Most Christian households own a Holy Bible. But ask yourself, when was the last time you pulled it off the shelf and read it, allowing God’s Word to speak to you? If it has been a while, maybe this month is a good time to turn off the television, find that Bible, and open it.
Catholic Bishops of the world met at the Vatican last Sunday to discuss and reflect on the theme, the “Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” As they will do for the next three weeks, this month also presents Catholics here at home many opportunities for the grace of encountering God through His revealed Word.
Studying Sacred Scripture presents a challenge of its own. Many a vow to begin reading the Bible at Genesis and forging ahead through Revelations has ended with frustration and abandonment of the good intention not too far along.
Thankfully, Catholics have at our disposal the Church’s rich teaching tradition that guides the reader to meet God in the Bible. By helping to interpret authentically the Word and unlock its meanings within the context of the times it was written, the Church helps us to apply it to the times in which we live.
As with most things in life, the support of our brothers and sisters is invaluable. So it is with the study of Sacred Scripture. One of the best sources of support is local parishes. Most offer Scripture study groups in which clergy, religious and lay parishioners select a particular book of the Bible or section (such as St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians), and through the long history of authentic interpretation of the Church, they discuss the truth and meaning of the passages.
Catholic book stores offer study aids, as does the Internet, which provides access to the entire Bible itself along with study guides revealing a wealth of Church teaching. See such web sites as that of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.org/synod or usccb.org/nab/bible) and Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org/bible) for starters.
For those persons wishing more formal instruction, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary’s Religious Studies spanision offers orthodox and rigorous courses for anyone. See the spanision’s web site, religious-studies.scs.edu.
In ways such as these we encounter the God of history through His living Word in the Bible and in Jesus Christ our Lord, who we also meet in communion at every Mass. God offers this great gift to the world as the mission of His Church, which proclaims God’s living presence in Word and sacrament to us, His children.