Category: Holy Scripture

It was said of at least two of the saints that they knew the Old and New Testaments by heart. One of these was Saint Lawrence of Brindisi and the other was Saint Mark the Ascetic. It is recorded the biography of the former that a fellow friar once asked him what would happen if the Protestants took over Christendom and burned every Catholic Bible.  To which he replied that he could write the whole Bible from his memory. Saint Mark, who had the same gift, was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom.

Well, our own Brother Francis knew the four Gospels by heart — three of them in Latin and one in Greek. He achieved this by reading the scriptures every day, even as he performed manual chores. After his duties were over, he would take a walk in the woods and repeat what he had memorized earlier. It was surely the Providence of God that Brother’s principal duty in the religious community was to do the laundry.

It is a praiseworthy thing to read the scriptures, but there is no canonical indulgence for just reading, the indulgence is given to those who meditate on the scriptures, even for fifteen minutes at a time.

In order to understand the scriptures, one needs a good Catholic teacher, who was himself taught by another Catholic teacher.  Teacher to student, generation after generation, cultivating the word of God in the soil of the intellect.  Pope Benedict XVI is such a teacher. His insights into the scriptures, which he shares with the Church on a regular basis, are doctrinally profound and, at the same time, clear and digestible. Brother Francis was certainly such a teacher. His expositions of so many books of the Bible are as fecund as they are erudite.

Another way to understand the sacred text is to read the commentaries of the saints, especially the doctors of the Church. Saint Jerome’s admonition still reverberates sixteen centuries after he uttered it: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

The Crown of Thorns

And platting a crown of thorns they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. And bowing the knee before him, they mocked him, saying: Hail, king of the Jews (Matthew 27:29). (Jesus therefore came forth, … Continue reading

The Sword Revealeth the Heart

And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed (Luke 2:35). The four Gospels are not without passages that need explanation. That is why we have an ecclesia docens (a Church teaching). … Continue reading

Who Am I?

  I am one of the kings of Juda mentioned in the Book of Kings and in Chronicles (Paralipomenon). I was for the most part zealous for the God of Israel, not so much as David and my father, but … Continue reading

Who Am I?

Here are my clues: My name occurs four times in Holy Scripture, all in the Old Testament. Three of those four times the passage speaks of me; the other time, it is another woman that is spoken of with the … Continue reading

Thou Hast Said It

And Judas that betrayed him, answering, said: Is it I, Rabbi? He saith to him: Thou hast said it (Matthew 26:25) Jesus saith to him: Thou hast said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of … Continue reading