Monday, December 27, 2010

St. Josemaria Escriva on the Importance of Scripture

Catholic Bible

A reading of the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, reminds us of how frequently the popes, the fathers, the doctors, and the saints have urged us Catholics to read and reflect on Scripture—and how sluggish our response has been!  

Verbum Domini has been released by the Vatican and can be read in its entirety here in PDF format OR
online @ The Vatican Website.

I know the stereotype is that Catholics aren’t interested in Scripture. In many places and at many times the stereotype holds true. I hope this is changing!  But if Catholics are not interested in Scripture, it is not from a lack of exhortation from the most authoritative representatives of the faith.
St. Josemaria Escriva, a recently canonized saint, is a good example of the reverence for Scripture that lies at the heart of the faith:
“When you open the Holy Gospel,” St. Josemaria wrote, “think that what is written there—the words and deeds of Christ—is something that you should not only know, but live. Everything, every point that is told there, has been gathered, detail-by-detail, for you to make it come alive in the individual circumstances of your life.
“God has called us Catholics to follow him closely. In that holy Writing you will find the Life of Jesus, but you should also find your own life there.
“You too, like the Apostle, will learn to ask, full of love, ‘Lord, what would you have me do?’ And in your soul you will hear the conclusive answer, ‘The Will of God!’
“Take up the Gospel every day, then, and read it and live it as a definite rule. This is what the saints have done” (The Forge, §754). 
Perhaps the greatest advice I took to heart was to make Scripture a habit. Whether you want to incorporate baby steps or make a grand leap into your Bible here are some suggestions for weaving more and more Scripture into your days . . . .
  • Make it a habit to read the readings of the day or just the Gospel reading of the day.
  • Pre-read Sunday's readings and then utilize the Navarre commentaries or chose a trusted commentary online to help you prepare for the next Sunday
  • Look up your "Birthday Scriptures" and be sure to read all around it so you understand the context. For example - if your birthday is on May 8 you would look up chapter 5 verse 8 in the books of the Bible. Find the one(s) that you really like and memorize it (them)
  • Read the parables
  • Read Scripture with the Early Church Fathers and look up the Bible passages cited.
  • Participate in a solid Catholic Bible Study like Great Adventure or Epic (more Church History but incorporates Scripture) Stay away from Cornerstone! 
  • Read the Gospels with the help of the Navarre Bible commentaries
  • Pray the Liturgy of the Hours / Divine Office


nannon31 said...

I long ago as a cradle Catholic read the Bible cover to cover, then the Summa T. cover to cover, then most of Augustine. How did I escape the typical pattern? Only by a special grace.
The magisterium sends two contradictory messages in fragmentary moments and they cancel each other out:
A.) Read the Bible but B.) the Church alone interprets the Bible.
The problem with the second message is that it deflates the Catholic from reading the Bible. Why bother reading if your intrepretation may be incorrect? The Church does not take pains to explain that She has interpreted very few Biblical passages authoritatively at a de fide level. Most Catholics don't know that.

Soutenus said...

I beg to differ, the Magisterium sends one clear message. You have broken it into two (completely compatible) parts. Since truth is not relative there can only be one interpretation of Scripture. Personal interpretation w/o the aid of our Mother Church leads to many different interpretations. Case in point: the thousands of different protestant sects that exist today.

Many "pains" have been taken to help Catholics in Bible study. The CCC is one great example as is the Navarre Bible.

Angela_Hebert said...

The Cathechism of the Catholic Church says that Scripture must be interpreted "in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written." Therefore, we get three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Holy Spirit:

1. Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole Scripture. Even though Scripture seems to be different based on writing styles, etc. and even though Scripture may seem contradictory, God's plan is only one.

2. Read the Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church -- the "pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)

3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith. The Catholic exegete, conscious of his faith, recognizes the intimate relationship between Scripture and Tradition; he strives to explain Scriptural passages in such a way that the sacred writers will not be set in opposition to one another or to the faith and teaching of the Church.

(CCC 111-114)

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