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 October 18, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Do we find our special saints or do they find us? In 1999 St. Rose of Lima took me under her loving graces. I don’t have enough paper to write everything she has done for me. Would you please put something in your column about her?
A. St. Rose (1586-1617) born in Lima, Peru, a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. Her biography states that she made great progress in a life of penance, meditation and prayer, which is remarkable, because she died at 31.
From her writings: “If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. No one would complain about his cross of about troubles that may happen to him.” Her feast day is Aug. 24.
Died at 31? St. Theresa of Lisieux, the popular Little Flower, died at 24. But I digress.
Q. In the movie a priest refused to give absolution forgiveness to a person who was in serious sin and was dying. Was that real or just part of the story which was very good?
A. In real life and in fiction that would be prime time for the sacrament of penance and forgiveness. As a wag said, St. Peter greets each of us at the pearly gates saying “Everything you have done is on videotape.”
That final sacramental opportunity is one of life’s great graces, one last chance to erase any bad parts and play back in slow motion all the good parts. Jesus said “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed” (Matthew 10:36).
Script writers for movies and TV know Catholic theology like the Q.B. writer understands hieroglyphics. It’s almost a given that they will be crudely mistaken in major plots and minor sub-plots.
Any penitent who asks for forgiveness, regrets whatever wrong he may have caused, wants to be reconciled by the grace of God, and is willing to make amends must be given sacramental absolution. That person is the ideal penitent, the star character of many true stories starting with the penitent thief dying next to Jesus on the cross.
Jesus made such a direct statement that there’s no way to mistake his intention. “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven and whose sins you retain they are retained” (John 20:23). It’s still happening. Why would any priest refuse to that simple powerful gesture? Sacraments are for people.
Q. When you print your ideas about private apparitions you seem to provoke unwanted comments as though you’re just suspicious of them. In the Bible I can show you how Satan disguises himself as an angel of light to deceive true believers. He could easily be behind such private apparitions. People should be warned about that.
A. If you’re perusing Bible quotes here’s a better one. An identical charge of conspiring with the devil was made against Jesus. His critics suggested “This man casts out devils only through Beelzebul, the prince of devils” (Matthew 12:24). Jesus responded, “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.”
Beelzebul is a nickname of derision for the devil. In Hebrew it means “Lord of Flies.” If you have shopped at open markets in the Near East on a hot summer day you can appreciate the humor.
Look who’s here already in the first pages of Genesis. Eden’s paradise, God’s command, forbidden fruit, Satan lurks, malleable consciences, loss of innocence. What a story. It’s still repeated.
Private apparitions, even the most credible in time and place, are not articles of faith. They are not now, and never will be, matters of faith. Our divinely revealed doctrine was complete when John, the last apostle, died. Since then, nothing has been added.