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 April 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. When a divorced Catholic is waiting for the final word of the annulment from the diocesan tribunal, can she date, get engaged, and take the pre-marriage course offered by the diocese?
A. As a still married person she is not free to date, select a ring, plan the reception, or hire an orchestra. She is a married woman and the Church expects her to live like one.
Not all annulments are decided in the affirmative. The Tribunal will review all the facts in the light of canon law and render a decision. Anyone who thinks his/her marriage is not valid has a right to a hearing, but that’s not the same promising a favorable decision with the right to re-marry.
In some cases an annulment may be granted with the restriction that the person may not marry without prior authorization from the Tribunal. For instance, if the condition that caused the invalid marriage still persists, the church is not interested in a repeat performance.
Take this one step at a time. It’s a lot of bother returning presents.
Q. Good Christian fundamentalist friends don’t hesitate to talk always about their born again experiences. I say those experiences are optional. They say even if they have new serious sins they have been saved by Jesus’ blood that takes them into heaven. Can you comment?
A. “Born again” is one of those broad generic terms that can mean whatever you want. It can mean a profoundly moving spiritual experience brought on by the grace of God or an emotional binge that just makes you feel saved all over. A better rendition of John’s (3:3) Greek word is “born from above,” but that might scuttle the born again movement.
All sins are not equal. There’s a whopping difference between a little loss of temper and a lie to cover a pattern of adultery, in which case feeling born again is a kind of self-deception.
If your friends are telling you that heaven is automatically guaranteed because a person feels “born again” despite any serious sins deliberately committed, that’s neither Scriptural nor logical.
The late Dr. Menninger, grand patriarch of American psychiatry, said, “Sin is an implicitly aggressive quality, a ruthlessness, a breaking away from God and from the rest of humanity … an act of rebellion.”
That’s totally incompatible with feeling born again. Those two ideas are so mutually exclusive they can’t exist in the same person.
Menninger suggested an honest admission, out loud to someone, of doing wrong, a serious effort to make amends for any harm done, and a firm resolve to avoid a repeat offense. That’s the definition of the sacrament of reconciliation – confession.
After that, you can feel “born again” if you want.
Q. There are places in the Bible that clearly show the beginning of the human race. If you care to read the revealed truth of creation it’s there, proving that human life appeared on earth between 7,000-8,000 years ago. It’s all there.
A. The Old Testament is not genealogy, paleontology or anthropology. It’s theology – plain and simple theology.
In 1984 an almost complete skeleton of a 12-year-old boy was found in a dry river bed in Kenya, Africa. He was five-and-a-half feet tall, weighed 143 pounds and walked erect. He lived 1.6 million years ago. Other skeletal bones of primitive humans, more than a million years old, have been found in Africa, Europe and Australia. Anthropologists are still digging.
Even if we had reliable information about the ancestors of that 12-year-old boy, showing who had begotten whom and when, we would need more pages than the entire Old Testament just to list their names and dates. And that’s just his progeny through the past 1.6 million years.
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