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 March 19, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. One of my favorite newspapers carries its astrology column and that interests me a lot. I know it’s not accurate every time but it often fits right on the mark for daily comment. How could that possibly have an effect on my religious faith? Does it become a sin whenever I make daily decisions by astrology?
A. The enticement of a really delectable sin ought to present a pleasure of some kind as its main attraction. The sin of astrology fails miserably. In fact, astrology is the dumbest sin on the list.
Some years ago the American Astronomical Society, sounding like our Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a clear warning. It was signed by 186 prominent scientists, including Nobel Prize winners.
“We are especially disturbed by the uncritical dissemination of astrological charts, forecasts and horoscopes by the media and otherwise reputable newspapers, magazines and publishers.” They went on to say it’s utter nonsense to believe that “the forces exerted by stars and planets at the moment of birth can in any way shape our future.”
It’s impossible to reconcile a geneticist with an astrologer. Every geneticist knows that the combination of genes, chromosomes and DNA at the time of conception and gestation determine a person’s characteristics.
The arrangement of the planets at the time of birth is obviously nine months too late and a million light years too far away.
Q. If it’s a sin to use bad language, can you explain the downward trend of simple good taste to terrible taste in our speech and behavior?
A. It’s always easier to slide downhill on the slippery slope than it is to climb upward one step at a time.
Who decides what’s offensive and what’s acceptable, what’s terrible and what’s tolerable? We do.
In the words of eminent Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Q. The Bible treats some numbers like they are lucky. How would that affect a lottery selection? I’m not a regular gambler but I have won medium drawings. If there’s a reason to trust the experiences of people in the Bible, wouldn’t that be a terrific advantage?
A. Sorry, the Bible is no help in a numbers game. If you’re thinking about using God as a utilitarian deity, a crude form of divination, your wins and losses will not be affected, but you will be flirting near the sin of idolatry.
The symbolism of certain numbers is extremely common in Scripture, but not in the sense of good luck charms. It was simply as a matter of custom the same way we think of certain numbers.
Number seven stands out from the rest, not as a lucky seven but as a metaphoric way of saying “a lot.” Mary Magdalen was possessed by seven demons – a lot of them. There was the trick case of a man who married seven wives – a lot of them. Disaster strikes the mother of seven sons. Ruth is described as a wonderful woman better than seven sons. Peter asks whether he is obliged to forgive a maximum of seven times, but Jesus raises the ante to 70 times seven.
The mystical Book of Revelation is loaded with sevens, as you might expect. There are seven churches, seven spirits, seven lamps, seven seals, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven heads of the dragon, seven plagues, and seven vials. All those sevens mean “a lot.”
You cannot abuse any number, Biblical or mathematical, to increase your winnings or losses. And we haven’t touched that 144,000 sealed in the heavenly church. That’s 12 X 12 (fullness multiplied by fullness) and elevated to the Nth degree by 1,000.
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