23rd Sunday of the Year

Dear Friends in Christ,

Being a follower of Christ requires moving from being a Church member by convention to a Christian disciple by conviction. This transformation demands that we consciously accept the Gospel as the measure of our entire lives, rather than attempting to measure the Gospel by our experience. Personal knowledge of and devotion to Sacred Scripture is necessary for this transformation to occur through the obedience of faith, and there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. This is the Seventh Principle of Evangelical Catholicism.

Do you read the Bible at home? Do you consult a Bible dictionary or commentary to help guide your reading? Do you set aside time even once each week to pray with Holy Scripture? Can you recite any verses of Scripture from memory? Do you know that the Catholic Church teaches that every word in the Bible is inspired by God and contains no errors in matters of faith and morals? Do you believe this to be true? If not, do you understand that you are not in full communion with the Catholic Church? These questions help focus our attention on some of the practical consequences of the Sixth Principle of Evangelical Catholicism. Even those who desire to surrender their entire lives to the Lord Jesus in the obedience of faith cannot do this unless they read, believe, and reverence the Bible, because as St. Jerome (who first translated the entire Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin) teaches us: Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

The Second Vatican Council devoted one of its sixteen documents to the subject of divine revelation, and it explores the relationships among Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church. This document is called Dei Verbum (Latin for “The Word of God”) and is known in English as The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Dei Verbum is only a few pages in length and is available online. I heartily encourage all Catholics to study Dei Verbum as a means to understanding why there is no substitute for personal knowledge of the Bible.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3.16) “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4.12) The devout reading of Holy Scripture does much more than teach us; it changes us. Reading Holy Scripture changes us in a way that no other form of reading can because when we open the Sacred Page with faith, the Lord speaks to us a word of grace and power unto repentance, conversion, and everlasting life. Immerse yourself in Holy Scripture, and in the Word of God you will come to know, love, and serve ever more perfectly the Word Made Flesh: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father Newman