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 May 19, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. What is your opinion about people who leave Mass early? I travel a lot. While visiting St. (Anonymous) Church I find all pews filled, but as soon as they receive Holy Communion they leave the church half empty. Why can’t they give one hour to the Lord?
A. Most regrettably, some parishes have a tradition of bad manners. It seems to be a distinguishing mark of the Catholic church that we don’t recognize crudeness in the contest to be the first ones out of the parking lot.
Over the years the Q. B. scrivener has been an invited guest at many Protestant liturgies. It’s a matter of respect that people are in place when the minister walks up the aisle to begin and they remain in place as the minister walks down the aisle at the end. Never have I seen anyone exit early. No one leaves early.
There’s a precedent for gross manners. At the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, John the Evangelist noticed some strange behavior. He wrote, “At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him .... As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out” (John 13:27).
Q. Can you give an explanation for the scandal in the Catholic Church when you had inner conflict caused by having two and three popes all claiming their rights to be the real pope? I just found out about it and it shook my faith.
A. The law of evil, like the law of gravity, never lets up. The human side of the Catholic Church has caused scandal ever since those first apostles, personally selected by Jesus Christ, had to explain the sorry behavior of one of their 12 original members. Apostle John made one comment: “Satan entered his heart.”
There are two ways of looking at human weakness in the Catholic Church. First, the fact that we are all human agents should surprise no one. Did we expect angels? No, but at times we deserved better than we got. Secondly, the fact that the church has survived all sorts of major scandals and remains today the greatest force in the world for moral good is an indication that there’s more to the church than human agents. “I will be with you all days until the end of time.” (Matt. 28:20)
We had some duplicate and triplicate anti-popes scattered roughly from 400 AD to 1400 AD, when communication was chancy, travel was by foot and even calendars were not universal. We haven’t had an anti-pope in 500 years and we won’t see another.
A few years ago the funeral rites for Pope John Paul II brought 4 million pilgrims, all well behaved, to pray with him and for him. You could fill the U of M football stadium 40 times with those pilgrims. There hasn’t been a crowd like that anywhere in the history of the world.
Q. I have attended funerals for three close relatives over the Christmas holidays. What a sad experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. As people of prayer we still wondered where God’s love for us was hidden mostly for children. Why does God allow suffering for children too?
A. Why do bad things happen to good people? That touches a deep complex problem with everyone. There is no response. Theologians call it the problem of evil. It’s the universal problem of all problems.
If you have a good edition of the Bible pick out the Book of Job and give yourself a few pages a day. It’s a morality play about suffering in the life of a faithful man and his rejection of easy answers.
In a quick series of catastrophes Job loses all his possessions, his family fortune, all his children killed in a freak storm and Job himself is struck with malignant ulcers all over his body. In one day, good ol’ Job is wiped out. He’s a mess. He cries out, Why me, Lord? Job finally arrives at the only answer he can accept, namely, that God is not obliged to answer him. “Did I need to consult you when I created my universe?” asks God. Finally Job recovers his faith and declares “Even if he kills me I will still trust him.”
Or as the fellow said, “Everybody gets an equal share of ice in this life. The rich get it in the summer and the poor get it in the winter.”