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 February 18, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. What are those fish emblems stuck on the trunks of cars? About six inches long, shape of fish, chrome lettering, name of Jesus inside. We asked people who have them. Nobody can say. What are they?

A. Long before anyone thought of Greek letter fraternities and sororities, our ancestors used the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ Son of God Savior” as a kind of prayerful greeting. If you take the initial of each of those Greek words you have five letters spelling the Greek word for fish – pronounced “ick-thees.” It became an early Christian emblem for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

The symbol of a fish was used as a kind of code word to indicate to fellow believers that the user was a Christian. It was often put on tombstones, rings, necklaces, amulets and now, of all places, on the backs of cars. You don’t have to be Greek to use it.

Q. You quoted Einstein’s statement: “What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world.” If God had no choice, would that not suggest that someone or something greater than God exists? Of course, that’s impossible. What am I missing?

A. Not if we accept the truism that goodness, by its very nature, is self­-effusive. Theologians, who never met an issue they could not sub-divide, coined the adage “Bonum est sui diffusivum.” It’s not just a habit of goodness to spread itself around. It’s the very essence of goodness that it must expand, spread and extend itself, because that’s the very nature of goodness. That’s not what it seems to do. That’s what it is. So, if God is goodness personified, Einstein’s question is correct.

Could God have retained all goodness within himself? Not if we agree with that philosophical principle.

Q. When I learned the cost of dying I decided to have this old body of bones cremated rather than leave my loving wife, the only family I have, with the bill. I’ve heard church practice does not approve of cremation, so please correct me and tell me why.

A. Cremation is acceptable. Respect for the human body, from the first instant of conception to the last breath, is a fundamental Christian ethic:

“Don’t you realize you are God’s temple and the Holy Spirit dwells in you? .... the temple of God is sacred and you are that temple” (I Corinth. 3: 15). Respect for human life has been the centerpiece of our Christian ethic ever since Paul instructed those people in Corinth.

Two centuries ago, during the age of enlightenment, cremation was an agnostic’s final act of defiance against the church’s doctrine about the dignity of the body and the Resurrection. When scoffers thumbed their noses at that pivotal Christian doctrine, the church had no choice except to deny them Christian burial.

From a practical viewpoint, why would an agnostic or an atheist who has ridiculed that pivotal doctrine now request the church’s public liturgy to proclaim his eternal destiny? The Q.B. scrivener has never had that happen.

If a scoffer avoided entering a church when he could walk, why should we wheel him in when he can no longer resist?

Q. Is consulting astrology readings sinful?

A. If you’re serious about astrology charts, even scheduling your work and play by those readings, then, yes, that’s the sin of idolatry, because it attributes to inanimate objects (planets, crystals, pyramids) the power that belongs exclusively to God.

The Q.B. scrivener shies away from assessing moral guilt to anyone, but in this matter of putting faith in zodiac charts and psychic readings we tend to think that God must consider congenital ignorance as an excusing factor.

Astrology must be the dumbest sin. And where’s the fun in that?

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