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 April 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Is this correct? All Twelve Apostles, the first disciples, were chosen individually by name. How did it happen that one named Judas failed totally? How could Jesus have made such a bad choice? Does it make sense that one of 12 Christians fail totally?

A. There’s some slippage in your syllogism. It’s a “non sequitur.” Your conclusion does not follow your major premise. It’s not logical to conclude that because one of the original 12 dropped out of the select group therefore one out of every 12 replacements will also leave.

Since we’re covering 20 centuries of Catholic experience, with an unknown number of members, from popes to new members baptized today, past and present through all ages, you’re asking for evidence in numbers that the recording angel would need some time to provide.

The Catholic Church has the greatest membership of very good and very bad people on earth. We have world-class saints, miracle workers, mystics, charismatics, visionaries, martyrs, royal nobles, illiterate peasants and brilliant intellectuals.

We’ve got them like nobody else. We also have world-class sinners, rascals, crooks, hedonists, abusers and philanderers. Yes, those too.

The Catholic Church is an intensive care unit, an ICU for recovering sinners. No one can say we have a steady dropout rate of one out of 12 because it keeps changing. People keep moving from one group to another and sometimes back again.

Here’s a corollary to your question. If the truth came out after the death of Jesus, and if Judas had confessed his crime, would he have been forgiven and would the faithful 11 have welcomed him?

Q. This should be explained in your column. Can a non-Catholic, a good Christian in a Catholic marriage, godparent to two children, be told he cannot receive Communion? Some clergy in other churches encourage all people to participate in their Communion service yet some of our priests do not. Why?

A. First things first. All Catholic priests, unanimously, should follow the universal guidelines that Catholic Communion is for Catholics. That has been the consistent theological practice of the church since St. Justin (d. 150) in the first convert instruction book, explained “This food we call Eucharist and no one may share it unless he believes that our teaching is true and has been cleansed in the bath of forgiveness....”

There must be hundreds of similar statements over the years, all emphasizing the exclusivity of our Eucharist. There is not one statement that suggests our Catholic Communion is the same in all denominations. It isn’t inter-changeable now and never has been.

The late Flannery O’Connor, fine writer and devout Catholic, attended Mass often. After a speaking engagement she was visiting with some guests. The conversation drifted to Communion. Some thought it was a fine gesture, or a pious feeling, or a pleasant reminder, or a nice thing to do. When she heard enough platitudes Flannery said, “If it isn’t the body of Christ, to hell with it.”

For you, the direct answer is to follow through on your search for the real Eucharist. You’re half-way there. You’re familiar with Mass, you’re a sponsor twice, you have the good example of your spouse and there’s an RCIA convert class as close as your phone. Check it out. What’s keeping you from hearing “The Body of Christ” and you answering “Amen!” as you step forward to receive? What’s keeping you?

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