The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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Read Tob 8:3. Sarah's deliverance from the demon occurs not directly from Tobiah's burning of the fish parts but

a.   unexpectedly, without warning, and for no reason.
b.   when Raphael catches the demon and binds him.
c.   when the smoke from the fish parts rises.


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Read Tob 11. Tobit finally

a.   dies.
b.   is healed.
c.   suffers.

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Read Tob 12. Raphael reveals that he is

a.   an angel.
b.   a demon.
c.   a man.

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The Catholic Church professes with certainty that angels are real. Not only that, you really do have a guardian angel. Read CCC 328-336. <<

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Who gets to have an opinion about the meaning of a particular passage in the Bible?

a.   Anybody.
b.   Only people who study the Bible for a living.
c.   Only the Pope and bishops in union with him.

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Sometimes a certain passage in the Bible may be particularly moving to you when you read or hear it. That is the opposite of a bad idea. In fact, that's great! Just try to make sure that the meaning you find there does not contradict a meaning already known to the Church. The meaning you found in that passage could add something personal to you, etc., but it must not contradict the meanings which the Church knows are revealed in the passage, or you will be moving farther from Christ, however ''sincere'' your feeling about the passage is.

For example, if you read Gen 3, and its special meaning for you depended on it being just a metaphor, a story, and nothing more, then, obviously, you would be on the wrong track. <<

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Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy || Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings || 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah || Tobit* Judith* Esther 1 Maccabees* 2 Maccabees* Job


Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Wisdom* Sirach* || Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch* Ezekiel Daniel || Hosea Joel Amos >> Obadiah << Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

The Old Testament books with a star * are not any more or less important than the others. The star indicates that the Catholic Church definitively professes and knows these books to be part of the sacred writings, the inspired Word of God [cf. CCC 120], but that they are specifically rejected by the Jewish people, and called ''apocryphal'' (of doubtful inspiration) by Protestants.

Regarding its length, the book of Obadiah is

a.   one of the shortest.
b.   the longest.
c.   the shortest.

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Read Obadiah, Obad 1:15-17. Obadiah consists of bitter prophecies against the nation of Edom, and

a.   equally bitter prophecies against the nations of Assyria and Egypt.
b.   oracles about the day of the Lord, when the nations will be judged.
c.   reassurance that the people's suffering will be short indeed.

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The Holy Father and the bishops teach in CCC 1093 that:

''the Church's liturgy has retained certain elements of the worship of the Old Covenant as integral and irreplaceable, adopting them as her own:''

''notably, reading the Old Testament; praying the Psalms; above all, recalling the saving events and significant realities which have found their fulfillment in the mystery of Christ (promise and covenant, Exodus and Passover, kingdom and temple, exile and return).'' <<

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A Christian born in 1820 announces that he is a new prophet of God, who brings important messages directly from God. Is it possible that he could be correct?

a.   No, because the Holy Father and the bishops with him are the only true prophets.
b.   No, because the completion of the search of the prophets is Christ himself.
c.   Yes, although his prophecy would have to be approved by the Holy Father.

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As a Catholic, you really need to keep in mind that Christ did not bring a ''message'' to us. He is not someone who brings a message, an idea, or a concept ''about'' God to us. Christ is God's full and complete presence with us. The Catholic faith is not a ''message'' from God. It is the union of Christ's one and only Bride and Body, not with a ''message'' or an idea or a concept, but with the person of Christ.

There have been and there probably will continue to be people, even people who consider themselves to be Christians, who think that ''religion'' is about messages, ideas, or concepts. Catholics can only see this as a vast misunderstanding. Read CCC 719. The prophets' ''careful search'' [CCC 719] was for a person, not an idea or a message, and thus the cycle of prophets ended forever with John the Baptist, who saw with his own eyes the person that the whole world had been longing for, and recognized him to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. >>

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Almost from the beginnings of the Catholic Church some people have rejected Christ because the Church has consistently refused to say that God is an idea. These people just ''knew'' that ideas are ''obviously'' more lasting and important than any person. Therefore (they have said), this ''Jesus,'' who was plainly a person, may have brought us an important idea about God, but he could not possibly be God, let alone be God's entire and complete revelation of himself and presence with us.

Please be aware that there are still people living today who say very much the same things. They may even call themselves Christians.

Read CCC 208. God's presence is ''fascinating and mysterious.'' God's presence does not dampen human curiosity but rather inspires it. God's presence almost impels man to think unexpected new thoughts. Some of the greatest minds and writers in history have been Catholic saints, and they would be the last ones to tell you that ideas and concepts are trivial or otherwise unimportant. This course itself is proof that Catholics think that ideas are important. However, Christ offers you an intimate, personal union, not with a mere idea about him, but with himself, in and through your union with his one and only Bride and Body, the Catholic Church.

Although we pray that God still saves them, throughout the centuries some people seem to have preferred union with an idea over personal, intimate union with Christ in and through his Catholic Church. Some people (at least from what human eyes can see) seem to have preferred their own ideas to God's fascinating and mysterious presence.

What choice will you make today? <<

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Apart from the sacraments of the Catholic Church, the meaning of the Bible can only partially be known, because the meaning of the Bible is

a.   a concept.
b.   an idea.
c.   Christ himself.

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The bishops and the Holy Father teach that Jesus Christ is the Word of God in

a.   absolutely every sense.
b.   a purely symbolic sense.
c.   an imperfect sense.

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The bishops and the Holy Father teach that Christ really is the Word of God, in every sense: ''Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word.'' [CCC 102] Christ is that one Word. [CCC 65]

That is, Christ himself is the meaning of the Bible. The Word that God speaks into the world is his Son.

When believers hear or read the Bible, they receive more than an idea or a concept. They actually receive a Person, Christ himself: ''He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church.'' [CCC 1088]

Just before receiving the Most Holy Eucharist, we pray to Jesus, ''Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.'' We profess that we are unable to receive what we most long for and need, Jesus himself, without his direct help. Christ himself must prepare us to receive him in the Eucharist.

Similarly, CCC 108 professes that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ himself prepares us to receive him in the Sacred Scriptures:

''... the Christian faith is not a 'religion of the book.' Christianity is the religion of the 'Word' of God, 'not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living.' If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, 'open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.''' <<

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Human words can only be ''about'' something. For instance, a book on the solar system

a.   can literally be the solar system, and not just human words ''about'' the solar system.
b.   can not literally be the solar system, but only human words ''about'' the solar system.
c.   can partly be the solar system, and partly can be human words ''about'' the solar system.

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The Bible was written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Through those human authors, God himself speaks ''one single Word'' - his only-begotten Son, Christ. [CCC 102] Thus, when a believer reads the Bible, he receives

a.   God's ''one single Word,'' Christ himself.
b.   words ''about'' God, but not God himself.
c.   words that remind us of God himself.

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The Bible is

a.   just like any other book, because it is merely our words ''about'' something.
b.   not like any other book, because it is really our words ''about'' God.
c.   not like any other book, because it is not merely our words ''about'' God.

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When a believer reads the Bible, he receives

a.   God's ''one single Word.''
b.   only concepts and ''ideas.''
c.   words ''about'' God.

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The Christ you receive in fullness when you receive the Eucharist

a.   is a reminder of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross.
b.   is the same Jesus Christ who died on the Cross.
c.   is not the same Jesus Christ who died on the Cross.

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.