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 October 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. In my Orthodox liturgy everyone shares the Body and Blood of Christ using the same spoon. Some do not partake because of germophobia and they miss out on this essence of spiritual food. We believe in the consecration of bread and wine. It may look like wine and taste like wine but it is truly the blood of Christ. How can anyone get sick on that?

A. Eons ago theologians, who never met an issue they could not subdivide, coined the word “transubstantiation” to describe the change of the inner substances of bread and wine. The appearances do not change. Wine still looks, feels, smells, slides, spills, drips and tastes like wine, but that inner substance that makes wine wine is changed. At the high point of Mass the inner substance of wine becomes the blood of Jesus as he promised: “This is my blood….” The inner substance of wine is totally changed while the external qualities (color, smell, taste, etc.) of wine remain the same. But so does its potential for carrying viruses and bacteria remain the same. Jesus said nothing about conferring immunity, antigenicity (make anti-bodies) or pathogenicity (ability to cause disease).

This is one of the great moments and mysteries of our faith. Try a little introspection. Over many centuries how many Orthodox priests have finished the last few ounces of consecrated wine in the cup, wine that everyone’s spoon has mixed, without any of them getting sick?

Q. I suggested that a Catholic couple get started to have their invalid marriage blessed. It’s the only marriage for both. They’re having their problems and I said it would help restore their faith if they returned to the sacraments. Would you believe our pastor suggested a delay? Does that make sense when they need their faith?

A. The Q.B. scrivener walks around this dilemma gently. It’s good advice not to rush into a validation immediately.

If a marriage is floundering, a validation will not provide a remedy. That’s not its purpose. It’s essential that the couple first determine what is causing the problem in their marriage.

The pastor is correct. You might consider talking with him.

Q. I’m facing some negative comments from my parents, not his, because the man I want to marry is divorced once. Divorces happen. If the wedding cannot be in our church they’re not coming to our wedding. You’ve seen this before, so can you suggest some way we might get a Catholic wedding with a priest sensitive to our needs?

A. You’re looking for a priest who understands your needs but is also knowledgeable in our church’s canon law as it affects your faith convictions.

Civil divorce affects civil affairs, so that’s not an issue here. The church does not grant divorces. The first matter of concern is his prior marriage. Was it a valid marriage? Aye, there’s the rub.

If his marriage was valid at the time he and his bride promised fidelity until death, it remains valid until death, as promised. No power on earth can dissolve that valid bond. He’s a married man.

If his marriage was invalid because of some impediment at the time vows were exchanged, it remains invalid now, just as it was then. No marriage becomes more valid or more invalid with the passing of time. He’s a single man.

Every Catholic is entitled to a review of the status of their marriage. Every diocese has a Marriage Tribunal that does that very well. Contact your local, friendly priest for an appointment to talk. And keep close contact with your parents.

Q. Over Christmas I learned that nobody knows the exact birthday of Jesus. Is that true?

A. Yes. The best guestimate is somewhere between six and four B.C. Calendars at that time were not synchronous with our Gregorian model. Mother Mary knew, of course, and she may have told Luke, but he, typical male, didn’t write it down. Perhaps he thought ... What? Me forget?

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