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 Best of The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the April 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. During our last two Bible studies, purgatory has been our center of discussion. One person said purgatory is a state of mind. That generated some heated debate from those who believe purgatory is a place. Who is right? Both?
A. Possibly neither. We’re dealing with Scriptural-doctrinal dogma.
We certainly believe, in our deepest conviction, that God is fair and just. We know, in our heart of hearts, that God has a sense of fairness like nobody else so he must have a system of justice that rewards virtue and punishes evil.
We are born with this innate sense that virtue is good for us, even though it often requires self-control, while sin is bad for us, even though it is often much easier. Where did we get that basic moral code? People believed that for eons, before one line of the Bible was written.
Now back to your question. Our concept of eternity is timeless and placeless so it has no clocks or calendars and it has no location or boundaries. How does life exist in eternity? Quite well, thank you.
There’s a line in our Creed about the “communion” of saints. (Make that the “community” of saints). We’re all in this together. We have some sensational saints and some struggling sinners. We can help each other.
Second Maccabees (12:43) adds this. “For if he had not expected the fallen to rise again it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, whereas if they had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end the thought was holy and devout.”
You may have noticed that Maccabees One and Two are listed in the deutero-canonical books, along with Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and some Esther and Daniel, all in the accepted canon of the Greek Septuagint edition of Hebrew Sacred Writings a century before there was such a thing as a formal “Old” Testament and four centuries before there was such a thing as a “New” Testament. But I digress.
To purge is to clean totally, to remove all bits of residue, to return to the original pristine state of grace. Now that’s a holy thought. Nothing unclean can enter the presence of God.
Q. We have been assigned a new priest from another diocese somewhere out of state and he’s doing very well. We all like him and his homilies. We hope he stays a long time. One question: How do we know his pastoral experience and even his calling are valid Catholic?
A. Every priest comes with canonical faculties. That’s the official term for his license to practice. It’s also your safeguard that he’s a genuine priest in good standing wherever he came from.
If he’s going to be with you for a while he may be “incardinated” – another canonical term for being “attached.” The Latin root word is “cardo” meaning “hinge.” He may be literally “hinged” or “attached” to your diocese at the discretion of your resident bishop.
If he should someday be transferred to another diocese that other resident bishop may be informed to attach him again.
Q. You might be mistaken given your answer about the Anti-Christ. Notice I did not say for sure. He is traced to mention in the bible more than once as a scourge that will surely come. Will you at least give that idea some though?
A. Can there be a generic anti-Christ, a kind of everyman who denies the power of God, a symbol of the power of evil, the one whom paul refers to as “the man of sin”? (2 Thes. 2:3) We are all capable of that.
Will the anti-Christ signal the cataclysmic end of the world? No more so than what we can see. Will it be a plot of horrendous magnitude by evil terrorists? A plague of a stouter flu virus?
We don’t need the Bible to predict such events.