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.
THE BIBLE: THE BOOKS OF JOSHUA, JUDGES, AND RUTH
The Book of Joshua derives its name from the successor of Moses, with whose deeds it is principally concerned. It contains the record of the conquest, division and occupation of Channan by the Israelites under his leadership.
The purpose of the book is to demonstrate God's fidelity in giving to the Israelites the land He had promised them for an inheritance (Gen. 15, 18; Joshua 1, 2ff; 21, 41). Without divine intervention this people could never have conquered the powerful nations dwelling in Chanaan, a fact which accounts for the many miracles found in the narrative. The severity of the divine decree ordering the extermination of the inhabitants of the cities which the Israelites were to possess, was justified as a punishment for the crimes of these pagans and was directed to preserving the chosen people against the moral and religious corruption which prevailed in Chanaan (Deut. 7, 1-6; 20, 16-18; Joshua 8, 24; 10, 28-39).
The actual author of the book in its present form remains unknown. Many indications point to a date of composition prior to King David's reign; and some of the detailed descriptions, which seem to have been composed by an eyewitness, may even be the work of Joshua himself.
Jewish and Christian tradition alike accept the historical accuracy and inspired character of the Book of Joshua. The entire history of the conquest of the Promised Land is a prophecy of the spiritual conquest of the world through the Church under the leadership of Jesus the Messiah.
The Book of Joshua may be divided as follows: I. Conquest of Chanaan (Josue 1, 1-12, 24). II. Division of the Land (Joshua 13, 1-21, 45). III. Return of the Transjordan Tribes and Joshua's Farewell (Josue 22, 1-24, 33).
The Book of Judges derives its title from the twelve heroes of Israel whose deeds it records. They were not magistrates, but military leaders sent by God to aid and to relieve His people in time of external danger. They exercised their activities in the interval of time between the death of Joshua and the institution of the monarchy in Israel. Six of them-Othoniell, Aod, Barac Gedeon, Jephte, and Samson - are treated in some detail and have accordingly been styled the Major Judges. The other six, of whose activities this book preserves but a summary record, are called the Minor Judges. There were two other judges, whose judgeships are described in I Samuel - Heli and Samuel, who seem to have ruled the entire nation of Israel just before the institution of the monarchy. The twelve judges of the present book, however, very probably exercised their authority, sometimes simultaneously, over one or another trive of Israel, never over the entire nation.
The purpose of the book is to show that the fortunes of Israel depended upon the obedience or disobedience of the people to God's Law. Whenever they rebelled against Him, they were oppressed by pagan nations; when they repented, He raised up judges to deliver them (cf. Judges 2, 10-23).
The accounts of various events, whether written shortly after their occurrence or orally transmitted, were later skillfully unified according to the moral purpose of the redactor sometime during the Israelite monarchy.
The book is divided as follows: I. Palestine after the Death of Joshua (Judges 1, 1-3, 6). II. Stories of the Judges (Judges 3, 7-16, 21). III. The Tribes of Dan and Benjamin in the Days of the Judges (Judges 17, 1-21, 25).
The Book of Ruth is named after the Moabite woman who was joined to the Israelite people by her marriage with the influential Booz of Bethlehem.
The book contains a beautiful example of filial piety, pleasing to the Hebrews especially because of its connection with King David, and useful both to Hebrews and to Gentiles. Its aim is to demonstrate the divine reward for such piety even when practiced by a stranger. Ruth's piety (Ruth 2, 11), her spirit of self-sacrifice, and her moral integrity were favored by God with the gift of faith and an illustrious marriage whereby she became the ancestress of David and of Christ. In this, the universality of the Messianic salvation is foreshadowed.
In the Greek and Latin canons the Book of Ruth is placed just after Judges, to which it is closely related because of the time of its action, and just before Samuel, for which it is an excellent introduction, since it races the ancestry of the Davidic dynasty. One might characterize the literary form of this book as dramatic, since about two-thirds of it is in dialogue. Yet there is every indication that, as tradition has always held, it contains true history.
There is no certainty about the authour of the book. It was written long after the events had passed (Ruth 4, 7), which took place "in the time of the judges" (Ruth 1, 1).
Monday: The Books of Samuel and Kings