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.”

Kill Them All!

Much attention has been given to the so-called “dark passages” of the Bible in recent years. This is largely due to the use put to these passages by the enemies of the Christian name, by which I mean the aggressive, … Continue reading

Weeping Women

The pew I occupy on a daily basis is very close to the eighth station of the Cross: “the women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus.” This proximity occasions my reflecting on it more than on the other stations. It has … Continue reading

Apostle to the Gerasenes

A most unlikely apostle indeed. It was the possessed lunatic, who dwelt among the graves, out from whom were cast many devils. The devil’s voice claimed that their name was Legion” and legion means a thousand. Demons like to flaunt … Continue reading