Friday 29th April 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Catholic Church And Scripture Reading

March 11, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JOHN YOUNG

I heard a priest declare in a homily that in the days before Vatican II that Scripture reading was a “no-no” for Catholics. Other Catholics, whether clerical or lay, while not going that far, believe that the Church before Vatican II didn’t encourage lay people to read the Bible.
Frank Sheed, in his book The Church and I, published in 1974, states that even the committed laity, before the Second Vatican Council, “…saw theology as all-sufficient, Scripture as a quarry from which we could dig out supporting texts” (p. 288). According to Sheed, Catholics in general simply didn’t appreciate Scripture as something that should permeate their lives and vitalize their theology.
Sheed goes further, insinuating that Rome failed to encourage Bible reading by the laity. He writes: “Pius XI did remind us of Jerome’s words [that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ] and did attach an indulgence to a quarter-hour of Scripture reading. That was something new and good; but it seems a tiny inducement to urge us away from sterility.”
That statement amazed me. Sheed himself had for many years urged Catholics to gain a close personal knowledge of Scripture, so it is strange that he hadn’t realized the Popes had done the same. Regarding indulgences: Pope Leo XIII, in 1898, had granted an indulgence of 300 days for devoutly reading the Gospels for 15 minutes, and a plenary indulgence, obtainable monthly, for daily reading of the Gospels (see Rome and the Study of Scripture, p. 29).
Benedict XV, in his encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, published in 1920, stated: “Hence, as far as in us lies, we, Venerable Brethren, shall, with St. Jerome as our guide, never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather hence food for their souls.” He continues by praising the Society of St. Jerome, which, he notes, he was himself instrumental in founding. “The object of this Society is to put into the hands of as many people as possible the Gospels and Acts, so that every Christian family may have them and become accustomed to reading them.”
Pius XII, in the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, urges the bishops to encourage “. . . all those initiatives by which men, filled with apostolic zeal, laudably strive to excite and foster among Catholics a greater knowledge of and love for the Sacred Books.” He expresses the wish that Scripture, especially the Gospels, be read daily with piety and devotion by Christian families.
In 1952 a Catholic Bible Week was organized in the United States by the Archconfraternity of Christian Doctrine, and Pius XII sent his apostolic blessing, expressing the hope that “the faithful of the United States, not only during Bible Week but subsequently as well, will give themselves in increasing numbers to a more frequent reading of the Bible” (Rome and the Study of Scripture, p. 116).
I agree with Sheed that most Catholics before Vatican II didn’t appreciate the importance of Scripture reading. Some feared it would lead lay people into error. I encountered that attitude, but was encouraged and reassured by what the Popes had said.
Most Catholics today are aware that the Church wants people to read the Bible, but most don’t realize that many Scripture scholars undermine divine Revelation by their erroneous theories. The Bible has God as its principal author, and therefore everything it teaches is true; but numerous prestigious scholars reject this, and their skeptical views filter down to lay people — in part through errors in homilies by priests who have been misled.
I heard a homilist contrast the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke to imply that they contradicted each other, whereas they are complementary but not contradictory. He said, among other points, that Luke tells us the Holy Family was in a stable, whereas Matthew says the Holy Family was in a house. (The obvious response is that whereas Luke is speaking of the night of our Lord’s birth, Matthew is speaking of the coming of the Wise Men, probably weeks later, by which time Joseph had presumably found more suitable accommodations.)
Many homilies and books cast doubt on supernatural elements in Scripture, as when diabolical possession is interpreted as mental illness or perhaps epilepsy. Prophecies are seen as being statements made after the event — as when our Lord’s prediction of the coming destruction of Jerusalem is seen as an instance of the Gospel writers putting this prophecy in His mouth after the event had occurred in AD 70.
In the earlier part of the 20th century the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) kept a close watch on the publications of Catholic biblical scholars, and issued rulings on disputed questions. As a result biblical commentaries kept well within the bounds of orthodoxy — some say they were overcautious. Then in the 1970s Pope Paul VI demoted the PBC: It had been an organ of the Magisterium, but now became merely an advisory body.
I believe there is an urgent need for Rome to scrutinize more closely the writings of Scripture scholars, for many are undermining God’s Revelation in the Bible. Ironically, at a time when most Catholics are aware of the Church’s call to read Scripture, too many of the scholars who should be guiding them are leading them astray.
A close, personal knowledge of Scripture is important, and especially of the Gospels: There we see God in a human nature – working, suffering, teaching, associating with the people around Him. The more familiar we become with God’s book, the Bible, the more deeply we come to know and love the faith.
Frank Sheed’s book To Know Christ Jesus is an excellent guide to Jesus in the Gospels; it is the result of long years of meditation by Sheed on the Person of Christ and illustrates vividly how very nourishing the Gospels can be for our relationship with Jesus.
In Scripture reading, though, we need to remember St. Peter’s warning to the first Christians, some of whom had misinterpreted St. Paul’s Epistles: “There are some things in them [Paul’s letters] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
While the prevalent problem today is skepticism about the historical reliability of Scripture, some Catholics tend to the opposite extreme, taking as historical fact what is (or may be) symbolism. An instance of this is the over-literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis.
The solution is simple: Follow the Church’s Magisterium and those scholars who are faithful to the Magisterium. As Vatican II said: “But the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, n. 10).
The same constitution, speaking of the four Gospels, says: “Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held and continues to hold that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into Heaven” (n. 19).

+    +    +

(John Young is a graduate of the Aquinas Academy in Sydney, Australia, and has taught philosophy in four seminaries. His book The Scope of Philosophy was published by Gracewing Publishers in England in 2010. He has been a frequent contributor to The Wanderer on theological issues since 1977.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Pro-Life Group Lists Every Company Backing Planned Parenthood

A pro-life organization that has spent decades working to try to get corporations to stop giving financial donations to the Planned Parenthood abortion business has released a revised listing of companies backing the abortion giant. Life Decisions International has released…Continue Reading

Trump completes 5-state sweep; Clinton beats Sanders in most Super Tuesday III contests

Donald Trump completed a five-state sweep in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primaries, strengthening his shot at avoiding a contested convention – while Hillary Clinton scored convincing victories but was denied the same bragging rights of a primary sweep by a surprise…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Caught Again

Kentucky is suing a new Planned Parenthood clinic after Governor Matt Bevin found out that they have illegally killed 23 unborn children. The clinic knowingly operated without a license for nearly two months. The request for a license was later…Continue Reading

Top Vatican cardinals aren’t commenting on pope’s exhortation

April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the Vatican’s most senior prelates, both known for taking a strong stand for the Church’s tradition at the Synod on the Family, are declining interviews on Pope Francis’ controversial apostolic exhortation. Vatican reporter…Continue Reading

Indiana diocese: Catholic teachers must uphold Church’s moral teachings

FORT WAYNE, Indiana, April 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Catholic bishop has taken steps to reinforce Catholic identity in the schools of his diocese. Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades promulgated “The Mission of Our Catholic Schools and the Importance…Continue Reading

Abby Johnson to Georgetown: Pray for Cecile Richards because no one is beyond conversion

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – No one is beyond conversion, former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson said at Georgetown University Wednesday, just hours after Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards delivered a lecture to a packed room at…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Pro-life NFL star Matt Birk reveals real reason he skipped meeting with Obama

April 15, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When football star Matt Birk decided to quietly decline an invitation to meet President Obama after winning the 2013 Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, he said at the time that he was acting on…Continue Reading

Head of US Bishops’ news agency resigns, blames ‘far right blogosphere’

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—The editor-in-chief and director of the U.S. bishops’ official news service resigned Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference general secretary. Tony Spence, who had worked for Catholic News Service since 2004, had…Continue Reading

Scandal: More ‘Drag Shows’ at Catholic Colleges

Annual drag shows — where individuals dress up and perform as the opposite sex — have become a consistent presence on several Catholic college campuses, punctuating the spring semester with scandal and disregard for Church teaching on human sexuality. Despite…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood: Ted Cruz is ‘the biggest threat we face’

April 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Ted Cruz’s pro-life views make him the “biggest threat” Planned Parenthood faces, the abortion giant said in a fundraising email last week. Citing the Texas senator and presidential candidate’s opposition to abortion in cases of…Continue Reading

Details Released for Planned Parenthood Event at Georgetown

March 7, 2016, at 8:12 PM  |  By Adam Cassandra In a statement sent to The Cardinal Newman Society Monday night, the Archdiocese of Washington responded to the controversy surrounding the invite of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President…Continue Reading

Ted Cruz takes stand against abortion after rape: Go after the rapist, don’t kill the baby

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Texas senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has run as the most prolife candidate, and this week, Cruz once again boldly backed up his prolife credentials. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly conducted an extended…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .  

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Top Catholic Philosopher: Amoris Laetitia Will “Split the Church”

Today, 28 April, an important exclusive interview with a well-known Catholic philosopher has been published in Germany. The important statements of Professor Robert Spaemann might well indicate that the wind is turning now against the “Francis Revolution”. Spaemann – who is a personal friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI – says about Amoris Laetitia that there are some ways of interpreting the document against the continuous teaching of the Church. He then continues: However, the article…Continue Reading

Christians in Crisis: Report Details Dire Situation in Iraq and Syria

ZENIT.ORG People of all religions will miss Christians’ contribution to education, healthcare •April 28, 2016•Fr. John Flynn• With no end in sight to the fighting in Iraq and Syria the remaining Christian population continues to experience very difficult conditions. A recent report, “Salt of the Earth: Impact and Significance of the Christian Presence in Syria and Iraq during the Current Crisis,” details the significant contributions Christians have made to the region and what it stands…Continue Reading

Pope: Do We Know the Other Lesson From the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

Zenit.org At General Audience, Says There’s More to Learn Than ‘Who Is My Neighbor?’ •April 27, 2016•Kathleen Naab• We know the parable of the Good Samaritan is a lesson to teach us that we must love our neighbor, and that there’s no one in the category of non-neighbor, but beyond that, Pope Francis asked today, have we also learned the parable’s lesson that God treats us with the compassion of the Samaritan? “In the gestures…Continue Reading

Over 750,000 pledge to boycott Target for giving men access to women’s bathrooms

target

April 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—Over 750,000 people have pledged to boycott Target over the company’s new policy allowing men to use women’s bathrooms. The American Family Association, which launched the petition, says the fact that it’s generated such a large response in only five days shows how outraged Americans are. “American families are concerned about their wives and daughters being harmed by predators or voyeurs who will now have more freedom to enter women’s bathrooms,” AFA…Continue Reading

Pope to Young People: Get Back Up on Your Feet

ZENIT During Jubilee Mass for Young People, Francis Reminds Youth to Not Settle for Mediocrity •April 24, 2016•Deborah Castellano Lubov• Remember that God is always your friend, even when you let Him down. Therefore, don’t worry if you’ve fallen, get back up and start fresh. Pope Francis stressed this during his Jubilee Mass for young people this morning, reminding them that the Lord is faithful to His friends and believes in them. “Even if you…Continue Reading

If God Is Dead…

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation. “The vast majority of leading conservative writers . . . have a secular outlook on life. . . . They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.” These secular conservatives may think that “America can…Continue Reading

Being Conscientious About Conscience

By DONALD DeMARCO My earliest recollection of an explanation of conscience was when I was a young lad sitting in a movie theater and being enthralled by Walt Disney’s 1940 classic, Pinocchio. The newly carved puppet had been brought to life by the Blue Fairy. But he was still a puppet and had not been…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How To Fight Dissent”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +…Continue Reading

Luther 1517-2017 . . . Five Hundred Years Of Heresy And Doctrinal Confusion

luther

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 (Editor’s Note: This is the sixth installment in a series by Wanderer contributor Raymond de Souza on Henry VIII’s book defending the seven sacraments against Martin Luther. De Souza edited this updated version of Henry’s work, which is presented to readers in this series. (This series will appear…Continue Reading

The President, The Court, And Immigration

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO In 2014, President Barack Obama signed 12 executive orders directing various agencies in the departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security to refrain from deporting some 4 million adult immigrants illegally present in the United States if they are the parents of children born here or legally present here and…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding the question of whether Jesus after the Resurrection appeared first to His Mother, which is not mentioned in the Gospels, or to Mary Magdalene, which is mentioned, F.A. of Massachusetts called our attention to the following comments by St. John Paul II in an audience on May 21, 1997: “How could the Blessed Virgin, present in the…Continue Reading

Faith And Love

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Seventh Sunday Of Easter (YR C) Readings: Acts 7:55-60 Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20 John 17:20-26 In the Gospel reading today we hear a portion of the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in which He prays not only for His apostles, but also for those who will believe because of their word. What a wonderful thing to…Continue Reading

Five Remedies For Sorrow From St. Thomas Aquinas

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog. All rights reserved.) + + + Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that I just lost a beloved pet, Daniel, our rectory cat. Losing a pet…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Join Me For Pilgrimage To Italy: Mother Teresa’s Canonization

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Join our small group of pilgrims on a journey to Italy from September 1 through 9, 2016. Our adventure will of course be a spiritual one, but also cultural as we make stops to explore some of the major historic and beautiful cities of Italy as well as Rome for Mother Teresa’s canonization at St.…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Inquisition

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 51 In order to properly understand the historical event called the “Inquisition,” a basic, primary distinction must be made: There were three distinct inquisition tribunals in history: the Medieval Inquisition, the Roman Inquisition, and the Spanish Inquisition. Let us consider them, one by one, as their circumstances and historical contexts were very different. The…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Hugh The Great

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the 11th century, over 150 years before St. Francis of Assisi received the order from our Lord to “repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin,” the secular rulers sought to control the appointment of bishops, abbots, and even the Pope. During this period of simony and conflict, St. Hugh the Great entered…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Maria Gabriella Of Unity

By CAROLE BRESLIN Just before Italy formally entered World War I in April 1915, a poor farmer and his wife welcomed a little girl into the peaceful land of Sardinia, an island about 150 miles west of Italy. Maria Sagheddu was born on March 17, 1914, the fifth of eight children. During the war that lasted until 1918, over 1,800,000…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading