks in Tennessee experimented with an optional freelance parish where people could come and go as the spirit moved them with no obligations. That lasted a few years.
Consider the practical benefit of parish life. As a registered member you get personal contribution envelopes with your name and number. At yearís end the parish office sends you a statement of your total offerings, a handy receipt when you file your IRS tax return form 1040. Itís a pity your parents did not take advantage of this simple IRS deduction.
ďThe children of this generation are wiser than the children of light.Ē
Q. Would you please list the popes we have had after Peter who was mentioned in last weekís Gospel of Matthew? Why havenít we had another pope named Peter II?
A. Surely you donít want a list of 264 popes. Letís take the first 10. First Peter, the only pope chosen personally by Jesus Christ. Then Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus (Greek), Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus (Greek), Hyginus (Greek) and Pius. (d. 155 AD)
No other pope has chosen to be named Peter out of respect.
Q. Please explain if you can why the Catholic Church could spend some millions of dollars on Pope Benedictís visit to the U.S. when we have so many people out of work and really hurting with not enough money. I say better we should take care of our own first.
A. The financial burden of the popeís visit cost every Catholic about $1, or maybe a few pennies more. A few people may squirm but thatís really not price gouging. That money is not being taken from purses of hungry bag ladies.
Our Catholic Church has a fine record of charitable work. The Catholic Relief Services has an excellent global record. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Mission Sunday) is the finest in the world. And Blessed Mother Teresa said: ďYou could have done more.Ē