Another challenging situation when defending Catholicism is why the Bible isn’t available at the Church as it is in other denominations? My go-to response is that it doesn’t need to be, because as Catholic’s, we devote our entire lives understanding the bible inside and out from Baptism, that anything the Priest would reference does not require cross-referencing or fact-checking because we already know what is false and truth.
My experience is that many Protestant churches that have bibles there have services that more closely resemble Bible Study classes. The minister will offer a teaching or a series of teachings on a book or section of the Bible. The bibles are there so that the members can follow along with the teaching, flipping back and forth and reading along with what the minister is saying.
With Catholics our services are divided into two halves: Liturgy of the Word, and Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of the Word, we have readings from the Bible (two on weekday services, three on Sundays) which follow a timetable set by the Magisterium and agreed to after consultation with a number of other denominations, so every denomination is reading from the same section of Scripture at a time. The role of the priest is to preach a homily that SHOULD draw these three separate readings into a common theme, and thereby increase and improve the congregation’s understanding of how all Scripture is inter-related.
It is a difference in focus, since much of our focus is on the Eucharist, while the Protestant focus is almost exclusively on the Word.
You should point out that anyone can follow the scripture readings by simply picking up the missal in the pew.
Also Bibles are readily available to anyone by simply going to the church office and one is given to every RCIA student.
There is no prohibition of bringing one’s Bible to Mass nor any mandate to do so and Catholics generally know the Bible as well or better than our n-C counterparts (I know I do :D) though we don’t run around reeling off chapter and verse.
I have researched this and have found that Bible reading and study among Catholics is about equal to that of other n-C communities. See Do Catholics Read the Bible?
The church even encourages us to read and study the Bible by offering a special indulgence for it.
So…you might ask your antagonist if it is a sin not to take a Bible to church or pick one up while there? Then ask what they base that response upon.
Besides I have seen way too many cases of messed up teachings coming from preachers with a Bible in their hands so that doesn’t insure sound doctrine or teachings.
If your parish is like mine, that’s more of a “singing” than a “reading.” I kinda miss having the Psalms read. They are poetry, and there’s more possibilities of expressive reading with that than there are with “expressive singing”.
R. (4b) Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken.
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see:
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted,
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.
We don’t bring Bibles to Mass because we use the Bible as the first Christians did: in prayer. The Mass is not a Bible study, the Scriptures are proclaimed there as Word and prayer, hence, they are organized into chunks called pericopes, and they are printed in books called Lectionaries. For the pew-sitter, these would be in hand missals or seasonal misallettes.
As prayer, the Scriptures are that par excellence, and because they are prayed according to a certain rhythm, they are also organized into prayer books called Breviaries.
Bibles as books belong in the home and in private study and prayer groups. In Church, the Bible is a living, breathing organism, which culminates in the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
My answer is that there’s typically a missal in the pews, and these missals have the Scripture readings in them that will be proclaimed on any given day. So, not only do we have them, but there’s no need for the celebrant to say, “ok… turn to the Book of x, chapter y, verse z” – it’s already there, just waiting for folks to pick up the book!
I like when you say that “…the Scriptures are proclaimed…” I’ve tried to impress upon the readers in my parish that the role of the lector is that of a herald. (Here my old Society for Creative Anachronism training kicks in.)
Heralds are the Voice of the King. We sing about “herald angels” at Christmas. Before mass communication existed, messages from the King to His people would be carried by heralds. When they arrived at their destination or location, the people would be gathered, usually in the town square or town green. The heralds had a staff or a rod that they carried as a symbol of their authority. When the herald raised his staff above his head, everyone was supposed to fall silent immediately. With the staff raised, it was not some pimply-faced teenager standing there, but the Voice of the King, speaking the message of the King with the King’s authority, and you afforded him the same respect you would as if the King were in your presence speaking (which, in a manner of speaking, He was.)
Lectors don’t have rods or staffs that we raise above our heads anymore, but we are bringing The Word of the Lord to His people, and we need to remember than when we are called upon to speak.
A parish near to this parish does have Bibles in the pews, but they are for people who come to Adoration or to make a visit and wish to read Scripture privately, not for use during the Mass. Their parish is open from 5 AM to Midnight daily. They get a lot of drop in traffic.
To paraphrase the Lord Who is present at each mass, “Something greater than Jonah, something greater than Moses, something greater than Solomon, something greater than the temple, something greater than the bible is here.” (Mt 12:6, 12:41-42, Lk 11:31-32)
We are not the doubting Bereans, who had to check the scriptures to believe in Christ. We are in His presence, eating and drinking His Body and Blood. At such a sublime moment, who can think of created goods? The world passes away as the tears flow.
Those who have discarded the Holy Eucharist and reject sacramentals, have only the bible to represent the presence of Christ. So, to some I am sure, lack of a bible somehow indicates a lack of Christ’s presence.
I have never attended a Catholic church that has missals in the Pews, but our priest hands out the missals every year before Advent and so we are encouraged to read our Bible during the week and read the Mass readings before the weekend Masses. We can bring our missals with us to Mass.
…I think this stems from the anti-Catholic teachings from the protestant revolt, er reformation… many are convinced that the Popes and Bishops, throughout millennia, have ordered Catholics to not read the Bible. I have encountered a few that hold fast to the various myths (as Bibles being chained, Catholic Bishops not owning their own Bibles, Catholics being persecuted for reading the Bible, etc.).
True, there are some facts intertwined with these myths… ie: Bibles, way back when, were chained because there was no printing press–these Bibles were ornate with gold/gold leaf and very expensively and time consumingly made; further, days-gone-era was repleted with illiteracy–even monarchs would not necessarily know much more than signing their names… let alone the masses… so, yeah, back then Bibles were not much use to the illiterate.
Still, the Church managed to not only preach the Word from the pulpit but also to let the least educated into the pages of Sacred Scriptures through the various paintings, which included the extensive stained-glass depictions of Scriptures.
How the protestant’s custom arose I do not know… but it’s been my experience that the gist is that the Church is hiding the Truth and protestants are an opened book; personally, I see in it a distrust for the celebrant… could you imagine the early Church members calling to St. Peter and St. Paul: “hey!, why didn’t I get a copy of the scrolls, how do I know that what you are preaching is in the scrolls?”
Still, the Church does provides the Daily Missal which contains the sequence of the Mass, along with the Scriptural Readings.
Yet, I leave you with this little tidbit:
Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
Therefore, we also give thanks to God without ceasing: because, that when you had received of us the word of the hearing of God, you received it not as the word of men, [size=]but (as it is indeed) the word of God[/size], who worketh in you that have believed. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
Interestingly, the early Church did not think that everyone had to have a copy of the scrolls!
That is an art (devotion) that is vanishing… people forget that they are there to proclaim the Word of our KING!
Conversely, people have more respect for theaters and libraries than they do for the Church and the Altar–reverence has been replaced with familiarity–St. Paul clearly warned about this:
11 For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: 13 Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)
…if only they would humbly take Christ at His Word:
**55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. ** (St. John 6:55-57)