Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/13/2014 (6 months 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 (6 months 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 January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

The Prophetic Dream of Don Bosco and the Leadership of the Pope

Image of The saint saw the Church as a great Ship of Peter surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels. They were engaged in intense warfare. At the helm of the Church was the Pope who at one point in a fierce battle fell mortally wounded. The enemies of the Church closed in sensing this was their moment. In the vision two columns then emerged from the great ocean

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. Visions use symbols to communicate. They often have numerous applications and interpretations. We have been blessed with successors of Peter who are steering Christ's Church through those two columns, ... continue reading


For the first time in 100 years, Yosemite National Park hosts extremely rare sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox Watch

Image of For the first time in 100 years, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in the Yosemite National Park.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the first confirmed sighting in nearly 100 years, the rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been captured with motion-sensitive cameras in the Yosemite National Park. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red ... continue reading


Disaffected Colorado teenager who tried to join ISIS gets four years in prison Watch

Image of After serving four years in prison, 19-year-old Shannon Conley must spend three years of supervised release and serve community service.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Poor choices made in youthful hast have consequences. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Conley, from Colorado has been sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. At the heart of this disturbing story is an Internet romance that went ... continue reading


Coin collectors of the world eagerly line up to see 1822 Half Eagle at convention Watch

Image of Historically, nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. As the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

One of the rarest coins in the U.S., the 1822 Half Eagle, originally worth only $5, will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend. There are only three of the coins known still in existence. The coin will go on ... continue reading


California's Kern County declares state of FISCAL EMERGENCY with plunging gas prices Watch

Image of Supervisors adopted a plan to immediately begin scaling back county spending rather than making deep reductions all at once in July.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kern County, in central California, relies heavily on its petroleum industry for tax revenues. While motorists nationwide are currently enjoying lower gas prices, this spells certain disaster for the County of Kern - officials there have declared a fiscal ... continue reading


Could terrorists attempt to attack the White House with a drone? Crash sparks debate over future use of drones in war Watch

Image of A small, four propeller drone, crashed on the White House lawn, spurring a discussion on whether drones may be used by terrorist groups in the future.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A two-foot-long, four propeller drone crashed onto the White House grounds yesterday, raising troubling questions that drones could be utilized by terrorists or other potential murderers to attack the White House or other U.S. government institutions that have ... continue reading


The Thrill of the Chaste: Matt C. Abbott Interviews Dawn Eden Watch

Image of Dawn Eden, author of the highly-acclaimed My Peace I Give You and the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

By Matt C. Abbott

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the ... continue reading


GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... 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, Deuteronomy 18:15-20
15 Yahweh your God will raise up a prophet like me; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
1 Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh, acclaim ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:21-28
21 They went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:32-35
32 I should like you to have your minds free from all ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 1st, 2015 Image

St. Brigid of Ireland
February 1: Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, ... 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