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 15, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. For the first time I have come to agree that Mary mother of Jesus by divine intervention (Matthew, Luke) had no other children. Those four men named by Mark and Matthew are not called children of Mary. No one but Jesus is called child of Mary. It’s clear to me now. End of story.

A. You’re in good company. You’re sharing the Catholic faith, ancient and present, that Jesus, Mary’s only child, was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew and Luke).

Is it possible that Mary could have raised a family of seven children, Jesus, four named boys and two un-named girls (Mark and Matthew) and kept them out of public view? Maybe more girls?

Who better to speak on this than Jesus? “And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:50).

Q. Our daughter was a bridesmaid at a cousin’s wedding. She was very upset when the priest doing the Mass did not give her Communion. We’re not Catholic but at our church we give communion to everyone who lines up. Is there some way you could avoid such trouble again?

A. We apologize for any painful experience. It’s not our purpose to embarrass anyone, especially sensitive wedding personnel. This should have been explained at the rehearsal the night before. The priest or deacon should have told them that Catholic Communion is for Catholics. People of another faith, or no faith, should please not extend their hands for the sacrament.

Since our earliest days the Eucharist has been the sacrament of unity among us. The first written instruction about Communion (the Didache, about 150 A.D.) stated clearly that “no one may share it unless he believes our teaching is true.” Since then, hundreds of official documents have repeated the same caution.

Respect for another person’s faith convictions is the mark of true dignity. Occasionally there are unfortunate mistakes on both sides.

Q. Some lectors in this parish give truly excellent readings, but a few change the words. “His kingdom” became “God’s country” and “man” became “a person.” There’s more like that. What Bible are they using, and who said they can do that?

A. As you might expect, the official Decree on Liturgy has something to say about dabbling with the original text:

“God is speaking to his people … and Christ is present to the faithful through his own word. Paraphrases of Scripture are therefore to be avoided…. In no case is it allowed to substitute readings…. No one, then, may take it upon himself to make changes, substitutions, deletions or additions.”

In educational circles it’s called “dumbing down.” Instead of raising the level of appreciation for fine Scripture, it’s easier to find a lower substitute so listeners won’t have to stretch their minds.

It’s time for the pastor to speak. Unless this was his idea.

Q. A visiting priest said in his homily that tithing is not and never has been an obligation for Catholics. In the Bible tithing is mentioned many times when people are accountable. Where is the problem?

A. He’s right. Tithing, the idea of giving ten percent of earnings for religious purposes, was strictly mandated by the Old Testament. But we are New Testament people, a totally new people.

St. Paul, formerly a strict Orthodox Jew, liked to emphasize “not the law written on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh in the heart.” It’s the spirit of giving, the motive of the widow giving her last two cents.

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