Today is the Feast Day of St. Jerome, a great saint and doctor of the Church who gave us the Vulgate Bible. Vulgate is another word for "the speech of the common people and especially of uneducated people". St. Jerome translated the Bible so that the ordinary person could read and understand it.
Despite this great gift given to us in the Fourth Century, the Church has not always promoted study of scripture. The Council of Trent prohibited even owning a Bible, much less reading it, without special written permission from the local bishop. Traditionalists love to quote from the Council of Trent, considering it at least as infallible as Sacred Scripture. They certainly quote from it much more often than they quote the Holy Bible. The Filial Correction, which accused Pope Francis of spreading heresy, used innumerable quotes from the Council of Trent to prove their points.
To be fair, the Filial Correction also uses many Scripture references. But I wonder if anyone who has read the Correction has bothered to look up any of the Scriptures cited to ensure they are being used accurately. It wouldn't seem so from my perusal of the blog posts about the document. I did a post showing how inaccurate and misapplied the use of scripture was in just one small part of the document, but I haven't seen anything like this anywhere else, either proving or disproving the points made in the document.
The following prohibition was promulgated by the *infallible* Council of Trent:
‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).
Note that a person could not even receive absolution from his sins if he owned a Bible without written permission from the bishop. Judging by their blogs and websites, I think traditionalists have taken the Trent prohibition against reading Sacred Scripture to heart because I almost never see them quote Scripture. They can quote the most obscure saint from the 6th Century to prove their points, but they can't tell you very much, if anything, about Scripture.
To quote from St. Jerome, these bloggers are merely showing their ignorance and telling the world that they cannot be taken seriously.
Fortunately, we live in a time when reading and studying the written Word of God is heavily promoted by Church magesterium. Pope Benedict XVI vigorously pushed consistent reading of the Bible:
The diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart. If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church-I am convinced of it-a new spiritual springtime.Our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, has also promoted reading the Bible. In a Forward to a youth Bible, he wrote:
The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often – every day, both on your own and together with others . . . Read with attention! Do not stay on the surface as if reading a comic book! Never just skim the Word of God!
In an Angelus message earlier this year, Pope Francis said we should consult the Bible like we consult our phones. From an article from Vatican Radio:
Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square following his weekly Angelus blessing, the Pope urged those present to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones and asked: “What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?”
The Bible, he explained, contains the Word of God, the most effective tool in fighting evil and keeping us close to God.
Clearly, Francis said, the comparison between the Bible and the cellphone is paradoxical, but it induces us to reflect.
“If we always carried God’s Word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path towards good” he said.
. . .
Pope Francis invited all Christians to follow in Jesus’ footsteps during the forty days of Lent and to confront the spiritual battle against evil with the strength of God’s Word.
“That’s why, he said, it is necessary to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, reflect upon it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the Word of God which is always topical and effective” he said.
Inviting the faithful to carry a pocket-sized Gospel all the time, the Pope concluded with the words: “don’t forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us!”
I try very hard in my blogging not to just give my own opinion or to promote the opinion of others without backing it up from the Word of God. Look at any of my posts, and you will see scripture constantly quoted. I never want to just give my own opinion because, like everyone else, I am a fallible, sinful human being who, on my own, will go the wrong way every time. I need the Word of God as a lamp to my feet (Ps. 119:105) or I will just stumble and fall.
Far too much of the Internet consists of people spouting their own opinions and stating such as if it was the Bible itself. This is as true for the Catholic Internet as it is for everything else. This is why the Internet is such a grave danger to people. I think it would almost be a good thing if the Trent prohibition against the Bible would be applied to the so-called Catholic Internet today. Those of us who blog on spiritual matters should not be able to do so unless we have written permission from our local bishop.
Of course that isn't going to happen, and as long as there are those blogging away and causing more harm than good, I am going to be here showing, by use of Scripture, how wrong they are. My prayer is that I never mislead anyone on my blog, that I stay true to both the Living and Written Word of God. I know I am following my own drummer, that the things I write are not in step with either the liberal or conservative bloggers. But I hope that means that I am walking on the right path.
We live in a dangerous world, both spiritually and physically. And it is truly dangerous to place your faith in someone just because he sounds good and says the things you like and agree with. Read the Word of God every day. After reading it, pray about and contemplate it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the true meaning. When people quote scripture, look it up and make sure that they are using it in a truthful manner. We must always remember that the devil often appears as an angel of light, and he is far more dangerous in this way than when he shows his true hand as the master of deception and the angel of death.