Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the November 17, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. The Bible, referring to Adam, says God breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and thus man became a living being. Genesis 2:7. It’s clear that life begins when a person, in this case a baby, breathes on its own. How can anyone say human life begins at conception?

A. That’s what happens when we start pulling selective quotes out of context in order to package a pre-set position.

Did you notice there are two accounts of human creation in Genesis? The one you quoted (1:27) does not mention breathing.

The other one (2:7) describes the “breath of life” as a simple analogy of God being the agent responsible for creating life where it did not exist. Nowhere does the Old Testament use the word “breath” to describe the life principle, the soul.

Leave a little wiggle room in Genesis for poetic license. It’s the first effort describing things never seen before such as water, animals, plants, stars, fish, sun, people. It’s not a scientific treatise on biology or astronomy.

The Bible prefers that blood, not breath, is the staple of life. To shed a person’s blood is to take his life and that is avenged by shedding the blood of the perpetrator. The blood of a murder victim cries out from the ground for revenge.

Q. Since we now have general absolution from sins at special times like emergencies can there be a possibility that some day we might also have general absolution for marriage annulments so people can get on with lives without the long waiting procedures?

A. True, annulment procedures have been greatly simplified in the recent past but it’s not compatible to mix the two sacraments, marriage and reconciliation. It’s illogical to try to nullify all invalid marriage vows with a general blessing and a renewal of vows.

Q. Regarding the incident a couple of years ago in San Francisco where gay men dressed as nuns took Communion: Does a priest have the right to refuse Communion to anyone inappropriately dressed? If so, under what conditions can a priest refuse to give Communion to someone in line?

A. Yes, a priest and/or a Eucharistic minister can withhold the Eucharist when it’s obvious that the person standing before them has no idea what Catholic Eucharist means, is not sure how or why we’re doing this and they were just moving along in line without knowing where it would lead.

In the past few months we have seen….

• A nice young man in his 20s, obviously chewing gum, stood there, unsure of himself, hands at his side. We whispered “Please get rid of the gum.” He did, in his hand. When we said “The body of Christ,” hands at his side, he answered, “Huh?” Asked if he is Catholic, another “Huh?” No Eucharist for him.
• And this. Three young men, in their late teens, entered the church as lines were forming for Communion. Suppressing giggles they got into line, three in a row. When the first one heard “The body of Christ” he snickered and said “Huh?” No Eucharist for him. Repeat behavior for his two friends. All three walked down the side aisle, still in a jolly good mood, and exited.

At wedding rehearsals it’s important to explain Catholic Eucharist, lest there be an embarrassing moment at the nuptial Mass when someone beautifully dressed in wedding finery should get into the Communion line and say “Huh?”

Let common sense prevail. Any priest celebrant and Eucharistic minister can spot interlopers who, with no malice, stand before them wondering what they’re doing there until they hear a whispered suggestion “Would you step aside, please?” “Huh?”

Recently a Catholic convert told the Q. B. scrivener he first became interested in our Catholic faith when he saw how we offered the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ with due reverence only to those who approached it with due reverence. He was impressed by the way each person responded with an “Amen” as a statement of their faith. Of course. That’s why we say “The Body of Christ” to each person.

He said he watched as our Eucharist was reserved in the tabernacle. He had to have that, he said, because obviously it was the true Eucharist. That’s when he began his Catholic instructions.

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