Friday, 19 November 2010

The Voice of... Pope Benedict XV (Part III)

On 15th September, 1920, Pope Benedict XV published his Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Ordinaries in Union with the Apostolic See on St. Jerome:

"45. If, then, St. Jerome begs for assiduous reading of the Bible by the faithful in general, he insists on it for those who are called to "bear the yoke of Christ" and preach His word. His words to Rusticus the monk apply to all clerics:

"So long as you are in your own country regard you cell as your orchard; there you can gather Scripture's various fruits and enjoy the pleasures it affords you. Always have a book in your hands and read it; learn the Psalter by heart; pray unceasingly; watch over your senses lest idle thoughts creep in.[76] Similarly to Nepotian:

"Constantly read the Bible; in fact, have it always in your hands. Learn what you have got to teach. Get firm hold of that "faithful word that is according to doctrine, that you may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and convince the gainsayers."[S. Jerome, Epist. ad Nepotianum, 52, 7, 1; cf. Tit. 1:9.]

"When reminding Paulinus of the lessons St. Paul gave to Timothy and Titus, and which he himself had derived from the Bible, Jerome says:

"A mere holy rusticity only avails the man himself; but however much a life so meritorious may serve to build up the Church of God, it does as much harm to the Church if it fails to "resist the gainsayer." Malachias the Prophet says, or rather the Lord says it by Malachias: "Ask for the Law from the priests." For it is the priest's duty to give an answer when asked about the Law. In Deuteronomy we read: "Ask thy father and he will tell thee; ask the priests and they will tell thee. . ." Daniel, too, at the close of his glorious vision, declares that "the just shall shine like stars and they that are learned as the brightness of the firmament." What a vast difference, then, between a righteous rusticity and a learned righteousness! The former likened to the stars; the latter to the heavens themselves![Id. Epist. ad Paulinum, 53, 3 3.]

"He writes ironically to Marcella about the "self-righteous lack of education" noticeable in some clerics, who "think that to be without culture and to be holy are the same thing, and who dub themselves 'disciples of the fisherman'; as though they were holy simply because ignorant!"[Id. Epsit. as Marcellam, 27, i, 2.]

"Nor is it only the "uncultured" whom Jerome condemns. Learned clerics sin through ignorance of the Bible; therefore he demands of them an assiduous reading of the text.

"46. Strive, then, Venerable Brethren, to bring home to your clerics and priests these teachings of the Sainted Commentator. You have to remind them constantly of the demands made by their divine vocation if they would be worthy of it: "The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and men shall ask the Law at his mouth, for he is the Angel of the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 2:7). They must realize, then, that they cannot neglect study of the Bible, and that this can only be undertaken along the lines laid down by Leo XIII in his Encyclical Providentissimus Deus.[Leo Xlll, Providentissimus Deus; cf. Ench. Bibl., n. 100-132.] They cannot do this better than by frequenting the Biblical Institute established by our predecessor, Pius X, in accordance with the wishes of Leo XIII. As the experience of the past ten years has shown, it has proved a great gain to the Church. Not all, however, can avail themselves of this. It will be well, then, Venerable Brethren, that picked men, both of the secular and regular clergy, should come to Rome for Biblical study. All will not come with the same object. Some, in accordance with the real purpose of the Institute, will so devote themselves to Biblical study that "afterwards, both in private and in public, whether by writing or by teaching, whether as professors in Catholic schools or by writing in defense of Catholic truth, they may be able worthily to uphold the cause of Biblical study." Others, however, already priests, will obtain here a wider knowledge of the Bible than they were able to acquire during their theological course; they will gain, too, an acquaintance with the great commentators and with Biblical history and geography. Such knowledge will avail them much in their ministry; they will be "instructed to every good work."[Pius X, Vinea electa, May 7, 1909; cf. A.A.S., I (1909) 447-451; Ench. Bibl., n. 300.]"

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