Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Best of The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the Aug. 21, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. We really like the Great Amen at Mass when everybody joins with the choir for the loud, happy singing, getting ready for the Our Father. Can you tell the origin of that little word that has just two syllables?

A. If it sounds like Hebrew, it is. It means “It is true,” with emphasis. It’s an acceptance of what has just been said and done. In Revelation 3:14 Jesus himself is called “the amen” as a person faithful to his word.

In the Gospels Jesus frequently uses the word to emphasize a point of discussion as if to say “That’s it. No further questions.”

Q. What is an “imprimatur” and what is it for? From this little bit I know it has been changed and used differently, so what is its purpose?

A. It’s a passive Latin verb that means simply “Let it be printed.” It’s not an endorsement or recommendation. It means just what it says. These days it’s more common to see “with ecclesiastical approval” somewhere in the front pages of a book.

There are a few paragraphs in Canon Law (C.B17) that explain why “books which treat questions of sacred Scripture, theology, canon law, church history or which deal with religious or moral disciplines” need the approval of competent authority, usually the local ordinary or someone appointed by him.

It’s reasonable and necessary to have some control over printed material that uses the Catholic label. Self-anointed visionaries come and go. We can recall a few who gathered a few followers but have since vanished ... without an “imprimatur.”

Q. Are you aware of the popularity of tattoos on every part of the body? It’s awful but it’s done in all kinds of small shops. Isn’t this forbidden somewhere in the Bible?

A. Yes, but watch your step. Beware of Scripture scams that lift Bible quotes out of context to promote a cause. Bible hustlers can shuffle quotes like a deck of cards and con you out of your mind and soul if you’re not careful.

The Old Testament Book of Leviticus is a mother lode of 27 chapters about every regulation you can imagine. Liturgical laws, dietary laws, civil laws, martial laws, to keep the chosen people pure and undefiled by their pagan surroundings.

Pagan neighbors painted their bodies to confuse evil spirits in their worship rites. The chosen people, true to Yahweh, saw nothing wrong with getting a little added protection with body paintings. There is just one sentence in the Bible: “You are not to tattoo yourself.”

Q. After the homily it occurred to my wife and me that there are others in the Bible besides Jesus who experienced a resurrection. Don’t you agree it would help our faith if we learned more about that?

A. We need to distinguish our terms. A) restoration of a deceased person to the conditions of the present life, or B) conferring upon a deceased person a new and permanent form of life.

Type A, restoration, is found in the lives and adventures of Elijah and Elisha (1 and 2 Kings), the only two in the Old Testament. The New Testament has the daughter of Jairus, the young son of a widow in Nain, and Lazarus.

Type B, resurrection of Jesus: into a new permanent life so different that he is not recognized by his closest friends. Faith is always a leap into the unknown even though it may be just a millimeter wide.

Q. What does “unchurched” people mean?

A. Professional pollsters zero in on that elusive person by defining him as one who does not belong to any church, temple, or synagogue, or one who claims such membership but has not been in a church, temple, or synagogue for the past six months, except for Christmas, Easter, or the High Holy Days. Every parish has some. Pollsters have noted there are more lapsed Catholics than the second-place denomination has active members. We could be, should be, huge.

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