In response to a “Bible Christian’s“ Critique & Criticism of Catholics Reading the Bible

by Steve Ray on June 2, 2019

A man named and Alan posted a comment on my blog. He claims that he was once a Catholic and therefore he is eminently qualified to comment on Catholics reading Bibles. He said they don’t read Bibles and they “don’t even own Bibles”. His ignorant exaggerations discredit everything else he says but I still thought it would be interesting to respond to him with a few facts for the education of everyone else.

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To Steve Ray:
As one who was raised in the Catholic Church: St. Luke (GS); St. Edward (HS); John Carroll University, graduate I am uniquely qualified to comment on Catholics relationship with the Holy Bible. Fact, as a general rule, Catholics do not read the Holy Bible. Catholics do not enter Church with a copy of the Holy Bible in tow.

While I do not recall being told not to read the Bible, Catholics simply relied on the weekly homily delivered by the priest. Bible message references to be sure, but no Catholics following along or reading the Bible during the homily. Sorry Steve, iss fun to pretend Catholics are "in their Bible," they simply do not own one. Time for you to get real, my friend.

STEVE RAY HERE IN RESPONSE:
Alan, First of all, thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. Second of all, you are not uniquely qualified since you only went to a very limited number of Catholic churches in a very limited space and time. The Catholic Church is been around for 2000 years. How old are you?

Second, Catholic Bibles are one of the hottest things being sold right now. I am a Catholic and I study the Bible all the time and I know many many others who do. So you’re sweeping generalizations discredit everything else you say.

I’d also like to remind you that no one had their own Bible up until the last couple hundred years. First of all, thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. Second of all, you are not uniquely qualified since you only went to a very limited number of Catholic churches in a very limited space and time. The Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years. How old are you?

Second, Catholic Bibles are one of the hardest things aren’t being sold right now. I’m a Catholic and I studied the Bible all the time and I know many many others who do. So you’re sweeping generalizations discredit everything else you say.

I’d also like to remind you that no one had their own Bible up until the last couple hundred years. First of all the Bible wasn’t even collected and put together in a book until the end of the fourth century. For the next thousand years a Bible cost the equivalent of three year’s wages which meant that even you would not be able to afford to carry a Bible to church and follow along with your “pastor“.

Carrying a Bible to church is a relatively new idea. On top of that, for those who believe that you should read the Bible for yourself as the primary way to be a real Christian, one must remember that for most of history 90% of the people or more were illiterate and even today 50% of the world cannot read or do not even have the Bible yet printed in their language.

That is why the Church, and by that I mean the Catholic Church, which has been here for 2000 years, reads large sections of scripture every day at Mass and all through history people listen to those and often memorized them because they didn’t have their own Bibles or couldn’t read. Even today in places where there is no written language the Catholic Church continues to provide the word of God along with healthcare and education which protestants unhappily don’t do very much.

And are you aware Alan, that the Bible was originally written with the intention of being read out loud to a group. It was not intended to be read silently to yourself. In fact it wasn’t until the fourth century that Saint Ambrose started the very unusual practice of reading the Bible silently to himself instead of having it read out loud.

If you took a Christian from the first four centuries and put them in a Baptist church today, they would have no idea where they are or what was going on. However, if you put a first century Christian in a Catholic Church today, except for the strange clothes and different language, they would know exactly where they are and what is going on because it’s the same liturgy that has been celebrated on Sundays since the beginning.

If you don’t believe that, read Justin Martyr who gave the first written account of what was done on Sunday mornings and you’ll find out that what we are doing today in the Catholic Church is exactly what the early Christians did from the 1st century.

In summary, we would welcome you back to the true Church and when you read your Bible remember it was the bishop’s and councils of the Catholic Church to determine which books belonged to the canon, put it together and copied it and passed it down through the generations — Protestants that read their Bibles today (which happen to be very few and that I know because I used to be one) have the Catholic Church to thank for the book.

Here’s a truth you may want to memorize along with John 3:16. “To be deep in history is to cease being a Protestant.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leslie June 15, 2019 at 6:32 AM

“As one who was raised in the Catholic Church . . . I am uniquely qualified to comment on Catholics relationship with the Holy Bible.”

You would be “uniquely qualified” only if you were the *only* one ever raised in the Catholic Church.

“Catholics do not enter Church with a copy of the Holy Bible in tow.”

Why would we? We go to Church to assist at Mass, the re-presentation of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. The traditional prayer before the Mass is:

“Eternal Father, I unite myself with the intentions and affections of our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary, and I offer Thee the sacrifice which Thy beloved Son Jesus made of Himself on the Cross, and now renews on this holy altar:
To adore Thee and give Thee the honour which is due to Thee, confessing Thy supreme dominion over all things, and the absolute dependence of everything upon Thee, Who art our one and last end.
To thank Thee for innumerable benefits received.
To appease Thy justice, irritated against us by so many sins, and to make satisfaction for them.
To implore grace and mercy for myself, for [Mention the name of the person(s)], for all afflicted and sorrowing, for poor sinners, for all the world, and for the holy souls in purgatory.
Amen”
The Mass is a sacrifice, and taking the Bible along and reading it isn’t how one participates in it.

“no Catholics following along or reading the Bible during the homily.”

Again, why would we? The priest is speaking, usually about the readings for that Mass, explaining them, applying them to our lives. We’ve just heard the readings; it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to re-read them instead of listening.

“While I do not recall being told not to read the Bible”

Because you weren’t.

“Catholics simply relied on the weekly homily delivered by the priest.”

You mean like all the early Christians, and like almost all Christians up until the invention of moveable type and even beyond then, for the illiterate? And even then they would also hear stories from the Bible told to them; would see statues and stained glass and paintings showing people and events from the Bible. Then there would be catechism classes, as well. And it is not only in the homily that parts of the Bible are included in the Mass.

Now, if one is literate, one can read the Bible. We are encouraged to do so. It is good to do so; but it is not required, and there are many different ways to study the Bible. For example, one might read a boook like Brant Pitre’s “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” which brings out connections that one might not find for oneself if one were simply reading the Bible from cover to cover; or one might listen to presentations by Scott Hahn.

Your problem is that you are focusing on the Bible to the exclusion of all else. Please show me where in the Bible Jesus said, “Go, and read the Bible.” He didn’t. He told the disciples to “teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” He had already instituted the Eucharist, commanding them to do as He did.

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