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Daily Catholic Question

What is the Gospel of Thomas?

The Gospel of Thomas is one of 300 Gnostic writings discovered in December 1945, at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. This writing exists completely only in the Coptic language; there are three fragments of it in Greek.

According to Anthony Saldarini in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, of the 114 sayings of this gospel (division made by modern scholars), 79 of them have some parallel in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke which, with the Gospel of John, are called canonical. They belong to the canon or list of New Testament writings.

The Gospel of Thomas is called apocryphal because it is not in the New Testament. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is also in this category.

Gnostics were people who relied on secret knowledge; gnosis is the Greek word for "knowledge." Special teachers enabled Gnostics to hand on secret information not intended for everyone. In that general sense, Gnostics could be pagan, Jewish, or Christian.

Christian Gnostics claimed that Jesus wanted only a few of his followers to have the teachings they possessed. This knowledge was handed on by Gnostic teachers.

The mainstream Christian community answered the Gnostic challenge by saying that Jesus intended bishops, successors of the apostles, as reliable teachers about him. They also said that the Christian community considered as inspired only the canonical books in the New Testament and the Old Testament.

The Scriptures were given to a faith community (Old Testament to the Jews, New Testament to Christians). They should be read with that in mind. If we trust those faith communities enough to tell us which writings are inspired by God, should we not also trust them to interpret them?

These Gnostic gospel texts, as well as more background, are probably available at your public library.

Click here for the rest of today's answer

Sunday, April 21, 2013
Daily Catholic Question for 4/20/2013 Daily Catholic Question for 4/22/2013


Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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