January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18

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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 96:

    "Besides the fourteen Epistles of Saint Paul, there are seven Catholic Epistles; one of Saint James, two of Saint Peter, three of Saint John, and one of Saint Jude. From the earliest days of the Church these have been called "Catholic" on account of their universal appeal. With the exception of the Second and Third Epistles of St. John, they were circular or encyclical letters sent by these Apostles to various Christian communities of the Church.

    St. James the Less, the author of the first Catholic Epistle, was the son of Alpheus of Cleophas (Matt. 10, 3). His mother Mary was a sister, or a close relative, of the Blessed Virgin, and for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord (Gal. 1, 19; cf. Also Matt. 13, 55; Mark 6, 3). The Apostle held a distinguished position in the early Christian community at Jerusalem. St. Paul tells us he was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15, 7); he is also called a "pillar" of the Church, whom St. Paul consulted about the gospel (Gal. 2, 2, 9). According to tradition, he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was at the Council of Jerusalem about the year 50 (Acts 1, 13; 14, 4ff; 21, 18; Gal. 1, 19). The historians Eusebius and Hegesippus relate that St. James was martyred for the faith by the Jews in the spring of the year 62, although they greatly esteemed his person and had given him the surname of "James the Just."

    Catholic tradition has always recognized St. James as the author of this Epistle. Internal evidence based on the language, style and teaching of the Epistle reveals its author as a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, and a Christian thoroughly grounded in the teachings of the gospel. External evidence from the early fathers and councils of the Church confirms its authenticity and canonicity.

    The date of its writing cannot be determined exactly. According to some scholars it was written about the year 49. Others, however, claim it was written after St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (composed during the winter of 57-58). It was probably written between the years 60 and 62.

    St. James addresses himself to the "twelve tribes that are in the Dispersion" (1, 1), that is, to Christians outside Palestine; but nothing in the Epistle indicates that he is thinking only of Jewish Christians. St. James realizes full well the temptations and difficulties they encounter in the midst of paganism, and as a spiritual father, he endeavors to guide and direct them in the faith. Therefore the burden of his discourse is an exhortation to practical Christian living."

Tomorrow: The First Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle


January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18

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