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.
HOLY SCRIPTURE: THE BIBLE
part two The New Testament overview
The New Testament, written after the Ascension of Jesus Christ, consists of twenty-seven books. They are, in chronological order the four Gospels according to Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the Evangelist, containing the story of the life of Christ. These are followed by the Acts of the Apostles written by St. Luke, containing the history of the Apostles after the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven. These five are mainly historical while the following twenty-one episples by Saints Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude are doctrinal. These are: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, St. James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude. The final book of the Bible is the Apocalypse of St. John, today referred by so many as Revelation because it is prophetical. Thus in the New Testament you have historical, doctrinal and prophetical.
The Gospels, written by the four evangelists, are the keystone of the Liturgy of the Word in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and are recylced in Church liturgy every three years.
Matthew,one of the twelve Apostles, was a tax-collector or publican called Levi before he followed Our Lord. His Gospel was first composed in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles and geared for his fellow-countrymen - the Jews of Palestine, both believers and unbelievers. Matthew was the first Evangelist to write the Gospel, about six years after Our Lord's Ascension. His work was translated into Greek in the time of the Apostles. His work shows Jesus as proving Himself to be the promised Messiah and is often referred to as the "Gospel of Fulfillment" or the "Gospel of the Kingdom." He is represented by a man with wings, such as an angel because of references to the "Kingdom." His feast is celebrated on September 21st in Church Liturgy.
Mark was the disciple of St. Peter, and wrote according to what he heard from Peter himself. He wrote for the Christians of Rome about ten years after Our Lord's Ascension. St. Peter approved what he wrote, which shows Christ as the Son of God. It is historically certain that he wrote the second Gospel in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D. Mark is the patron saint of Venice where his body lies in state at the Cathedral in his name. His work shows the great power of God and is represented as a Lion in symbology. His feast falls on April 25th.
Luke, a Syrian by birth who was born in Antioch, was converted by St. Paul and became his disciple. He wrote about twenty-four years after Our Lord's Ascension, for a distinguished citizen of Rome - Theophilus. He had great literary powers which shows through in his composition His work contains many details about the Blessed Virgin Mary including her fiat at the Annunciation and Visitation, something not covered by the other evangelists. He was a physician by trade and is symbolized as the ox. October 18th is the date of his traditional feast day in the Church.
John was Christ's Beloved Disciple. He wrote about sixty-three years after Our Lord's Ascension even though he had been a first-hand witness like Matthew. The last of the Apostles to die, he wrote in his old age to testify, against heretics who had arisen, that Jesus Christ is truly God. He was particularly close to Jesus and this shows for he reveals a different bent in his writings, emphasizing the Father-Son relationship between God the Father and God the Son. He is signified by the eagle, for his writings attained spiritual heights. His feast day is celebrated on December 27th each year.
Tomorrow: The Old Testament: The Pentateuch