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.
Death of Pope Hadrian II, 106th successor of Peter and the only Pope to be elected and die on the same date of the month. He convened the 8th Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 869 which deposed Photius and ended the Greek Schism though he struggled throughout his five-year papacy in trying to settle deep quarrels among the Catholic peoples before he died at the age of eighty.
Election of Pope John VIII as 107th successor of Peter to succeed Pope Hadrian II who died on this date (see above). Like Hadrian, John VIII was born in Rome. His ten year papacy would be wrought with political intrigue and struggles against the Saracens. Assisted only the inhabitants of Rome he would defeat the Saracens at Taaarracina, but Charles the Gross would fail to maintain his promise of help, and consequently Pope John VIII would be defeated by the Arabs and forced to pay a huge tribute to the infidels.
Death of Saint John of the Cross, priest, religious reformer and Doctor of the Church. For more on this extraordinary saint who is the author of "The Dark Night of the Soul", click on DAILY LITURGY.
In a telegram addressed to Vlatko Pavletic, the president of the Croatian parliament, the Pontiff said that Tudjman-- who died in the night on December 10, after a long debilitating illness-- would be remember for his role in giving Croatia an independent voice in world affairs after the fall of the Soviet empire.
This made for a very special atmosphere. The giant nativity scene in the middle of the square is slowly coming together, and the Christmas tree is already in place, donated this year by Catholics of the Czech Republic. It will be given officially to the Holy Father by President Vaclav Havel. This is a time of joy and family closeness very much appreciated by the Bishop of Rome.
John Paul II spoke about this tradition in St. Peter's Square today, saying, "One of the popular expressions of the joyful expectation of Christmas is the preparation of the nativity scene in families. In Christian homes during these days a corner is dedicated to place the statuettes, leaving space between Mary and Joseph for the Child. In thinking about all the Christian families who are preparing their nativity scenes, I gladly bless you boys and girls of Rome who, coordinated by the Roman Oratory Center, have come in great numbers bringing the figure of the Child Jesus."
"May Christmas, already near, and the beginning of the Jubilee, inspire you and believers from all parts of the world to prepare a worthy dwelling place to welcome Christ," the Pontiff said.
The Pope mentioned that this year's is a very special Christmas, because the Jubilee turns it into "an extension of the feast of the mystery of the Incarnation throughout the year, two thousand years since the coming of the Son of God in the humility of our human nature."
Because of this, the Church proclaims the year of the Lord's mercy, "inviting everyone to drink in abundance from the very source of grace, Jesus Christ, Man-God, Redeemer of man and center of history," continued the Holy Father. ZE99121205
Pilgrims in the field where the angels announced the birth of the Christ Child to the shepherds will also be able to watch Pope John Paul II open the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica on these screens. The event will end with fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the Holy Year and a festive Middle-Eastern meal.
Organizers expect 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend the free event, though Shepherds' Field can hold 3 to 4 times this number, if needed. All texts will be translated into Arabic and English, with the more important messages translated into Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, and French as well. The event is being organized by the Confraternity of Notre Dame of France, which can be contacted for more information, posters, or brochures at firstname.lastname@example.org .
"We are pleased with your initiative and we encourage you to continue, knowing that it will enhance our own Jubilee celebrations," stated Fr. Robert Fortin, General Secretary for the Jubilee of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, in a letter to the organizers. "Among other things, by organizing an extraordinary ceremony at the Shepherd's Field, at Beit Sahour, you are making it possible for many faithful who will not be able to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity to take an active part in a prayerful and memorable way, in the Opening of the Great Jubilee." ZE99121222
In early November, Samuel underwent pre-natal surgery to correct a case of spina bifida, a condition that affects about 0.2% of infants. The surgery was innovative and dangerous: the doctors removed the uterus from his mother, drained the amniotic sac, operated on the child, and finally returned the child and the uterus to the body of the mother.
The case caught national attention due to a photo taken near the end of the surgery. As the surgeon replaced the uterus, a tiny hand reached out to clutch his finger. Of course, if the mother had had a different mindset, a child at that age could have been legally aborted throughout the United States. Fox talk show host Matt Drudge was fired when he insisted on showing the photo on national television to make this same point.
The child's parents have written this progress report: "Samuel arrived on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6:25 pm at Northside Hospital weighing 5 lbs 11 oz and 20 1/2 " long. He was born at 36 weeks but came into the world screaming his head off! He did not have to spend any time in a neonatal unit and came home with us on Monday, Dec. 6. After viewing an ultrasound of his brain, Samuel's neurosurgeon was very optimistic as he does not have any hydrocephalus and the brain malformation has resolved. He is moving his legs very well from the hips and some from the knees. He was frank breech (folded in half) in the womb and the orthopedist feels that he has a good chance for walking. He will begin physical therapy next week in order to work out some of the stiffness in his legs that was a result of his being folded in half in the womb. He is also nursing very well."
The parents also thank everyone for their prayers and support. A new photo of Samuel, though somewhat less dramatic than the one that caught the nation's attention in mid-November. For that story, go to Dr. Frank Joseph's webpage ZE99121224