Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Things to do for the Year of Faith:3. Read the Bible

The third of my list of things to do for the Year of Faith was read the Bible.

I'm not suggesting you read the whole thing in a year (that's a worthy objective for monks, but most of us don't have enough time).

Just refresh your memory on what each book is about, and dip into a few key chapters or sections of it, ideally each day, but at least each week.

Knowledge of Scripture is essential

Knowledge of Scripture, particularly what the Gospels actually say (as opposed to the soft soap version most are familiar with that avoids all the 'hard sayings'), has fallen to an appalling low amongst Catholics.

In part, in my view, that is because the Novus Ordo lectionary tries to load too much in, with the net result that Catholics aren't even familiar with that core of Sunday Gospels set for the traditional Mass.

But the other, far bigger problem is the prevalence of rationalist and modernist interpretations of Scripture that denude it of any real content.

How to read Scripture

A key challenge for the Year of Faith then, is to start recapturing a genuinely Catholic reading of the Bible.  Scripture didn't come down to us out of thin air as some protestants seem to believe.  Rather it grew out of and was transmitted down to us by a living community of faith.

To make sense of the Bible, we have to read it in the light of the broader context of the Tradition passed down to us, and captured particularly in the liturgy, the writings of the Fathers, and the teaching of the Magisterium.

The first key to the Bible is the interpretation the Church gives it in the liturgy - by assigning texts to particular feasts; by placing related texts together; and in the assignment of particular books of the Bible to particular seasons in the context of the Divine Office.  The Bible reading plan I most like broadly follows the traditional flow of the Divine Office.  Right now, for example, it has us reading I Maccabees.

The second key is the writings of the Fathers, are there are now some good editions of key texts available in English, and even online for free.  One of the most useful resources, though, I would suggest is the Ancient Christian Commentaries series that provides an anthology of Patristic texts arranged by Bible chapter.

For Magisterial texts tied to chapters (as well as some Patristic and other sources) the Congregation for the Clergy's Biblia Clerus site is worth a look.

A plan

The reading plan I linked to above, at New Liturgical Movement, is not, I have to admit, terribly user friendly.  For a starter, it uses French abbreviations for the names of books, although one can generally work it out and cross check by looking at the number of chapters.

Accordingly, each month I'll try and provide a quick English summary of which books the plan suggests reading, and supplement that with some notes on those particular books of the Bible, and any good Patristic or other sources on them.

Happy reading! 

No comments: