Q: Why is the Catholic Bible so different from any other Bible?
A: This is a very good question, for we are quite aware either by visiting a bookstore or “surfing the Net” that there are many translations of Sacred Scripture in the market, not to mention there are many English translations of the Bible. We must remember, first of all, that the Catholic Church has had the Bible and all of its books and letters ever since the beginning when God revealed his Word to the various writers who penned his words.
In the beginning a number of the books and letters were in Hebrew and Greek. Fortunately, a great translator in St. Jerome provided us with the first Bible in having all of the books and letters in the same language; namely, Latin. We call this Bible the Vulgate. Following this translation, however, we know, over the course of the centuries that eventually other translations were rendered of the Bible, especially in the common tongue of various cultures and nations. This is where the problem arises.
One of the principal roles of the bishops, namely, the successors of the Apostles is to guard the true translation of Sacred Scripture in all its meaning. This is what we call protecting the Deposit of Faith. In doing so, we bishops entrust others in assisting us in painstakingly translating the Bible into the common tongue of the peoples we serve in the respective countries and dioceses. In other words, the competency of the faithful translation of the Inspired Word of God, that is, the Bible, falls under the authority of the successors of the Apostles. Jesus, through his very words, provided us with that mandate when he said to St. Peter, “How he governs on earth will also apply to heaven.”
We know that there are a number of English bibles out there that differ partially, if not greatly, to the Catholic translation. Oftentimes, the question may be a translation of a certain word in Greek or Latin into English, but other times it may be that the organization or community that wishes to have a different translation permits the culture in which they live to determine the translation, thus rendering the meaning of the Scripture passages either diluted or meaningless.
When it comes to the English translation of our Bible, we as fellow Christians must remember that our society lacks the competency to alter the translation of the Bible, for it is the Bible itself, the Inspired Word of God, which is meant to change society.
Q: Is Mary always present since they say our prayers go through Mary to God and Jesus? If she is not, how do our prayers go through her?
A: From a previous “Ask the Bishop” question we understand that Mary is the Mother of God; she is the Mother of Jesus. Mary, while being without sin, is still one of us. Mary is, inarguably, the first Christian.
As we know the truth that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, the solemnity on Aug. 15, which is a holy day of obligation, reminds us that Mary also is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. To be the Queen of Earth, of course, means Mary does not just know what is happening at every moment in this universe of ours, especially her sons and daughters in faith; what we do personally matters to her. In other words, Mary is always available to help us, if only we take time to ask.
Think about it the next time you pray the rosary or participate in another Marian devotion that Mary is intently listening to you and me, especially our needs. When we pray to Mary in reaching for Jesus we do not leave a “heavenly voicemail message” to be answered at a later time. Our Mother in Faith, Mary, the Mother of God, hears our prayers in real time and answers our prayers in real time. How blessed we are to have such a loving and merciful mother.
Q: Do you think that God created us for a special reason or were we just what came to mind?
A: We read in the Book of Genesis that we were made in God’s image and likeness. In other words you and I were not created because God had some leisure time and thought this would be a good idea. This is not to say, of course, that creating us was not a good idea, but for you to remember that God has intended you and me.
That takes me to a relative point and that is that none of us is a mistake, nor is anybody unintended by God. Unfortunately, you and I live in a society where people have been encouraged to believe that their children are unintended and a mistake. Thank goodness God does not think this way. Do not ever let anybody ever tell you that you are unintended or a mistake, for such a statement is contrary to God’s love and mercy.
God created us so that you and I may be loved by him. God did not need us, but at the same time, intended us. Think about how fortunate we are at this time to recognize God has created you and me and has intended us to be here to share his presence and love with so many of our fellow friends and neighbors, especially those who at this time believe that their lives are hopeless. By recognizing the truth that God intended us, you and I realize that no life is hopeless.
I had mentioned in an earlier “Ask the Bishop” article that not all members of our Church are living among us at this time for those who have died have kept their citizenship in heaven. As a result, isn’t it great to know that someday, at a time when God determines, that we as a human family can be together with God celebrating the truth that God intended to create you and me and we are together as a family. The birth of Jesus at Christmas is a ringing reminder that God, from the beginning, intended to save all the human beings he created. One does not go to such extremes as sending his only son among us to suffer and die for us so that we may go to heaven, if we happen to simply be a “good idea at the time.” We are better than that, for God created us in his image and likeness.
As we celebrate this great solemnity of Pentecost, may our families and friends recognize the presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling, not just among us in this world, but strengthening and fortifying our beloved Catholic Church.
To “Ask the Bishop,” address questions to Joseph M. Taylor, Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools catechetical consultant and youth ministry coordinator, P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952, or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be reached by telephone at the chancery in Steubenville, (740) 282-3631.