November 10, 2012
Welcome to the Saturday meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. How about joining us in sharing your Sabbath Moments for the week?
Lectio Divina resources
A week or so ago I wrote Divine Lessons where I explained a bit about the practice of Lectio Divina. I think that one thing that may hold people back from reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture is the frustration of not being able to comprehend the real meaning of some passages. Sure, God does enlighten us in prayer, and if we follow what the Fathers of the Church wrote about the senses of Scripture (CCC #115-118) as I covered in How to Get More from Reading the Bible, we can have very fruitful meditations.
However, even with that reliable model, I am still left with questions such as, “Why did Jesus consistently refer to Himself as ‘the Son of man?'” What did He mean when He said, “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”? What does fulfill the law really mean?
I could meditate all day and not achieve the clarity I’m looking for. Fortunately I have a couple of resources I turn to that you might find helpful, too. One is the most excellent A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture. I particularly appreciate how clearly Bishop Knecht explains passages and at the end of his commentary he asks the reader questions for practical application. For example, after his commentary on Matt. 5: 13-16 he asks:
You too ought to be a light to your brothers and sisters and comrades. Do you give them a good example? Do you urge them to do what is right, and warn them against what is evil? Have you ever given scandal?
These questions challenge us to grow in holiness and commitment to God. They help us clarify our job in the Church Militant and don’t let us off the hook as witnesses to the Gospel. That is because praying with Scripture isn’t just a pleasant way to pass the time filled with lovely consolations. Nor is it supposed to be an intellectual exercise with no application.
On every page of the Bible we are challenged to choose God’s way, not man’s way. God’s way is the narrow, rocky path leading to the narrow gate. We are challenged to meet God on His terms, not ours, and we are given a foretaste of the joy of living in the perfect society of heaven if we conform ourselves to the will of God.
Another great help to me in Lectio Divina comes from a great medieval scholastic. The Fathers of the Church knew Sacred Scripture well. St. Thomas Aquinas collected all they wrote about the Gospels in the Catena Aurea: Commentary On The Four Gospels, Collected Out Of The Works Of The Fathers. My set is four hardcover volumes published by St. Austin Press in 1999 with a foreward by Aidan Nichols, O.P. As I prepare for Sunday Mass I read the Gospel commentaries for that day and have found the answers to questions I’ve puzzled over for years.
Sabbath Moments with Sacred Scripture are so important for our ever growing relationship with God. If I had to spend the rest of my life alone on a desert island, I would want my Bible, my Latin/English daily missal, Knecht’s book, the Catena Aurea, and my trusty Dictionary Of The Bible which I’ve owned since it came out in 1965.
Shallow understanding of the Bible can make us shallow Christians, people not up to the challenges of an atheistic, apostate, narcissistic, materialistic world. We will never be able to follow the words of Christ in Matt. 10:28, “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell,” without a deeper understanding of God as He has revealed Himself to us in Sacred Scripture. That’s why Lectio Divina is important to me and why I’m glad that the subject is being talked about more and more among Catholic bloggers.
Here I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible passages, Matt. 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” That has been true for me in my journey through Scripture.
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