Q. I am a wandering Catholic. I identify as a Roman Catholic, although I have not been to a church service in quite a while. I have made excuses to myself and to Our Lord as to why that is. I have started reading the Bible and would like to know if the King James Version is accepted by the church. (I have been trying to get to church, as it brings me peace. My reasons for not attending are varied, mostly health-related.) (Onley, Virginia)
A. First, about the Bible. The King James translation was completed in 1611 and is written in a lofty literary style. Like Catholic versions, its New Testament section includes 27 books. But in the King James version (as well as in other Protestant editions), the Old Testament has only 39 books while Catholic versions have 46 books.
The seven additional books in Catholic editions are: Tobit, Judith, First and Second Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch. (In addition, Catholic Bibles also include some sections of Esther and Daniel that are not found in Protestant Bibles.) These additional books are considered by the Catholic Church as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Having said that, the Catholic Church does not forbid anyone from reading any version of the Bible. I am happy that you have begun to read the King James Bible and believe that you will find inspiration in doing so.
At some point, though, you might want to obtain a version called the New American Bible. Last revised in 2011, this is the version used for the scriptural readings at Catholic Masses.
Now, about your being a “wandering Catholic.” I hope that when your health permits, you will decide to return regularly to Mass. I believe that this is the way to be most faithful to Jesus and the surest help for living his way.
Jesus told us at the Last Supper that he wanted his followers to come together regularly to celebrate their faith, to recall his life and teachings and to be nourished with his body and blood.
It may be that legitimate health concerns make it unwise right now for you to go to church, especially during the current pandemic. If that is the case, would you consider calling your parish priest and asking to be placed on the Communion list for home visitation?
That way, you will be able to have your confession heard and to feel the peace and the strength of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Q. I don’t understand why, over the last couple of years, I don’t see folks bowing at the name of Jesus. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are parishioners, priests or nuns. Is there some new rule on this, or am I just too old-school Catholic? (Lacey, Washington)
A. The custom of bowing at the name of Jesus is a worthy one, and it has a long tradition in the church. It takes its origin from St. Paul, who wrote in his Letter to the Philippians (2:9-10): “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The practice was reinforced at the Second Council of Lyons, convened in 1274 by Pope Gregory X, which highlighted the special honor due the sacred name and noted that “whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.”
Pope Gregory followed up with a letter to the Dominican Order, which became the foremost promoters of devotion to the Holy Name. In that letter, Pope Gregory said, “We wish that at the pronouncing of that name, chiefly at the holy sacrifice (of Mass), everyone would bow his head in token that interiorly he bends the knee of his heart.”
I agree with our letter-writer that, over the past several decades, this practice is followed less widely. I also agree that more people should observe it; it serves as an important reminder of the reverence we owe the divine and reflects an interior desire to honor Jesus, who died on the cross to redeem us.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at email@example.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.