Category Archives: Catechism

The Value of Blessed Candles

Blessed Candles are sacramentals. This means that Holy Church by her prayers and blessings makes them sacred articles, which, when used with respect and great faith, bestow countless blessings and graces on all.

On February second, which we call Candlemas, the Church blesses wax candles in a most solemn ceremony. On this day, we honor the Divine Child Jesus as a Light to illumine the Gentiles. At the blessing, on this day, the priest pronounces five beautiful prayers.

In the first prayer, he addresses Almighty God as follows: “O holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, we humbly beseech Thee that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bless and to sanctify these candles for the service of men, and for the health of bodies and souls, be they on land or water, and wouldst hear from Thy Majesty, the voice of this Thy people, who desire reverently to bear them in their hands and to praise Thee in song: and wouldst show mercy to all that call upon Thee.”

In this blessing, the effects of the blessed candles are briefly stated. The other prayers continue to explain these effects.

If, during the year, the priest is asked to bless candles, he uses the following prayer: “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we implore Thee to bless these candles, and through the power of the holy Cross, to bestow upon them Thy heavenly benediction, who has given them to mankind to dispel darkness and may they, through the sign of the holy Cross, obtain such blessing that wherever they be placed the powers of darkness may vanish, trembling and affrighted, with all their aids and accomplices, and be driven from these dwellings, and never again dare disquiet or molest them that serve Thee, Almighty God.”

The above proves to us what rich blessings we derive through the merits of Jesus Christ when we use the blessed candles in a spirit of faith. When we do not make frequent use of blessed candles we lose precious graces.

When and why we should use Blessed Candles

Holy Church prescribes blessed candles to be used at every Holy Mass- in conferring all the Sacraments- in public processions- at Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament- in all solemn functions and around the dead.

The Faithful should make use of them

1. In times of sickness or plague.

2. When storms are raging, on land or sea.

3. In seasons of drought or excessive rains.

4. Every day, at least for a short period, to ask God’s protection in the home and on members of the family.

5. To prevent discord, hatred and ill-will.

6. In times of doubt, distress and anxiety.

7. When a child is born.

8. When in danger from fire or flood.

9. In times of persecution.

10. Burning constantly at the bedside of the dying.

11. For the relief of the Souls in Purgatory.

God Bless BJS!!

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The Originals and Their Disappearance

I. Now, you may naturally enough ask me: “But how do you know all this? Where has the Bible come from? Have you got the original writings that came from the hand of Moses, or Paul, or John?” No, none of it, not a scrap or a letter, but we know from the Church’s Tradition that these were the books they wrote, and they have been handed down to us in a most wonderful way. What we have now is the printed Bible; but before the invention of printing in 1450, the Bible existed only in handwriting – what we call manuscript – and we have in our possession now copies of the Bible in manuscript (MS.) which were made as early as the 4th century, and these copies, which you can see with your own eyes at this day, contain the books which the Catholic Bible contains today, and that is another way we know we are right in receiving these books as Scripture, as genuinely the work of the Apostles and Evangelists. Why is it that we have not the originals written by St. John and St. Paul and the rest? Well, there are several reasons to account for the disappearance of the originals.

(1) The persecutors of the Church for the first 300 years of Christianity destroyed everything Christian that they could lay their hands on. Over and over again, barbarous pagans burst in upon Christian cities, and villages and churches, and burned all the sacred things they could find. And not only so, but they especially compelled Christians (as we saw before) to deliver up their sacred books, under pain of death, and then consigned them to the flames. Among these, doubtless, some of the writings that came from the hand of the Apostle and Evangelist perished.

(2) Again, we must remember, the material which inspired authors used for writing their Gospels and Epistles was very easily destroyed; it was perishable to a degree. It was called papyrus (I shall explain what it was made of in a moment), very frail and brittle, and not made to last to any great age; and its delicate quality, no doubt, accounts for the loss of some of the choicest treasures of ancient literature, as well as of the original handwriting of the New Testament writers. We know of no MS of the New Testament existing now which is written on papyrus.

(3) Furthermore, when in various churches throughout the first centuries copies were made of the inspired writings, there was not the same necessity for preserving the originals. The first Christians had no superstitious or idolatrous veneration for the Sacred Scriptures, such as seems to prevail among some people today; they did not consider it necessary for salvation that the very handwriting of St. Paul or St. Matthew should be preserved, inspired by God though these men were; they had the living, infallible Church to teach and guide them by the mouth of her Popes and Bishops and to teach them not only all that could be found in the Sacred Scriptures, but the true meaning of it as well; so that we need not be surprised that they were content with mere copies of the original works of the inspired writers.

As of the original works of the inspired writers. As soon as a more beautiful or correct copy was made, an earlier and rougher one was simply allowed to perish. There is nothing strange or unusual in all this; it is just what holds good in the secular world. We do not doubt the terms or provisions of the Magna Charta because we have not seen the original; a copy, if we are sure it is correct, is good enough for us.

II. Well, then, the originals, as they came from the hand of Apostle and Evangelist, have totally disappeared. This is what infidels and skeptics taunt us with and cast on our teeth: “You cannot produce,” they say, “the handwriting of those from whom you derive your religion, neither the Founder nor His Apostles; your Gospels and Epistles are a fraud; they were not written by these men at all, but are the invention of a later age; and consequently we cannot depend upon the contents of them or believe what they tell us about Jesus Christ.” Now, of course, these attacks fall harmlessly upon us Catholics, because we do not profess to rest our religion upon the Bible alone, and are independent of it, and would be just as we are and what we are though there were no Bible at all. It is those who have staked their very existence upon that Book, and must stand or fall with it, that are called upon to defend themselves against the critics. But I shall only remark here that the argument of infidel and skeptics would, if logically applied, discredit not only the Bible, but many other books which they themselves accept and believe without hesitation. There is far more evidence for the Bible than there is for certain books of classical antiquity which no one dreams of disputing. There are, for example, only 15 manuscripts of the works of Herodotus, and none earlier than the 10th century A.D.; yet he lived 400 years before Christ. The oldest manuscript of the works of Thucydides is of the 11th century A.D.; yet he flourished and wrote more than 400 years before Christ. Shall we say, then, “I want to see the handwriting of Thucydides and Herodotus, else I shall not believe these are their genuine works. You have no copy of their writings near the time they lived; none, indeed, till 1400 years after them; they must be a fraud and a forgery”? Scholars with no religion at all would say we were fit for an asylum if we took up the position; yet it would be a far more reasonable attitude than that which they take up toward the Bible. Why? Because there are known to have been many thousand copies of the New Testament in existence by the 3rd century – i.e., only a century or two after St. John – and we know for certain there are 3000 existing at the present day, ranging from the fourth century downward. The fact is, the wealth of evidence for the genuineness of the New Testament is simply stupendous; and in comparison with many ancient histories which are received without question on the authority of late and few and bad copies, the Sacred Volume is founded on a rock. But let us pass on; it is enough for us to know that God has willed that the handiwork of every inspired writer, from Moses down to St. John, should have perished from among men, and that He entrusted our salvation to something more stable and enduring than a dead book or an undecipherable manuscript – that is, the living and infallible Church of Christ: Ubi Ecclesia, ibi Christus. [“Where the Church is, there Christ is.”]

Now I wish to devote what remains of this chapter to say something about the material instruments that were used for the writing and transmission of Holy Scriptures in the earliest days; and a brief review of the materials employed, and the dangers of loss and of corruption which necessarily accompanied the work, will convince us more than ever of the absolute need of some divinely protected authority like the Catholic Church to guard the Gospel from error and destruction, and preserve “the Apostolic deposit” (as it is called) from sharing the fate which is liable to overtake all things that are, as says St. Paul, contained in “earthen vessels.”

III. Various materials were used in ancient times for writing, as, e.g., stone, pottery, bark of trees, leather, and clay tablets among the Babylonians and Egyptians. (1) But before Christianity, and for the first few ages of our era, Papyrus was used, which has given its name to our “paper.” It was formed of the bark of the reed or bukrush, which once grew plentifully on the Nile banks. First split into layers, it was then glued by overlapping the edges, and another layer glued to this at right angles to prevent splitting, and, after sizing and drying, it formed a suitable writing surface. Thousands of rolls of papyrus have been found in Egyptian and Babylonian tombs and beneath the buried city of Herculaneum, owing their preservation probably to the very fact of being buried, because, as I said, the substance was very brittle, frail and perishable, and unsuited for rough usage. Though probably many copies of the Bible were originally written on this papyrus (and most likely the inspired writers used it themselves), none have survived the the wreck of ages. It is this material St. John is referring to when he says to his correspondent in his second Epistle, verse 12; “Having more things to write to you, I would not by paper and ink.”

(2) When in the course of time, papyrus fell into comparative disuse from its unsuitableness and fragility, the skins of animals came to be used. This material had two names; if it was made out of the skin of sheep or goats, it was called Parchment; if made of the skin of delicate young calves, it was called Vellum. Vellum was used in earlier days, but being very dear and hard to obtain, gave place to a large extent to the coarser parchment. St. Paul speaks about this stuff when he tells St. Timothy to “bring the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 4:13). Most of the New Testament manuscripts which we possess today are written on this material. A curious consequence of the costliness of this substance was this, that the same sheet of vellum was made to do duty twice over, and became what is termed a palimpsest, which means “rubbed again.” A scribe, say, of the tenth century, unable to purchase a new supply of vellum, would take a sheet containing, perhaps, a writing of the second century, which had become worn out through age and difficult to decipher; he would wash or scrape out the old ink, and use the surface over again for copying out some other work in which the living generation felt more interest. It goes without saying that in many cases the writing thus blotted out was of far greater value than that which replaced it; indeed, some of the most precious monuments of sacred learning are of this description, and they were discovered in this way. The process of erasing or sponging out the ancient ink was seldom so perfectly done as to prevent all traces of it still remaining, and some strokes of the older hand might often be seen peeping out beneath the more modern writing. In 1834 some chemical mixture was discovered which was applied with much success and had the effect of restoring the faded lines and letters of those venerable records. Cardinal Mai, a man of colossal scholarship and untiring industry, and a member of the Sacred College in Rome under Pope Gregory XVI, was a perfect expert in this branch of research, and by his ceaseless labors and ferret-like hunts in the Vatican library brought to light some remarkable old manuscripts and some priceless works of antiquity. Among these, all students have to thank him for restoring a long lost work of Cicero (De Republica) that was known to have existed previously and which the Cardinal unearthed from beneath St. Augustine’s Commentary on the Psalms! The most important MS. of the New Testament of this description is called Codex of Ephraem. About 200 years ago it was noticed that this curious-looking vellum, all soiled and stained, and hitherto thought to contain only the theological discourses of St. Ephraem, an old Syrian Father, was showing dim traces and faint lines of some older writing beneath. The chemical mixture was applied, and lo, what should appear but a most ancient and valuable copy of Holy Scriptures of handwriting not later than the fifth century! This had been coolly scrubbed out by some impecunious scribe of the twelfth century to make room for his favorite work, the discourses of St. Ephraem! Let us charitably hope that the good monk (as he probably was) did not know what he was scrubbing out. At all events, it was brought into France by Queen Catherine de Medici and is now safely preserved in the Royal Library at Paris, containing on the same page two works, one written on top of the other with a period of 700 years between them. I have told you about the sheets used by the earliest writers of the New Testament. What kind of pen and ink had they?

(1) Well, for the brittle papyrus, a reed was used, much the same as that still in use in the East; but of course for writing on hard, tough parchment or vellum a metal pen, or stylus, was required. It is to this St. John refers in his third Epistle (verse 12) when he says,”Having more things to write unto you, I would not by paper and ink.” The strokes of these pens may still be seen quite clearly impressed on the parchment, even though all trace of the ink has utterly vanished. Besides this, a bodkin or needle was employed, by means of which, a long with a ruler, a blank leaf or sheet was carefully divided into columns and lines; and on nearly all the manuscripts these lines and marks may still be seen, sometimes so firmly and deeply drawn that those on one side of the leaf have penetrated through to the other side, without, however, cutting the vellum.

(2) The ink used was a composition of soot or lampback or burnt shavings of ivory, mixed with gum or wineless or alum (for all these elements entered into it). In most ancient manuscripts, unfortunately, the ink has for the most part turned red or brown, or become very pale, or peeled off or eaten through the vellum, and in many cases later hands have ruthlessly retraced the ancient letters, making the original writing look much coarser. But we know that many colored inks were used, such as red, green, blue or purple, and they are often quite brilliant to this day.

(3) As to the shape of the MSS., the oldest form was that of a roll. They were generally fixed on two rollers, so that the part read (for example, in public worship) could be wound out of sight and a new portion brought to view. This was the kind of thing that was handed to Our Lord when He went into the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath. “He unfolded the book”, and read: and then “when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister.” (Luke 4:17, 20.) When not in use, these rolls were kept in round boxes or cylinders, and some times in cases of silver or cloth of great value. The leaves of parchment were sometimes of considerable size, such as folio; but generally the shape was what we know as quarto [about 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches] or smaller folio, and some were octavo. The skin of one animal, especially if an antelope, could furnish many sheets of parchment; but if the animal was a small calf, then its skin could only furnish very few sheets; and an instance of this is the manuscript called the Sinaitic (now in St. Petersburg), whose sheets are so large that the skin of a single animal (believed to have been the youngest and finest antelope) could only provide two sheets (8 pages).

(4) The page was divided into two or three or four columns (though the latter is very rare). The writing was of two distinct kinds, one called Unocal (meaning an inch), consisting entirely of capital letters, with no connection between the letters, and no space between words at all; the other style, which is later, was cursive (that is, a running hand) like our ordinary handwriting, with capitals only at the beginning of sentences; and in this case the letters are joined together and there is a space between words. The uncial style (consisting of capitals only) was prevalent for the first three centuries of our era; in the fourth century the cursive began and continued till the invention of printing.

(5) Originally, I need hardly say, there was no such thing in the MSS as divisions into chapters and verses, and no points or full stops [i.e., periods] or commas, to let you know where one sentence began and the next finished: hence the reading of one of these ancient records is a matter of some difficulty to the unscholarly. The division into chapters so familiar to us in our modern Bibles was the invention either of Cardinal Hugo, a Dominican, in 1248, or more probably of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1227); and it is no calumny upon the reputation of either of these great men to say that the division is not very satisfactory. He is not fortunate in his method of splitting up the page of Scripture; the chapters are of very unequal length and frequently interrupt a narrative or argument or an incident in an inconvenient way, as anyone may see for himself by looking up such passages as Acts 21:40; or Acts 4 and 5, or 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. The division again into verses was the work of one Robert Stephens, and the first English version in which it appeared was the Geneva Bible, 1560. This gentleman seems to have completed his performance on a journey between Paris and Lyons (inter equitandum, as the Latin biographer phrases it), probably while stopping overnights in inns and hotels. “I think,” an old commentator quaintly remarks, “it had been better done on his knees in the closet.” To this I would venture to add that his achievement must share the same criticism of inappropriateness as the arrangement into chapters.

(6) The manuscripts of the Bible, as I before remarked, now known to be in existence, number about 3000, of which the vast majority are in running hand, and hence are subsequent to the fourth century. There are none of course later than the sixteenth century, for then the book began to be printed; and none have yet been found earlier than the fourth. Their age, that is, the precise century in which they were written, it is not always easy to determine. About the tenth century the scribes who copied them began to notify the date in a corner of the page; but before that time we can only judge by various characteristics that appear in the MSS. For example, the more simple and upright and regular the letters are, the less flourish and ornamentation they have about them, the nearer equality there is between the height and breadth of the characters-the more ancient we may be sure is the MS. Then, of course, we can often tell the age of a MS – approximately, at least – by the kind of pictures the scribe had painted in it, the illustrations he had introduced, and the ornamenting of the first letter of a sentence or on the top of a page; for we know in what century that particular style of illumination prevailed. It would be impossible to give anyone who had never seen any specimens of these wonderful old manuscripts a proper idea of their appearance or make him realize their unique beauty. There they are today, perfect marvels of human skill and workmanship, manuscripts of every kind: old parchment all stained and worn; books of faded purple lettered with silver, and their pages beautifully designed and ornamented; bundles of finest vellum, yellow with age, and bright even yet with the gold and vermilion laid on by pious hands 1000 years ago – in many shapes, in many colors, in many languages.

There they are, scattered throughout the libraries and museums of Europe, challenging the admiration of everyone that beholds them for the astonishing beauty, clearness and regularity of their lettering, and the incomparable illumination of their capitals and headings – still at this day, after so many centuries of change and chance, charming the eye of all with their soft yet brilliant colors and defying our modern scribes to produce anything the least approaching them in loveliness. There lie the sacred records, hoary with age, fragile, slender, time-worn, bearing upon their front clear proofs of their ancient birth; yet with the bloom of youth still clinging about them. We simply stand and wonder; and we also despair. We speak glibly of the “Dark Ages” and despise their monks and friars (and I shall, with your leave, speak a little more about them immediately), but one thing at least is certain, and that is, that not in the wide world today could any of their critics find a craftsman to make a copy of Holy Scripture worthy to be compared for beauty, clearness and finish with any one of the hundreds of copies produced in the contents and monasteries of medieval Europe.

Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

Deficiencies of the Protestant Bible

(1) The point that we have arrived at now, if you remember, is this: The Catholic Church, through her Popes and Councils, gathered together the separate books that Christians venerated which existed in different parts of the world; sifted the chaff from the wheat, the false from the genuine; decisively and finally formed a collection – i.e., drew up a list or catalogue of inspired and apostolic writings into which no other book should ever be admitted, and declared that these and these only were the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. The authorities that were mainly responsible for thus settling and closing the “Canon” of Holy Scripture were the Councils of Hippo and of Carthage in the fourth century, under the influence of St. Augustine (at the latter of which two Legatees were present from the Pope), and the Popes Innocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, both of whom issued lists of Sacred Scripture identical with that fixed by the Councils. From that date all through the centuries this was the Christian’s Bible. The Church never admitted any other; and at the Council of Florence in the 15th century and the Council of Trent in the 16th and the [First] Council of the Vatican in the 19th she renewed her anathemas against all who should deny or dispute this collection of books as the inspired Word of God.

(2) What follows from this is self-evident. The same authority which made and collected and preserved these books, alone has the right to claim them as her own and to say what the meaning of them is. The Church of St. Paul and St. Peter and St. James in the first century was the same Church as that of the Council of Carthage and of St. Augustine in the fourth, and of the Council of Florence in the 15th, and of the Vatican in the 19th – one and the same body – growing and developing, certainly, as every living thing must do, but still preserving its identity and remaining essentially the same body, as a man of 80 is the same person as he was at 40, and the same person at 40 as he was at 2. The Catholic Church of today, then, may be compared to a man who has grown from infancy to youth, and from youth to middle age. Suppose a man wrote a letter setting forth certain statements; whom would you naturally ask to tell what the meaning of these statements was? Surely the man that wrote it. The Church wrote the New Testament; she, and she alone, can tell us what the meaning of it is.

Again, the Catholic Church is like a person who was present at the side of Our Blessed Lord when He walked and talked in Galilee and Judea. Suppose, for a moment, that that man was gifted with perpetual youth (this, by the way, is an illustration from W.H. Mallock’s, Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption, chap. xi) and also with perfect memory, and had heard all the teaching and explanations of Our Redeemer and of His Apostles, and retained them; he would be an invaluable witness and authority to consult, surely, so as to discover exactly what was the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of the Twelve. But such undoubtedly is the Catholic Church: not an individual person, but a corporate personality who lived with, indeed was called into being by, Our Divine Saviour; in whose hearing He uttered all His teaching; who listened to the Apostles in their day and generation, repeating and expounding the Saviour’s doctrine; who, ever young and ever strong, has persisted and lived all through the centuries, and continues even till our own day fresh and keen in memory as ever, and able to assure us, without fear of forgetting, or mixing things up, or adding things out of his own head, what exactly Our Blessed Lord said, and taught, and meant, and did.

Suppose, again, that the man we are imagining had written down much of what he heard Christ and the Apostles say, but had not fully reported all, and was able to supplement what was lacking by personal explanations which he gave from his perfect memory: that, again, is a figure of the Catholic Church. She wrote down much, indeed, and the most important parts of Our Lord’s teaching, and of the Apostolic explanation of it, in Scripture; but nevertheless she did not intend it to be a complete and exhaustive account, apart from her own explanation of it; and, as a matter of fact, she is able from her own perpetual memory to give fuller and clearer accounts, and to add some things that are either omitted from the written report, or are only hinted at, or partially recorded, or mentioned merely in passing.

Such is the Catholic Church in relation to her own book, the New Testament. It is hers because she wrote it by her first Apostles, and preserved it and guarded it all down the ages by her Popes and Bishops; nobody else has any right to it whatsoever, any more than a stranger has the right to come into your house and break open your desk and pilfer your private documents. Therefore, I say that for people to step in, 1500 years after the Catholic Church had had possession of the Bible, and to pretend that it is theirs, and that they alone know what the meaning of it is, and that the Scriptures alone, without the voice of the Catholic Church explaining them, are intended by God to be the guide and rule of faith – this is an absurd and groundless claim. Only those who are ignorant of the true history of the Sacred Scriptures – their origin and authorship and preservation – could pretend that there is any logic or common sense in such a mode of acting. And the absurdity is magnified when it is remembered that the Protestants did not appropriate the whole of the Catholic books, but actually cast out some from the collection, and took what remained, and elevated these into a new “Canon,” or volume of Sacred Scripture, such as had never been seen or heard of before, from the first to the sixteenth century, in any Church, either in Heaven above or on earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth! Let us make good this charge.

(3) Open a Protestant Bible, and you will find there are seven complete Books wanting – that is, seven books fewer than there are in the Catholic Bible, and seven fewer than there were in every collection and catalogue of Holy Scripture from the fourth to the sixteenth century. Their names are Tobias, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, I Machabees, II Macabees, together with seven chapters of the Book of Esther, and 66 verses of the 3rd chapter of Daniel, commonly called “The Song of the Three Children” (Daniel 3:24-90, Douay version). These were deliberately cut out, and the Bible bound up without them. The criticisms and remarks of Luther, Calvin and the Swiss and German Reformers about these seven books of the Old Testament show to what depths of impiety those unhappy men had allowed themselves to fall when they broke away from the true Church. Even in regard to the New Testament, it required all the powers of resistance on the part of the more conservative Reformers to prevent Luther (an ex-Catholic priest) from flinging out the Epistle of St. James as unworthy to remain within the volume of Holy Scripture – “an Epistle of straw,” he called it, “with no character of the Gospel in it.” In the same way, and almost to the same degree, he dishonored the Epistle of St. Jude and the Epistle to the Hebrews and the beautiful Apocalypse of St. John, declaring they were not on the same footing as the rest of the books and did not contain the same amount of Gospel (i.e., his Gospel). The presumptuous way, indeed, in which Luther, among others, poured contempt and doubt upon some of the inspired writings which had been acknowledged and cherished and venerated for 1000 or 1200 years would be scarcely credible were it not that we have his very words in cold print, which cannot lie, and may be read in his biography or be seen quoted in such books as Dr. Westcott’s The Bible in the Church. And why did he impugn such books as we have mentioned? Because they did not suit his new doctrines and opinions. He had arrived at the principle of private judgement – of picking and choosing religious doctrines; and whenever any book, such as the Book of Machabees, taught a doctrine that was repugnant to his individual taste – as, for example, that “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Mach. 12:46) – well, so much the worse for the book; “Throw it overboard,” was his sentence, and overboard it went. And it was the same with passages and texts in those books which Luther allowed to remain and pronounced to be worthy to find a place within the boards of the new Reformed Bible. In short, he not only cast out certain books, but he mutilated some that were left. For example, not pleased with St. Paul’s doctrine, “We are justified by faith,” and fearing lest good works (a Popish superstition) might creep in, he added the word “only” after St. Paul’s words, making the sentence run: “We are justified by faith only,” and so it reads in Lutheran Bibles to this day [1911]. An action such as that must surely be reprobated by all Bible Christians. What surprises us is the audacity of the man that could coolly change by a stroke of the pen a fundamental doctrine of the Apostle of God, St. Paul, who wrote, as all admitted, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But this was the outcome of the Protestant standpoint, individual judgement: no authority outside of oneself. However ignorant, however stupid, however unlettered, you may – indeed, you are bound to – cut and carve out a Bible and a Religion for yourself. No Pope, no Council, no Church shall enlighten you or dictate or hand down the doctrines of Christ. And the result we have seen in the corruption of God’s Holy Word.

(4) Yet, in spite of all reviling of the Roman Church, the Reformers were forced to accept from her those Sacred Scriptures which they retained in their collection. Whatever Bible they have today, disfigured as it is, was taken from us. Blind indeed must he the Evangelical Christian who cannot recognize in the old Catholic Bible the quarry from which he has hewn the Testament he loves and studies – but with what loss! At what a sacrifice! In what a mutilated and disfigured condition! That the Reformers should appropriate unabridged the Bible of the Catholic Church (which was the only volume of God’s Scripture ever known on earth), even for the purpose of elevating it into a false position – this we could have understood; what staggers us is their deliberate excision from that Sacred Volume of some of the inspired Books which had God for their Author, and their no less deliberate alteration of some of the texts of those books that were suffered to remain. It is on consideration of such points as these that pious persons our side the Catholic fold would do well to ask themselves the question – Which Christian body reslly loves and reveres the Scriptures most? Which has proved, by its actions, it’s love and veneration? And which seems most likely to incur the anathema, recorded by St. John, that God will send upon those who shall rake away from the words of the Book of Life? (Apoc. 22:19)

God Bless BJS!!

Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor.

Catholic Church Compiles The New Testament

Now we know that the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament were read aloud to the congregations of Christians that met on the first day of the week for Holy Mass (just as they are still among ourselves): one Gospel here, another there; one Epistle of St. Paul in one place, another in another; all scattered about in various places of the world where there were bodies of Christians. And the next question that naturally occurs to us is: When were these separate works gathered together so as to form a volume, and added to the Old Testament to make up what we now call the Bible?

Well they were not collected for the best part of 300 years. So that here again, I am afraid, is a hard nut for Protestants to crack, namely, that though we admit that the separate works composing the New Testament were now in existence, yet they were for centuries not to be found altogether in one volume, were not obtainable by multitudes of Christians, and even were altogether unknown to many in different parts of the world. How, then, could they possibly form a guide to Heaven and the chart of salvation for those who had never seen or read or known about them? It is a fact of history that the Council of Carthage, which was held in 397 A.D., mainly through the influence of St. Augustine, settled the Canon or Collection of New Tesament Scriptures as we Catholics have them now and decreed that its decision should be sent on to Rome for confirmation. No Council (that is, no gathering of the Bishops of the Catholic Church for the settlement of some point of doctrine) was ever considered to be authoritative or binding unless it was approved and confirmed by the Roman Pontiff, while the decisions of every General Council that has recieved the approval of Rome are binding on the consciences of all Catholics. The Council of Carthage, then, is the first known to us in which we find a clear and undisputed catalogue of all the New Testament books as we have them in Bibles now.

It is true that many Fathers and Doctors and writers of the Church in the first three centuries from time to time mention by name many of the various Gospels and Epistles; and some, as we come nearer 397, even refer to a collection already existing in places. For example, we find Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, after the Council of Nicea, applying to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and a great scholar, to provide fifty copies of the Christian Scriptures for public use in the churches of Constantinople, his new capital. This was in 332 A.D. The contents of these copies are known to us: perhaps (according to some, even probably) one of these very copies of Eusebius’ handiwork has come down to us; but they are not precisely the same as our New Testament, though very nearly so. Again, we find lists of the books of the New Testament drawn up by St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and many other great authorities, as witnessing to what was generally acknowledged as inspired Scripture in their day and generation and country; but I repeat that none of these corresponds perfectly to the collection in the Bible that we possess now; we must wait till 397 for the Council of Carthage before we find the complete collection of New Testament books settled as we have it today, and as all Christendom had it till the sixteenth century, when the Reformers changed it.

You may ask me, however, what was the difference between the lists of New Testament books found in various countries and different authors before 397, and the catalogue drawn up at the Council of that date? Well, that introduces us to a very important point which tells us eloquently if the office that the Catholic Church performed, under God the Holy Ghost, in selecting and sifting and stamping with her Divine authority the Scriptures of the New Law; and I make bold to say that a calm consideration of the part that Rome took in the making and drawing up and preserving of the Christian Scriptures will convince any impartial mind that to the Catholic Church alone, so much maligned, we owe it that we know what the New Testament should consist of, and why precisely it consists of these books and of no others; and that without her we should, humanly speaking, have had no New Testament at all, or, if a New Testament, then one in which works spurious and works genuine would have been mixed up in ruinous and inextricable confusion.

I have used the words “spurious” and “genuine” in regard to the Gospels and Epistles in the Christian Church. You are horrified, and hold up your hands and exclaim: “Lord, save us! Here we have a Higher Critic and a Modernist.” Not at all, Dear Reader; quite the reverse, I assure you. Observe, I have said “in the Christian Church” – I did not say “in the Bible”, for there is nothing spurious in the Bible. But why? Simply because the Roman See in the fourth century of our era prevented anything spurious being admitted into it. There were spurious books floating about “in the Christian Church,” without a doubt, in the early centuries; this is certain, because we know their very names; and it is precisely in her rejection of these, and in her guarding the collection of inspired writings from being mixed up with them, that we shall now see the great work that the Catholic Church did, under God’s Holy Spirit, for all succeeding generations of Christians, whether within the fold or outside of it. It is through the Roman Catholic Church that Protestants have got their Bible; there is not (to paraphase some words of Newman) a Protestant that vilifies and condemns the Catholic Church for her treatment of Holy Scripture but owes it to that Church that he has the Scripture at all. What Almighty God might have done if Rome had not handed down the Bible to us is a fruitless speculation with which we have nothing whatever to do. It is a contingent possibility belonging to an order of things which has never existed, except in imagination. What we are concerned with is the order of things and the sequence of history in which we are now living, and which we know, and which consequently God has divinely disposed; and in this providential arrangement of history it is a fact, as clear as any other historical fact, that Almighty God chose the Catholic Church, and her only, to give us His Holy Scriptures, and to give us them as we have them now, neither greater nor less. This I shall now proceed to prove.

(i) Before the collection of New Testament books was finally settled at the Council of Carthage, 397, we find that there were three distinct classes into which the Christian writings were divided. This we know (and every scholar admits it) from the works of early Christian writers like Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius and a whole host of others that we could name. These classes were (1) the books “acknowledged” as Canonical, (2) books “disputed” or “controverted,” (3) books declared “spurious” or false.

Now in class (1), i.e., those acknowledged by Christians everywhere to be genuine and authentic and to have been written by Apostolic men, we find such books as the Four Gospels, 13 Epistles of St. Paul, Acts of the Apostles. These were recognized east and west as “Canonical,” genuinely the works of the Apostles and Evangelists whose names they bore, worthy of being in the “Canon” or sacred collection of inspired writings of the Church and read aloud at Holy Mass.

But there was (2) a class – and Protestants should particularly take notice of the fact, as it utterly undermines their Rule of Faith, “the Bible and the Bible only” – of books that were disputed, controverted: in some places acknowledged, in others rejected; and among these we actually find the Epistle of St. James, Epistle of St. Jude, 2nd Epistle of St. Peter; 2nd and 3rd of St. John, Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse of St. John. There were doubts about these works; perhaps, it was said, they were not really written by Apostles, or Apostolic men, or by the men whose names they carried. In some parts of the Christian world they were suspected, though in others unhesitantly received as genuine. There is no getting out of this fact, then: Some of the Books of our Bible which we, Catholic and Protestant alike, now recognize as inspired and as the written Word of God, were at one time, and indeed for long, viewed with suspicion, doubted, disputed, as not possessing the same authority as the others. (I am speaking only of the New Testament books; the same could be proved, if there were space, of the Old Testament; but the New Testament suffices abundantly for the argument.) But further still – What is even more striking and is equally fatal to the Protestant theory – in this (2) class of “controverted” and doubtful books, some were to be found which are not now in our New Testament at all, but which were by many then considered to be inspired and Apostolic, or were actually read at the public worship of the Christians, or were used for instructions to the newly-controverted – in short, ranked in some places as equal to the works of St. James or St. Peter or St. Jude. Among these we mention specially the “Shepard” of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, the Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles [Didache], Apostolic Constitutions, Gospel according to the Hebrews, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans, Epistle of St. Clement, and others. Why are these not in our Bible today? We shall see in a minute.

Lastly, (3) there was a class of books floating about before 397 A.D. which were never acknowledged as of any value in the Church, not treated as having Aposoltic authority, seeing that they were obviously spurious and false, full of absurd fables, superstitions, puerilities, and stories and miracles of Our Lord and His Apostles which made them a laughingstock to the world. Of these some have survived and we have them today, to let us see what stamp of writing they were; most have perished. But we know the names of about 50 Gospels (such as the Gospel of James, the Gospel of Thomas, and the like), about 22 Acts (like the Acts of Pilate, Acts of Paul and Thecla, and others), and a smaller number of Epistles and Apocalypsed. These were condemned and rejected wholesale as “Apocrypha” – that is, false, spurious, uncanonical.

(ii) This then being that state of matters, you can see at once what perplexity arose for the poor Christians in the days of persecution when they were required to surrender their sacred books. The Emperor Diocletian, for example, who inaugurated a terrible war against the Christians, issued an edict in 303 A.D. that all the churches should be razed to the ground and the Sacred Scriptures should be delivered up to the pagan authorities to be burned. Well, the question was : What was Sacred Scripture? If a Christian gave up an inspired writing to the pagans to save his life, he thereby became an apostate: he denied his Faith, he betrayed his Lord and God; he saved his life, indeed, but he lost his soul. Some did this and were called “traditores,” traitors, betrayers, “deliverers up” (of the Scriptures). Most, however, preferred martyrdom, and refusing to surrender the inspired writings, suffered the death. But it was a most perplexing and harrowing question they had to decide – what really was Sacred Scripture? I am not bound to go to the stake for refusing to give up some “spurious” Gospel or Epistle. Could I, then, safely give up some of the “controverted” or disputed books, like the Epistle of St. James, or the Hebrews, or the Shepard of Hermas, or the Epistle of St. Barnabus, or of St. Clement? There is no need to be a martyr by mistake. And so the stress of persecution had the effect of making still more urgent the necessity of deciding once and for all what was to form the New Testament. What, definitely and precisely, were to be the books for which a Christian would be bound to lay down his life on pain of losing his soul?

(iii) Here, as I said, before, comes in the Council of Carthage, 397 A.D., confirming and approving the decrees of a previous Council (Hippo, 393 A.D.), declaring, for all time to come, what was the exact collection of sacred writings thenceforth to be reckoned, to the exclusion of all others, as the inspired Scripture of the New Testament. That collection is precisely that which Catholics possess at this day in their Douay Bible. That decree of Carthage was never changed. It was sent to Rome for confirmation. As I have already remarked, a Council, even though not a general Council of the whole Catholic Church, may yet have its decrees made binding on the whole Church by the approval and will of the Pope. A second Council of Carthage, over which St. Augustine presided in 419 A.D., renewed the decrees of the former one and declared that its act was to be notified to Boniface, Bishop of Rome, for the purpose of confirming it. From that date all doubt ceased as to what was and what was not “spurious,” or “genuine,” or “doubtful” among the Christian writings then known. Rome had spoken. A Council of the Roman Catholic Church had settled it. You might hear a voice here or there, in East or West, in subsequent times, raking up some old doubt, or raising a question as to whether this or that book of the New Testament is really what it claims to be or should be where it is. But it is a voice in the wilderness.

Rome had fixed the “Canon” of the New Testament. There are henceforward but two classes of books – inspired and not inspired. Within the covers of the New Testament all is inspired; all without, known or unknown, is uninspired. Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost the Council declared “This is genuine, that is false”; “this is Apostolic, that is not Apostolic.” She sifted, weighed, discussed, selected, rejected, and finally decided what was what. Here she rejected a writing that was once very popular and reckoned by many as inspired and was actually read as Scripture at public service; there, again, she accepted another that was very much disputed and viewed with suspicion, and said: “This is to go into the New Testament.” She had the evidence before her; she had Tradition to help her; and above all she had the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to enable her to come to a right conclusion on so momentous a matter. And in fact, her conclusion was received by all Christendom until the sixteenth century, when, as we shall see, men arose rebelling against her desicion and altering the Sacred Volume. But, at all events in regard to the New Testament, the Reformers left the books as they found them, and today their Testament contains exactly the same books as ours; and what I wish to drive home is that they got these books from Rome, that without the Roman Catholic Church they would not have gotten them, and that the decrees of Carthage, 397 and 419 A.D., when all Christianity was Roman Catholic – reaffirmed by the Council of Florence, 1442, under Pope Eugenius IV, and the Council of Trent, 1546 – these decrees of the Roman Church, and these only, are the means and the channel and the authority which Almighty God has used to hand down to is His written Word. Who can deny it? The Church existed before the Bible; she made the Bible; she selected its books, and she preserved it. She handed it down. Through her we know what is the Word of God, and what the word of man; and hence to try at this time of day, as many do, to overthrow the Church by means of this very Bible, and to put it above the Church, and to revile her for destroying it and corrupting it – What is this but to strike the mother that reared them; to curse the hand that fed them; to turn against their best friend and benefactor; and to repay with ingratitude and slander the very guide and protector who has led them to drink of the water out of the Saviour’s fountains?

God Bless BJS!!

Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor.

The Making of the Old Testament

Now, looking at the Bible as it stands today, we find it is composed of 73 separate books – 46 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New. How has it come to be composed precisely of these 73* and no others, and no more and no less? Well, taking first the Old Testament, we know that it has always been divided into three main portions – the Law, the Prophets and the Writings.

(1) The Law, as I remarked before, was the nucleus, the earliest substantial part, which at one time formed the sole book of Scripture that the Jews possessed. Moses wrote it and placed a copy of it in the Ark; that was about 3300 years ago.

(2) To this were added, long afterward, the Prophets and the Writings, forming the complete Old Testament. At what date precisely the volume or “canon” of the Old Testament was finally closed and recognized as completed forever is not absolutely certain.

When was the Old Testament compiled? Some would decide for about the year 430 B.C., under Esdras and Nehemias, resting upon the authority of the famous Jew, Josephus, who lived immediately after Our Lord and who declares that since the death of Ataxerxes, B.C. 424, “no one had dared to add anything to the Jewish Scriptures, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them.” Other authorities, again, contend that it was not till near 100 B.C. that the Old Testament volume was finally closed by the inclusion of the “Writings.” But whichever contention is correct, one thing at least is certain, that by this last date – that is, for 100 years before the birth of Our Blessed Lord – the Old Testament existed precisely as we have it now.

Of course, I have been speaking so far of the Old Testament, in Hebrew, because it was written by Jewish authority, in the Jewish language – namely, Hebrew – for Jews, God’s chosen people. But after what is called the “Dispersion” of the Jews, when that people were scattered abroad and settled in many other lands outside Palestine, and began to lose their Hebrew tongue and gradually became familiar with “Greek, which was then a universal language, it was necessary to furnish them with a copy of their Sacred Scriptures in the Greek language. Hence arose that translation of the Old Testament into Greek known as the Septuagint. This word means in Latin 70, and is so named because it is supposed to have been the work of 70 translators, who performed their task at Alexandria, where there was a large Greek-speaking colony of Jews. Begun about 280 or 250 years before Christ, we may safely say that it was finished in the next century; it was the acknowledged Bible of all the “Jews of the Dispersion” in Asia, as well as in Egypt, and was the version used by Our Lord, His Apostles and Evangelists, and by Jews and Gentiles and Christians in the early days of Christianity. It is from this version that Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers and speakers quote when referring to the Old Testament.

But what about the Chrisitians in either lands who could not understand Greek? When the Gospel had been spread abroad, and many people embraced Christianity through the labors of Apostles and missionaries in the first two centuries of our era, naturally they had to be supplied with copies of the Scriptures of the Old Testament (which was the inspired Word of God) in their own tongue; and this gave rise to translations of the Bible into Armenian and Syriac and Coptic and Arabic and Ethiopic for the benefit of the Christians in these lands. For the Christians in Africa, where Latin was best understood, there was a translation of the Bible made into Latin about 150 A.D., and, later, another and better for the Christians in Italy; but all these were finally superseded by the grand and most important version made by St. Jerome in Latin called the “Vulgate”- that is, the common, or current or accepted version. This was in the fourth century of our era [A.D.]. By the time St. Jerome was born, there was great need of securing a correct and uniform text of Holy Scripture in Latin, for there was danger, through the variety and corrupt conditions of many translations then existing, lest the pure Scripture should be lost. So Jerome, who was a monk, and perhaps the most learned scholar of his day, at the command of Pope St. Damascus in 382 A.D. made a fresh Latin version of the New Testament (which was by this time practically settled), correcting the existing versions by the earliest Greek manuscripts (MSS.) he could find. Then in his cell at Bethlehem, between (approximately) the years 392-404, he also translated the Old Testament into Latin directly from the Hebrew (and not from the Greek Septuagint)-except the Psalter [book of Psalms], which he had previously revised from existing Latin versions. This Bible was the celebrated Vulgate, the official text in the Catholic Church, the value of which all scholars admit to be simply inestimable, and which continued to influence all other versions and to hold the chief place among Christians down to the Reformation. I say the “official” text, because the Council of Trent in 1546 issued a decree stamping it as the only recognized and authoritative version allowed to Catholics. “If anyone does not receive the entire books with all their parts as they are accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and in the old Latin Vulgate Edition, as sacred and canonical….let him be anathema.” The Vulgate was revised under Pope Sixtus V in 1590, and again under Pope Clement VIII in 1593, who is responsible for the present standard text. It is from the Vulgate that Our English Douay Version comes; and it is of this same Vulgate that the Commission under Cardinal Gasquet, by command of the Pope, is trying to find or restore the original text as it came from the hands of St. Jerome, uncorrupted by and stripped of subsequent admixtures with other Latin copies.*

*The number of books in the Catholic Bible is counted as 72 or 73 depending on whether “The Lamentations of Jeremias” is considered to be part of Jeremias or a separate book of the Old Testament. – Publisher, 2004.

* This work was begun in the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) but was not completed and published until 1978. It is known as the “New Vulgate” or “Nova Vulgata” and was promulgated by Pope John Paul II as the “editio typica.” This edition of the Vulgate, however, does not give the hallmark Vulgate rendering of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmities between Thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Emphasis added.) – Publisher, 2004. (This may have something to do with the reluctance to make public the 3rd secret of Fatima) TradCat4Christ

Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

Some Errors Removed

Now, in order to understand properly the work of the Catholic Church in creating and defending and perpetuating the Holy Scriptures, we must say a few preliminary words as to the human means used in their production, and as to the collecting of the Books of the Bible as we have it at present. There are some common erroneous ideas which we would do well to clear away from our minds at the very outset.

1. To begin with, the Bible did not drop down from Heaven ready-made, as some seem to imagine; it did not suddenly appear upon the earth, carried down from Almighty God by the hand of angel or seraph; but it was written by men like ourselves, who held in their hand pen (or reed) and ink and parchment, and laboriously traced every letter in the original languages of the East. They were divinely inspired certainly, as no others ever have been before or since; nevertheless, they were human beings, men chosen by God for the work, making use of the human instruments that lay to their hand at the time.

2. In the second place we shall do well to remember that the Bible was not written all at once, or by one man, like most other books with which we are acquainted, but that 1500 years elapsed between the writing of Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament) and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John (the last Book of the New Testament). It is made up of a collection of different books by different authors, forming, in short, a library instead of a single work, and hence called in Greek, “Biblia,” or “The Books”. If you had lived in the days immediately succeeding the death of Moses, all you would have had given to you to represent the Bible would have been the first five books of the Old Testament, written by that patriarch himself; that was the Bible in embryo, so to speak – the little seed that was to grow subsequently into a great tree, the first stone laid on which was gradually to be erected the beautiful temple of the written Word throughout the centuries that followed. From this we can see that the preacher extolling the Bible as the only comfort and guide of faithful souls was slightly out of his reckoning when he used these words: “Ah, my brethren! What was it that comforted and strengthened Joseph in his dark prison in Egypt? What was it that formed his daily support and meditation? What but that blessed book, the Bible!” As Joseph existed before a line of the Old Testament was penned, and about 1800 years before the first of the New Testament books saw the light, the worthy evangelist was guilty of what we call a slight anachronism.

3. Nor will it be out of place to remark here that the Bible was not written originally in English or Gaelic. Some folks speak as if they believed that the Sacred Books were first composed, and the incomparable Psalms of David set forth, in the sweet English tongue, and that they were afterwards rendered into barbarous language such as Latin or Greek or Hebrew for the sake of inquisitive scholars and critics. This is not correct; the original language, broadly speaking of the Old Testament was Hebrew; that of the New Testament was Greek. Thus our Bibles as we have them today for reading are “translations” – that is, are a rendering or equivalent in English of the original Hebrew and Greek as it came from the pen of Prophet and Apostle and Evangelist. We see this plainly enough in the title page of the Protestant New Testament – which reads “New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, translated out of the original Greek.”

4. A last point must always be kept clearly in mind, for it concerns one of the greatest delusions entertained by Protestants and makes their fierce attacks on Rome appear so silly and irrational – the point, namely, that the Bible, as we have it now, was not printed in any language at all till about 1500 years after the birth of Christ, for the simple reason that there was no such thing as printing known before that date. We have become so accustomed to the use of the printing press that we can scarcely conceive of the ages when the only books known to men were in handwriting; but it is the fact that, has we lived and flourished before Mr. John Gooseflesh discovered the art of printing in the 15th century, we should have had to read our Testaments and our Gospels from the manuscript of monk or friar, from the pages of parchment or vellum or paper covered with the handwriting, sometimes very beautiful and ornamental, of the scribe that had undertaken the slow and laborious task of copying the Sacred Word. Protestants in these days send shiploads of printed Bibles abroad, and scatter thousands of Testaments hither and thither in every direction for the purpose of evangelizing the heathen and converting sinners, and declare that the Bible, and the Bible only, can save men’s souls. What, then, came of those poor souls who lived before the Bible was printed, before it was even written in its present form? How were nations made familiar with the Christian religion and converted to Christianity before the 15th century? Our Divine Lord, I suppose, wished that the unnumbered millions of human creatures born before the year 1500 should believe what He had taught and save their souls and go to Heaven at least as much as those of the 16th and 20th centuries; but how could they do this when they had no Bibles, or were too poor to buy one, or could not understand it even if they could read it? On the Catholic plan (so to call it) of salvation through the teaching of the Church, souls may be saved and people become saints, and believe and do all that Jesus Christ meant them to believe and do – and, as a matter of fact, this has happened – in all countries and in all ages without either the written or the printed Bible, and both before and after it’s production. The Protestant theory, on the contrary, which stakes a man’s salvation on the possession of the Bible, leads to the most flagrant absurdities, imputes to Almighty God a total indifference to the salvation of the countless souls that passed hence to eternity for 1500 years, and indeed ends logically in the blasphemous conclusion that our blessed Lord failed to provide an adequate means of conveying to men in every age the knowledge of His truth. We shall see, as we proceed, the utter impossibility of the survival of Christianity, and of its benefits to humanity, on the principle of “the Bible and the Bible only.” Meanwhile we can account for the fact that intelligent non-Catholics have not awakened to its hollowness and absurdity only by supposing that they do not sufficiently realise, “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” (as the English Prayer Book says) this single item of history: The Bible was not printed till at least 1400 years after Christ.

God Bless BJS!!

Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor.

The Last Gospel Lesson 10

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men….

…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world knew Him not. He came into His own, and His own recieved Him not.

But to as many as received Him He gave the power of becoming sons of God…AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US…(St. John, 1-14.)

Immediately after the Last Blessing the priest goes to the Gospel side of the altar. There he says, “Dominus vobiscum,” and makes the Sign of the Cross on the altar, and then on his forehead, lips, and breast. This is just as he did at the first Gospel.

As we make the Sign of the Cross on our forehead, lips, and breast, we can have the same thoughts as we did before the first Gospel. We want our minds to know about Our Lord and His teachings. We want our voices and tongues to make them known. We want our hearts to love them. We know we prove our love for the teachings of Our Lord by putting them into practice in our everyday life.

On most days, the Last Gospel is the same. It is the first fourteen verses of the Holy Gospel written by St. John. Parts of the Last Gospel are given at the beginning of this lesson. Sometimes there is a special Last Gospel. You can tell when this special Last Gospel is being read. The altar boy moves the Missal from the Epistle to the Gospel side of the altar. The priest always reads a special Last Gospel from the Missal . The first fourteen verses of the Gospel of St. John are printed on the card on the Gospel side of the altar.

These fourteen verses from the Gospel of St. John speak about Our Lord. They tell that He is God. They also tell that He became man. The priest and people bend their knees to adore Our Lord, God made man. They do so at the words of the Last Gospel, “And the Word was made flesh.”

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is God, has been made flesh again.

At the end of the Last Gospel the altar boy says, “Thanks be to God.” He is saying it for the people. With the priest they have been thinking of Our Lord, Who is God. They know how He came again upon earth in Holy Mass. He has been the victim of the Holy Sacrifice just offered. He has been our gift to God. He became our food. Yes, He became food for our soul. For these reasons we say, “Thanks be to God.”

Taken from The Kingdom of God series The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Ellamay Horan. I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

The Last Blessing Lesson 9

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The Dismissal: Before the Last Blessing

After the Postcommunion, the priest goes to the center of the altar. Then he faces the people and prays. “The Lord be with you.” The altar boy answers for the people, “And with your spirit.”

The dismissal is next given. The priest, still facing the people, says: “Go, the Mass is over.” Sometimes the Latin is put into other English words – “Go, you are sent forth.” or “Go, you are dismissed.” The altar boy replies: “Thanks be to God.” In the name of the people he is thanking God for the graces they have recieved during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

During Advent and Lent the priest says: “Let us bless the Lord,” instead of “Go, the Mass is over.” At Masses for the dead the people are dismissed with the prayer, “May they rest in peace.”

After making the short dismissal prayer, the priest turns and bows before the altar. Silently he prays:

May the tribute of my worship be pleasing to Thee, most Holy Trinity, and grant that the sacrifice which I, all unworthy, have offered in the presence of Thy majesty, may be acceptable to Thee, and through Thy mercy obtain forgiveness for me and all for whom I have offered it.

This prayer speaks of some things about Holy Mass that Catholics desire always to remember.

The Mass is, first of all, an act of worship of the Most Holy Trinity.

An act of worship tries to give to God the honor that is due Him.

Holy Mass is a sacrifice.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the all-perfect sacrifice. In the Mass Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the priest, offers Himself to God under the appearances of bread and wine.

The priest is speaking for himself. He says how unworthy he is to have offered the Holy Sacrifice.

The words of the priest remind the people to have the same thought. They know how unworthy they are to unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They know how poorly they have done so.

The priest asks for forgiveness for himself, and for all those for whom he has offered the Holy Sacrifice.

Many times during Holy Mass the priest and people pray for two things. The first is forgiveness or pardon. The second, not mentioned in this prayer, is God’s grace and help. Priest and people pray for these blessings for themselves and for others.

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The Last or Final Blessing

When the priest has finished the prayer that he says bowed over the altar, he kisses the altar. Then he raises his eyes and hands toward heaven. Next, he turns to the people and blesses them. He makes the Sign of the Cross and says: May God almighty bless you: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The altar boy answers, Amen.

The words of blessing seem to speak to the people of two things. First, they remind them of the blessings received from the Most Holy Trinity during Holy Mass. Then they seem to tell the people that they have new grace. They have help from God for all they shall do and think and say, as they go forth from Holy Mass.

Taken from The Kingdom of God series The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Ellamay Horan. I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

The Postcommunion Lesson 8

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Having recieved Thy sacred gifts, O Lord, vouchsafe the more often we frequent these mysteries, the more surely they may avail to our salvation.
(From the Postcommunion for the Second Sunday after Pentecost.)

After he reads the Communion verse, the priest goes back to the center of the altar. He kisses the altar and turns to the people. He says to them in Latin, “The Lord be with you.” The altar boy answers for the people, “And with your spirit.” This greeting of the priest is always a reminder or invitation. He desires them to join with him in the prayer or prayers that follow. At this time the priest wants the people to pray the Postcommunion prayer or prayers with him.

The Postcommunion is part of the Proper of the Mass. It changes from day to day. Often the Postcommunion speaks of the feast of the day. It is made up of one or more prayers that the priest reads from the Missal. The priest is at the Epistle side of the altar as he prays the Postcommunion.

Almost always the Postcommunion prayers speak of Holy Communion that has just been received. These prayers ask God that the graces of Holy Communion may help us to live good lives.

The ablutions, Communion, and Postcommunion are the prayers the Church uses in thanksgiving for Holy Communion.

Taken from The Kingdom of God series The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Ellamay Horan. I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

The Communion Verse Lesson 7

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We bless the God of heaven, and before all living we will promise Him; because He has shown His mercy to us.
(Communion verse from the Mass of Trinity Sunday.)

The Communion Verse is part of the Proper of the Mass. It changes from day to day. The priest reads the Communion verse from the Missal. The Missal is on the Epistle side of the altar. The Communion verse is read after the Ablutions.

This verse is a short prayer. Once it was part of a Psalm. The Psalm waa sung by the choir and people, as the people went to receive Holy Communion.

The Communion verse at the beginning of this lesson is a short prayer of praise. It gives one a beautiful thought to have after Holy Communion.

Taken from The Kingdom of God series The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Ellamay Horan. I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!