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Blessing of the Advent Wreath
In today’s Epistle,
Saint Paul wrote:
Brethren, what things-soever were written,
were written for our learning, that through patience and the comfort of
the scriptures, we might have hope.
In writing to Saint
Timothy he says much the same:
All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove,
to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect,
furnished to every good work.
Paul was using the
Scriptures to mediate a dispute between the Jewish and the Gentile
converts to the Catholic Faith—but the Bible is a treasure trove of
teaching, far beyond discussions about keeping the Law of Moses. The
Bible is God’s way of telling us about Himself and what He expects of
us—It is, so to speak, the way to look into the mind of God! God
inspired Moses and the prophets to write the Old Testament, with the
intention of preparing them for the coming of Jesus Christ. God
inspired the Apostles and Evangelists to write the New Testament, so
that peoples of all may know the things which Jesus revealed to them.
Jesus established His Church as the custodian of this Book and its
This process of
custody and interpretation took some time to develop—which are the books
of authentic Scripture, and what do they mean?
IWe have the list of
Pope Saint Damasus in AD382, the Council of Hippo in 393 and the third
Council of Carthage in 397, both confirmed by Rome, and a letter of Pope
Saint Innocent I in 405.
The Ecumenical Councils of Florence (1442) and Trent (1546) confirmed
the same lists.
We are encouraged
to read these books by a long list of Popes, bishops, and
theologians—yet, despite their large number, the underlying theme is
simply that "if you don’t know the Scriptures, you don’t know God.
We are also
encouraged by the indulgences granted for the pious reading of the
50. Reading of Sacred Scripture (Sacrae Scripturae lectio)
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who with the
veneration due the divine word make a spiritual reading from
Sacred Scripture. A plenary indulgence is granted, if this
reading is continued for at least one half an hour.
There are a lot of
editions of the Bible “out there,” but since the Bible is the Catholic
Church’s book, it is imperative that we read a Church approved
translation—and one approved before the modernist infiltration of the
For most traditional
Catholics, the “go to” edition is the Douay Rheims—made by
Catholics in exile in France as the result of the Protestant takeover of
England. The original Douay was a very literal translation of
the Latin Vulgate, somewhat hard for most English speakers to
understand. Later (c. 1750), a revision by Bishop Richard Challoner,
Vicar Apostolic for London made the Bible’s English more idiomatic and
provided copious notes. The language is still a bit archaic.
translation—perhaps because I grew up with it—is the U.S.
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine edition. Printed in 1941, the
language is reverent but easily readable. Unfortunately, it is out of
print, but you may find it in a used book store, and the New Testament
is on the Internet.
There is another
very readable English text, was translated by the brilliant Monsignor
Ronald A. Knox. It is in print.
It is on line in several places, sometimes side by side with the Latin
and the Douay Rheims or the Greek.
We can go to the
authoritative lists to know which books are biblical, and to the
approved translations—but how do we know the authentic interpretation of
these texts? How do we read the various books, chapters, and verses,
and integrate them into an accurate knowledge of God and of His
expectations of us? Remember that there is only one objective truth—and
that objective truth cannot yield to the mere opinions
of those who have read the Bible (let alone to those who have not!).
The most convenient
way to know God’s objective truth is to consult the Church’s authentic
publications. Once you know the authentic teaching of the Church, it
will be easy to understand Her Bible. Here in these United States, we
have an authentic Catechism issued by one of the first Councils
Even better, we have the Catechism issued after the Council of Trent,
proclaiming the Church’s teaching for all Her people.
The encyclicals of the Catholic Popes are all online. A good start
with the encyclicals is
in print: The Popes Against Modern Errors: 16 Papal Documents.
There are also
reliable Catholic commentaries on the Bible. I often use one called
A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture.
It is used in conjunction with a separate Bible. Another, The
Heydock Bible contains the Douay Rheims text and a running
The print is small, but manageable with a magnifying glass.
Finally, it is
important to set aside some time each day for Scripture
reading—consistency is important. You might make it part of your Advent
regimen—but try not to stop when Christmas comes.
Pope Saint Pius X,
our patron saint against modernism, once said:
Nothing would please Us more than to see our beloved children form the
habit of reading the Gospels
—not merely from time to time, but every
Remember, if you
don’t know the Scriptures, you don’t know God!