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March 6, 1998     The Message
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March 6, 1998

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1998 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 13 i , The gospel-of Thomas By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN Catholic News Service past months I have heard refer- es to the Gospel "according to , here really such a Gospel? hy is it not included in the New Testament, 0r &apos;t w ^ ,- near more about it? Who decided s auld not be in the Bible? (Indiana) is a Gospel of Thomas, but question first. Why were some in the Scriptures and others not? answer is simple. We believe gui of the Holy Spirit, the com- in Jesus gradually realized to b " ' ..... Wl ' e m the canon, the offioal lich Would constitute the standard or Kn k elief and life. !rs, Gospels and other writings about tchings of Jesus passed back and forth" ly d :ches. Eventually, by a kind of on, certain of them were recognized ey provided a norm or model for any Stiar tith or church. he year 400, popes and councils had )1 list. Confusions remained, however, until the Council of Trent (1546) identified those books to be accepted as the Catholic Church's sacred, canonical Scriptures. As I said, it sounds simple. In reality the process was not so neat. For one thing, a number of suppos- edly significant documents were just "lost." At least one letter of his own, which St. Paul mentions in I Corinthians 5:3, simply disappeared somewhere along the line. The same is true of a document containing quota- tions from Jesus in Aramaic, supposedly written by an apostle. Other writings encountered opposition because they did not seem to meet the criterion of origin with the apostles, which was considered necessary for acceptance. Even in those first centuries, for example, leading Christian scholars already questioned whether Hebrews and Revelation were really written respec- tively by Paul and the apostle John. The fact that the original forms of the Gospels later underwent changes and additions further com- plicated 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 they wrote, also inspired the churches, the communi- ties of faith, as they discerned and chose which "sacred" writings would constitute the norm of Christian discipleship. Several early Christian Gospels are not included in the canon of the, New Testament. Perhaps the most famous, at least today; is the one referred to as the Gospel of Thomas. This gospel is quite unlike the four we know, con- sisting solely of 114 "sayings" of the "living Jesus." Written most likely before the year 100, its exis- tence had been known for centuries, through refer- ences and occasional quotes in other documents. The discovery of the entire text in 1945, however, in an ancient library along the Nile in northern Egypt, is a significant archeological 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 sev- eral publications. If you read it, however, don't look for it to have the interest or the impact of the four Gospels in our New Testament. A free brochure answering questions Catholics ask about the sacrament of penance is available by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope to Father John Dietzen, Holy Trinity Church, 704 N. Main St., Bloomington, Ill. 61701. Questions for this column should be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address. Scheller ,has led her to Catholicism, Natural Family Planning HES covered more than their agricul-" She was attracted to the old tra- staff writer ture. She discovered their belief ditions offered by the Mennonites. in Jesus. "I wanted to wear simple clothes S "I was interested in who he. and live more austerely." arney from was." She was impressed by the California She found, "He was some- commitment that the Mennonite to south- body who would stand up for leaders took in sewing their pen- what was right. The Amish and ple. "It was phenomenal. They gerlook uncovers Mennonites also stand up for really did share their resources." ch has taken her what is right, and they got that The Mennonite religion was )f the Mennonite strength'from Christ." satisfying to her, yet it wasn't. . to COnversion to An incident in college accel- Her husband Ken kept "trying :atse of its teach- erated her quest. A friend tried to tell me he was missing the Ucl 't. to commit suicide in Scheller's Eucharist. He kept trying to tell ised in the Bay room. "We met to study, and she me that when they say it's just an Shewasbap_ took a jar, smashed it, and cut emblem in the Mennonite church, lig as connec- . her wrist. I held her wrist and that in the Catholic church it's the * . called 911. A week later, I true presence. It's the bodyand : blood of Christ." One Sunday, "when the ,_ , minister held up the matzo th t point, I had to know: Is cracker and said 'This is just an emblem,' a tear rolled  ;- "e: ' a God and does he love me? down my husband's cheek. "Then, I realized there was -< adied COnserva. received the message that she something there. I knew there at Berkley, she must be something there and I -,i:i o the Amish "At that point, I had to knew there would be changes. Stlesty of farm- had killed herself. ttracted by their know: Is there a God and does That night, I cried and cried. " -' .... i he love me?" 'q knew it would  change-- [ar and the so I When she graduated from to go to Catholicism  and the dto find Some Berkley in 1989, she felt called to Eucharist would damage my whole tn aauch faith work with inner-city children, life. You either believe in the 'rrn. She was hired, sight-unseen, by Eucharist or you don't, and I knew _.- F, ;g r0 began the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. it would dange my wholelife."   " and dis- When she arrived in New York, She attended an Ash Wednesday ' , her boss invited her to attend a service in a Catholic church and  - Mennonite church. "couldn't find anything that - _. She began visiting Amish corn- was heretical to the Mennonites. 11111[ell810,1 munities in nearby Pennsylvania. i was looking with a critical Soozi Scheller and her daughter Hannah Illel[lCStO ' "I fell in love even more with eye." I I I I IIB 0[ t]lO those people, and within a year, I She started RCIA, and began back to Evansville and joined totally full person. --Qlly 0r lllght, made a commitment to the reading. She found comfort in Resurrection Church on Evans- "Decisions about havingchii- Mennonite church." the writings of Mother Teresa. ville's westside, dren are most important deci- l|t  When her landlady, a devout She connected with St. Mary's sions we can make in our lives. q ' I "   Haubstadt i Catholic, took her to "chapel for Medical Center, Evansville, and i'm glad to help couples make 1;i k "' adoration, then I could accept is now a practitioner-intern with informed decisions and to sup- .,  ^v  Carpet, Inc. Christ in the Eucharist." Natural Family Planning. port the Church too." ' 4 Watll:mpot * Custom Cdtbtrtot$ "l 't [ 254. Paint & Sunoene= Floorcoverngs She entered the Catholic kmow how fulfilling She believ Natural Family ddto,, 404E. II,.6$.IutIadLIN47369 churchon Easterin 1995. Natural Family Planning has Planning is the "txt kept sret :/_i (el2) 7"983 The Schelle recently moved been for me, to be treated as a in the Catholic Church.'" L , " J I t