Misconception #3: The Catholic Church Discourages Scripture Meditation

Common misconception states that Catholics do not read the Bible, nor are they encouraged to do so.  On the contrary, the scripture readings for the entire, universal Church are decided upon months in advanced by the God ordained leaders of the Church. Many people feel this takes the Holy Spirit’s guidance out of the equation. However, since the Church sits in the seat of Christ in His physical absence and is being lead by the Holy Spirit as promised, this is not the case. The only thing that is taken out of the equation is spontaneity, and to believe that the Holy Spirit cannot work by planning months in advance is putting Him in a box. Indeed, the Holy Spirit leads the Church such that each book of the Bible, even the commonly overlooked books, are studied and given the attention God intended for it to have.

The fact is, if you were to attend mass every day for 3 years, you would have the entire Bible read! And that’s just in church, that’s not counting studying it on your own time, which of course the Church highly encourages you do.

Discouraging individual Bible reading and meditation is not scriptural, nor does it coincide with the teachings of the Church. The Church considers scripture, amongst other things, an “aid for meditation”. The Church encourages that you read the scripture readings before coming to Church on Sunday and reflect upon them, and that you make yourself knowledgeable in the scriptures as a tool against Satan and to become stronger in your faith. The Church encourages that you inscribe the Word of God on your heart and let it guide you in your thoughts, speech, and heart.

However, the Church does speak against individual interpretation of the Bible, which is entirely different from meditation, and the two mustn’t be confused. Indeed, poetic scriptures such as Psalms and Ecclesiastes can speak different things to different people, and this is okay as that is the function of those particular types of scripture. However, the significance of the Gospels and the interpretations of  New Testament doctrines have already been revealed by Jesus to his apostles, and have remained constant in the approximately 2000 years since the Church began. God does not contradict Himself, nor does He lie, so He will not give someone else, a thousand years later, a new, different interpretation of the Gospels or New Testament doctrines. It is important to understand that this is not saying that the Holy Spirit can only speak to and/or reveal things to Church leaders. I italicize for emphasis because many people think that saying God will not reveal new interpretation of scripture means that He cannot speak into the hearts of individuals, and this is NOT what the Church teaches.

Indeed, if someone is following Christ and has the Holy Spirit is dwelling in them, God will continuously speak into their heart and reveal things to them along the way. When my husband asked me out on our first date, God spoke into my heart that it was okay to date this man. When my husband was contemplating asking me to marry him, God revealed to Him when the time was right to ask. When I felt as if I needed to pray for someone, but wasn’t sure who, I simply began praying and God revealed to me who it was who needed my prayer. The Catholic Church would concur that when you are in a personal relationship with God, He will speak into your life constantly in such ways. The only thing He will not speak is new revelations of scripture interpretation to you, because these have already been revealed years ago, and God does not change.

Study scripture. Meditate upon it day and night. “Hide it’s words in your heart, that you might not sin against God” (Psalm 119:11). Seek understanding of scripture, but seek the understanding where Christ has already revealed what He meant to say.

“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ” — St. Jerome


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