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 Installments in 1999 and Installments in 2000
Saint Matthew, one of the twelve Apostles, is the author of the first Gospel. This has been the constant tradition of the Church and is confirmed by the Gospel itself. He was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an Apostle while sitting in the tax-collector's place at Capharnaum. Before his conversion he was a publican, i.e., a tax-collector by profession. He is to be identified with the "Levi" of Mark and Luke. His apostolic activity was at first restricted to the communities of Palestine. Nothing definite is known about his later life. There is a tradition that points to Ethiopia as his field of labor; other traditions make mention of Parthia and Persia. It is likewise uncertain whether he died a natural death or received the crown of marthrdom. His feast is celebrated on September 21.
His Gospel was written to fill a sorely felt want for his fellow-countrymen, both believers and unbelievers. For the former it served as a token of his regard and as an encouragement in the trial to come, especially the danger of falling back to Judaism; for the latter it was designed to convince them that the Messiah had come in the Person of Jesus, Our Lord, in Whom all the promises of the messianic kingdom embracing all people had been fulfilled in a spiritual rather than in a carnal way: "My kingdom is not of this world." His Gospel, then, answered the question put by the disciples of Saint John the Baptist, "Art thou He Who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
Writing for his countrymen of Palestine, St. Matthew composed his Gospel in his native Aramic, the "hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Soon afterwards, about the time of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in 42 A.D., he took his departure for other lands. Another tradition places the composition of his Gospel either between the time of this departure and the Council of Jerusalem, i.e., between 42 A.D. and 50 A.D., or even later. Definitely, however, the Gospel itself, depicting the Holy City with its altar and temple as still existing, and without any reference to the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy, shows that it was written before the destruction of the city by the Romans (70 A.D.), and this internal evidence confirms the early traditions.
The Gospel was soon translated into Greek-possibly dring the lifetime of St. Matthew or a little later; certainly before the close of the first century. The original has been lost in the course of time. The Greek text, however, is in substantial conformity with the original. St. Matthew's Gospel, then, was the only book of the New Testament written in a language other than the Greek common to the people of the Empire.
Tomorrow: The Gospel of Saint Mark
January 4, 2000 |
volume 10, no. 2
APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
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