Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catholic Saint on the Importance of Scripture

The Pope's recent apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, (through which I am reading, albeit slowly), reminds me 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!

I know the stereotype is that Catholics aren't interested in Scripture. In many places and at many times the stereotype holds true. I would add that many Protestants are also not interested in Scripture, but the point at present is not to argue apologetics. My point at present is that, 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).


Anonymous said...

The Word in the flesh calls us to venerate His written and unwritten Word.

Matthew Kennel said...

This is so true, Dr. Bergsma. And yet, for most people, popes and saints are not enough to get them to read scripture. I think, though, that we as individual Catholics on fire for our faith might be enough! I was reminded of this by the wonderful series by Fr. Michael Sweeney, O.P. on authority in the church (see here for the relevant article, which is a real treat ) "Practically speaking," he said, "you yourself are the presence of the Church to your families, your friends, your co-workers. You have the responsibility to represent the Church to them, and you are therefore given the authority to do so."

This is why I have taken two steps: 1) I am reading all of Scripture and the Catechism this liturgical year ( and 2) I am encouraging all my friends, especially those studying for the priesthood, to do the same. I know that few have been better than you yourself in encouraging Catholics to read Scripture, and I hope that many others will follow your example, not only of reading Scripture, but of encouraging others to do the same!

kentuckyliz said...

Most Catholics just hear their parish priest...and we know how wishy-washy most local parish life is, in many places.

But--I have to give credit--the average Catholic hears a lot of Scripture, set like a jewel in its proper setting--the Holy Mass. Not just the readings, but the prayers of the entire liturgy--and the revision of the Missale Romanum is aligning the English form much closer to the direct Scripture quotes. A visiting Protestant, hearing our new liturgy starting in Advent 2011, would think, don't they realize all their prayers are direct Scripture quotes?