Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

The Garima Gospels witness to a living Christian faith

Gramina GospelsIn 2010, there was an interesting “find” for the biblical world of our era. This article is three years old but it ought to raise our interests in the biblical narrative not merely for literary and artistic considerations, but for matters pertaining to divine revelation. We have a lot more work to do if we are to say we “know it all” when it comes to the bible.

I say this because while news reports reveal what can be viewed as a testimony to the attractiveness to the biblical tradition of the Christian Church. The attractiveness of a dynamic faith in Jesus as Savior and Messiah. The realization that our Christian faith is based on meeting God and that we just don’t make things up as we go along.

What is now considered to be among the oldest surviving works of Christianity, the Garima Gospels date perhaps to the early fourth century first came to light in the 1950s; scholars and philanthropists in England are helping to preserve the treasure today.

The Monastery of Abba Garima in northern Ethiopia is one of many places where Christians have conserved their ancient texts relating to the Good News preached by Jesus Christ. That we have a fourth century manuscript with some very early extant Christian illustrations is stunning. The images have Coptic similarities. One more reason we need to have concern for Christians who live in Egypt, Ethiopian and Eritrea. According to reports, the Garima Gospels contain portraits of the Evangelists. A literary and cultural find for some, another piece for biblical archeology for scholars, these Gospel pages are relics of a living faith.

Blessed Guerric of Igny

I am reminded by my own heart that the the early morning is a particularly good time of the day to be clothed in a special silence, but there are time at dusk that the discipline of silence is helpful. This is an essential part of spiritual maturity, an adult faith in Divine Providence. Listening and speaking to the Trinity is done when the heart and mind are slowed, even word-less. Knowing and following God’s will is only possible if we give a certain amount of day to quiet, that is, silence. Not a punishing silence, not a hopeless silence, but a manner of being that helps us to see ourselves in action: the manifestation of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, justice, peace, perseverance, etc.

Blessed Guerric in his 28th sermon says,

“As the Christ-child in the womb advanced toward birth in a long, deep silence, so does the discipline of silence nourish, form and strengthen a person’s spirit, and produce growth which is the safer and more wholesome for being the more hidden.”

Silence, therefore, is a gift that allows us to enter more deeply into the revealed Word of God, the biblical narrative through the practice of lectio divina, the practice of prayerfully reading the sacred Scripture. It is, I am convinced, the new springtime of the Church as Benedict XVI said, proposing once again the ancient Christian practice. Most often we when we hear the words lectio divina we think of monastic reading where the person is immersed in God’s holy word with the distinct desire to seek the face of God, thus making a home for that Word in his heart.

The famous Cistercian father Blessed Guerric of Igny (c. 1070/80-1157) was influenced by Origen and whose formation was under Saint Bernard was quite insightful on many things when it came to liturgical theology and the monasteric life.

If you are inclined to read more about what this Cistercian father taught, you may want to pick up a copy of John Morson’s Christ the Way: the Christology of Guerric of Igny (Liturgical Press). But his liturgical sermons are worth every effort; they are published by Liturgical Press, too.

Blessed Guerric taught the following to his brothers lectio divina:

Search the Scripture.  For you are not mistaken in thinking that you find life in them, you who seek nothing else in them but Christ, to whom the Scriptures bear witness.  Blessed indeed are they who search his testimonies, seek them out with all their heart.  Therefore you who walk about in the gardens of the Scriptures do not pass by heedlessly and idly, but searching each and every word like busy bees gathering homey from flowers, reap the Spirit from the words. (Sermon 54)

Where are the 12 Apostles buried?

Have you ever wondered about the details of the Apostles’ death and burial? It is a curious question for biblical studies and archeology, liturgical studies and piety in general. I caught this clever illustration the other day and it answers my question. I hope it is accurate. When in Rome I’ve been to some of the tombs; I guess I’ll have to wait to get to India, Spain and Germany.


How Catholics use Scripture: Pope Francis talks on inspiration and truth in the Bible

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Yesterday, the Holy Father met with the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC) led by German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The theme the PBC’s annual plenary assembly was “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.” On the personal and parish level, this theme is revisited year-in and year-out. Catholics (and the Orthodox) have a particular way of praying, reading, studying and living the sacred Scripture that is very different from the Protestant ecclesial communities: from WITHIN the context of the living community of faith, i.e., the Liturgy.

Pope Francis paid close attention to this year’s work of the PBC by saying it “affects not only the individual believer but the whole Church, for the Church’s life and mission are founded on the Word of God, which is the soul of theology as well as the inspiration of all of Christian existence.”

He noted that in Dei Verbum the emphasis of what the nature of Scripture is, how the Church interprets Scripture, what is conserved by the Church, and by whose authority is at work. I  think one of the “money quotes” is when Francis reminded us that “The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be just an individual academic effort, but must always be compared to, inserted within, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church.” 

The point we Catholics have to come to understand and to work on is that we are a biblically based religion, like none other, established by Jesus Christ, and preaching Him since 33 AD. We can’t get away from the Scriptures and that’s why bible study AND lectio divina are crucial every day. The Scriptures are testimony of how God works and humanity responds to God’s invitation.

Here is the Pope’s text:

I am pleased to welcome you at the end of your annual Plenary Assembly. I thank the President, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, for his greeting and summary of the topic that has been the subject of careful consideration in the course of your work. You have gathered again to study a very important topic: the inspiration and truth of the Bible. It is a matter that affects not only the individual believer, but the whole Church, for the life and mission of the Church is founded on the Word of God, which is the soul of theology and the inspiration of all Christian life .

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Do you really want to recognize the Lord? Emmaus is certainty

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What was true and real for the Apostles and disciples of the Lord 2000 years ago IS TRUE AND REAL for us today, right now. At least that’s what I believe. The Emmaus event is not an abstract account but a true encounter with a clear direction and goal: knowing that the Lord Jesus, once crucified and now risen, is alive as He said. I find myself asking:

Can you say with the same degree of certainty as the disciples of Emmaus came to understand, that it is a true joy to walk with others in and outside the Church over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord? Do you really believe it is your vocation to recognize the Risen Lord in the breaking of the Bread, and to help others to the same? How do you account for the joy in knowing the Lord and accepting the reality of the Lord’s enduring Presence in the Eucharist? Are ready to enter into worship upon recognizing the Lord at the Supper of Emmaus?

The question becomes for the Christian: what do you really want from the Risen Lord?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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