Every Catholic man is called and blessed to draw closer to God in Sacred Scripture by building a habit of regularly reading Scripture, and being guided by the interpretation of Scripture the Church has accumulated through the systematic and trustworthy meditation of the Saints over the past 2000 years.
The call to meet and know God in Sacred Scripture
Jesus Christ, the Word and Divine Person of the Trinity, inspired Scripture from the earliest days of the Old Testament and entered into time in the Incarnation to directly reveal the Almighty Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, demonstrating to men the necessity of meditating upon Sacred Scripture for their eternal salvation.
Jesus Christ confirms that men need to read Scripture
The Son of God, the Word, with the Almighty Father from the beginning (Jn 1:1), actively made God known by revealing God to the ancient prophets who wrote down what God revealed in the Sacred Scripture of the Old Testament. When it pleased God, the Almighty Father sent His Son, the Word, into the world to dwell among men (Jn 1:14) so that all men might know God and share in His Divine Nature (CCC 51).
Confirming the need for every Catholic man to pray and know Sacred Scripture, Jesus “learned” and incorporated the Old Testament into His preaching. Jesus Christ, the Author who divinely inspired Sacred Scripture (CCC 105), learned Scripture in His human nature from the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. St. Joseph, as the head of the Holy Family and a devout Jewish father, was responsible to pass down a love and knowledge of the Old Testament to Jesus. St. Joseph taught Jesus how to read Scripture and also constantly exposed Jesus to Scripture through his daily and weekly recitation of prayers and by taking Jesus to the Temple Jerusalem several times each year to obligatory feasts.
The New Testament confirms the importance that Jesus placed on Scripture: Jesus had a practice of reading Scripture (Lk 4:17) and in the Gospels, He directly quotes the Old Testament dozens of times and refers to the Old Testament hundreds of times. Jesus also calls and appoints Apostles, who knew the Old Testament, to record, preserve and pass down His teachings through the written Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.
The study of Sacred Scripture is essential for every Catholic man
Sacred Scripture is the actual word of God written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit (CCC 105-106) and it “firmly, faithfully, and without error teach[es] that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to Sacred Scripture” (CCC 107). In Sacred Scripture, men can know the heart (theology) and plan (economy) of God (CCC 236) through His words and deeds (CCC 545).
Every Catholic man can meet and know Jesus by meditating upon all Sacred Scripture, including the Old Testament and New Testament, “because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ” (CCC 134); “The Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body” (CCC 103).
The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful…to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ by frequent reading of the Divine Scriptures. ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’ ” (CCC 133). To encourage men to build and sustain the practice of meeting Jesus Christ in Sacred Scripture, the Church grants a Partial Indulgence for reading and meditating upon Scripture (Partial Indulgence MOI 30.1; a Plenary Indulgence can also be granted under the usual conditions for reading Sacred Scripture for at least 30 minutes – See The Manual of Indulgences for more detail).
How to Read Scripture
Rather than attempting to read and interpret Scripture on his own, every Catholic man is blessed to be guided by the Catholic Church which first passed down the Gospels orally and then in written form; over the past 2000 years, the Church has continued to be guided by the Holy Spirit to truthfully interpret Scripture and provides every Catholic man a true and reliable interpretation of Sacred Scripture.
Read Scripture with the Holy Spirit and the Tradition of the Church
The Church teaches to properly interpret Scripture, a man must be attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (CCC 112), read Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church” (CCC 113), and to be “attentive to the analogy of faith” (CCC 114); to ensure a man properly engages Scripture and is protected from error, he must be guided by the Holy Spirit because Scripture “must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by Whom it was written” (CCC 111).
Know how Scripture is Organized
The Holy Bible is a library, a collection of 73 books written in a variety of literary genres (i.e. history, poems, prophecy, proverbs/sayings, prayers and letters) with two major parts (CCC 120-130): The Old Testament (before the Incarnation; 46 books) and the New Testament (the Incarnation and Early Church; 27 books). The New Testament includes the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles and the Revelation of John.
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) faithfully pass down rich details about the life of Jesus and give an expansive review of His teachings and were written based on the eyewitness testimonies of the Apostles and others: the Gospel of Matthew was written by St. Matthew the Apostle, the Gospel of Mark was written by St. Mark, a disciple of St. Peter, the Gospel of Luke was written by St. Luke, a disciple of St. Paul and based on many interviews with eyewitnesses, and the Gospel of John was written by St. John the Apostle.
The Acts of the Apostles was written by St. Paul’s disciple, St. Luke, who offers his detailed eyewitness account of the early life of the Apostles and the Church after the Ascension of Jesus Christ as the Apostles began to evangelize the world.
The Epistles (Latin, epistola, meaning “letter”) were letters from St. Peter, St. John, St. Paul, St. James and St. Jude which were used to teach, admonish, and encourage the growing number of local churches around the Mediterranean Ocean during the decades after the Ascension of Jesus Christ.
The Book of Revelation was written by St. John and is a mysterious scripture which can be read as both a cryptic interpretation of the battle against Satan at the time of St. John as well as a prophetic view of the future when Jesus Christ comes again in a great final battle against Satan, His victory and Final Judgment, and the final and decisive victory of the Kingdom of God.
Learn the storyline of Salvation History
Endowed by God with systematic thinking, men hunger to understand the “big picture” and how things work; the “big picture” of God’s loving plan for men is Salvation History. Within the Bible’s library of 73 books, God reveals His overarching plan of Salvation History in 14 narrative books (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, Acts).
Every Catholic man should come to know Salvation History for several reasons. The “story” of Salvation History is every Catholic man’s own story, for it is the story of his spiritual ancestors, his fathers in the faith; every man needs to understand his family’s story so he can better understand his own identity and better fulfill his purpose. Understanding Salvation History also helps a Catholic man better understand how God has been leading men towards salvation over time and helps him better grasp his own spiritual battles and recognize the ongoing spiritual battles in the society of his day. Knowing Salvation History is essential in a man’s personal study of Scripture and very helpful in more fully engaging in the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Mass.
Interpreting meaning in Scripture
To deepen understanding and faith, ancient tradition guides men to contemplate Scripture (CCC 115-117) in two broad categories, the Literal (first sense) and the Spiritual (second, third, and fourth senses). The first sense of Scripture is the Literal sense by which a passage is interpreted in its most obvious and direct meaning, taken in the context of the culture of the time; it is a starting point for interpreting Scripture and is to be understood based on how the Church has come to interpret a particular passage to guard against mistakenly taking all scripture passages literally.
Building off the Literal sense of Scripture, the Church describes the Spiritual sense of Scripture, which includes the second, third and fourth senses of interpretation. The second sense is called the Allegorical by which a passage is figuratively interpreted to reveal Jesus or some aspect of Him. The third sense is the Moral sense by which a passage is interpreted to help a man understand how to live a moral life so that he can live justly. The fourth sense is the Anagogical (meaning, “leading”) sense by which a passage leads a man to consider his future in the spiritual combat and the ultimate reality of Heaven and Hell.
To help guide a man to more accurately understand Scripture, he should refer to trusted Catholic experts and resources (see “Selective References” p___). One critical resource that every Catholic man should own and frequently refer to is The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church’s “organic synthesis” of the entire deposit of faith that draws on Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy and the Magisterium (CCC 11); The Catechism includes over 2000 references to Scripture (see the CCC Index for Scripture references) which can help a man be guided to correct ways of interpreting Scripture.
Building the habit of meditating upon Sacred Scripture
To grow in holiness and choose the happiness that Jesus promises, every Catholic man must develop a regular daily habit of meditating upon Sacred Scripture.
Purchase a personal bible
The Every Catholic Man Daily Gospel Devotional includes the entire Gospel which is the heart of all Scripture because is focuses on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, the Savior of Man (CCC 125). To supplement the reading of the Gospels, every Catholic man should also have a personal bible which he regularly reads.
Because a Catholic man is Catholic, he should use a bible which includes all the 73 books of the Bible (other Christian denominations mistakenly remove a number of books) as preserved by the Church since its earliest days. A Catholic man should use a bible which has been explicitly approved by the Holy See or a conference of Catholic bishops; several translations are in common use (NABRE, Ignatius Bible, the RSV-CE, the ESV). After selecting a Bible, a man can be blessed to have his bible properly blessed by a priest or a deacon and receive a Partial Indulgence (MOI 14.2); by having a bible properly blessed, a Catholic man is both encouraged to engage in the reading of Sacred Scripture and prepared to cooperate with the grace which God offers in the reading of Scripture (CCC 1670).
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament is an outstanding study bible which every Catholic man should own; at the time of this writing, The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible has also released a number of the books of the Old Testament and it is anticipated all the books of the Old Testament will be released in the future.
To better understand the story of Salvation History, a man should also consider owning The Great Adventure Bible which includes a bible timeline and is a great resource which helps a man understand and enter into the story of God’s great plan for mankind.
Commit to a daily reading plan
To successfully engage in the spiritual combat, Catholic men need to draw closer to Jesus Christ each day in Sacred Scripture. The Every Catholic Man Daily Gospel Devotional is specially designed to help men meet Jesus in the Gospels each day and focuses on the daily Gospel from the Mass so that men can be drawn into deeper communion with those praying the Mass around the world. By simply making the commitment to pray with the Daily Devotions from the Devotional for 15 minutes a day, a Catholic man can, over the course of a year, meditate deeply upon the entire Gospel, draw closer to Jesus Christ and build his understanding of the Catholic Church.
In addition to the daily meditation upon the Gospel, a Catholic man can set a broader goal to read the entire bible in a year; various reading plans are available online.
Practice Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina (“divine reading”) is an ancient 5-step approach to draw closer to God through prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture.
To practice Lectio Divina, follow this simple process: 1) Slowly read a short passage of Scripture; 2) Meditate upon the passage, noting what comes to mind and heart; 3) Contemplate to hear what God is saying in the reading; 4) Pray, speaking and listening to God in conversation; 5) Choose to take a specific act to put into practice what God has revealed to grow in holiness.
Memorize key Scripture verses
As demonstrated by Jesus’ frequent use of memorized Scripture in the Gospels, every Catholic man should consider beginning to build his own “mental library” of Sacred Scripture that he can draw upon for guidance, inspiration and encouragement in his daily life. St. Paul confirms the power of memorizing Scripture in the spiritual combat, saying the Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17). Memorization of Scripture can help a man know and better imitate Jesus, be able to have a specific Scriptural “weapon” to turn to when tempted by Satan as Jesus did in the Temptation, and add Scripture to performing a Spiritual Work of Mercy to another person to teach, comfort or correct.
A man can start to memorize Scripture by building a personal list of Scripture for memorization using various methods. A man can: note Gospel passages which move him when praying the Daily Devotions; find lists online of “key verses every Catholic should know”; research particular passages that can help him battle particular sins; memorize sermons of Jesus (The Sermon on the Mount; Mt 5-7) or a Psalm (Ps 23); find lists of verses to defend the faith. A man can mark passages in the Devotional or his bible for memorization with a specific highlighter color or with an “M”, or transfer the Scripture passage to index cards or a workbook for regular review.
Once a man has decided on some specific Scripture to memorize, the process of memorization comes down to building a habit to review a passage daily/regularly until it is retained in his memory. A man can start with memorizing a single verse by: 1) slowly reading the chapter and verse and the Scripture passage ten times, and 2) shutting his eyes and repeating the chapter and verse and Scripture passage out loud from memory 10 times; afterwards, a man should repeat the process every day until the Scripture is memorized. If the verse or passage is too long, he can break the verse into small “chunks” which he can memorize more easily and build upon to memorize an entire verse or passage. To help make sure he retains the Scripture in memory, a man should review his growing list of memorized Scripture passages periodically.