A Bible in Every Catholic Home
IF YOU are a Roman Catholic, do you have a Bible in your home? Not just a missal or a Psalter, but the entire Bible, from its first book, Genesis, to its final one, Apocalypse? But you may well ask, ‘Does my church allow me to have one?’ Yes, it does.
In his encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu” (“Under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” 1943), Pope Pius XII expressed his wish that men “apply themselves more devoutly to know and to meditate on the Sacred Scriptures . . . for, as St. Jerome says: ‘To ignore the Scriptures is to ignore Christ.’”
Among the documents resulting from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) is one entitled “Divine Revelation” (Dei Verbum, in Latin). Paragraph 22 of this document says: “Easy access to sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful . . . the word of God should be available at all times.”
More important than these human sources, however, is the encouragement found in the Bible itself to read the Word of God. Open your Bible and locate the second letter of the apostle Paul to 2 Timothy, chapter three, verses 16 and 17. According to the Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible, these verses read: “All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.”
INDIFFERENCE TO BIBLE READING LAMENTED
Many Catholics have taken this encouragement and have begun reading the Word of God. But others have been slow to respond. Roman Catholic Bible translator Monsignor Ronald A. Knox expressed his sorrow at this: “In my experience, the laity’s attitude towards the Bible is one of blank indifference, varied now and again by one of puzzled hostility.” But why is this true?
Because indifference to Bible reading permeates the Catholic clergy. Monsignor Knox continues: “When I used to go round preaching a good deal, and would ask the P[arish] P[riest] for a Bible to verify my text from, there was generally an ominous pause of twenty minutes or so before he returned, banging the leaves of the sacred volume and visibly blowing on the top. The new wine of the gospel, you felt, was kept in strangely cobwebby bottles.” Of course, if the Catholic clergy are indifferent to the Bible, most of the laity will follow suit.
It is true that there has been some encouragement given to Catholic priests and educators to use the Bible more frequently, but very little has been done to follow up on it. How often have you heard your priest encourage the reading of the Bible?
Nevertheless, God has provided his inspired Word so that people might read it and thus become “fully equipped and ready for any good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17, Jerusalem Bible) How good it would be for every Catholic to make full use of this divinely provided gift!
Individual Catholics may prefer a Bible translation prepared by scholars of their own church. There are a number of modern Roman Catholic versions from which to choose. In English these include The Jerusalem Bible, the Knox translation, The New American Bible and The Common Bible. These versions enhance understanding by employing up-to-date language, eliminating many archaic terms that would be unintelligible to most modern readers.
IS THE BIBLE TOO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?
But even with modern translations some have a problem. Catholic author Dom Celestin Charlier pinpoints it: “Too many people allow themselves to be put off by the first difficulty they meet. They complain that they do not understand and so give up before they have really started.”
But is the Bible really too difficult to understand? Must one be specially educated to appreciate the truths contained in God’s Word? Not at all.
Concerning Peter and John, two of Jesus’ twelve apostles, we read: “They [the rulers, elders and scribes of the Jews] were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen.”—Acts 4:13, Jerusalem Bible.
“Uneducated laymen.” Those were the persons who walked with Jesus, and whom he trained and sent out to teach others. They understood the Word of God correctly. You can, too, if you do not give up.
WHAT ABOUT INTERPRETATION?
But some individuals ask: ‘Is not the Bible open to many interpretations? If I were to read it on my own, wouldn’t I risk the possibility of falling into error?’ The Bible itself shows how to avoid that pitfall. At Genesis 40:8 we read: “Are not interpretations God’s business?” (Jerusalem Bible) How could one apply that principle today?
Of course, it does not mean that God will come down from heaven to speak audibly with one who is reading the Bible. But one can arrive at the interpretation God gives by letting one part of his inspired Word explain another. To a considerable extent, the Word of God is self-interpreting.
This emphasizes the importance of regular reading of the Bible. It will equip the reader to make the necessary comparisons of verses to clear up difficult passages. So the matter of interpretation should encourage rather than discourage Bible reading.
If you are Catholic, has your priest encouraged you to read the Bible and to compare what you find there with the teachings of the Catholic Church? Most priests have not done so. Why not? Please examine the facts in the following chart and draw your own conclusion.
A COMPARISON OF
CATHOLIC TEACHING with the CATHOLIC BIBLE
Should Priests Marry?
“Clerics . . . are excluded “A bishop must be . . . married
from marriage and are obliged only once.”—1 Timothy 3:2, “New
to observe chastity to American Bible.”
the extent that any sin of “Do we not have the right to
lust on their part is, besides marry a believing woman like
a violation of the virtue of the rest of the apostles and the
chastity, also a sin of brothers of the Lord and Cephas
sacrilege, involving as it does [Peter]?”—1 Corinthians 9:5,
a violation of the virtue of “New American Bible.”
religion.”—“New Catholic “The Spirit has explicitly
Encyclopedia,” Vol. 3, p. 367. said that there will be some
“The present law of celibacy who will desert the faith and
should today continue to be choose to listen to deceitful
firmly linked to the spirits and doctrines that come
ecclesiastical ministry.”—Pope from the devils; . . . they
Paul VI, “Newsweek,” July 3, will say marriage is
Attitude Toward War
“We cannot . . . ignore the “Jesus said to him, . . .
historical fact that Bishops all those who take up the
have consistently supported sword will perish by the sword.”
all wars waged by the government —Matthew 26:52, “Knox.”
of their country. I do not know “Jesus . . . began speaking
in fact of a single instance in to them; this was the teaching
which a national hierarchy has he gave. . . . Love your
condemned as unjust any war enemies, do good to those
. . . Whatever the official who hate you, pray for those
theory, in practice ‘my who persecute and insult
country always right’ has been you, that so you may be true
the maxim followed in wartime sons of your Father in heaven.”
—Catholic Historian E. I.
“The Christian churches often “Though we walk in the flesh,
convey the impression that they we do not make war according
will bless any war or adventure to the flesh.”
the leaders of the state decide —2 Corinthians 10:3,
to launch.”—Catholic editor W. J. “Confraternity Edition.”
Whalen, “St. Anthony Messenger,” “The weapons we fight with are
May 1973, p. 21. not human weapons.”
—2 Corinthians 10:4, “Knox.”
Involvement in the World’s Politics
“Let all Christians appreciate “They do not belong to the
their special and personal world any more than I [Jesus]
vocation in the political belong to the world.”
community.”—“The Documents of —John 17:16, “Jerusalem Bible.”
Vatican II,” p. 286.
“Let those who are suited for it, “The whole world is in the
or can become so, prepare power of the evil one.”
themselves for the difficult but —1 John 5:19,
most honorable art of politics.” “Confraternity Edition.”
—Ibid., p. 287. “Don’t you realise that making
the world your friend is making
God your enemy?”—James 4:4,
Identity of God and of Christ
“The one God is not one person “Listen, Israel: Yahweh is our
but three.”—“A Catholic God, Yahweh alone.”
Dictionary,” p. 211. Deuteronomy 6:4, “Jerusalem
“The three divine Persons are Bible,” margin.
perfectly equal to one another.” Jesus said: “My father has
—“A Catechism of Christian greater power than I.”
Doctrine,” p. 26. —John 14:28, “Knox.”
Christ and his Father “alone “But as for that day and hour,
possess, each of the other, a nobody knows it, neither the
knowledge which is comprehensive angels of heaven, nor the Son,
and equal.”—“The Catholic no one but the Father only.”
Encyclopedia for School and —Matthew 24:36, “Jerusalem
Home,” Vol. 5, pp. 673, 674. Bible.”
What Happens to the Soul at Death
“The soul . . . is a spirit “The soul that sinneth, the same
having understanding and free shall die.”—Ezekiel 18:4,
will, and is destined to live “Douay.”
forever.”—“A Catechism of “Every soul which will not hear
Christian Doctrine,” p. 39. that prophet shall be
“The doctrine that the human destroyed.”—Acts 3:23, “Douay.”
soul is immortal and will “Neither . . . reason, . . . nor
continue to exist after man’s knowledge, shall be in hell,
death . . . is one of the whither thou art hastening.”
cornerstones of Christian —Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Douay.”
philosophy and theology.” “Put not your trust . . . in the
—“New Catholic Encyclopedia,” children of men, . . . he shall
Vol. 13, p. 464. return into his earth: in that
“Those . . . punished in hell day all their thoughts shall
. . . suffer dreadful torments, perish.”—Psalm 145:3, 4,
especially that of fire, for all “Douay.”
eternity.”—“A Catechism of “The dead know nothing.”
Christian Doctrine,” p. 144. —Ecclesiastes 9:5, “Common
Basis for Teachings
“It is not from sacred Scripture “All scripture is inspired by
alone that the Church draws her God . . . This is how the man
certainty about everything which dedicated to God becomes fully
has been revealed.”—“The equipped and ready for any good
Documents of Vatican II,” work.”—2 Timothy 3:16, 17,
p. 117. “Jerusalem Bible.”
“Both sacred tradition and “Take care not to let anyone
sacred scripture are to be cheat you with his
accepted and venerated with the philosophizings, with empty
same sense of devotion and phantasies drawn from human
reverence.”—Ibid., p. 117. tradition.”—Colossians 2:8,
Do you have love and appreciation for the truth? If so, you will not take offense at the facts presented in this article.
However, now that you have seen for yourself that the teachings of the Catholic Church do not agree with the Bible, you must make a decision. Is it really your desire to be one who worships God in the way that He approves? Can you do that by sharing in worship with those who put human tradition ahead of God’s Word of truth? Remember that Jesus said: “True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants.”—John 4:23, Jerusalem Bible.