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Church History Forum: Re: Origins of Sun Worship

by Catherine Frakas 13 Dec 2001

Re: Origins of Sun Worship QUESTION from Jeff September 2, 2001 Thank you, Mr. Hyland, for your work. Some of the most dificult questions I must address with regard to the Catholic Church are of a historical nature, and this forum helps immensely.
Now, if I may add something that I think may be of use in addition to an earlier answer of yours. It concerns the following quote.
Also it should be borne in mind that it is not so surprising that the early pagan religions had some elements of truth in them (e.g their prefigurements of baptism etc), which were later revealed in the fullness of grace when Christ came to establish the True Faith. Regarding the above quote, I would just like to add that the verity of it was affirmed by Saint Paul the Apostle, when he visited the Acropolis. He first lauded the Athenians for their sincere pursuit of the truth, and then noted an altar devoid of idols, with only the inscription: Dedicated to an Unknown God. This, he said, was meant for the one true God, and thus was a seed of truth present in this pagan religion.
God bless you, and help to reclaim the bulk (I am afraid) of our Church.
ANSWER by Q & A Staff on September 6, 2001 Dear Jeff,
Thank you for your kind words. The text of the Scripture passage you refer to is as follows (RSV):
Acts 17:22-28: So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op'agus, said: Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.' Note especially verses 26-27 which shows God put people in certain places in the hope that they would seek him out.
Vatican II's DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS (Nostra Aetate) paragraph 2 reads as follows:

From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense. It might be useful to read this document in its fullness, also the DECREE ON THE MISSION ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH (Ad Gentes ).
Thanks Jeff.
God bless,
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