ONE of the most important efforts made by Pope Leo XIII., during his long and glorious pontificate, was to promote a greater love and esteem for the Holy Scriptures. Not only did he urge upon ecclesiastical students and professors the need of a profounder and a more critical and exhaustive study of the Hebrew, Greek and other texts, but he also strongly recoIn mended the Inspired Volume to the devout use and attentive consideration of all the faithful in general. In earnest and loving words he exhorted his two hundred and fifty millions of spiritual subjects scattered throughout every land to familiarise themselves more and more with the Written Word of God. So anxious was he that his advice should be laid to heart that he granted to everyone, who should spend a quarter of an hour in reading or meditating on the Holy Book, a special indulgence. In pondering over the words of this holy Pontiff we are forcibly put in mind of what other saintly men have said on the same subject. "There must be," says St. Basil, "assiduous and constant reading and meditation of the Holy Scriptures, in order to bring out and impress upon the mind the majesty of the hidden truths therein contained." "To read the Holy Scriptures," exclaims St. Augustine, in his 112th sermon, "is to obtain no slight knowledge of Divine beatitude. In the Scriptures, as in a mirror, man can see himself, and what he is, and whither he is going. Regular reading of the Holy Scriptures elucidates all things, it instils a fear of hell, and lifts up the heart of the devout reader to heavenly joys. He who desires to be ever in the company of God ought to pray and read without ceasing, for when we pray we speak to God, and when we read (the Scriptures) God speaks to us." Indeed St. Anthony of the desert was wont to say that "the Gospel was a letter from God sent to us from heaven," and St. Charles Borromeo had such a respect for it that he was accustomed to read it bare-headed and on his knees, while some of the saints, such as St. Cecilia, for instance, used to carry it in their bosoms, and never allow anything but death to part it from them. St. Jerome's advice to a young wvidow was always to read each day a certain fixed number of verses". "Pay God this tribute," he wrote to her, "and never retire to rest without having first filled the basket of your heart with this provision of sacred verses." Pius VII., in a Rescript to the Bishops of England, 18th April, 1820, bids them "encourage their subjects to read the Holy Scriptures, because nothing can be more useful, more consoling, or more animating. They serve to confirm the faith, to raise the hope and to inflame the charity of the true Christian." With these and silnilar ,vords conling to us from the highest authorities, and still ringing in our ears, we think it may be useful to set before the Catholic public some general account of the Divine Book, together with the vicissitudes through which it has passed, and the abuses as well as the uses to which it has sometimes been put. To the learned and the leisured we by no means address ourselves. For such as these innumerable works of great erudi tion already exist. Our task is a far simpler one, and more befitting our weakness. We address ourselves to the masses of the people-to the multitudes that fill our churches, to the ordinary men and women of the world, to tradesmen, artisans and labourers, whether in field or in factory-in a word, to those ,any millions of men and women whose occupations allow them little time for deep study and prolonged and wearisome research. We have done our best to avoid all perplexing, abstruse and recondite questions and contentions (amid which it might be imprudent, if not perilous for us to attempt to thread our way), while the points upon which we have touched we have endeavoured to explain so that every one, who cares to con our words, may readily grasp their drift and meaning.
Msgr John S Vaughn, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1489560556, ISBN 13: 9781489560551