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two numbers are given, the first is from the Vulgate, the second, in brackets, from the Hebrew division. For instance, in the first chapter, on page 47, Ps. cxxvii. (cxxviii.) 4. This means that the words quoted form the fourth verse of Psalm cxxvii., according to the Vulgate division, followed in the Roman Breviary, and of Psalm cxxviii. according to the Hebrew division usually adopted in this country.
St. Jerome, in his introduction to the Book of Isaias the Prophet, says, “Ignorantia Scripturæ est ignorantia Christi.” “Ignorance of the Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
The first reflection these words suggest is an alarming one. How ignorant, then, multitudes of devout Christians must be of Christ, as they have read so little of Holy Scripture! But St. Jerome would have quite allowed that there are two ways of knowing the truths about Christ contained in the Bible, the direct and the indirect, just as there are two ways of being enlightened by the sun, either by sitting in the full glare of his dazzling rays, or indirectly receiving his light reflected by various objects. In like manner we may learn Christ from Holy Scripture, directly, by reading and study of the actual inspired text, or indirectly by reading books written by holy and learned men, embodying the teachings of Holy Writ and reflecting the light of the inspired Word.
Multitudes of Christian people, either unable to read, or who, though able, have read very little of the actual text of Holy Scripture, know Christ well and serve Him faithfully, being instructed by others who are perfectly familiar with the Bible. For many
this is without doubt the easiest and best way
to learn Christ, and for the mass of the unlearned it ever has been, and no doubt ever will be, the only practical way in which they must learn their religion, and thus the “Word” of God becomes “as a lamp unto their feet, and a light unto their path.” Without this of the sucking child would cleave to the roof of his mouth from thirst; the young children would ask for bread," and they would starve "if there were no man to break it unto them.” (Ps. ciii. (cxix.] 105; Lam. iv. 4.)
Catholics know that their faith does not rest primarily on the Bible. The Apostles preached Christ crucified and risen before the Gospels were written, and many died for Him who had never read a word of the New Testament. We have our Faith from the living voice of the living Church, and the only way in which we can know that the Bible is the Word of God, and that the Holy Ghost is its Author, is by the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church which Christ has appointed to teach all nations.
This fundamental truth every Catholic knows well. It is the primary Principle of his religion, the immovable Rock on which rests his faith, the harbour of Refuge to which he flies in all storms, so as not “to be blown about by every wind of doctrine," the strong Fortress that makes him secure in every attack of the enemies of the faith. We are convinced that our Holy Mother the Church knows all contained in the Bible, and carries out all it commands. We know that the Holy Scripture belongs by right to her, that she loves it, preserves and defends it, and that her infallible voice alone can declare to us what books are, and what are not, the inspired Word of God.
This fact, combined with the misuse of the Word of God by Protestants, no doubt in great measure explains why it is that Catholics are not as careful as they might be to read the text of Holy Scripture.
Latterly a widespread movement has begun in favour of more universal reading and study of the Bible. During the last twenty years much has been effected in this direction in France. The Encyclical Letter of Leo XIII. in 1893, beginning “Providentissimus Deus," on the study of the Scripture, attracted the attention of Catholics throughout the world to this point.
Pope Pius VI. had already written " that the faithful should be urged to read the Holy Scripture, as the abundant source which ought to be left open to all, of pure morals and doctrine."*
To show what the custom of Catholics in early times must have been, it is interesting to read the advice given by St. Jerome to his friend Gaudentius, who had asked his guidance as to the education of his infant daughter Pacatula. “She is now," St. Jerome replies, “a child without teeth and without ideas, but, as soon as she is seven years old . . . she should, until she is grown up, learn by heart the Psalms and the Books of Solomon; the Gospels, the Apostles, and the Prophets should be the treasure of her heart."
This little book is a humble contribution towards the revival of the study of the Holy Scripture among Catholics.
"Continue thou in those things thou hast learned, and which have been committed to thee: knowing of whom thou hast learnt them; and because from thine infancy thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which can instruct thee to salvation, by the faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture, inspired of God, is profitable for teaching, reproving, correcting, and instructing in justice." +
* Letter to the Archbishop of Florence. + 2 Tim. iii. 14.