Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
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The Best of The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the August 20, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. I promise to pray a five-decade rosary for you if you answer this. The enclosed card shows the five promises made by Our Lord to whoever prays two Our Fathers, two Hail Marys and two Glory Bes each day for three years. This devotion was blessed by Pope Leo on April 5, 1890. What credence can we place in this?
A. Over the centuries Mother Church has collected an attic full of many forms of private devotions. Like every good mother, she has stashed away the best efforts of her children. She has read personal prophecies, seen distant visions, reviewed inner locutions and outer apparitions, predictions of doom and promises of glory. All those collectibles in our attic come under the heading of private revelation. None of it is doctrine.
Your question is based on the writings of three saintly women, Sts. Elizabeth, Matilda and Brigid, who fostered a special ďDevotion to the Drops of Blood Lost By Our Lord Jesus Christ on His Way to Calvary.Ē It was original. No one had thought of that one before. Itís not clear how those three saintly women shared information, since they lived more than a century apart, 1231-1373. Obviously, those visionaries were not limited by our constraints of space and time.
Repeat: Private revelations of any kind are not matters of faith. We already have a full Catechism of the Catholic Church, with pages of defined doctrine Ė everything you ever wanted to know about genuine revealed religious truth based on the Bible and Tradition.
Thank you kindly for the rosary.
Q. Can you give an approximate date for those letters we read often as second readings attributed to St. Paul? Weíre in the middle of sharp discussions here so we agreed to accept whatever you say, which we are certain you will state clearly, as you always do.
A. St. Paulís correspondence comprises nearly one-fourth of the New Testament, so itís a monumental source of Catholic theology. Some of the letters may not have been written by St. Paulís hand Ė good scholars point to different words, styles and expressions Ė but the evidence is clear that he was the master of all.
The earliest is the pair of letters to the people in Thessalon, about 51, pre-dating the Gospels. The last letter in the collection has to be Hebrews, somewhere between 70 and 96, but it doesnít sound like Paulís work. He was dead at that point.
Why donít you start a discussion about that short letter St. Paul wrote to Philemon between 61 and 63? Paul drops a loaded moral dilemma into Philemonís lap. He had baptized Philemon, a recent convert and good friend. And he had just baptized Onesimus, Philemonís runaway slave whom he met in prison. Paul persuades Onesimus to return to his master Philemon with only this letter for his safety. Roman law permitted harsh punishment, even death, for runaway slaves. Paul writes: ďSo, if all that we have in common means anything to you, welcome him as you would me.... I am writing this in my own handwriting.... I will not mention your own debt to me....Ē Thatís moral clout. Did Onesimus go back? What did Philemon do?
Q. More priests are not wearing their black suits with white collar outfits as they once did. Is there some reason for that? Itís your choice, but I always thought you looked sharp.
The black suit/Roman collar street clothes is a comparatively recent innovation. The 1884 Plenary Council of Baltimore decreed that a priestís dark suit coat should cover his knees, in keeping with the fashion of the day. Imagine the gasps when the first young priest appeared in public with his jacket trimmed above his knees.
In many European countries priests wore shirts and ties like every other male, while Protestant clergy preferred a back-around collar. Priests re-cycled it into a Roman collar. What goes around comes around.
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