I’m fairly new when it comes to living as a Catholic. As a former protestant, I was wondering if there was any special way Catholics read the bible. I don’t want to rely on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) but I don’t really know how to go about this.
Currently, I try to read the mass readings everyday and I get an email with a little reflection about them but I would like to do more reading of scripture. I am eager to jump right into rereading various parts of the bible or even try for an entire read through with a Catholic mindset now but I am hesitant to go it on my own.
What is the best way to go about doing this?
I saw in the sticky threads on this subforum that there are some awesome free commentaries out there by some of the early church. Should I just read and then refer to those or is there some other method someone would suggest for someone in my position?
It sounds like you have the right idea and BTW welcome to the Church.
One really good thing that I doubt you’ll have a hard time doing is reading your Bible for at least a half hour. That’s a good thing because the church attaches a plenary indulgence to it to encourage us to do so.
[size=3]**Besides ordinary benefits, what do those gain who read portions of the Bible every day?
** “A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who with the veneration due to the divine word make a spiritual reading from Sacred Scripture. A plenary indulgence is granted, if this reading is continued for at least one half an hour.” (Enchiridion of Indulgences. Authorized English edition. 1969. Catholic Book Publishers. New York. Page 68. # 50)There are indeed many good Catholic commentaries that you will find useful and instructive. I personally am partial to the Catechisms that are available because they are some of the most in depth expositions of Christianity I have ever found. The 2 main ones in the U.S. are the [/size]Catechism of the Catholic Church and Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church but there are others as well. To keep things simple it’s probably best to stick with these and I have them both.
Regardless, reading the Bible is the main thing that you’re looking for and that will suffice. There are several very good Catholic Bibles around that have good faithful commentaries and footnotes that will also help.
Each and every chance you get - at home, while driving or traveling by air, listen to Catholic radio. Absorb it. Let it permeate your thoughts and prayers. You have heard of the “deposit of faith.” What the Church also has is a deposit of brilliant laity, Deacons, Priests and Bishops who teach the scriptures in historical and theological context. For example, listening to Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. or Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. on a regular basis is amazingly illuminating. All instruction is based primarily on hearing. Listening to the richness of the faith unfolded in your ears is priceless.
Prof. John Bergsma from Franciscan University of Steubenville wrote a book entitled Bible Basics for Catholics A good read and guide.
I also heartily suggest obtaining various translations of the scriptures, as each translation comes close to the bulls-eye, perhaps missing by a tiny bit. Having several translations allows you to bracket that bulls-eye and come to know with more clarity where, exactly, that bulls-eye is.
Bibles? The Revised Standard Version, 1st or 2nd Catholic Edition. The Knox. The Jerusalem Bible. Any 1941-1969 Confraternity Bible. The Revised English Bible w/Deuterocanon (“Apocrypha”). The Douay-Rheims is classic. I am not big at all on the NAB or NAB/RE, but they will suffice if no other is available. Lots of threads on that subject!
Oh! The Catechism! Do you have a copy? Since it is the deposit of faith, and teaches faith and morals without error, it is an invaluable and irreplaceable guide to our scripture reading.
Amazon, eBay, ThriftBooks and local thrift stores are great sources for an affordable Catholic library.
A lot, I know, but implemented one step at a time, it works.
Welcome to the Catholic faith! If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing the Douay-Rheims Bible. The purpose of this version, both the text and notes, was to uphold Catholic tradition in the face of the Protestant Reformation.
I bought the travel size one and love it! It’s perfect for my rather tiny hands.
Hope this helped, and God bless!
As a former Protestant, then you’re probably pretty familiar with the Bible. I would note that a goodly number (though not all) of the Catholic “Bible study” guides out there are geared to Catholics who have not done much Bible reading or had much exposure to it beyond just hearing readings at Mass. So definitely thumb through any Catholic Bible guide first before you buy, to make sure it’s at the appropriate level for your Bible familiarity. If you find a good Catholic Bible commentary online that you like, then you can use that too, just make sure it’s one approved by the Church.
With respect to reading the Bible, don’t overthink how to go about it. I’d suggest that in addition to the daily readings, maybe you just start at the beginning of the Catholic Bible and read straight through. I read the Bible cover-to-cover in high school and planning to do it again soon as that is a good way to get everything in perspective. You may want to take a little extra time reading those books of the Bible that weren’t in your Protestant Bible, likewise a little extra time with passages that are longer or worded differently from what you are used to. But don’t be afraid to meditate prayerfully on what a passage means to you. That’s a universal way of thoughtfully reading the Bible and not forbidden as long as someone isn’t trying to prove a particular argument against the Church or its teachings. I myself have gotten a lot out of radio commentary by some Protestant preachers as well as Catholic clergy commenting on Bible stories or Bible readings.
I’m also a recent convert. During RCIA, I made the decision to read the entire Bible and Catechism before my confirmation. My local Catholic bookstore had a small leaflet for reading the Bible and Catechism through in a year. I read two sections a day so I could do it in six months. According to the plan, the Scripture readings compliment the Catechism readings and vice versa. It was excellent. I’d been protestant my whole life, and it was the first time I’d ever read the Bible in its entirety (and not just because of the deuterocanon!). The Catechism is not a direct Bible Commentary, per se, but reading it in conjunction with scripture is the best way I know to gain a deeper knowledge of the Catholic faith quickly.
As a Catholic we are OBLIGATED to understand the bible inline with what the RCC teaches. One can sate that if our personal understanding of the bible is NOT in laine with what the RCC teaches; change it as its wrong.
Each of these verses support this position
Mt 16: 15-19
John 17: 17-20
Mt 28:18-20 18-22
Eph. 2: 22
EACH of the above are:
Directed to and exclusively to the Apostles and there successors [compare Mt 10: to Mt 28 in the verses quoted above; and each of them is literal TRUTH
The best way for any Catholic to rightly understand the bible [especially new Catholics] is to really and deeply delve into the 2,000 years young Catholic Faith. The more one knows our faith beliefs the better one is able to rightly comprehend the the bible; which BTW is a Catholic Book in its origin.
as a good and general rule for right understanding; it is always best on the first reading [especially in the NT] to be understood as being a literal translation of what the author of the bible wished to share and teach.
Here’s another helpful RULE:
My friend have you ever been exposed to the One Infallible Rule for right understanding of the Bible?
**Never Ever; can, may or DOES
One verse, passage or teaching have the power or authority to
Invalidate, make void or override another Verse, passage or teaching:
Were this even the slightest possibility; [it’s NOT!] it would render the entire Bible useless to teach or learn Christ Faith”**
2Peter 1: 19-21
And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.  For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.
 No prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation: This shews plainly that the scriptures are not to be expounded by any one’s private judgment or private spirit, because every part of the holy scriptures were written by men inspired by the Holy Ghost, and declared as such by the Church; therefore they are not to be interpreted but by the Spirit of God, which he hath left, and promised to remain with his Church to guide her in all truth to the end of the world. Some may tell us, that many of our divines interpret the scriptures: they may do so, but they do it always with a submission to the judgment of the Church, and not otherwise. End Quotes
Welcome Home and I hope you find this information useful:)
…personally, I think that it depends upon you… reading/studying Scriptures is fun for me… more like a fun job, really–since I love searching through Scriptures…
…I once took the Bible apart… segmenting Scriptures into themes/titles…
The best system I got?: Set up a daily reading: one chapter of the Old Testament (starting with Genesis), one Psalm (starting with Psalm 1; breaking the really long ones into several segments–and you will run out of the Psalms at that point restart them), and one chapter of the New Testament (starting with St. Matthew 1). As you continue this method you will come to convergences where what is being stated in the Old Testament and the Psalms become pronouncedly demonstrated in the New Testament reading or would be fresh in your mind from the previous readings that you would have just recently made.
One more thing you can do is organize a Bible study where the group (or you and another person) could single out a theme/event and search through all of the Sacred Scriptures on just that particular theme/event.
To take this idea a step further; read the daily liturgical readings. Not only will the Psalms echo the theme for the day, but you will touch upon many Catholic themed Scripture readings in both the OT and NT. Of course you will be in step with the Liturgical year as well, and have the “back story” to what readings occur on Sunday.
It is actually OK to “interpret” the Scriptures in your own way or as it applies to your own life. However, just don’t use the Scriptures as a weapon against Church teaching as the Protestants like to do. (to the OP, not Angel )
I think you’ve made a fine start with the Mass readings. I have to agree with the others that supplementing your biblical reading with the Catechism is a great idea. The Catechism is full of biblical references. If you have the money, I think a Didache Bible might be good for you, it has commentary based on the Catechism. If you join the “Coming Home Network” website, you can get a free pdf schedule for reading the Bible and Catechism in a year. I’ve done it a couple times and it’s about 20 minutes per day.
A super-solid, free, online Catholic Bible study is Agape Bible Study. It doesn’t have all the books of the Bible, but it has enough to keep you busy for a long time.
Ignatius Study Bible was mentioned, it’s fantastic, although only New Testament (they are working on the OT)
…that is precisely what I discovered! In her Wisdom the Church had orchestrated the means to marry the Old Testament, Psalms, and the New Testament… by pure chance I came across such wonderful compositions… it was like–‘WOW… so that’s what that means!’ or ‘WOW… so that’s where that comes from!’ …then I remembered: “there’s nothing new, under the sun…” The Church was right on target!
…this is part of the reason why non-Catholic Christians and Catholics have such divergence in thought, comprehension, and theology… we all read the same (almost the same) book… but the Catholic take is in step with Apostolic Teaching, which includes both the Oral and Written Tradition (Word of God). While the Church seeks to be deep in Scriptures and Church history, non-Catholics seek to divorce themselves from Church history… the gap which is created is then filled with “modern” thought and practices… these, I’m sad to say, keep pushing non-Catholics into fractured exegesis and understanding of God’s Word and His Salvific Plan.
…yet, I applaud non-Catholic zealousness for searching/studying the Word of God–some Catholics seem to think that if they remain ignorant of the relationship God wants with us they have a safety zone from which they can claim “Salvation through ignorance.” (They fail to follow Romans 1:16-33.)
You can purchase it on your own, but I believe it can be a bit pricey… $200-300? I’m guessing. I purchased it in conjunction with our church for $45 with all of the study materials and DVDs shared among a group. He teaches you how to go through the Bible and read it properly and which books are the “main” books and which ones are the “supplementary” books. It’s not a straight read through.
It helped me immensely. Maybe you can ask others in your church if they’d like to do it also. Maybe God is calling a new ministry to your church! The leaders do not (I repeat, do not) need to know any more about the Bible than the students. (Kinda cool if you ask me).