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"Herod's death and the census

Hello Fr. Echert, I have recently read about a seeming discrepancy regarding the year of Jesus's birth. As we know, it is described to happen before Herod's death, and also at the time of the Empire-wide census which occured when Quirinius was governing Syria. I have read that there is a decade-long interval between the two events and feel at a loss...
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 9/6/2008:

The Gospel of St. Luke records:

2:1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2:2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin'i-us was governor of Syria. 2:3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 2:5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 2:7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

As a well-educated Gentile writer of the ancient world and in acco"

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    “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16: 18-19)

    “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed.” (Romans 13: 1-2)

    “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)

    Catholic Encyclopedia

    From the dawn of Christianity, Friday has been signalized as an abstinence day, in order to do homage to the memory of Christ suffering and dying on that day of the week. [a] The "Teaching of the Apostles" (viii), [b] Clement of Alexandria (Strom., VI, 75), and [c] Tertullian (De jejun., xiv) make explicit mention of this practice. . . [d] Pope Nicholas I (858-867) declares that abstinence from flesh meat is enjoined on Fridays. . . [e] Innocent III (1198-1216) . . . said that this obligation is suppressed as often as Christmas Day falls on Friday (De observ. jejunii, ult. cap. Ap. Layman, Theologia Moralis, I, iv, tract. viii, ii).
    Code of Canon Law

    Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.

    Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

    Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

    Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

    Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

    2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis [self-discipline, asceticism] and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.

    Even Pope Paul VI's variance in Paenitemini of 17 February, 1966 did not abrogate (terminate) the obligation to at least substitute another form of penitential practice. (Emphases herein have been added)