Reverence in reading the Holy Bible
Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight
A PRAYER TO BE RECITED BEFORE READING THE SACRED SCRIPTURES
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle i them the firs of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy spirit and they shall be created.
R. And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let Us Pray
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
[from the Roman Missal]
An indulgence of five years is granted for the recitation of this prayer.
A plenary indulgence is granted, under the usual conditions, if the prayer has been recited daily for a whole month.
[Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 287]
Holy things demand of us reverence, humility, respect, and modesty. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He told the great Lawgiver: "Come not nigh hither, put off the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." And, the account goes on, to show his feeling of deep reverence for the presence of God, "Moses hid his face: for he durst not look at God" (Ex. 3:5-6).
Whenever Saint Francis Xavier received a letter from Saint Ignatius, his "father in God," he would read it on his knees as an outward sign of his reverence for his religious superior, who, as his faith told him, represented God for him. With such reverence we should approach the reading of God's Word in Holy Scripture.
In This we can take our cue from the practice of the Church. At solemn Mass, before the Deacon sings the Gospel to the people, he places the Gospel book on the altar in the exact place where later the Sacred Host and the "Chalice of Salvation" will rest. Whereupon, after asking and receiving the Celebrant's blessing, the Deacon carries the book in solemn procession to the place where the Gospel is to be sung. There he reverently incenses the book, bowing to it before and after, and sings the words of the sacred text.
When he has finished, the book is carried to the Celebrant of the Mass, who kisses it saying, Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out." We would never think of putting a sacred object, such as a consecrated chalice, to any profane use; we should never use the words of Holy Scripture in any manner not befitting their sacred character.
However, reverence is not shown by staying away from sacred objects entirely and refusing to come into contact with them, but by using them correctly. Reverence towards a blessed rosary, for example, is shown not by carefully preserving it in a velvet-lined box, but by using it to say the Rosary devoutly. And reverence is shown towards the Holy Bible by reading it devoutly, humbly listening to the divine message which it contains.
Should Catholics Read The Bible?
Catholics are urged to read the Bible, as the following official statements demonstrate:
Our one desire for all the Church's children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all-surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- Spiritus Paraclitus, Sept. 15, 1920
The same veneration [for the Bible] the Bishops should endeavor daily to increase and perfect among the faithful committed to their care, encouraging all those initiatives by which men filled with apostolic zeal, laudably strive to excite and foster among Catholics a greater knowledge of and love for the Sacred Books.
- Divino Afflante Spiritu, Sept. 30, 1943
Should Catholics Own A Bible?
The archbishops and bishops of the United States answered that question in 1884:
It can hardly be necessary for us to remind you, beloved brethren, that the most highly valued treasure of every family library, and the most frequently and lovingly made use of, should be the Holy Scriptures...We hope that no family can be found amongst us without a correct version of the Holy Scriptures.
- Third Council of Baltimore; Dec. 7, 1884
The beforementioned text was provided by the The Holy Bible, Old Testament in the Douay-Challoner Text, New Testament and Psalms in the Confraternity Text, edited by Reverend John P. O'Connell, M.A., S.T.D., published with the approbation of His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, The Catholic Press, Inc., 1954, 1952, 1950.
In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.