Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Catholics Do Read, Study, and Meditate on Holy Scripture!

Time to bust a myth!

There is a myth out there that Catholics do not read the Bible.  That Catholics get a Bible for Baptism, or Communion, or Confirmation, or Matrimony and then they find a place for it on a shelf somewhere.

This is not the case for many, many individuals that love to be known as Catholics.  I believe many of you reading today are examples of Bible reading Catholics that love to read, study and meditate on Holy Scripture.  In fact many of your blogs' names were inspired from scripture verses.

Here are some miscellaneous reasons why I read, study, and mediate on the Bible often, several times a day actually, besides what scripture I hear proclaimed while attending Mass or Divine Liturgy (Eastern Rite).
  • My Mom used Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) as a form of very reasonable daycare, and week-long sanity breaks during the summer; VBS's usually have some excellent cheap toy motivational prizes for scripture passage memorization.
  • Seeing "Jesus of Nazareth" as young girl inspired me to read the four gospel accounts of the Passion, and then the rest of the Gospels.
  • My Dad started us reading the Bible together one summer.  I don't think we made it out of Exodus as a family, but still, it was a good beginning.
  • During each period of emotional trial whether triggered by grief or relationship stress, I turn to the Bible.  Not always first place I turned for help (regretfully) but when I do turn to God's Word for help, it is there, HE is there and I am helped.
  • More recently, was inspired that Sarah Palin said she reads the Bible first thing in the morning and last thing before she goes to bed because she wants to hear what God wants to tell her.  This is unrelated to my opinions about her politically.  It is just she did inspire me, because at the time I read that she read her Bible twice a day, it was two times more a day than I was reading it!
  • Even more recently, one of our priests read the excerpt at the end of this post from St. John Chrysostom during a homily.  Note that St. John Chrysostom lived between 347-407 and how relevant his examples are to what you are living through today!  In case you weren't familiar, Chrysostom means golden-mouthed.  People would sit on logs and listen to him preach for 2 hours and then get into a mild uproar when he would stop because they wanted to hear more!  The priest also explained that the Bible is the handbook for living.  It has practical advice and commandments, new and old, for how to live as disciples of Christ our Savior and King.  
  • I love that Jesus is our Our King!  (Just makes me happy and want to give that thought its own bullet.)
  • Finally, I am in a Moms-In-Touch prayer group at my kids non-denominational Christian School.  I have to confess a bit of a sin of Catholic pride when one mentioned, "I am really surprised how well you know your Bible.  I haven't met many Catholics who do." 
What are some motivations you have had that either inspired you to more regularly reading the Bible, or reasons you continue to regularly turn to God's Word?  Please share in the comments, as it would be edifying to myself and other readers.  

If you want to see a few beautiful posts on favorite scriptures, Google in blogs "Three Favorite Scripture Verses" as there was a MEME for this last month that yielded some great verses and reflections.  Many of the authors in the Community of Catholic Bloggers participated in that MEME.

St. John Chrysostom says laypeople must read Scripture more regularly than monks because Bible study corrects the harmful effects of life's circumstances on our spirituality.  (Paraphrasing Bert Ghezzi from "Saints on Scripture" in The New Jerusalem Bible: Saints Devotional Edition.)

I AM ALWAYS encouraging you to pay attention not only to what is said here in church, but also, when you are at home, to continue constantly in the practice of reading the divine Scriptures .... For let not anyone say to me those silly, contemptible words,
  • "I'm stuck at the courthouse all day."
  • "I'm tied up with political affairs."
  • "I'm in an apprentice program."
  • "I've got a wife."
  • "I'm raising kids."
  • "I'm responsible for a household."
  • ''I'm a businessman."
  • "Reading the Bible isn't my thing. That's for those who are set apart, for those who have made the mountaintops their home, who have a way of life without interruptions."
What are you saying, manIt's not your business to pay attention to the Bible because you are distracted by thousands of concerns? Then Bible reading belongs more to you than to the monks! For they do not make as much use of the help of the divine Scriptures as those who always have a great many things to do.... But you are always standing in the line of battle and are constantly being hit, so you need more medicine. For not only does your spouse irritate you, but your son annoys you, and a servant makes you lose your temper.  An enemy schemes against you, a friend envies you, a neighbor insults you, a colleague trips you up. Often a lawsuit impends, poverty distresses, loss of possessions brings sorrow. At one moment success puffs you up; at another, failure deflates you. Numerous powerful inducements to anger and anxiety, to discouragement and grief, to vanity and loss of sense surround us on every side. A thousand missiles rain down from every direction. And so we constantly need the whole range of equipment supplied by Scripture....
Since many things of this kind besiege our soul, we need the divine medicines, so that we might treat the wounds we already have, and so that we might check beforehand the wounds that are not yet, but are going to be, from afar extinguishing the missiles of the devil and repelling them through the constant reading of the divine Scriptures.  For it is not possible, not possible for anyone to be saved who does not constantly have the benefit of spiritual reading.


  1. Colleen,
    Excellent post. I love your list of why you are inspired to read and meditate on Scripture. I think one reason this myth about Catholics not reading the Bible exists is because there was a period in time when I believe Catholics were told by some priests not to do so for fear that they would interpret the Scripture their own and perhaps erred way. That age has passed, praise God. We have the Magesterium to keep us straight about Church teaching and the Church Document on reading Scripture-Verbum Domini (Word of God).
    As for myself, I believe that the encounter I had with Christ upon my return to my faith was because I prayerfully read Scripture in the days leading to it and since.
    Sorry for the post-like comment :) Once I start talking about scripture I can't stop myself!
    God bless!

  2. Karinann, I love your post-like comment! Prayerfully reading scripture, is also excellent reminder. It isn't just reading, it is prayerfully reading and considering what it is God has to say to us.
    The reference to the teaching of the Magesterium is also helpful. I think that is why I particularly like The Ignatius Study Bible because Scott Hahn actually incorporates reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the commentary.

  3. Great post, Colleen! Most Catholics I know read the Bible - I know I do! Thanks for bringing up this subject and for sharing your own reasons for reading Scripture. God bless!

  4. Sorry - I was updating my blogroll and used my other profile. The comment above is from me, The beautiful Gate, Mary :)

  5. Well, Mary, I miss seeing your joyful face beside your comment, but here I have a reminder to pray the novena today! I have been very much making use of your Sacred Heart Novena post!

  6. Thank you for your comment on my survivor blog. Much appreciated AND needed.
    Great post. I learned to appreciate scripture first when I was a little girl and I would read the Bible pretending I was the minister! After converting to the Catholic Church, I was hungry to know everything but I think my true love for scripture was when I started attending bible study and learned so much. Also the Charismatic prayer group I attended for a few years. Reading scripture was part of the meeting. God bless!

  7. My motivation for reading the bible is pretty simple. I grown in my faith to a point where I have a focus on my actions, and question my motives, and generally ask myself in many circumstances WWJD, in one way or another. Then I read a comment somewhere which asked: How can you wish to be like Jesus, if you do not know Him. And where you get to know Him is in the bible.

    That cinched things for me. I read often, and my own technique is to put myself into the position of each character of the passage I read, asking myself: What is he thinking or doing (am I like that?)? What is God saying he should thinking or doing (am I like that?)? And most importantly, WHY? I want to read scripture, and pray, to not just imitate the man Jesus, but to learn the "why" of His actions, the spiritual side of Jesus, and learn to act with similar motives.