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 17, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Regarding dreams, I feel that my dreams can help me decide a course of action by foretelling good or bad things that might sometimes happen. Since dreams are the mind at work while my body sleeps, they must be signs of something going on inside me. Is there a point at which belief in dreams would be considered sinful?
A. The interpretation of dreams has experts in psychological sciences on all sides of the issue. Some say yes, some say no, some say just the opposite. Theologians agree it’s not sinful and gladly leave further debate to dissenting experts in the field.
The belief that dreams are a means of divine communication or foretelling the future was common in the ancient world. People consulted dream readers with extensive collections of formulae used for divination. The magi astrologers may have been dreamologists.
The Bible gives a few instances of dreams as a direct method of divine communication, but those passages show a little folklore as much as genuine Biblical belief. Can God communicate through dreams? God can communicate any way God wishes.
It would be wrong to attach undue importance to dreams, to become obsessed with dreams, to let them dominate life’s decisions as though there’s something extraterrestrial about them. That’s borderline silly superstition that approaches sinful.
Dreams are part of life. It’s good advice to befriend your dreams, not fear them. Listen to them, enjoy them, share them. May the good ones come true; may the bad ones vanish.
Q. In our parish cemetery a dog was buried next to someone’s grave by the dog’s owner who is a close friend of our priest. But I feel this is the most disrespectful thing that has ever happened in our parish. Can you explain? What does church law say about this?
A. Canon law leaves such details to the 195 Catholic dioceses in the U.S. Since this is primarily a matter of civil law we might consult a few hundred civil entities in the common cause.
Cities, counties and townships have regulations that prohibit burying animals, large or small, in public cemeteries. Private parish cemeteries observe the same regulations. There’s agreement in writing that “the law forbids burial of animal remains in ground intended for human remains.”
Q. There is serious disagreement among the people’s Bible study group about how our Vatican Council II inserted the last line “For thine is the kingdom...” etc. in our familiar Our Father. It seems to me that we must now learn what we had been told is the Protestant ending of that last line. What’s the reason for this change?
A. It was sheer accident that “For thine...” etc. did not appear in the particular Greek manuscripts St. Jerome used in his monumental translation of the first-ever complete Hebrew-Christian Writings about 400 A.D. You could have flipped a coin to guess whether his texts would have that one-line doxology or not. It’s not found in most reliable Greek manuscripts, but it is found in some, and it’s found in Justin’s famous Greek Didache, from about 100 A.D.
It was a formal practice for Jews to conclude their synagogue prayers with such an all-purpose ending as “For thine is the power....” Early Christian communities, surely familiar with Jewish liturgies, did the same. Both versions, in Matthew and Luke, were originally composed in rhyme, a kind of sing-song poetry that was common in synagogues.
Our Christian ancestors were familiar with both endings for about 15 centuries before anyone thought about debating the issue.
It was an honest slip. Some scholars say “For thine...” was a codicil an unknown copier scribbled in the tiny margin of his manuscript and another scribe later inserted it into the page where all the block letters ran together anyway.
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