WEDNESDAY
April 5, 2000
volume 11, no. 68

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APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH Series         INTRODUCTION

    Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.

    It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices and from Old Testament Confraternity Edition and New Testament Confraternity Edition of the Saint Joseph New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible.

    Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life. For points covered thus far, click on APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH


installment 146:
The Incarnation part two

        It was fitting that God the Son should become incarnate, rather than the Father or the Holy Spirit; for the Son proceeds from the Father, and could be sent by Him. God the Son then could, as the fruit of His Redemption, send God the Holy Spirit. Thus through the Son of God we became adopted sons of God. The Son of God was conceived and made man on Annunciation Day, the day on which the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.

        In Nazareth of Galilee lived the Blessed Virgin Mary. One day the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and said: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women" (Luke 1:28). Mary was surprised. The angel said: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His names Jesus." This event is called the Annunciation, commemorated by the solemnity of this Feast on March 25. This year it took on even more significance when the Vicar of Christ - Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass from the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth during his historic "Jubilee Journey."

        Mary knew that the angel was sent by God. She answered: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word" (Luke 1:28). Mary was surprised. The angel said: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call His name Jesus." This event, as we mentioned earlier, is called the Annunciation and the date is set in equation to His Nativity on December 25th with the nine month pregnancy of the Savior dating back to March 25th.

        The mystery of the Incarnation is commemorated daily by the Angelus, a prayer said by Catholics morning, noon, and night, at the ringing of the Angelus bell, a tradition that sadly has been abandoned in many parishes and is really only still practiced in monasteries and convents and parishes where tradition is treasured. During the Easter time the prayer Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) is substituted for the Angelus. Those who prefer may simply recite five Hail Marys instead of the Angelus or the Regina Coeli. The same indulgence is gained. The Angelus was formerly recited kneeling, except from Saturday noon to Sunday evening inclusive. Now it is recited according to one's convenience. The Regina Coeli is always recited standing.

        Jesus Christ had a human mother, the Blessed Virtin Mary, but He had no human father. The Blessed Virgin was Christ's mother as man, but not as God. However, the Blessed Virgin is truly the Mother of God, because the humanity and divinity of her Son are inseparable. In a similar way we call our parents mother and father, although they only gave us our body, and not our soul.

        Christ had no human father. The Blessed Virgin remained a virgin all her life. The conception of Our Lord is a great miracle and mystery that we cannot understand. We can only accept it as true on the word of God, Who is almighty.

        Saint Joseph was the legal spouse of Mary, but both of them preserved their virginity, consecrating it to God. They always lived together as brother and sister. St. Joseph was only the guardian of foster-father of Our Lord.

        We should honor and love Saint Joseph, because Our Lord honored and loved him. Holy Scripture calls him a just man. He was a most pure man; and this is why God selected him as the virgin spouse of Mary, to care for her and the Child Jesus. Jesus loved St. Joseph, and obeyed his slightest wish. Mary even called Joseph the father of Jesus.

        It seems that Saint Joseph was born in Bethlehem of Judea. But at the time of the Annunciation, he and Mary were living in Nazareth of Galilee. He was a carpenter. It appears that he died before the beginning of Christ's public life. The memory of Saint Joseph was venerated from the very earliest centuries. In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared St. Josep Patron of the universal Church. He is also patron of a happy death. We should invoke his protection often. His feast, kept on March 19, has been celebrataes since the 15th century. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker is celebrated on May 1st.

       

    Tomorrow: The Nativity part one

          

April 5, 2000
volume 11, no. 68
APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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