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 September 17, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Please explain how our Catholic Bible has six more books than the Protestant Bible. That’s a topic that’s discussed but never settled. Why can’t two sides agree on what we believe is the Word of God?

A. There aren’t 10 people in your county who know the titles of all the deutero-canonical books. (“Deutero,” Greek for “second,” as in “second choice.” Other books are sometimes called “proto-canonical” for “first choice.”)

They are the Old Testament books: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, One and Two Maccabees, parts of Daniel and Esther. At various times and places they were added, deleted, added again in some copies.

Not all Bibles were created equal. An official canon, or list, of accepted books in what we now call “Old Testament” did not exist. The Jews before Christ had the simple, sensible position that if you find a book useful, use it. Who needs a master list of approved writings?

There was a prominent settlement of expatriate Jews in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, who, over many years, had become more fluent with Greek than their native Hebrew, They wanted their Sacred Writings in Greek, too, so they hired scholars to do the massive translation. Legend says there were 70 translators – hence the name “Septuagint” for the new Greek “manuscripts,” literally “hand written.”

The collection of Hebrew scripts they worked on had those seven entries so they were, of course, included in new Greek translation. That Greek Old Testament was accepted and used by early Christian communities, who preferred Greek anyway.

When mastermind translator St. Jerome (d. 420 AD) began his monumental opus of the first-ever Old and New Testament Bible into Latin he used, of course, the Alexandrian Greek O. T. because it was already being used by the early Christian communities.

You may have noticed that some recent editions of the Bible have those “deuteros” in between the Old and New Testaments.

Q. Can a person receive Holy Communion more than once a day? It happens often that I drop my girl off for school and stay for Mass, then on the way home after work there’s another priest and Mass. I’d like that if it’s okay.

A. The simple answer is yes, it’s okay. But be aware of the theology behind that answer. Canon 917: “One who has received the blessed Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only within a Eucharistic celebration in which that person participates….” The law discourages a multiplying mentality, as, if one is good, then five must be five times better. If you can drop by just in time to receive Communion in a large parish with a Mass every hour you might receive five times. The law requires a person to participate.

Q. Why can’t theologians agree on the articles of our Catholic faith? What is there about theologians that makes them difficult?

A. That’s been the vocation of theologians since the earliest centuries. They probe, they theorize, they speculate, they investigate the limits of sound doctrine and sometimes they exceed the boundaries of defined articles of faith. In that sense, it’s a hazardous occupation. There hasn’t been a time in the past 20 centuries when we didn’t have a few peripheral theologians testing the outer limits of revealed doctrines. The great St. Augustine, early fifth century thinker, exchanged some bitter opinions with that equally great St. Jerome, who fired back with his own edicts. That’s R&D, research and development.

Leave theological scuffles to the ultimate guidance of the Holy Spirit, who hasn’t failed us yet. We have the assurance that “I will be with you until the end of time.”

Q. An usher stopped us as we were about to enter church for Mass and told my daughter to please deposit her gum outside. Since when do ushers get the right to do that?

A. Only when you don’t.

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