Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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 November 20, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. We attended a kind of lecture at a nearby denominational church that was about the Bible. It centered mostly on the Book of Revelation. Would you please explain at least that Bible 666 that started some discussion?
A. Do not enter that labyrinthine Revelation without a competent guide. Many people have wandered into that quagmire with enthusiastic but unqualified leaders and have come out later babbling utter nonsense.
The Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) uses symbolic numbers, colors, animals, people, kingdoms and plagues. Horns mean power, eyes mean knowledge, wings mean mobility, trumpets mean voices, crowns mean dominion and, of course, that mystical 666 is the horrible beast. All those symbols run together in multiple wide-ranging prophecies.
The solution to that code number 666 is quite simple. It’s a bit of gematria, an old numbers game that was common at that time. Number 666 is the sum total of the letters in the name of Nero Caesar, the killer beast. In Hebrew it’s “nrwn qsr.” (Hebrew vowels were added as needed.)
Add them up. N is 50, R is 200, W is 6, N is 50, Q is 100, S is 60, R is 200. Total is 666. The beast is Nero Caesar who persecuted Christians for the fire he started that burned Rome.
Here’s an interesting note. When Bible translators used the Latin, not the Hebrew, text they printed the beast’s number as 616. Aha! Nero’s Latin name has only one N. Subtract 50 points.
Q. As a gay Catholic am I wasting my time going to Mass every Sunday? I know being gay is a mortal sin. However I do not receive Holy Communion. I do not see me changing my lifestyle soon. Will I go to hell when I die?
A. No one can answer your last question except you and even you cannot predict your eternal destiny because there’s a lot of time between now and your final day and even if there’s just a short time left you cannot be sure because you haven’t yet considered the overwhelming unlimited love and mercy of God who will make the final determination.
Please note that deliberately elastic sentence stretched to cover all tracks whenever we try to forecast our eternal destiny. You can see how inept we are when we’re out of our element. It’s not our decision.
Your second sentence is wrong. There isn’t a single line in Catholic dogmatic or moral theology that agrees with it.
We need to make a simple distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity. Being homosexual is not a sin in any way, neither mortal nor venial. Homosexual acts are sins, either mortal or venial, depending on willful culpability. Willful culpability is the prime factor of any serious sin, e.g. habitual larceny, lying, substance abuse, adultery, embezzling.
You are not wasting your time going to Mass. Get a good grip on the sacraments and you will be as welcome as wild flowers in the springtime. They will save you if you use them as they are intended.
Q. As you surely know the Gospels we hear keep skipping around, which makes me wonder how long it took to write them and in what order so that we get them in a certain sequence. Also, who decided they should be in that order?
A. Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, possibly written in that order, about 50 years, give or take a little. None of them was assigned to write a certain part as though they had assignments from a master editor. None of them imagined their work would some day be incorporated into the world’s best seller in every language known to mankind. None of them heard of a New Testament because there wasn’t an Old Testament.
The only “scripture” they knew was a somewhat loose gathering of sacred writings used in Jewish liturgies and personal prayers. The editor-in-chief who arranged all those manuscripts into one large book was the master linguist St. Jerome. Thank you, noble saint, for your life’s labors.
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