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Author Topic: Pre-Vatican II Church Discouraged reading the Bible?  (Read 17538 times)

Guadalupe

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Hello all. I don't know why, but lately I have been receiving the local diocese's weekly newspaper in the mail. Well, I decided to flip through it and there is a regular column in there written by a priest(not a local one, as far as I know). Well he stated how wonderful the reformed Church is and how lucky we are to have the freedom to read the Bible now. He states that before Vatican II the Church actively discouraged reading the Bible. I am having a hard time believing this. I was pretty mad and chucked the paper in the trash, but I am now wondering, is there any truth to this? If there isn't, can you direct me to some material to refute this? Much thanks in advance,
Guadalupe

Ourladyofconsolation06

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  • Providentissimus Deus (On the Study of Holy Scripture) November 18, 1893
  • Divino Afflante Spiritu (On Sacred Scripture) September 30, 1943
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    CampeadorShin

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    LOL!  The only thing that wasn't around before V2 was a heretical commentary.

    I've also suspected that the Post V2 Catholics are trying out "personal interpretation", but I haven't looked for any proof of this.

    SINCE OCTOBER 26TH, I HAVE NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO POST OR SEND PM'S.  I CAN RECIEVE PM'S BUT CAN'T REPLY.

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    lumengentleman

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    Quote from: Guadalupe
    He states that before Vatican II the Church actively discouraged reading the Bible. I am having a hard time believing this ... is there any truth to this? If there isn't, can you direct me to some material to refute this?

     

    Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of truth to that statement, if we're just talking about instruction given at the local parish level.  At the higher levels, we've had several recent popes who have insisted on the necessity of reading the Scriptures (Ourladyofconsolation06 has linked you to two encyclicals along these lines, one by Leo XIII and one by Pius XII; I would add to that list Benedict XV's Spiritus Paraclitus).

     

    The saints and Fathers have always taught this.  Unfortunately, after the Protestants showed the world the worst-case-scenario for private Scripture reading, a lot of Catholics started treating Scripture as a dangerous thing.  You'll find older apologetics books (such as Fr. O'Brien's The Faith of Millions) that say things like "the bible alone is not a safe and competent guide," but he might as well have said "the bible is not safe," given the way pre-Vatican II Catholics have interpreted statements like that.

     

    You can read more about the constant teaching of the Church on Scripture here:

     

    Ignorance of Scripture: What is the Traditional Teaching on Scripture Study?

     


    glastonbury_thorn

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    Pre-Vatican II Church Discouraged reading the Bible?
    « Reply #4 on: July 14, 2006, 08:12:pm »

    In my early youth (when I was still in the N.O.), I had the tendency to "stay away" from direcly reading Holy Scripture because: the example of the heretical Protestants made me afraid of falling into their errors if I read the Holy Bible without more religious education beforehand; and I encountered random passages that confused me exceedingly, and decided to ground myself more in ascetical and spiritual writings (especially Saint Alphonsus) before proceeding. I can therefore understand why some were slow in heeding the exhortations of the Supreme Pontiffs concerning Bible reading.

     

    After I began attending Holy Mass and after reading much of the Saints, and being acquianted with sacred Liturgy, I began to assiduously read Holy Scripture. I think that reading Holy Scripture in its liturgical context is a great and efficacious means of reading it in an illuminating and delightful manner. For, in the sacred Liturgy, our Holy Mother Church expounds the Word of God in all its wisdom and beauty.



    AdoramusTeChriste

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    My 1914 Douay-Rheims states:

     

    Quote
     An indulgence of three hunderd days is granted to all the Faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a quarter of an hour. A Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading.

     

    13 December, 1898.

    LEO XIII.

     

    It also has the prayer to the Holy Ghost:

     

    Quote

    A PRAYER BEFORE THE READING OF ANY PART OF

    THE HOLY SCRIPTURE.

     

            Come Holy Ghost, fill the hearts and minds of the faithful servants, and inflame them with the fire of thy divine love.

     

    LET US PRAY:

     

            O GOD, who by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, didst instruct the hearts of thy faithful servants; grant us in the same Spirit, to discern what is right, and enjoy his comfort forever, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth one God, with thee and the same Spirit, world without end. Amen.

     

    TRAD UP!!!
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    lumengentleman

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    Quote from: glastonbury_thorn
    I think that reading Holy Scripture in its liturgical context is a great and efficacious means of reading it in an illuminating and delightful manner. For, in the sacred Liturgy, our Holy Mother Church expounds the Word of God in all its wisdom and beauty.

     

    You are so right about that.  The liturgy is the "context" for Sacred Scripture par excellence.  An excellent book that discusses this is Dr. Scott Hahn's most recent book, Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy.

     

    Here's a somewhat lengthy excerpt from the first chapter:

     

    Quote
    Few stories in Christian antiquity circulated as widely and as rapidly as Athanasius' telling of the life of Anthony, the hermit of the Egyptian desert. Within a generation of Anthony's death, Augustine tells us, the book had motivated countless Christians to take up the contemplative life in seclusion. The drama in Athanasius' narrative turned on a single moment in Anthony's youth.

     

    Not six months after the death of his parents, he went according to custom to the Lord's house . . . He entered the church, and it happened the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Mt 19:21). Anthony, . . . as if the passage had been read on his account, went out immediately from the church, and gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagers . . . All the rest that was movable he sold, and having got together much money he gave it to the poor, reserving a little, however, for his sister's sake . . . And again he went into the church, and he heard the Lord say in the Gospel, "do not be anxious about your life" (Mt 6:25), he could stay no longer, but went out and gave those things also to the poor. . . he henceforth devoted himself outside his house to discipline. (Life of Anthony 2-3)

     

    It is a rich passage for those who wish to understand the history of biblical interpretation. Athanasius' Life of Anthony made a profound impression on the greatest exegetes of the next generations: Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus, Evagrius. And the author himself, Athanasius, played a crucial role in the history of the formation of the New Testament canon.

     

    For our purposes, though, the passage is important not so much because of its effects or its author, but because of the window it opens upon biblical interpretation in an early Christian community.

     

    What we encounter in this episode is not merely evidence of a textus receptus - two pericopes of Matthew's gospel - but also the very process of reception. Anthony's turning point came at the mid-third century, when the canon had not yet reached a final and universal form.

     

    Athanasius shows us, here as elsewhere, that the ordinary place of biblical interpretation was the church, and the ordinary time was the liturgy. In the ancient world, the church's liturgy - its public, ritual worship - was the natural and supernatural habitat of the church's scriptures.

     

    This was true not only of the Christian ekklesia, but also of the qahal of the Jews, which proclaimed and chanted the scriptures in its liturgies of synagogue, temple, and home. Biblical religion was liturgical religion, and its sacred texts were primarily liturgical texts. This is what makes the witness of the church fathers so valuable for biblical studies. Christopher Hall speaks of the fathers' "hermeneutical proximity" to the biblical world. The overwhelming witness of the fathers and the rabbis is not an accumulation of the conclusions of scientific exegesis, but rather a great mass of liturgical sermons, mystagogical catecheses, and rubrics for ritual and festal worship. Even the "passing on" of the texts and doctrines - for Christians the traditio and redditio - were, then as now, liturgical actions. The Christian fathers received the texts, prayed the texts, proclaimed the texts, venerated the texts, and passed on the texts in ways that were similar to, and continuous with, those of their apostolic and Jewish ancestors.

     

    For both Jews and Christians, the scriptural texts, though historical in character, were not merely records of past events. Their public recitation enacted more than the preservation of a national saga. The scriptures were intended to sweep the worshiper into their action - "as if the passage had been read on his account." More than two centuries after Jesus spoke his words to the rich young man and to the crowd, Anthony (and his biographer) assumed that the words were addressed directly to himself. The historical words were actualized again in the life of a contemporary listener, a contemporary worshiper. And Anthony's own participation in salvation history was itself history-making for future generations.



    glastonbury_thorn

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    Pre-Vatican II Church Discouraged reading the Bible?
    « Reply #7 on: July 14, 2006, 09:01:pm »

    I must admit that I am weary when it comes to contemporary Biblical scholars. The most recent thing I have read concerning Holy Scripture is Introduction to Scripture by Thomas Moran (Sheed & Ward: New York, 1937), a book which I recommend if you can get it. 

     

    Yes, I know its narrow-minded, but I suffered a lot of "trauma" in the N.O.

     

    However I do agree with this statement:

     

    Quote
    This was true not only of the Christian ekklesia, but also of the qahal of the Jews, which proclaimed and chanted the scriptures in its liturgies of synagogue, temple, and home. Biblical religion was liturgical religion, and its sacred texts were primarily liturgical texts.

     

    It made me think of Dom Gueranger's commentary on Our Lady's Magnificat (The Liturgical Year, vol. 12: July 2nd, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and how he pointed out how her Magnificat was scattered throughout the whole of the Old Testament. Which makes me agree that the whole of the Old Testament is wholly liturgical, and therein lies the great prefiguration of our sacred Liturgy and a reflection of the eternal praise wherewith the sacred Trinity offers unto Itself ceaselessly.

     

    One very neglected source that is of some revelance are the Revelations of Saint Gertrude, whose mysticism I deem to be wholly liturgical in nature. Her visions and divine colloquies begin mostly from the consideration of the antiphons and responsories she chants in choir. Her writings would be a good mine for further research into the possibility of a mysticism inherent in Liturgy. For those who do not believe me, you need only read the Office of Saint Agnes (January 21st), the great ornament of the Roman Breviary according to some liturgiologists.

     

    This liturgical mysticism will undoubtedly harken back to the mysticism of the Old Testment (think of the sacred Canticle of Canticles), which is, if my suspicion and these writers are correct, wholly liturgical in nature.

     

    Perhaps I may write an article about this. Who knows?


    lumengentleman

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    Quote from: glastonbury_thorn

    Perhaps I may write an article about this. Who knows?

     

    Do it!  I would consider posting it on my web site.  I'm always looking for fresh new essays on Scripture and the Liturgy.


    QuisUtDeus

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    Pre-Vatican II Church Discouraged reading the Bible?
    « Reply #9 on: July 14, 2006, 09:53:pm »

    Knowing the Bible is not necessary for salvation.  Knowing the teachings of the Bible is.

     

    Early Christians didn't have a Bible - look at how small the didache is.  I doubt St. Peter and St. Paul went to hell for not having a Bible considering they were writing it.

     

    Pre-printing press, and soon thereafter, books were very expensive, and the province of royalty and universities.  The only way to get education enough to read a Bible was to be rich or join the priesthood.  Notice that Protestantism pretty much needed Gutenberg to get the ball rolling full speed.

     

    My stock answer to Protestants is: God doesn't expect us to carry the Bible around in our heads, or in our back pockets.  He expects us to carry it in our hearts.  Otherwise anyone who couldn't read would be sent to hell.  The Pharisees were great at quoting Scripture, and it didn't get them very far because repeating it and understanding it are two different things.

     

    Back to the original topic, reading the Bible was not as much discouraged as it was very difficult to accomplish.  What was and always has been discouraged, and outright condemned, is private interpretation of Scripture.  The interpretation of Scripture belongs to the Magisterium of the Church alone.

     

    The Church AFAIK has always encouraged us to read Scripture for inspiration, as prayer, and for understanding as long as we are properly guided.