Tag Archives: scripture

St Pius X

St Pius X as cardinalWith Saint Pius X we have an example of a man who was given the mission “to safeguard the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ,” based on “heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude.” This is what we need to attend to. From the Office of Readings given today for the liturgical memorial of Saint Pius X comes from the 1911 apostolic constitution Divino Afflatu written by himself:

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions. Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.

In God’s image we are made

“The image of God is not depicted on gold but is imaged in humanity. The coin of Caesar is gold; that of God, humanity. Caesar is seen in his currency; God, however, is known through human beings. And so give your wealth to Caesar but reserve for God the sole innocence of your conscience, where God is beheld.”

This reflection for the 29th Sunday of Church year from an unknown 5th century author names a key in our spiritual life: our humanity, not temporal items. God reveals Himself in the body, not in gold, real estate or academic degrees. Whom do we seek to know: God or things?

Sacred Scripture as historical texts reveals Christ Jesus

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen Catholics draw closer to the Bible, the revealed Word of God. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI there was almost an explosion of emphasis on Scripture study, a resurgence of biblical preaching, a serious consideration of what it means to be an evangelical Catholic and lectio divina. In my opinion, it was Benedict XVI who gave critical attention to the sacred Scriptures in the calling of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God coupled with the concretizing the Church’s programatic direction with the publication of Verbum Domini (2010).

Rome Reports gives a spotlight on a recent initiative of the American Bible Society‘s “The Bible and the World.”

This initiative of the ABS is yet another great example of the place we Catholics need to have for the daily praying with God’s word, and the study of the historical text. As the preparatory commission for the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God stated about the complexity and beauty of the sacred text viz. our salvation in Christ Jesus,

Pastorally speaking, this truth requires an understanding on how to gather, in an analogous way, the various meanings of the Word of God in the faith of the Church, as seen in the Bible. In the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is shown to be the Eternal Word of God, which shines forth in creation, is given a historical character in the message of the prophets, is fully manifested in the Person of Jesus, is echoed in the voice of the apostles and is proclaimed in the Church today. In a general sense, the Word of God is Christ-the-Word, who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the key to all interpretation. “The Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, is not, in his fullness, much talk or a multiplicity of words; but a single Word, which embraces a great number of ideas (theoremata), each of which is a part of the Word in its entirety… and if Christ refers us to the Scriptures in testifying to himself, it is not to one book that he sends us to the exclusion of another, but to all, because all speak of him.”Thus, continuity can be seen in diversity.

Fr. Harrington Receives Heartfelt Tributes

Daniel Harrington SJOne of my former professors of Scripture is battling cancer.  Please offer a prayer for him. Jesuit Father Daniel Harrington was honored for his tremendous work in sacred Scripture. His notes and wisdom are still fresh in my mind. He is in his final year of teaching; this coming semester he is scheduled to teach three courses. Father Harrington’s many years of teaching, writing and research is a testament to the hard work of faith and reason that we ardently need.

The Harvard educated Jesuit priest served as editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972; edited the eighteen-volume Sacra Pagina series of New Testament Commentaries (Liturgical Press) and wrote “The Word “ column for America magazine for three years. His bibliography, however,  is more extensive. Not long ago Harrington and Christopher R. Matthews published Encountering Jesus in the Scriptures (Paulist Press, 2013), a collection of scholarly essays exploring who Jesus was in the first century—and what he means for us today. Putting biblical theology to work for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Boston, Harrington has been on the staff at St. Agnes Church in Arlington and at St. Peter’s in Cambridge.

Father Harrington remarked,

“It has been my privilege as a member of the Society of Jesus for more than 50 years to immerse myself in the study of the Bible — the ancient languages, the forms of expression, the culture settings and the theological significance.”

“The old saying ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life’ certainly applies to me. It’s all been a joy.”

Read about the event here.

Bible study resources

Bible study Catholics is no longer optional. Everything, and I mean everything in the Church, must be dependent on sacred Scripture, even the Magisterium. I came across this quote from Bishop Christopher Butler, OSB, which may be a bit cheeky, but to my mind it shows the degree of seriousness that we ought to think in biblical terms, “It is all very well for us to say and believe that the Magisterium is subject to holy Scripture. But is there anybody who is in a position to tell the Magisterium: ‘Look, you are not practicing your subjection to Scripture in your teaching’?” (in JJ Miller, ed., Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal, 1966). Indeed, we all need to be subject to Revelation.

We need to keep on top of our study and love of God’s revealed word: the study of Scripture is a non-negotiable for Catholics if they think they are going to be saved on the Last Day. Pope Benedict spoke of lectio divina as the springtime of the Church and organizations like the American Bible Society have spent lots of time and money trying to help Christians, including Catholics, to the biblical narrative of redemption.

Here are some bible resources:

Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu

Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum)

The Letter of Saint Athanasius on the Interpretation of the Psalms

Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (Baker Brazos Press, 2009).

Scott Hahn, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church (Image, 2013)

Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and the Church, (Eerdmans, 1989).

Some other things to have on your shelf, virtual or otherwise:

Understanding the the readings of the Liturgy (scroll down on the calendar to the month and day and click on the link)

Scott Hahn’s website, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Scott Hahn also has a great short summary of the Sunday readings that you can get sent free via e-mail once a week

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]yahoo.com.
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