May 2005. That is when I began my meetings on a weekly basis with Msgr. Reed. Now if you know me, you know that I generally am well prepared for situations...most of the time. This was no exception. About a week earlier I remember going to WalMart to buy a miniature recorder and a pack of tapes. (I know that we are in the digital age....but I am frugal). The night before I met with Msgr I stayed up for a long time and made a list of what I wanted to talk about. I went in with an agenda. First things first. I wanted to discuss and find out what the Catholic doctrine was on what I believed to be the basis of my faith at the time. I wanted to know about Scripture, Salvation, Baptism, and that was just the beginning. There was something inside of me that wanted something to be wrong.....bad wrong. I knew that if I couldn't find anything, I would join the Church. I didn't know when, or how, but I knew that I would.
It wasI still rembember walking to the Parish offices for the first time. It was a very strange feeling. When I walked through the door the first thing I came to was a 4ft crucifix on the left hand side of the hallway. The giftshop followed with the curved glass window filled with all types of Catholic items, statues of the Saints who had gone before, the Blessed Mother, Rosaries, books....I simply couldn't belive that I was actually going through with this. In some senses I felt as though I was having an affair, something that had to be hidden and kept from the light. After all, at this time, I was still a Reformed Presbyterian and I didn't NEARLY understand the conflict that would be coming on that front--and that was a good thing. Msgr. Reed and I began with a prayer, he crossed himself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and I just sat there wondering what was going to come next and what he was really thinking...and why was I here, now. Remember at this time I really didn't understand yet about Sacraments, the Eucharist, or any other of the details of Catholic theology but I was hungry and wanted to know. The first thing we started off with was the Scripture. What was the Catholic view of the Bible? Why did I want to know this? Remember, from my background the Bible was the final authority of our faith. Was it just a "good book", A "guide book", or was it the Word of God? And what about all these extra books? Why does the Catholic Bible have 73 books instead of 66? Who added them?
What I found out is that the Catholic Church does believe that the Bible is the Word of God: Inspired, Infallible and authoritative. More than that though, I found out that the Catholic Faith is like a three legged stool. The Scripture cannot stand and was not designed to stand on its own as a sole foundation of our faith. Christ came to establish the Church, not a book! As is stated in 1Tim 3:15
But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
Why didn't St Paul state that the Bible was the "pillar and foundation of truth"? Because it was not the way it was designed by our Lord. For the first 4oo years of the Church, there was no defined Bible and there were all sorts of gospels floating around that were being read. It was at that time that the Catholic Church assembled the Bible that we have today-all 73 books. (back to that later). Prior to that time, how did Christians live? How did they develop their theology and their beliefs? It was by the Sacred Tradition that was passed down orally. Listen to what Jesus told his disciples in John 14:24-26:
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. 25 "I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
As Christians, have we really understood what Christ was saying here? Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and remind them of everything that He had taught them. Then we read from St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:
2 I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.
Tradition in this sense is not bad or evil, or legalistic. The Tradition we were speaking of is the action of the Holy Spirit guiding all the Apostles and their successors with the True Faith of His Church. This is what guided the Early Church, not the 73 books of the Bible. And this Truth still guides us today; Truth did not get lost, and He did not lose control over his Church. Christianity was not hijacked by the Catholic Religion and Luther and the Reformers didn't "rescue" the Church. To believe this is to doubt the power and Sovreignty of the Holy Spirit and insinuates than Our Lord had no idea what he was saying.
It was in this meeting that I also found out about the third leg on this stool, the Magisterium, or the Teaching Authority of the Church. This is how God speaks and guides us today. The Holy Spirit continues to guide his Body through the Holy Father to teach and to guide us. Therefore all three supports must be there to balance our Faith: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Teaching authority of the Church: In this I saw balance. No man can give his own private revelation from God without the ability to back it up and test it. Scripture is not open to private interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20-21
Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, 21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.
Finally I found out why Catholic Bibles have those extra books! When the Scriptures were cannonized in 382, there were 73 books in the Bible. (Including 1 & 2 Macabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and certain portions of Esther and Daniel). If you look at the very first Edition of the KJV, 1594 all these books are still included. The reason that they are not in the Protestant Bible is for the simple fact that the Reformers REMOVED them, they were not ADDED by the Catholic Church. Why did they remove them? Who gave them the authority to do so? The answer to the 2nd question is that I don't know. The reason to the first question is as follows: They were written in Greek. When the Jews met at the Council of Jamnia, they accepted their cannon of scripture and they would not accept anything that was written in Greek. Another reason they rejected the books was simply becuase some of the new Jewish Christians were using these books to convert the Jews to the Christian faith. Since the Jews didn't accept the books, the Reformers decided that there must be something to that and followed their lead and pull them out as well. In addition, these books also have references to very Catholic doctrines that they were separating themselves from. (very short explanation) Therefore, from that point forward, the Protestant Bible remains with only 66 books.
And this was just the first meeting.........