DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 241

APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    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.

THE BIBLE: THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL AND KINGS TO JOB

SAMUEL 1 and 2 or KINGS 1 and 2:

        This and the following Book are called by the Hebrews, "The Books of Samuel," because they contain the history of Samuel and the two kings, Saul and David, whom he anointed. They are more commmonly named by the Church Fathers, "The First and Second Book of Kings." The Second Book relates the transactions from the death of Saul until the end of David's reign.

KINGS 3 and 4:

        These two books are called by the Church Fathers, "The Third and Fourth Book of Kings," but called by the Hebrews, the "First and Second". They contain the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Juda from the beginning of the reign of Solomon to the captivity.

PARALIPOMENON 1 and 2 or CHRONICLES 1 and 2:

       These Books are called by the Greek interpreters "Paralipomenon," i.e., of things left out, or omitted becausse they are a kind of a supplement of such things as were passed over in the Books of the Kings. The Hebrews call them DIBRE HAIJMIN: "The words of the days" or "The Chronicles." They contain a summary of sacred history, from Adam to the Babylonian Exile in 536 B.C.

ESDRAS or EZRA

       This Book takes its name from the writer, who was a holy priest and doctor of the Law. He is called by the Hebrews, Ezra.

NEHEMIAS or THE SECOND OF ESDRAS

       This Book takes its name from the writer Nehemias or Nehemiah, who was the cupbearer to the King of Persia, and was sent by him with a commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It is also called the "Second Book of Esdras," because it is a continuation of the history, begun by Esdras, of the state of the people of God after their return from captivity.

TOBIAS

       This Book is named after the hoy man Tobias whose history is recorded in this book. Though led into captivity, he distinguished himself by his unwavering faith in God, his observance of the Law, and his heroic charity towards his neigbhor. Afflicted with blindness, he manifested exemplary patience and extraordinary resignation to the will of God. To reward his virtue, God sent the angel Raphael to restore his sight, for which favor he did not fail to thank and glorify God. The Book records much also concerning the virtues of the younger Tobias, his son, especially in respect for his parents and the holy dispositions, with which he entered upon marriage.

JUDITH

       This Book is named after the woman Judith. She had a sublime faith in God and heroic love of country and by her valor she saved her people, when Holofernes and his army threatened to destroy them. The Book closes with her Canticle of Thanksgiving to God.

ESTHER

       This Book takes its name from Esther, the Jewish Queen of the King of Persia, who saved her subjects from annihilation.

JOB

       The Book of Job named after its protagonist Job, is an exquisite dramatic poem which treats of the problem of the suffering of the innocent, and of retribution. The contents of the book, together with its artistic structure and elegant style, place it among the literary masterpieces of all time.

        Job, an oriental chieftain, pious and upright, richly endowed in his own person and in domestic prosperity, suffers a sudden and complete reversal of fortune. He loses his property and his children; a loathsome disease afflicts his body; and sorrow oppresses his soul. Nevertheless, Job does not complain against God. When some friends visit him to condole with him, Job protests his innocence and does not understand why he is afflicted. He curses the day of his birth and longs for death to bring an end to his syfferings. The debate which ensues consists of three cycles of speeches. Job's friends insist that his plight can only be a punishment for personal wrongdoing and an invitation from God to repentance. Job rejects their inadqueate explanation and even that of a younger friend who argues that suffering is a preventive as well as a cure for sin.

        In response to Job's plea that he be allowed to see God and hear frm Him the cause of his suffering, God answers, not by justifying His action before men, but by r eferring to His own omniscience and almighty power. Job is content with this. He recovers his attitude of humility and trust in God, which is deepened now and strengthened by his experience of suffering.

        The author of the book and the time of its composition are not known. Its literary form, with speeches, prologue and epilogue disposed according to a studied plan, indicates that the purpose of the writing is didactic. The lesson is that even the just may suffer here, and their sufferings are a test of their fidelity. They shall be rewarded in the end. Man's finite mind cannot probe the depths of the divine omniscience that governs the world. The problems we encounter can be solved by a broader and deeper awareness of God's power, presence and wisdom.

      Tomorrow: The Bible: Psalms to Wisdom

December 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 241
GREAT DEPOSIT OF FAITH

DAILY CATHOLIC

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