Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 15: Reading The Bible

Lesson 15:
Reading The Bible

1. Are we under any obligation to read the Bible?

We are under no obligation to read the Bible.

2. Are Catholics forbidden to read the Bible?

By no means; on the contrary, all Catholics are urged to read the Bible.

3. Besides ordinary benefits, what do those gain who read portions of the Bible every day?

"A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who with the veneration due to the divine word make a spiritual reading from Sacred Scripture. A plenary indulgence is granted, if this reading is continued for at least one half an hour." (Enchiridion of Indulgences. Authorized English edition. 1969. Catholic Book Publishers. New York. Page 68. # 50)

4. Is the Bible ever read for Catholics?

During every single Mass of every single day, portions of one of the Gospels and of some other book of the Bible, often the Epistles, are read. Many of the prayers of the Missal come from the Bible.

5. Who is bound to read the Bible daily?

All those who have received Major Orders, and those belonging to certain orders of monks or nuns, are bound to read parts of the Bible daily.

6. What is such reading called?

It is called "saying the Holy Office" or "reciting the Breviary."

7. What portions of the Bible are read by those who are bound to it?

In the course of the week the complete Book of the Psalms is read, while in the course of the year a good part of the Bible, together with commentaries of some parts, is read.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thoughts to ponder

I feel good because I’m forgiven. I feel good because I’m anointed. I feel good because I’m commissioned. I feel good because of my God who calls me friend.

- Bo Sanchez

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 14: Interpreting The Bible

Lesson 14:
Interpreting The Bible

1. Is the meaning of the Bible so clear that anyone reading it, can readily understand it?

The Bible is by no means so easily understood: St. Peter himself tells us that it contains many things: "... hard to be understood ..." (II Pet. III,16).

2. Whom do we have to interpret the Bible for us?

The Catholic Church interprets the Bible for us.

3. Is it natural that we should have a guide in interpreting the Bible?

Quite natural, just as in America, we have the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution of the United States. The difference is that the Church is infallible and the Supreme Court is not!

4. So the Church cannot make mistakes in interpreting the Bible?

No, for she is under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

5. How does that guidance manifest itself?

Through Tradition, the teachings of the Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, and of learned men.

6. Do Protestants acknowledge the interpretation of the Church or of any other authority?

No; Protestants hold that anyone who reads the Bible in the proper spirit will be guided by the Holy Ghost in interpretation.

7. Is this belief of Protestants a sensible one?

No; it is against the Bible, against Tradition, against reason.

8. How is it against reason?

Because the result of this belief has been that, as many interpretations exist as there are individual thinkers, and many of these interpretations contradict each other; since the Holy Ghost cannot contradict Himself, He cannot be the guide of these interpretations, and therefore, this belief of these Protestants is false.

9. How is it against Tradition?

The constant Tradition of the Church since Apostolic times is that the proper interpretation of the Word of God belongs to the Church founded by Him, i.e., the Catholic Church; and as St Paul tells us, we have to: "... stand fast: and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle. ..." (II Thes. II, 14).

10. How is it against the Bible?

St. Peter warns us that in the Bible, there are: "... things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and the unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. ..." (II Pet. III,16). Now, if the Holy Ghost was inspiring personally, every individual reader of Scripture, what St Peter tells us would be impossible, because obviously, no one can read the Bible for their own destruction, and be inspired by the Holy Ghost at the same time. Since it is certain that St Peter was inspired by the Holy Ghost when he wrote that, it means that there is no personal inspiration from the Holy Ghost while reading the Bible; and that this Protestant belief cannot be true, since it contradicts the Bible.

11. Is the accusation that Catholics have no freedom of interpretation in biblical matters true?

In a material or literal sense, it is true, exactly as in any well-regulated society, nobody has the "freedom" to kill, maim, and loot. In a spiritual sense, it is quite the opposite, for St. John reminds us that: "... the truth shall make you free ..." (Jn. VIII, 32), and thanks to the vigilance of the Church, Catholics do enjoy freedom from error, which cannot be the case with the Protestants.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 13: The Bible And History

Lesson 13:
The Bible And History

1. Is the Bible an historical book?

The Bible is not an historical book per se; it is primarily a religious book; but it does contain a certain amount of historical teaching, which benefits from inerrancy, like all the rest of the Bible.

2. Why would historical teachings benefit from inerrancy?

A great number of historical facts are intimately united to our Faith in such a way that one cannot deny the historical facts in the Bible, without denying the Faith.

3. Give an example of such a connection between our faith and history.

The historical fact of the Resurrection of Our Lord cannot be denied without denying our Faith at the same time, for: "... If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith also is vain ..." (I Cor. XV, 14).

4. How are we to account for the apparent contradictions between the Bible and history?

There are several reasons which account for these apparent contradictions:
- Most of the time the apparent contradiction is due, either to a poor understanding of the text, or to a poor understanding of the context.
- When this is not the case and we have historical sources which contradict the Bible, it is the Bible which, time after time, is finally proven right.

5. Give an example of the Bible being proven right against historians.

Barely two hundred years ago, most of the non-Catholic historians denied the existence of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, because the only known historical references of the time came from the Bible. The archaeological excavations of the last century not only proved the existence of both empires, but located their capital cities: Babylon and Ninive. No self-respecting historian will doubt the existence of these civilizations now.

6. So the Bible is always historically correct?

Yes, it is undoubtedly better to take God at His Word, than any self-proclaimed "Expert historian." Most of the historians who cling to an historical interpretation which contradict the Bible, do so because of their religious prejudices, and not for any serious historical or scientific reasons.

7. Can history be of any help to the study of the Holy Scriptures?

Yes; a good historical background is very useful for a proper understanding of many parts of the Bible.

8. Is the Bible helpful in the study of history?

Yes: both as an historical source and as a guideline to avoid errors.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 12: The Bible And Science

Lesson 12:
The Bible And Science

1. Is the Bible a book of science?

The Bible is not a book of science, and was never intended to answer the purpose of a book of science.

2. Does the Bible teach anything that has to do with science?

Yes, the Bible mentions many things that have to do with science.

3. Name one biblical account that touches on science.

The account of the Creation in the Book of Genesis touches on many branches of science.

4. Does not the Bible contain many things that science has proved false?

Since God is the author of the Bible and also, the foundation of true science, the Bible cannot err when it touches on science.

5. How, then, are we to account for the apparent contradictions between the Bible and science?

In many ways, for example: some so-called scientific findings are false; others are mere unsubstantiated theories (Evolution); while still others, when properly examined, do not contradict the biblical narrative.

6. Is not the Bible statement that the sun stood still in the heavens (Jos. 10, 13) an example of obvious error?

No, we must remember that the Bible was written in every-day language of the time, not in scientific terms. Even to this day, for example, we speak of sunset even though the sun is not setting anywhere and we know that the Earth is turning around the Sun and not vice-versa.

7. Can one be a great scientist and still be a firm believer in the Bible?

Yes, there have been and are now many great Catholic scientists, believing firmly in the Bible.

8. Name some scientists who, at the same time, believed firmly in the Bible.

Copernicus (a priest), Pascal, Gauss, Ampere, Pasteur, Marconi, to name just a few.

9. Does the Catholic Church discourage the study of science as being opposed to the Bible?

Nonsense; on the contrary, the Catholic Church has always encouraged science; some of her most eminent children have also been leaders in science.

10. Can science be of any help to Bible study?

True science can help Bible study in interpreting some difficult passages.

11. Is the Bible helpful in the study of science?

As a lighthouse helps a ship at sea, so does the Bible help scientists.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

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Monday, March 7, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 11: The Douay Bible

Lesson 11:
The Douay Bible

1. Is there a Catholic translation of the Bible in English?

Yes, it is the translation known as the Douay-Rheims Version. It was translated from the Latin Vulgate.

2. Why is it called "Douay-Rheims"?

Because it was begun at Rheims and finished at Douay in 1582-1609 by a group of English priests exiled in France.

3. What happened in the sixteenth century to cause the publication of a reliable and accurate translation?

During the Protestant "Deformation" in England many false translations had been made, hence there was great necessity of placing in the hands of Catholics a reliable and accurate translation.

4. Is it true that the Bible was never translated into vernacular languages before the Protestant Deformation?

It is not true; the first translation known in England was the translation into Anglo-Saxon made by Venerable Bede in the eighth century. There is a Gothic translation, made by a certain bishop Ulfilas around 380. The first German translation predates Luther by a good fifty years.

5. Why do Protestants assert that the Bible was never translated before the Deformation?

Through a mixture of ignorance and bad faith.

6. What is the most well known of the false English Protestant translations?

It is the version called the "King James," named after the King who commissioned it in 1604. It was finished in 1611. It is still the most popular of the Protestant Bibles in the English speaking world.

7. What is wrong with the "King James" version?

Like all the Protestant Bibles, it is incomplete and poorly translated. It is a "Pick and choose" version. Such is the real lack of respect of the "Reformers" for the word of God!  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 10: The Vulgate

Lesson 10:
The Vulgate

1. Name again the languages of the Old Testament before the time of Christ.

Hebrew and Greek.

2. In what languages did the Apostles write their Gospels and Epistles?

They wrote their Gospels and Epistles in Greek, except St. Matthew, who wrote his Gospel in Aramaic.

3. How did translations in languages other than Hebrew and Greek come into existence?

As Catholicism spread among peoples of different languages, the demand for the Bible in their various languages grew.

4. Name some of the earlier languages into which the Bible was translated.

Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopian.

5. Was the Bible translated into Latin?

Many translations into Latin were made during the early Catholic centuries.

6. Were these Latin translations satisfactory?

No; many inaccuracies existed, due to errors of the copyists, or errors of translation caused by a poor understanding of the original language.

7. Which of the Latin translations was the best known?

The best known Latin translation was either the "Old African" or the "Old Italian" (Vetus Itala).

8. What was the result of the general dissatisfaction with these Latin translations?

Pope Damasus (Pope from 366 to 384) commissioned St. Jerome to make a new and accurate translation.

9. How did St Jerome go about this work?

He studied carefully the Hebrew and Greek versions, and from these made his new translation.

10. By what name is the Latin translation of St. Jerome known?

It is known as the Vulgate Version. Vulgate means common or vulgar in Latin and it was called so because Latin was the common tongue of the Western Roman Empire.

11. Does the Vulgate have the Church's special approval?

The Council of Trent (Italy) in 1546 declared it to be the only authentic and official version for the Latin Rite: " The same Sacred and Holy Synod ... hereby declares and enacts that the same well-known Old Latin Vulgate edition ... is to be held authentic in public readings, disputations,sermons, and expositions, and that no one shall dare or presume to reject it under any pretense whatsoever." (DZ. 785). It is still the official Catholic Bible today.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Bible - Lesson 9: The Septuagint Version

Lesson 9:
The Septuagint Version

1. Who were the translators of the Old Testament?

The translators of the Old Testament were Jewish scholars well acquainted with both the Hebrew and the Greek languages.

2. By what name is this translation known?

It is known as the Septuagint Version.

3. Why is it called by that name?

It is called by that name because it was commonly supposed that seventy scholars were employed in the work of translating.

4. Was it known by any other name besides that of the Septuagint?

It was known as the Alexandrian Version to distinguish it from the Hebrew or Palestinian Version.

5. Why was it known as the "Alexandrian Bible?"

Because this translation was made in Alexandria, Egypt, which had the biggest and most vibrant Jewish community outside of Israel.

6. Is there any other difference between the Septuagint and the Palestinian version, besides their language?

Several; The Septuagint contains more books than the Palestinian version and is about three hundred years older. The Palestinian Version originated approximately around 106 A.D. and is different from the Hebrew texts that were the basis for the Septuagint translation.

7. Why does the Septuagint have more books than the Palestinian version?

The translators had a well-founded belief that these books were inspired.

8. Were these added books accepted by the Hebrews?

Yes, but only up until 106 A.D., when the Palestinian, known also as the pharisaic version, became the norm.

9. Was the Septuagint Version much in use in Our Lord's time?

It was used not only by the Greek-speaking Jews but also by the Palestinian Jews; Our Lord and the Apostles frequently quoted it.

10. Did this Greek translation of the Bible help to spread Christianity?

It helped very much, because Gentiles, particularly the Greek philosophers, had read it, and had knowledge of the prophecies referring to the Messiah, with the result that when St. Paul preached to them, many converts were made.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

3 O'Clock Prayer to the Divine Mercy

You died Jesus, but the source of life flowed out for souls and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.

O Fountain of Life, immeasurable Divine Mercy, cover the whole world and empty yourself out upon us. 

O Blood and Water which flowed out from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and the whole world. (3 times) Amen

Jesus, King of Mercy, I trust in You!

The Bible - Lesson 8: The Languages of The Bible

Lesson 8:
The Languages Of The Bible

1. Were all the books of the Bible originally written in one language?

No, besides Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic were used.

2. What books were written in Hebrew?

Almost all the books of the Old Testament.

3. What books were written in Greek?

In the Old Testament, the Second Book of Machabees and the Book of Wisdom; in the New Testament, all books except the Gospel of St. Matthew.

4. What books were written in Aramaic?

The Gospel of St. Matthew.

5. When were the books of the Old Testament, that were originally written in Hebrew, translated into Greek?

About 220 years before Christ.

6. Why was the translation from Hebrew into Greek made?

Because the Jewish people was dispersed into countries where the Greek tongue predominated, and so it gradually forgot the mother tongue, speaking only Greek. Hence the wish to have the Bible in the Greek tongue.