Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Catholics Immersed In Scripture

Everyone needs to read Pope Benedict XV's Encyclical Letter Commemorating the Fifteenth Centenary of the Death of St. Jerome, Spiritus Paraclitus. It sets up St. Jerome as the model for Scripture study. This is a must read for all Catholics and also for anyone who has ever said that Catholics disregard the Bible! Here are some quotes from it:

In a word, then: Jerome's teaching on the superexcellence and truth of Scripture is Christ's teaching. Wherefore we exhort all the Church's children, and especially those whose duty it is to teach in seminaries, to follow closely in St. Jerome's footsteps. If they will but do so they will learn to prize as he prized the treasure of the Scriptures, and will derive from them most abundant and blessed fruit.

Now, if we make use of the "Greatest of Doctors" as our guide and teacher we shall derive from so doing not only the gains signalized above, but others too, which cannot be regarded as trifling or few. What these gains are, Venerable Brethren, we will set out briefly. At the outset, then, we are deeply impressed by the intense love of the Bible which St. Jerome exhibits in his whole life and teaching: both are steeped in the Spirit of God. This intense love of the Bible he was ever striving to kindle in the hearts of the faithful, and his words on this subject to the maiden Demetrias are really addressed to us all: "Love the Bible and wisdom will love you; love it and it will preserve you; honor it and it will embrace you; these are the jewels which you should wear on your breast and in your ears."

To return, however, to the question of the formation of Biblical students. We must lay the foundations in piety and humility of mind; only when we have done that does St. Jerome invite us to study the Bible. In the first place, he insists, in season and out, on daily reading of the text. "Provided," he says, "our bodies are not the slaves of sin, wisdom will come to us; but exercise your mind, feed it daily with Holy Scripture." And again: "We have got, then, to read Holy Scripture assiduously; we have got to meditate on the Law of God day and night so that, as expert money-changers, we may be able to detect false coin from true." For matrons and maidens alike he lays down the same rule.

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