Catholic Encouragement for reading Scripture



I have finally returned to a manuscript I wrote last year for a book on leading Bible Study. Each chapter begins with a quotation from a Saint or Church document which praises God’s Word or exhorts the faithful to the reading of Scripture. Today’s post will function as a notepad for all the quotations I’ve found…

Is there a quotation you love which I have omitted? Please share it in the Comments!

2nd Century

St. Irenaeus of Lyons

For we learned the plan of our salvation from no others than from those through whom the gospel came to us.  They first preached it abroad, and then later by the will of God handed it down to us in Writings, to be the foundation and pillar of our faith
– St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies 3.1.1 (2nd Century)

3rd Century

Origen of Alexandria

One must therefore portray the meaning of the sacred writings in a threefold way upon one’s own soul, so that the simple person may be edified by what we may call the flesh of the scripture, …the obvious interpretation; while the one who has made some progress may be edified by its soul, as it were; and the one who is perfect… may be edified by the spiritual law, which has “a shadow of the good things to come” (cf. Rom. 7:14). For just as the human being consists of body, soul and spirit, so in the same way does the scripture, which has been prepared by God to be given for humanity’s salvation.
– Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles 4.11 (3rd Century)

4th Century

St. Jerome

Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ
– St. Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah (4th Century)

When we pray, we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us
– St. Jerome (4th Century)

“Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you”
– St. Jerome, Letter XXII to Eustochium, 25 (4th Century)

“Read assiduously and learn as much as you can. Let sleep find you holding your Bible, and when your head nods let it be resting on the sacred Page”
– St. Jerome (4th Century)

St. Athanasius

“Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us.”
– Saint Athanasius, Father and Doctor of the Church  (4th Century)

“These books are the fountains of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them”
-Saint Athanasius, Father and Doctor of the Church, Letter 39.6 (4th Century)

St. Epiphanius of Salamis

“Reading the Scriptures is a great safeguard against sin”
– St. Epiphanius (4th Century)

St. Ambrose of Milan

 “…we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying.”
– St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Duties of Ministers I, 20,88: PL l6,50 (4th Century)

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the Church; let it become a consuming fire, burning the hay and stubble, and consuming whatever is worldly”
– St. Ambrose of Milan (4th Century)

St. John Chrysostom

“The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts”
– St. John Chrysostom (4th Century)

“It is not possible, I say not possible, ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well which has no bottom”
– St. John Chrysostom (4th Century)

St. Augustine

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself”
– St. Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church (4th Century)

“He will find there in much greater abundance things that are to be found nowhere else, but can be learnt only in the wonderful sublimity and wonderful simplicity of the Scriptures”
– St. Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church, De Doctr. Christ. 2,42,63 (4th Century)

“The New Testament lies hidden in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New”
– St. Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church (4th Century)

St. Ephraim the Syrian

“When you begin to read or listen to the Holy Scriptures, pray to God thus: “Lord Jesus Christ, open the ears and eyes of my heart so that I may hear Thy words and understand them, and may fulfill Thy will”
– St. Ephraim the Syrian (4th Century)

6th Century

Pope St. Gregory The Great

“[The Scriptures] are like a river… in which a lamb may wade and an elephant may swim”
– Pope St. Gregory The Great, Commentary on Job (6th Century)

“Seek by reading and you will find by meditating. Knock by praying, and it will be opened to you in contemplation”
– Pope St. Gregory The Great (6th Century)

“Learn the heart of God from the word of God”
– Pope St. Gregory The Great (6th Century)

“Holy Scripture by the manner of its language transcends every science, because in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery”
– Pope St. Gregory (6th Century)

“The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection”
– Pope St. Gregory (6th Century)

St. Isidore

“If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us”
– St. Isidore (6th Century)

12th Century

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

“The person who thirsts for God eagerly studies and meditates on the inspired Word, knowing that there he is certain to find the One for whom he thirsts”
– St. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th Century)

13th Century

The Fourth Lateran Council

“Among other things that pertain to salvation of the Christian peoples, the food of the Word of God is above all necessary, because as the body is nourished by material food, so is the soul nourished by spiritual food, since, ‘…not by bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”
– Fourth Lateran Council (1215)

16th Century

The Council of Trent

“[The holy synod] following the examples of the orthodox fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament, seeing that one God is the Author of both.”
– Council of Trent (1546)

18th Century

Pope Clement XI

“It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.”
– Pope Clement XI, (18th Century)

20th Century

St. Padre Pio

“Help yourself during this troubled period by reading holy books. This reading provides excellent food for the soul and conduces to great progress along the path of perfection. By no means is it inferior to what we obtain through prayer and holy meditation. In prayer and meditation it is ourselves who speak to the Lord, while in holy reading it is God who speaks to us. Before beginning to read, raise your mind to the Lord and implore Him to guide your mind Himself, to speak to your heart and move your will”
– St. Padre Pio (20th Century)

St. John Bosco

Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book.
– St. John Bosco (20th Century)

G.K. Chesterton

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people
– G.K. Chesterton

The Second Vatican Council

“…the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life”
– Dei Verbum, Paragraph 21 (20th Century)

“Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful”
– Dei Verbum, Paragraph 22 (20th Century)

21st Century

Pope Benedict XVI

“The sacramentality of the word can thus be understood by analogy with the real presence of Christ under the appearances of the consecrated bread and wine. By approaching the altar and partaking in the Eucharistic banquet we truly share in the body and blood of Christ. The proclamation of God’s word at the celebration entails an acknowledgment that Christ himself is present, that he speaks to us”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini (21st Century)

Pope Francis

“The Lord, always sowing his word, just asking an open heart to listen and willingness to put it into practice.”
– Pope Francis (21st Century)

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