Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/13/2014 (1 month ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Early Christians viewed the reading of Scripture as a way of encountering the Living Word, who gives Himself as bread to those who feed on this written Word. This practice is kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, particularly among Benedictines in the West.

The Bible is an invitation into an encounter with the living God. Its words are not a formula to obtain some notion of success in life, but an invitation into a communion of Love with the Living Word. The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One- Jesus Christ the Living Word of the Father. My favorite definition of a theologian is taken from the early Christian Monk Evagrius of Pontus. He said a theologian is one - who rests his head on the chest of Christ.

Pope Francis kissing the Book of the Gospels

Pope Francis kissing the Book of the Gospels

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/13/2014 (1 month ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Bible, Word of God, St Benedict, Lectio Divina, meditation, contemplation, scripture, scripture study, sacred scripture, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) a beautiful teaching from the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council on the Word of God, we read this wonderful explanation of the Bible:  

"(I)n the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life." (Paragraph 21)

The insight is the also a key to fruitfully reading the Bible. The Living Word, Jesus, speaks to us through the written word found in the Bible. Understanding the Bible depends upon having a living relationship with the Risen Lord and, through Him and in the Spirit, with the Father.

Everyone one of us can have this very kind of relationship with the Father through prayer. Our ability to pray also increases the more we actually read the Word of God. The two feed one another and fuel one another.

St Paul told Timothy who led the struggling Church of Ephesus, "from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

Timothy had a fruitful relationship with the Scriptures because He had an intimate loving relationship with the Lord whom they reveal. If we want to understand the Bible - and have it really change us - we need to grow in the kind of faith Timothy had. That kind of faith will also grow in us as we read, pray and study the words of Scripture - with faith. The two are inextricably connected.

Several years ago a gathering of scripture scholars was held in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. The group encouraged what they called a "kneeling exegesis". Exegesis is a word which refers to the study of the bible. I loved the phrase kneeling exegesis because it speaks to what should be obvious, but sadly is not; only through prayer can we encounter the living Word of God in the written words of the Bible. 

The Bible is at the heart of the Church's worship, faith and life. It is the "Book of the Church." Christianity is not about "me and Jesus" but me in Jesus. Through Baptism we come to live in His Body, the Church. We are incorporated into the living, Risen Christ when we are baptized into His Church. We become members of His mystical body and we enter into that New Creation, beginning right now. 

When God chose to reveal Himself He did not throw a book out of heaven. Rather, the Word was made Flesh. He became one of us. Through the Incarnation - which includes the entirety of the life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ- a new creation began.

The Church is not some organizational afterthought put together after the Resurrection of Jesus. It is the plan of God for the salvation of the entire human race. The Church is the Body of the Risen Christ and the seed of the kingdom to come. Through baptism into His death and resurrection all men and women can become sons (and daughters) in the Son.

The Church is the new family into which we are reborn through the womb of that Baptismal font. This is why we call the Church "Mother". In the Church we live our lives in Him, with one another, for the sake of the world. She is meant to be the home of the whole human race.

God has entrusted the Bible to this Church. It was first received by the early Church in the form of the Old Testament books, the Gospels and the letters of the apostles that were "circulated" (that is what the word "encyclical" means) among the early Christian communities.

Later, the "Canon" (which means "measuring stick"), was finalized within the Church. It is intended to govern her life and worship. It is the guide for her in carrying forward the redemptive work of Jesus on earth until He comes again.

The Bible is an invitation into an encounter with the living God. Its words are not a formula to obtain some notion of success in life, but an invitation into a communion of Love with the Living Word. The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals "Some-One" - Jesus Christ the Living Word of the Father.  In those words of St. Paul to Timothy, "all Scripture is inspired by God." (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek word translated inspired means "God-breathed".

The early Christians received the scriptures as a gift. They knew that the sacred words were to lead to a deeper communion of love with their source, the Living Word of God. Early theologians were mystics. My favorite definition of a theologian is taken from the early Christian Monk Evagrius of Pontus.

He said a theologian is one who "rests his head on the chest of Christ." The image calls to mind the beloved disciple, John, depicted as doing just that in early Christian art. It speaks of the indispensable prerequisite for any fruitful study of the Bible, a relationship with the Lord in the intimacy of prayer.

Early Christians viewed the reading of Scripture as a way of encountering the Living Word, who gives Himself as bread to those who feed on this written Word. This practice is kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, particularly among Benedictines in the West.

It is embedded in the Eastern Christian tradition and is especially evident in the writings of the early Church fathers. They wrote in a sort of stream of scriptural consciousness, moving from inspired thoughts to actual biblical quotes and back; most often without any reference to the specific "chapter and verse". The text was living within them. To use a phrase from my childhood they "knew it by heart."

This way of encountering the Lord in His Word can be cultivated in our lives. It involves meeting the Lord in His word and being changed in that encounter. It can inform a rhythmic way of life steeped in the practice of the presence of God throughout the day. Participation in the rich and beautiful pattern of the Liturgical life of the Church, filled as it is with the Biblical texts that are arranged for the faithful daily, helps to develop this rhythm.

This relational approach to reading and praying the Bible is referred to in Western writings as "Lectio Divina" and I recently wrote about it for Catholic Online in an article entitled, Praying the Bible: Lectio Divina Helps us Fall in Love with the Living Word which you can read here.

On July 11th in the liturgical calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church we remember Benedict of Nursia, the great founder of Western Monasticism. He wrote a rule or way of life for the brothers who followed Jesus along with him. These words are contained within it:

"What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide - that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom." (1 Thess 2:12).

These words can guide all of us as Christians, no matter what our state in life or vocation. We can all hear the voice of the Lord. He speaks to us in so many ways. We can hear His voice guiding us. One of the primary ways that happens is through the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible is a treasure which has been given to us by the Holy Spirit. Let us open up the treasure chest, read, pray and encounter the Living Word in the written word of God.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More U.S.

Why I Said No to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Deadly Watch

Image of I was approached to take the Ice Bucket Challenge to help bring an end to ALS. I said No. I have tried to explain why I said No in this article. I hope it is a helpful contribution in our public discussion. As a Christian, it is never easy to be seen as seemingly unwilling to support a noble cause such as the eradication of a debilitating disease. However, it is vital that we stand for for the fundamental and foundational moral truth which underlies every effort to end disease, the dignity of every human person, including embryonic human persons.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I was approached to take the Ice Bucket Challenge to help bring an end to ALS. I said No. I have tried to explain why I said No in this article. I hope it is a helpful contribution in our public discussion. As a Christian, it is never easy to be seen as seemingly ... continue reading


Toward a Christian Vision of Human Work On Labor Day Watch

Image of Christians need to bear witness in the real world to the true value, purpose, meaning and dignity of all human work - just as we bear witness to the inherent value and dignity of every human worker. This is a vital part of our witness to an age which has lost its way.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Adam and Eve worked in the garden and it brought them great joy. For the Christian, work is meant to become a participation in the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus, and His ongoing work. Jesus viewed his entire life and mission as work. He was always doing ... continue reading


American Islamic terrorist Fort Hood shooter requests to join Islamic State as a 'citizen' Watch

Image of Nadal Hasan, the man who killed 13 people during a rampage at Fort Hood in 2009, has written a letter to the Islamic State asking to join the terrorist organization as a citizen.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. Army psychiatrist, Nadal Hasan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood back in November 2009 has written a letter to the leader of the Islamic State, asking to become a citizen of the Islamic State's caliphate, an attorney of Husan reported on August 28. LOS ... continue reading


St Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


SHAKEN WINE: Strong earthquake jolts California's wine region Watch

Image of The weekend's temblor was felt widely throughout the region, from more than 200 miles south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rumbled through the early Sunday morning hours in the heart of California's wine country. The epicenter was near the city of Napa in the Golden State's north. Fires erupted in a mobile home park where four homes were destroyed and two ... continue reading


Money is NOT the Root of Evil: Living Simplicity Watch

Image of Simplicity is not about the quantity of the goods of the earth we possess. It is about our relationship to them. Jesus said - Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21).

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Learning to live in evangelical Simplicity strips away what impedes love. In finding our proper relationship to the goods of the earth- not rejecting them, craving them, or turning them into an idol- we can learn true freedom. Our eyes are opened and everything begins ... continue reading


Is Transgenderism a Mental Disorder or a Right? Watch

Image of Pope Emeritus Benedict was absolutely correct when he said, - the profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. - Gender is a gift. It is also a given. The dangers of the Gender Identity Movement are becoming increasingly clear.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In a culture where freedom has been redefined as a right to choose anything and liberty has degenerated into license, the newspeak of the age has declared the instrumental use of the body of another to be sexual freedom. It is not freedom. It turns people into ... continue reading


WORST YET TO COME? Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen,' Pentagon says Watch

Image of IS is

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has been keeping very close watch on the atrocities being committed by Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, and according to a top government official - the worst is yet to come. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the sophistication, ... continue reading


Lawsuit dropped against devil worshiper in Oklahoma Watch

Image of Lawyers representing Archbishop Paul Coakley had earlier demanded the return of a communion wafer obtained by the group.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The leader of a satanic group in Oklahoma City had threatened that he and his followers would defile a consecrated communion wafer as an offering to Satan as a carnal sacrifice at a "Black Mass" ceremony inside Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall. The ... continue reading


Should Americans have job preference over unskilled-illegal immigrants? President Obama doesn't think so Watch

Image of New polls are showing that Americans are tired of illegal immigrants getting benefits at the expense of citizens and legal immigrants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to the Associated Press: "one of the more popular requests among business and family groups is a change in the way green cards are counted," which would "essentially free up some 800,000 additional visas the first year." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter