Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The benefits and dangers of reading the Bible

In addition to steadily reading through the Old Testament, as mentioned in my previous post, I have the daily habit of reading a chapter from the New Testament. It began in my early twenties, when I made the resolution to do so after attending a Lenten retreat at the Poor Clares' convent in Newcastle. For some years the chapter shrank to a short passage within a chapter; but nonetheless, I made it a rule to do this every night, before saying my prayers. Now that I am retired, it is once again a chapter.

As a result, I have read the Gospels many times over; the Epistles quite a few times; Acts occasionally; and Revelation two or three times.

Judging by the extraordinary things I have read, particularly in the Old Testament, I'm not at all surprised that there are now more than 30,000 Protestant denominations. The combination of Sola Scriptura and private interpretation/private judgment has certainly wrought havoc, both in belief and in behaviour.

Romano Amerio's devastating book "Iota Unum"* has this, and more, to say:

"The Church's traditional reserve in the matter of indiscriminate Bible reading is based upon one undeniable fact about the Bible. It is a difficult book ... ... "

It most certainly is. Thank God for our Catholic faith, which roots the Canon of Scripture, and its true interpretation, in the Authority of the Church! Under that shelter, my memory has built up a great treasury of words and thoughts and images, which have enriched my faith more than I can say.

* "Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the XXth Century" by Romano Amerio (Published by Sarto House)


JARay said...

Dear Dorothy,
If you take up the practice of saying the Divine Office you will go over and over again the words of the psalms and you will also get pieces of scripture and readings from many of the Early Fathers of the Church.
As you go on and on, much of it sticks in your mind. I have the three books of the Divine Office as are used by priests. In particular I say the Office of Readings, the Morning Prayer and the Evening Prayer, but I don't know what time you have available during the day.

Dorothy said...

Thank you, JARay, for your interesting comment about the Divine Office. I don't think I could manage it at present, but it is certainly something to consider for the future. I did not know that it included readings from the Fathers.

You're quite right about things staying in the mind. What a treasure this is.

You mentioned in a comment on an earlier post that you had visited the church at Dulverton, in Devon. You may have come across the church's website, which includes a virtual tour. Fr Tim Finigan has very kindly shown me how to post links, and this is a chance for me to practise it.

JARay said...

Thank you for the link Dorothy which certainly worked, but, unless I am mistaken, this is not the church I was referring to. This looks like the Anglican church and not the Catholic church. The Catholic church is a sort of mini Byzantine church. It could almost pass for Byzantine Rite. There is a large building to the side of it which was empty when I was there and it was available for rent for such as school parties to stay there. I presumed that it had been the presbytery. Inside the church there were many icons in very vivid colours. Did I get it wrong as being in Dulverton? It was my cousin who took me there, as I said, on our way to Morebath. My cousin lives in Bickington.

JARay said...

By the way, it is in the Office of Readings where you find readings of the Church Fathers. Usually, if it is from one of the Fathers it is the second reading. Today, the 24th Sunday of the year, the first reading is from Ezekiel and the second reading is the beginning of the sermon of St. Augustine on the Shepherds.

JARay said...

I have just looked at your diocese web-site and I see that the church I was referring to is St. Stanislaus in Dulverton.

berenike said...

You can find the psalms and readings from the Divine Office (though not the hymns or responsories or antiphons), and a choice from all/most of the calendars of English-speaking countries/diocese (so if you haven't selected your own calendar you may get Epiphany on a different day!) on


- even if you don't use it all or very often, it will give you the patristic reading for the day, which is especially nice to have on the bigger feasts when one would often like to have something seasonally pious to read!