DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     December 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 237


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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.

    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.


part one The Old Testament overview

        The Bible is the best Book in the world. It is the Word of God. It is better than any other book that has ever been written or ever will be written. Catholics are not only permitted, but urged, to read the Bible. They must read a version approved by the Catholic Church. Catholic Bibles have the ncessary explanations for the guidance of the faithful. We still strongly recommend the Douay-Rheims version and Confraternity version as the most representative of Catholic translation. Some of the newer translations, though approved by ICEL, have not been looked upon favoraby by the Vatican.

        Holy Scripture is the Word of God written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and contained in the books of the Old and the New Testaments. The seventy-two sacred books, together forming the Bible, were composed by forty writers in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The period of composition covers at least 1,300 years, from Moses to Saint John the Evangelist.

        "God, Who at sundry times and in diverse manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son" (Hebrews 1:1).

        The writers were inspired by God. By a supernatural influence God enlightened their mind and moved their will to write all that He wished, and only that. They acted as free instruments of God, Who directed them and preserved them from error. The writers of Holy Scripture were, however, not passive instruments. Each writer brought his personality with him into what he wrote. The writers were like skilled painters who paint from the same model. The products are similar and all correct, but with differences according to talents.

        While they were the pen, God provided the ink for God is the Author of the Bible. An author is not the stenographer that writes down what he is told, but the one who tells what is to be written. Since God is the Author, the Bible cannot contain any error. "All Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16). Copyists and printers, however, can and do make mistakes in copying the Bible. This has happened since the emergence of the King James version.

        Since the Bible is the Word of God, it must be treated with the greatest reverence. This is why we take solemn oaths on the Bible, stand up when the Gospel is read, and have incense and lights used when the Gospel is sung at solemn Mass.

        The books of the Bible can be used to prove reliable historical records. Science throughout the years has been proving itself the handmaid, instead of the enemy, of the Bible. Excavations and researches in this century have proved that such distant events as the Fall of Jericho, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Deluge, really and actually happened, and are no mere figures of speech. Sir Charles Marston, the eminent British archaeologist who worked extensively in Palestine, firmly declared that far from being merely mythology, the Old Testament is, substantially, contemporary eyewitness accounts of events set down as they took place. Remains he found included information on events that took place in the times of Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Jeremias the Prophet; even the name of Abraham has been found. Tablets found in Babylonia and Assyria refer to the Deluge.

        The Old Testament was recognized by Jesus Christ, approved by Him, and often quoted by Him. Evidences from the New Testament prove that this was written by Christ's Apostles and disciples. The style of the Gospels shows clearly that they were written by Jews. That the writers lived in the first century is shown by the vividness of their knowledge about Jerusalem, which was destroyed before the end of that century. The earliest Christian writers testify to the reliability of the Gospels; the consent of the churches of the time proves such reliability.

        The Gospels have not been changed by the passage of centuries. This can be proved from the oldest copies, from ancient translations and quotations. The Gospels could not have been altered, because the fervor of the early Christians carefully guarded them. When in the fourth century Saint Jerome was ordered by Pope Saint Damasus I to gather all existing texts of the Bible and translate them into Latin, there were some 35,000 ancient copies. After thirty-four years of labor, he finished the translation, our Catholic Bible, called the Latin Vulgate, from which the Catholic English versions have been made.

        The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, written before Christ, consists of forty-five books: Genesis, Exodus, Levitus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which compose the Pentateuch. Then there is, in chronilogical order: Josue or Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel (1 Kings), 2 Samuel (2 Kings), 3 Kings, 4 Kings, Chronicles 1 and 2 or Paralipomenon 1 and 2, Esdras, 2 Esdras or Nehemias or Nehemiah, Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Cantical of Canticles or Songs, Wisdom, Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, Isaias or Isaiah, Jeremias or Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, Osee or Josea, Joel, Amos, Abdias or Obadiah, Jonas or Jonah, Micheas or Micah, Nahum, Habacuc or Habakkuk, Sophonias or Sophonia, Aggeus or Haggai, Zacharias or Zechariah, Malachias or Malachi, and 1 and 2 Machabees.

        There are twenty-one historical books relating to the earliest ages of the world, or to the history of the Jews, among which books are the five books of Moses and the four books of Kings; seven doctrinal books, made up of maxims and prayers, among which are the Psalms and the Proverbs; and seventeen prophetical books, of four greater and twleve lesser prophets, among which books are Isaias, Jermias, and Daniel.

      Tomorrow: Holy Scripture: The Bible part two: the New Testament overview

December 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 237


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