Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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 March 21, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. It seems to me that my Catholic Church could be more considerate of its public image if it changed just one thing. I refer to the news where it is called the Holy See. See what? Please explain why we are the only religion using that word.

A. Ah, but it’s unique. “See” is a perfectly sensible word with a distinctive origin and an intelligent use describing a geographical segment of the church. It’s derived from the Latin verb sedere, meaning “to sit.” In both civil and ecclesiastical entities, the person in authority has a place to sit while exercising jurisdiction.

Every county seat has a court house where a presiding judge sits on the bench. Every diocese has a cathedral, literally “a chair place,” where a bishop presides in liturgies. Every university has various chairs, or departments, where tenured professors instruct students.

The Holy See is the chair of Peter, founded about 67 A.D. It’s properly called the “Holy See” to distinguish it from other dioceses. That doesn’t mean your diocese is less holy – not with your presence, anyway.

Q. One of the best changes in the church was when we eliminated all those cheap plaster statues from the sanctuary and side aisles. My parish church actually had 14 large and small ones that looked like production models. Now I’m seeing some of them coming back. We can stop that. Read Deuteronomy 5:8 and explain that.

A. There was a time when cheap statuary multiplied in storage rooms like metal coat hangers multiply in closets. It’s been bad taste and good taste, displaying a whole range of good art work from A to B.

But the Decalogue explicitly forbids idolatry, the worship of idols. No Catholic in his right mind worships statues in or out of church.

The late Frank Lloyd Wright had this caustic comment about church decorative art: “No one has worse taste in art than professional religionists.” Holy Toledo!

Q. We’re getting to like our new pastor but we really miss our old pastor, who was here for years. We know changes are necessary with the shortage, etc., so is there some way we could have input when new assignments come around again?

A. Of course, you will give your new pastor every consideration and see what happens.

In the past few years the Q.B. scrivener has seen some remarkable success stories when good leaders meld with good people. Effective leadership is not built on popularity. In fact, it can be a hindrance when tough decisions must be made. Jesus Christ was not welcome in all villages. Samaritans locked him out of town.

Your question brings up the story of a priest recuperating from surgery in the hospital. The Parish Council met in his absence and discussed the advisability of sending him a get-well card. The motion passed, 8-7.

Q. Will you give me a simple answer if I ask a simple question? Why do so many people differ so much on the way the same Bible should be understood?

A. That’s a profound question. It deserves a straight answer.

The Bible, the world’s best-selling book, spans about 3,000 years of world events, every imaginable culture and sub-culture, written in at least four original languages and now translated in every language and dialect, infiltrated by more than 30 spurious writings, two dozen English translations (some excellent and some terrible), with numerous dabblings by amateurs of good will but little knowledge, with crucial additions and deletions performed by self-anointed visionaries.

The fact that we have only an Old and a New Testament is a miracle.

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