Saturday 18th April 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 2

Attention!

Our On-line Store is currently experiencing problems. If you are ordering a print edition of The Wanderer 

CLICK HERE!

American Sisters accept Vatican reforms on doctrine, theology

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2015 / 04:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a joint report marking the conclusion of a multi-year mandate for reform, members of the LCWR have agreed to corrections called for by the Vatican, and said they will…Continue Reading

Cardinal George, archbishop emeritus of Chicago, dies at 78

DEVELOPING: Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, died Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, the Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed.

We Must Pray For And Defend This Good Bishop

bishopcord

I call on all the readers here to pray and offer fasting and alms for the spiritual defense of Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco. Will San Francisco be the Alamo of the Church in these USA? Today, in the ultra-liberal…Continue Reading

Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of…Continue Reading

This teacher cannot sue the Catholic Church for firing him because he openly rejects Catholic teachings: Legal experts

OMAHA, NE, April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Legal experts agree that, if you openly flout Christian teachings, you have no right to sue a religious school for firing you – in most instances. That analysis comes after a sexually active…Continue Reading

PETITION TO POPE FRANCIS: Declare St. John Paul II “Doctor of the Church”!

johnpaul

I, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, do hereby petition our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to declare St. John Paul II Doctor of the Church. I ask that St. John Paul II, who instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, be declared Doctor of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops

April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five…Continue Reading

Obama administration: Catholic school upholding marriage is ‘sex discrimination’

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found “reasonable cause” to rule that a Catholic prep school has unlawfully discriminated against a homosexual band director formerly in the school’s employ. Mount…Continue Reading

God or Nothing

ROME, April 10, 2015 – He has said so himself, with candor: “I have the feeling that God has put me here for a short time.” Four or five years, or even less. It is natural that this disclosure of…Continue Reading

USA, 25% more priests in 2015

Good news for the American Church. 595 priests are expected to be ordained in 2015: an increase of 24.7 on the previous year. The news was announced by the United States Episcopal Conference, which nevertheless prefers to err on the…Continue Reading

Catholic school reinstates teacher suspended for defending Catholic teaching on Facebook

SOMERVILLE, NJ, April 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — A teacher suspended from a Catholic school for using Facebook to defend traditional marriage has been reinstated. Almost one month ago, Patricia Jannuzzi was suspended from Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey,…Continue Reading

Müller suggests new task for Congregation for Doctrine of Faith

The German cardinal has suggested a new area of responsibility for his dicastery: to provide the “theological structure of a pontificate” andrea tornielli vatican city In one of the numerous interviews he has given over the past few weeks focusing…Continue Reading

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 subscribe 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

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

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

(Vatican Radio)  A communique from the Holy See’s Press office on Thursday announced that Pope Francis will make an apostolic visit to three Latin American countries in early July. It said following invitations from the respective heads of state and the Catholic Bishops, the Pope will be in Ecuador from the 6-8th, Bolivia from the 8th- 10th  and Paraguay from the 10th-12th. Full details of the programme for the visit will be published at a…Continue Reading

Pope at Mass: Those who do not dialogue disobey God

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday offered the Mass at Casa Santa Marta for his predecessor, the Pope Emeritus, on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 88th birthday. “I want to remember that today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” Pope Francis said at the liturgy. “I offered the Mass for him, and I invite you to pray for him, that the Lord might sustain him and grant him much joy and happiness.” In his homily,…Continue Reading

Pope: Christians must not hoard their riches but offer them to the needy

pope753

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that Christians must not hoard their riches, but offer them in service to the needy. He was speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Taking his cue from a passage of the Acts of the Apostles that describes life in the first Christian community, Pope Francis said that a community that is renewed in the Spirit seeks harmony and endures suffering with patience. Referring to the…Continue Reading

Pope focuses on Divine Mercy in Mass for Armenians

(Vatican Radio) On Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, Pope Francis celebrated Solemn Mass for the Centenary of the Armenian Martyrdom. During the Liturgy, the Holy Father proclaimed the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church.    Pope Francis processed into the Basilica of Saint Peter flanked by the Catholicoi Karekin II and Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with the Patriarch Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX a few…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . The Artful Ploys Of The Noonday Demon

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Time, by Jean-Charles Nault, OSB (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2015), 203 pp. $16.95. Available through www.ignatiuspress.com. Some temptations are bold and brazen in their seduction, and some are subtle and artful. While the temptations of the flesh disorder the appetites and produce uncontrollable…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Can We Use Our Consciences On Contraception?”

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 chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Surveys in many countries consistently show that most Catholics believe that decisions of conscience about…Continue Reading

Protecting Freedom Of Religion

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (ZENIT made Fr. Flynn’s essay available; all rights reserved.) + + + Great Britain’s Equality and…Continue Reading

A Russian Orthodox Bishop Speaks Plainly To Ecumenists

By JAMES LIKOUDIS In a previous article (see The Wanderer, February 26, 2015, p. 6A) attention was focused on the ecclesiological views of the Metropolitan Hilarion (Aleyev) of Volokolamsk, one of the most important Russian Orthodox bishops as chairman of the Department for External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate. In an important speech delivered at…Continue Reading

Endangered Words And Phrases

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK A reader called my attention to a column by Richard Lederer from his website Verbivore. In it, Lederer offered his readers a long list of words and phrases that most older Americans will recognize right away, but will leave younger readers scratching their heads. I won’t give you his entire list;…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. In the second reading on Good Friday (Heb. 5:8-9), there is a phrase toward the end of the epistle that says: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” I am puzzled by the words “when he was…Continue Reading

The Good Shepherd

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 4:8-12 1 John 3:1-2 John 10:11-18   In the Gospel reading today we hear our Lord telling us that He is the Good Shepherd. We have all heard this many times and, in our minds, we have our own notions of what that means. We can think about…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Siena

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Catherine of Siena lived in the 14th century, a century of great upheaval and confusion in the Church. The Church celebrates her feast on April 29. She not only was a great saint, but her writings and her example were so extraordinary that she is one of the few persons who have been given the title…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… We Worship The Easter Christ In The Eucharist

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Christ is risen, Alleluia! The Lord is truly risen, Alleluia!” A blessed Easter full of joy in the graces of our risen Lord to you and your families. During the “three days” of the sacred Triduum, this year I received an email note from a parishioner: “I went to church with my mother on Holy…Continue Reading

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 Did Jesus Christ, Son of God and Redeemer of mankind, found a visible Church? Simple logic indicates that either He did, or He didn’t. He could not have founded a visible Church for some and an invisible church for others. It cannot be both ways. It is irrational to accept the relativistic idea…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anselm

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anselm was born in France near the Swiss Alps around 1033. At the age of 15, he wished to enter religious life by joining a monastery. Sadly, his influential father was so against it that the monastery refused to accept him. This so discouraged the youth that he drowned his sorrows in worldly pursuits. He deeply…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marguerite D’Youville

By CAROLE BRESLIN By 1701 the European colonies in North America had expanded beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The Anglo population in the English American colonies had reached 275,000. The French had recently established a colony in Detroit. Catholics, however, were persecuted as Massachusetts passed a law ordering all Roman Catholic priests to leave or face execution. New York passed a…Continue Reading