January 25, 2000
volume 11, no. 17

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    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 95:

    During his first Roman imprisonment 61-63 A.D.), Saint Paul came to know a slave named Onesimus, who had deserted his master Philemon, a wealthy Christian of Colossae in Phrygia. After the Apostle had won the fugitive over to Christianity, he looked for a favorable opportunity to send him back to his master. This opportunity offered itself when he was dispatching a letter to the Colossians in tye year 63 A.D. Onesimus accompanied St. Paul's messenger Tychious (Col. 4, 7-9). To Philemon the Apostle addressed the touching appeal, entreating his friend to deal kindly with the runaway.


    Apart from some doubts expressed unofficially in the West before the fourth century, the traditional Catholic view has always maintained the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, at least in the sense that it was conceived by Saint Paul and written under his direction. Its thought is thoroughly Pauline, and much of its phraseology is also distinctly Pauline. The excellent literary style however, is generally superior to that found in the other Epistles of St. Paul, and ranks with the best in the New Testament.

    The time, place of composition and destination of the Epistle are not stated explicitly, and there is but little evidence elsewhere bearing upon these matters. Opinions, based on the few vague indications available, differ widely. As plausible as any is the common view that the Episstle was written at Rome about 63 A.D., shortly after St. Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment, and that it was destined for the Jewish Christians of Palestine, who under the stress of trials were in danger of relapsing into Judaism.

    The Epistle described most eloquently the eminent superiority of the new dispensation over the old. Inaugurated by the Son of God Himself, this new dispensation was God's final revelation to man. It completed the message of the prophets, and brought to perfection all that was of permanent value in the Mosaic covenant. The Incarnate Son of God was its High Priest, and His glorious sacrifice was truly efficacious before God in the forgiveness of sin. As suffering and humiliatin had an important place in His victory, His followers are exhorted to forego worldly advantage, to bear their trials patiently, and to persevere heroically in the faith.

Tomorrow: The Epistle of St. James the Apostle


January 25, 2000
volume 11, no. 17

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