Catholics and the Bible

VATICAN II & THE READING OF SCRIPTURE
 
One of my disappointments over the years is the lack of interest among parishioners in Bible study.
Since I came here, I've put on Bible study  at least twice a year  with a rather poor response. Some  years ago, we put on  an excellent series on the Acts of the Apostles. The response was disappointing.
And yet the Constitution on Divine Revelation tells us that our theology & devotional life should be centered on the Bible. (What p. 277).
 
I know that, before Vatican II, Catholics were not encouraged to read the Bible. (What p. 35).
The reason was that they might interpret it incorrectly.
And yet, to quote St. Jerome:" Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ".
 
St. Paul & SS (2Tim. 3:14-17)
Let’s see what St. Paul has to say about the reading of Scripture.
As his spiritual father,  he exhorts Timothy to persevere in proclaiming the Word of God.
He says that: "All Scripture  is inspired by God".
St. Paul goes on to day that Scripture is useful for teaching, for refuting the arguments of others and for training us in the Christian way of life.
 For Timothy & his  readers, the word  “Scripture” would have meant the Old Testament, since the New Testament was still being written.
For us today,  “Scripture” means both  the Old Testament &  the New Testament.
 
(a). Vatican II & The Reading Of Scripture
 
Vatican II’s Constitution on Divine Revelation has a special chapter  on:  "Sacred Scripture In The Life Of The Church".(p. 752).
The Council  encourages all Catholics, and I mean all Catholics, to read the Scriptures on a regular basis. No. 25).
It states that Sacred Scripture contains the Word of God and, since it is inspired, it is truly the word of God. (D. Rev. no.24, cf. M. & L. of Priests no. 13).
 
(1). Priests
 
First of all, the Council addresses all priests & others such as deacons & those involved in catechesis. It exhorts them to diligently &  frequently  study of the Scriptures.
Through the frequent reading  of Scripture, priests deacons & catechists will be able to provide the nourishment  of Scripture for their people,
 to enlighten their minds, strengthen their wills and  set their hearts on fire with the love of God. (no. 23).
 
It describes the study of  Sacred Scripture as the soul of theology.
 
The Sunday homilies & all catechesis, should be nourished & ruled by Sacred Scripture. (no. 21).
So,  the Sunday homily should be based on the Scripture readings of that particular Sunday
 
(2). Laity
 
Vatican II encourages, not only priests, deacons & catechists but all the faithful, to read the Scriptures on a regular basis. (no. 25).
            It states that Sacred Scripture contains the Word of God and, since it is inspired, it is truly the Word of God. (D. Rev. no.24).
It encourages us especially to read the 4 Gospels, because they are the principal witness for the life & Words of the Incarnate Word of God. (no. 18).
            It goes on to say that, in the Sacred Scriptures, the Father, who is in Heaven, meets his children with great love and speaks to them. (no. 21).
            The frequent reading of the Scriptures
-- enlightens our minds,
-- strengthens our faith, 
-- gives us a deeper knowledge of Christ &
-- sets our hearts on fire with the love of God. (no. 23).
What an endorsement of Sacred Scripture!
 
Vatican II ends this section by quoting the words of St. Jerome, which I’ve already quoted:
"Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ". (no. 25).
Later on, it quotes the words of St. Ambrose:
"We speak to God when we pray:
we hear him speak to us when  read the Scriptures". (no. 25).
 
Vatican II encourages us to combine prayer with the reading of Scripture – take a passage from the Bible & prayerfully reflect on it. (no. 25).
There are 3 ways of looking at a text from Sacred Scripture:
1.      What does the text actually say? –we depend on Scripture scholars for this.
We need their input if we are truly understand the Scriptures.
2.       What  does the text mean to me personally?
We do that through prayerful reflection on the text.
3.      How can I apply it to my life?  This is the most difficult.
 
Conclusion
 
I'm amazed at the lack of interest among us Catholics in reading the Bible.
This is a world-wide problem among Catholics
 
I know that, before Vatican II, Catholics were not encouraged to read the Bible, because they might interpret it incorrectly
 
Our Protestant brothers/sisters certainly  put us to shame.
Interestingly, the Constitution refers to Protestants as “our separated brethren”. (no. 122)
Isn’t that a big change!
           
How can I encourage all of you to read the Scriptures more regularly?
What must I do to get you all interested in reading & studying the Scriptures?
 
            You all know the criticism of Protestants – we Catholics do not read the Bible.
We should not read the Scriptures to please them. We should  read the Scriptures for the reasons Vatican II gives.
 
To summarize the words of the Constitution:
(1). All our catechesis & devotions should be based lon Sacred Scripture.
 
(2). In  Sacred Scripture, the Father, who is in Heaven, meets his children with great love and speaks to them. (no. 21).
 
            (3). The frequent reading of the Scriptures
-- enlightens our minds, strengthens our faith, 
-- gives us a deeper knowledge of Christ &
-- sets our hearts on fire with the love of God. (no. 23).
 
(4). If you & your children are to meet & listen to your Heavenly Father, you must read the Scriptures on a regular basis.
 
(1).  Have you any suggestions as to how we can get the average parishioner to read the Bible?
 
(2). Does the average parishioner have a Bible in his home?
 
You will find all the Documents of Vatican II on the Internet.

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