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I'm a happy guy today because I just received my New Catholic Answer Bible. It's from Fireside Catholic Publishing, located at Wichita, KS, just 90 miles from me. It's the New American Bible, Revised Edition translation and it's just a really great Bible, with a genuine leather binding. Some of the things I like about it is that it has the gilt edging on the pages and while it doesn't have tabs for the different books that stick out, there are "tabs" marked on each page, and it really makes it easier to find the books. In the back, after Revelations, it has the Weekday Lectionary Readings and the 3 Year Cycle of Readings for Sundays and Holy Days, and a step-by-step explanation of the various parts of the Mass. The pages, while made of a thin paper, are very sturdy, with large easy to read type, and, of course, it has the New American Bible commentary, which is a very good commentary, except for a couple instances, which just about every Catholic knows about. But the thing that makes this a really great Bible are the insert pages that answer common Protestant objections to Catholicism. It even has a directory of the questions in the front of the Bible.
As an example, I just randomly opened it to one of the Answer inserts, and found the following:
Why do Catholics make the sign of the Cross
The prophet Ezekiel has a vision in which he sees great sins committed by God’s people. But at the urging of a heavenly messenger, the godly men and women who lament the wickedness of their people are marked with an “X” on their foreheads. Bearing that mark, they will be spared the divine judgment that is to come (see Ezekiel 9:1-7).
St. John’s vision in Revelations includes a close parallel to this scenario. Before the angels of judgment are allowed to devastate a wicked world, a seal is placed on the foreheads of “the servants of God” (see 7:1-3; 9:4). Later, this seal is described as the name of Christ and of the Father (see 14:1).
In light of these parallels, many early Christian teachers not surprisingly saw in Ezekiel’s vision a foreshadowing of the ancient Christian rite of Baptism. Baptism, after all, is given “for the forgiveness of . . . sins” (Acts 2:38), so that those who have been forgiven may escape the wrath of God (see 1 Thes. 5:9). In addition, the baptismal rite included – as it still does today – the making of a cross with blessed oil on the foreheads of those baptized. (In the Greek version of Ezekiel, the mark is actually the letter tau, which was written more like an upright cross.)
The corresponding scene in St. John’s vision most likely reflects the Christian baptismal ceremony of his day. This rite included (again, as it still does) the spoken words, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). The Sign of the Cross on the forehead may also have been part of the rite by that time. As early as the second century, making the Sign of the Cross was a common and well-established custom.
Today, this gesture is usually made by drawing the hand from forehead to breast and then from shoulder to shoulder. When Catholics apply holy water to themselves with the Sign of the Cross upon entering a church, they are recalling their baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” With the ancient Christians, they use the gesture at other times as well, such as when they begin and end prayers. Each time, they point to Christ’s cross, the Holy Trinity, and the need to sanctify every action.
This is certainly an excellent Bible for any Christian, but especially for any Catholic interested in apologetics.