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 Sept. 18, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Do you agree itís a good idea to say a prayer before a critical play in sports? For a long putt in golf, or a hit in overtime baseball? I notice some players sort of make the sign of the cross before stepping up to the plate for the first pitch. Do you think it works?

A. Prayer, like motherhood, education and virtue, is a ďgivenĒ in life no one can be against. St. Paul advises that we pray always, in all events, and that should include sports. But pray for what? Team spirit? No injuries? An umpireís good vision?

Despite those mossy old jokes about devout nuns praying their team to victory, the fact remains that practice, not prayer, makes athletes skillful. Shooting baskets or hockey pucks, the ability of players who practice will be the dominant factor. The sign of the cross before the next pitch will not replace practice.

Q. Would you please say something about the Synoptic Problem? Itís news to me that thereís a problem difficult to understand when itís Godís Word in our Bible. Or is it just a problem thatís too far beyond us? Are we sure itís a real problem?

A. Top level Scripture scholars could fill the rest of this newspaper with erudite commentary about the synoptics. We can gloss over the highlights for quick review.

We might call it the synoptic symposium. The word ďsynopticĒ is Greek for one-eyed sighting, as a carpenter squints one eye to look down a piece of lumber to see if itís straight. Scholars line up verses from Matthew, Mark and Luke to see where they match, or not, to determine who wrote first, or last, to wonder who borrowed what from whom.

But itís an unstable premise, a bit wobbly. Thereís nothing like it in ancient or modern literature. There seems to be no satisfactory answer. Itís like trying to walk upright on a floor covered with ball bearings. Itís the old story that when we approach the outer perimeter of Godís work we get stonewalled.

For instance, 330 out of 661 of Markís verses, 330 out of 1,068 in Matthew and 330 out of 1,150 in Luke are a match. How did that happen? And in a few places the authors quote an Old T. source using the same rare slang Greek words not found anywhere in the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek Septuagint Old Testament. How did that happen?

We leave all this to Scripture scholars who revel in this kind of work and trust them to call us when they solve the synoptic symposium.

Q. At Communion Father broke the small round Host in two pieces and gave the other half to my husband next behind me. We liked the idea that both of us shared the same piece of Bread as the Body of Christ. Could that be offered to more married couples?

A. Yes, it could but you can foresee how such a procedure could easily get flummoxed with long lines of communicants when the priest isnít sure whose husband or wife is next in line. Occasionally a couple will receive Communion standing side-by-side and thatís a better way to share the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Q. It seems to me that some people have the idea that no fasting is required before Communion. It would be easy if you made it clear.

A. The rule is simplicity itself. Fasting from food and liquids for one hour before receiving Eucharist is the norm.

Please note that the rule applies to the time of receiving Communion, not the time Mass begins. The spirit of the law is clear. Itís a gentle reminder, a little jolt, to help us prepare to receive Jesus Christ, which might well be the high point of our day.

Itís a fine family tradition. Acts 13:2 described our earliest ancestors ďwhile they were engaged in the liturgy of the Lord and were fasting.Ē Even children can fast on the way to church.

The law doesnít apply to sick or aged folks or those who care for them. Water doesnít count, nor does medicine.

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