DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     September 7, 1999     vol. 10, no. 169


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      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.


First Bishops of the Church

        Jesus Christ gave the power to teach, to sanctify, and to rule the members of His Church to the Apostles, the first bishops of the Church. They first preached in Judea on the very first Christian Pentecost. Then they dispersed throughout the different countries of the then known world. Everywhere they preached, baptized and ruled the Christian communities. They were commissioned by Our Lord as the first bishops as He affirms in John 20: 21, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Those He chose were:

  •  Saint Peter was the first Head. After a miraculous escape from prison in Jerusalem, he founded his See in Antioch; here the followers of Christ were first called Christians. Peter made frequent missionary journeys through Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Asia Minor, and probably even Greece. He finally fixed his See at Rome.

        St. Peter presided at the Council of the Apostles in Jerusalem in 50 A.D. At the same time that St. Paul was beheaded in Rome, St. Peter was crucified head pointed downwards, on Vatican Hill in Rome in 67 A.D.

  •   Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, lived at Ephesus and governed the Church in Asia Minor.

        John is the only Apostle who was not martyred though he came close. In the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan John was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, but was miraculously preserved. Had he not have been we might never have had the Gospel of John, his Epistles and the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse. He was banished to Patmos where he had the revelations which was originally called the Apocalypse. He died at the age of about 100 years, the last of the Apostles.

  •   Saint James the Greater, St. John's brother, labored in Judea, and according to tradition, travelled as far as Spain to Zaragossa where Our Lady, while she was still on earth, is believed to have miraculously appeared to him on pillars upheld by the angels - hence Our Lady of Pilar - the first reported apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. James was the first of the Apostles to be martyred, being decapitated in Jerusalem in the year 44 by Herod Agrippa.

  •  Saint Matthew preached among the Ethiopians, Persians, and Parthians, and was martyred in Parthia. A tax collector by avocation, he wrote the first of the four Gospels which is considered the most chronological.

  •   Saint James the Less was Bishop of Jerusalem. He was cast down from the pinnacle of the Temple in 63 A.D. for refusing to worship false idols. He wrote the Epistle of James and his mother was a sister or close relative of the Blessed Mother.

  •   Saint Andrew, St. Peter's brother, preached along the lower Danube, bringing the faith to eastern Europe. He was crucified in Greece.

  •   Saint Thomas is known as the doubting Apostle who preached in Persia, Medea, and went as far as India where he was martyred, piereced with a lance at the command of a pagan king. He established the Thomist rite which became the Syro-Malabar rite in India today and totally aligned with Rome.

  •   Saint Philip preached in Phrygia and Scythia, and was crucified at Hieropolis.

  •   Saint Bartholomew, like Thomas he preached in India, but concentrated mainly on Arabia and Assyria. He suffered a cruel death, being flayed on a spit and then crucified in Armenia.

  •   Saint Simon, not to be confused with Simon Peter, preached in North Africa and Persia where he was martyred.

  •   Saint Jude preached in Syria and was martyred also in Persia. He wrote the Epistle of Jude.

  •   Saint Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot. He preached in Ethiopia and was martyred in Sebastopolis.

  •   Saint Paul was converted miraculously (cf. Acts 9) in the year 34. He, of all the Apostles, labored the most abundantly. He wrote many, many of the Epistles. He is called the Apostle of the Gentiles because he carried the Gospel to the pagan world. He travelled extensively and successively to Seleucia, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Phrygia, Galatia, Macedonia, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Miletus, and finally Rome. From Rome he went to Spain and the East, then returned to the eternal city where he was martyred at the same time as Peter in 67 A.D.

        Throughout their travels, the Apostles chose men to assist them, imparting to them greater or lesser powers according to their charge. Before leaving a place, they chose a successor with full powers "And when they had appointed presbyters [priests] for them in each church, with prayer and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14: 22). Those who received only a small part of the powers of the Apostles were called deacons. Those given greater power were the priests and those appointed successors to rule in the place of the Apostles after they had moved on were bishops.

        Christ had given the Apostles full powers to choose successors, when He gave them the powers His Father had given Him, (cf. John 20: 21). It was Our Lord's wish that the Apostles should have successors to continue the Church, which He said would last until the end of the world (cf. Matthew 28: 20). Without successors to the Apostles, the Church would have no rulers, and being unorganized, would never have lasted.

      Tomorrow: in honor of Our Lady's birthday, we present: the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sep 7, 1999       volume 10, no. 169


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