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March 7, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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March 7, 1998

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[/gUC SAS'. W.ATHOLiC March 7, 1998 Page 7 l rayer our firstpriority - & during Lent. " ! : / "This seemed a self-evident statement : to but it drew perplexed frowns from class. Finally a girl in the back row raised her hand. 'hat happened to penance?" she asked. "I always thought that giving up things is what we do for Lent." SoA rather spirited discussion followed. raeone brought up the idea of con- Version. Our Lenten practices are meant to help,, us become more deeply con- rted. So that there's more of God and of us in our lives" is the way another etnber of the class put it. By the end of our discussion, most of Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 9:28-36 Fr. William Gould the class agreed that prayer is fundamen- tal. Nothing worthwhile can happen un- less we take prayer seriously. They called it the "energy" that brings us to God and people that we are able to recognize Jesus keeps us there, as the fulfillment of all God's promises, Today's first reading once again re- the Savior of the world, the source of all minds us of Lent's purpose. We share a we need. "This is my Son, my Chosen covenant relationship with each other One. Listen to Him." and with God. We are part of God's fam- Prayer alone makes it possible for us ily. Because of this, our goal is to be- to understand that %re have our citizen- come more closely united to GOd, to ship in heaven" instead of just in this develop a deep, personal relationship life. It enables us to "eagerly await the with Him, and to serve Him to the best coming of our savior, the Lord Jesus of our ability. Christ." When we are nourished by real We want to become more like Jesus prayer, we also learn how to "stand firm Christ -- that is, we want to become more in the Lord." deeply converted. There is little power to penance -- or Prayer is absolutely essential to this to Lent -- unless it is fueled by prayer! process. Father William Gould's weekly column is It is only when we become praying sponsored by Little Rock Scripture Study. _ , ountclown The early Church was almost immediately plagued by disputes, heresies and schisms. One of the first arguments pitted Jews against Gentiles over who could be followers of Christ. One of the first schisms was started by Montanus, a convert from paganism who aught that his followers had a special mission and Were the spiritually elite with gifts of the Spirit unavailable to or, hers. Montanists reported charismatic phenomena, such as speaking in tongues. But they also claimed to have visions of Jesus and the Spirit, and fell into trances and convulsions. St. Jerome would later list the errors of the sect, including its claim that some sins could not be forgiven and that its utterances added to the teachings of the Apostles. ELSEWHERE IN TIME First pope named Plus serves; 11 more would fo low. earliest known Sanskrit writings appear in India... Consider an alternative that offers: Favorable tax treatment ' Contractually guaranteed minimum return ' Current interest at S.75% to 6.7S% Plus: the added benefits of membership in a [ratemal benefit society that has been serving Catholic families [or more than 120 years Contact:. Cox Insurance A ncy RO. Box 1800 Conway, AR 72033 -1800 (800) 632-0644 And ask about Single Premium Deferred Annuities flexible Premium Deferred Annuities Immediate Annuities and/or IRAs Before you open or renew that C.D.! Where can you find the 'Gospel of Thomas'? In the past months I have heard refer ence several times to the Gospel "ac- cording to Thomas." Is there really such a Gospel? If so, why is it not included in the New Testament, and why don't we hear more about it? Who decided this Gospel should not be in the Bible? Yes, there is a Gospel of Thomas, but let's take your other question first. Why were some "Cos- pels" accepted in the Scriptures and others not? Theoretically, the answer is simple. We believe that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the commtmifes of be- lievers in Jesus gradually realized which writings were to be in theFr. ]ohn Dietzen canon, the offi- cial list of books which would constitute the standard or rule for Christian belief and life. Many letters, Gospels and other writ- ings about the life and teachings of Jesus passed back and forth among the early churches. Eventually, by a kind of com- mon intuition, some of them were recog- nized as normative; they provided a norm or model for any authentic Christian faith or church. By about the year 400, popes and coun- cils had endorsed a basic ligt. Confusions remained, .however, until the Council of Trent (1546) identified those books to be accepted as the Catholic Church's sa- cred, canonical Scriptures. As I said, it sounds simple. In reality the process was not so neat. For one thing, a number of supposedly significant docu- ments were just "lost." The fact that the original forms of the Gospels later underwent changes and additions further complicated the process. Sometimes these revisions resulted from sayings of Jesus passed down by word of mouth well into the second century. To repeat, our Christian belief is that the same Spirit who inspired the authors of Scripture when theywrote, also inspired the churches, the communities of faith, as they discerned and chose which "sa- cred" writings would constitute the norm of Christian discipleship. Several early Christian Gospels are not included in the canon of the New Testa- ment. Perhaps the most famous, at least today, is the one referred to as the Gos- pel of Thomas. This gospel is quite unlike the four we know, consisting solely of 114 "sayings" of the "living Jesus." Written most likely before the year 100, its existence had been known for centu- ries, through references and occasional quotes in other documents. The discovery of the entire text in 1945, however, in an ancient library along the Nile in northem E .gypt, is a significant archeoiogical event in the history of New Testament scholarship. Because of its antiquity, its importance in studying the life and words of Jesus can scarcely be exaggerated. The relatively brief text is available today in several publications, ff you read it, however, don't look for it to have the interest or the impact of the four Gospels in our New Testament. The Retrouvaille Program is designed to provide the tools to help put your marriage in order again. The main em- phasis of the program is on communication between husband and wife. For more information call or write: 501.664.0340 Extension 353 Family Life Office Diocese of Little Rock P.O. Box 7565 Little Rock, AR 72217 Sponsored by the Diocese of Little Rock Family Life Office Next Retrouvaille Weekend: March 13-15 St. John Catholic Center, Little Rock Make reservations by March 9