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 September 20, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Both of our children left their Catholic faith to join another denomination. They say they had too much religion when they were growing up. Now they always quote Bible verses to explain themselves. We try to avoid arguing about this, but what else can we do?
A. Those 27 chapters of Leviticus, especially the sections about kosher laws, purification procedures, eating winged insects and selective blessings and curses, if they are carefully observed, will demand more than fundamentalist enthusiasm.
Thatís unrealistic, of course. Every citation should be kept in its proper context and thatís not always explained.
A recent Catholic convert made a simple discovery. Reflecting for the first time on the Bible, its origin and its purpose in his Catholic life, said simply ďThatís our stuff.Ē Yes, it is our stuff. Tell your children to be careful how they use our stuff.
Q. In a very heated discussion I was accused of being a typical Catholic who messed up the listing of books in the Bible by insisting that seven more books belong when everyone else said no. Can you say where we got them, and why we have them and they donít?
A. There arenít 10 people in your county who can list those deutero-canonical books. The confusion is apparent immediately.
Catholics call them deutero-canonical, meaning a second-tier canon or list for a total of 46 Old Testament books. Most Protestants, but not all, reject them as apocryphal, meaning hidden, for an Old T. total of 39 books. Letís not get disputatious.
Many Protestant churches avoid the dispute by ignoring it. They prefer the old Jewish Scripture dictum: ďIf itís useful, use it.Ē Orthodox churches in the East prefer our longer list and some even insert a few more books than we have.
Catholics took their Old Testament canon from the Greek Septuagint translation that was commissioned by devout Jews living in a thriving Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt. They spoke Greek, read Greek, and they wanted their prayer book in Greek. Naturally, that Greek Old Testament has those seven books. That was more than a century before Christ.
If youíre in another heated discussion you should at least know the titles: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and sometimes parts of Esther and Daniel. They were embedded into the first Christian Bible and they are still there.
Q. I can definitely appreciate the fact that apparitions donít ďaddĒ anything to our faith from the Apostles, but donít they also play an interesting and important role in their own right? What about Lourdes, Fatima, etc.? What is the churchís official stance on this?
A. Divine revelation is the essence of our Catholic faith based on the Bible and tradition ďand no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.Ē (Vatican II)
Theologians have a quaint expression for that. Itís known as ďthe deposit of faithĒ as though itís a mother lode that has been discovered and mined for our benefit. Nothing new has been added, or will ever be added, to the summary of doctrines we have in our deposit of faith.
Private revelations are personal matters. They are separate information, totally optional, usually interesting and naturally authentic in keeping with divine revelation described above.
The two you mention, Lourdes and Fatima, are prime examples of private revelations. They have been examined and analyzed, diagnosed and dissected in every aspect of our faith and found to be authentic manifestations consistent with divine revelation. In 1858, Mary, identifying herself as the Immaculate Conception, appeared at Lourdes, France, 18 times. After rigid medical exams, before and after, 60 people have been cured of various ailments by Maryís miraculous intervention. There can be no other explanation.