DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     September 2, 1999     vol. 10, no. 166

APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH

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    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.

    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 MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH: HOLY

        A mark is a sign by which something may be distinguished from all others of the same kind. By its marks we can recognize the True Church as the one founded by Jesus Christ, distinguishing it from all other churches, however similar.

        The chief marks of the Church are four. We covered ONE yesterday, today we cover HOLY.

        Christ intended His Church to be HOLY. It must teach a holy doctrine in faith and morals, because its Founder is holy. It must provide the means for its members to lead a holy life.

        Christ prayed for His Apostles as recorded in John 17: 17-19, "Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. Even as Thou hast sent Me into the world, so I also have sent them into the world. And for them I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."

        Our Lord warned also of the necessity to preserve this sanctity and how to discern such in Matthew 7: 15-17, 20, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit....Therefore, by their fruits you will know them."

        Finally, Christ promised His Church the gift of miracles, a sign of holiness in John 14: 12, "Amen, amen, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater than these he shall do."

        Other denominations and their founders are not holy in the same sense or degree as the Catholic Church and its Founder are holy. Many non-Catholics are upright and good because they have retained many doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. Many founders of non-Catholic churches were far from holy. Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, more specifically Lutheranism, wa an apostate Augustinian Friar, who married a nun who had left her convent and turned against her vows. During his life he taught contradictory doctrines, some of them immoral. King Henry VIII, the founder of Anglicanism, who earlier in his life was proclaimed by the Pope as "Defender of the Faith," turned on his Church, married five women successively after divorcing his lawful wife Catherine of Aragon. He had two of his wives put to death. Other founders are of the same class. Not one of them even approaches the infinite holiness of the Divine Founder of the Roman Catholic Church. Voltaire, when a young man asked him for advice about starting a new religious movement, is believed to have said: "First get yourself crucified, then rise from the dead."

        No founder of any other church is as holy as Jesus. And among the children of the Church we may mention as examples of holiness the canonized Saints who exemplify the mark of sanctity. The Catholic Church teaches the highest and holiest doctrine ever presented to any people, a standard of perfection. The same precepts delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, the same warnings uttered by the prophets in Judea, the same sublime lessons taught by Our Lord: these the Church has taught from her inception. The Church teaches its children to know, love and serve God, and thus to become saints by striving for holiness. It urges on them the truth as Christ affirmed in Matthew 16: 26, "What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?" The Church exhorts its members to imitate Christ.

        The Catholic Church provides powerful means for holiness in prayer and the Sacraments. By the Sacraments a Catholic receives abundant graces. One who is faithful in the reception of the Sacraments will never fail to live a righteous life and die a happy death. Every Catholic is obliged to say morning and night prayers, and to resort to prayer in every necessity and temptation, as well as to prayer of thanksgiving. All are required under pain of sin to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation.

        The Catholic Church produces holy members in its saints and martyrs. In every age and country the Church is the Mother of saints, martyrs, confessors, and holy men and women from all walks of life who live in Christ. This does not mean, however, that all Catholics are holy. Unfortunately, some do not live up to the teachings of the Church; that will be their condemnation if they do not wise up and obey the Church. We must remember that even among the Apostles there was one Judas Iscariot. Our Lord Himself taught in the parable of the wheat and the cockle that the good and the bad will grow up side by side in His Church.

        The Catholic Church still has the gift of miracles. Christ promised His Church the gift of miracles, a sign of holiness. Each holy soul proposed for canonization must have worked two miracles before beatification, and two more before canonization unless they were martyrs. This is evident today as many modern luminaries such as Blessed Faustina, Blessed Padre Pio, Blessed Juan Diego, Mother Teresa, Pope John XXIII, Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI, Fr. Michael J. McGivney, and scores of others are scrutinized by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Miracles are something the Church does not take lightly and must confirm, without a shadow of a doubt, that miracles have taken place, mostly by cures of a physical nature that modern medicine and science cannot explain.

        Finally, The Church carries on countless works of holiness. It is the great Mother of Mercy and Charity to the helpless, instructing children in schools, caring for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly, the deaf, the blind, the dumb, the orphaned, the abandoned and downtrodden. Holy Mother Church at all levels engages in all kinds of missionary and charitable activity carrying out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

        Tomorrow: The Marks of the True Church: CATHOLIC

Sep 2, 1999       volume 10, no. 166
GREAT DEPOSIT OF FAITH

DAILY CATHOLIC

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