The Bible

I enjoy reading the Biblle and was surprised when a lay minister told us all that as Catholics we are not allowed to interpret the meanings of the readings. A priest or deacon is the only ones who can do this, usually during the Homily. Is this info accurate? If so what is the point of reading the Bible besides historical content?
Thank You-

Yes and no.

I suggest you read the Catechism section on Divine Revelation.

We cannot interpret scripture “on our own” in the sense that it must be within the context of the deposit of faith and Magesterium. For example, we are not free to “interpret” John 6 in a way that denies the Real Presence of the Eucharist.

We are certainly free to interpret passages of scripture that have not been definitively defined by the Church, as long as we use the proper scriptural methods as outlined in through Magesterium.

The following is my take on this issue:

We do an examination of conscience before approaching the sacrament of reconciliation. This examination of conscience, ideally, is something we have learned how to do through catechesis, the teaching of the magisterium (primarily transmitted to us via homilies), and prayer. Otherwise, we’re ‘shooting from the hip’ and not really taking our obligation to the sacramental life seriously.

The homily exists to teach us proper “real life” application of the readings we have just heard and the teaching of the Church. When we read Scripture, we must prepare ourselves first by invoking the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and we must come to understand what we read through the lens of Church Teaching and Tradition. So, while it really isn’t our “place” to interpret Scripture, it is not beyond our faculties to read for understanding - as long as we don’t attempt to see something in the reading that doesn’t coincide or align with the other two legs of the stool: Teaching & Tradition. We have to realize that the three must always go together. (If you want to get technical, that means even a priest or deacon shouldn’t be interpreting Scripture in isolation, but only in ‘solidarity’, if you will, with the Church.)

I think the fear of individuals interpreting Scripture willy-nilly has some basis - otherwise, would we have all the denominations that we do? However, to say we have no business trying to understand what we read (which is the way I take a statement like “[Catholics] are not allowed to interpret the meanings of the readings”) is just as silly. We have an obligation to understand our faith, and we do that by acquainting ourselves with it through prayer, study (of Text, Teaching, and Tradition), and community.

I hope my ramblings prove helpful to you. Peace.

Interpret sort of implies telling someone else what it means.

Just reading the Bible by itself isn’t all that enlightening unless you actually understand the times it was written, and the significance of things. For instance, did you know that Corinth was the type of place that makes modern-day San Francisco look tame? Knowing that makes you read the Letters to the Corinthians a new way. I just read something the other day where it talks about Jesus travelling from this town to this town to yet another. The Commentary explained that he was making a circle and drifting out beyond the borders of Judea.
Which is why you should buy a Bible Commentary. The Collegeville Commentary is okay in my opinion. Not great, but readable.

I took the time at the end of summer to read the current gospel, acts, and the rest of the new testament after Acts. It was wonderful.

I did not understand every single detail. However, I did enjoy the “ride” and I trust our great catholic church will guide me if I have questions. It is so great to be in the church established by Jesus Christ in ~33AD!

keep three things in mind when reading scripture

the whole of scripture
Sacred Tradition
The analogy of faith.

there is no problem with reading scripture trying to apply it to your life, saying things like oh I could see how the church could use this to justify this belief, or even how could the church believe this in light of this. Questions you may have about scripture will be answered if you keep these three things in mind. The simple fact is that Scripture is very very deep and I believe that a person who dives into the scriptures will have a better faith life be closer to the lord and probably get more out of mass. But any time you make a theological claim about scripture you must keep those three things in mind.

Dear Fellow Catholics,

The scriptures or words in the Catholic bible is the Word of God (Jn1:1-4). The Word of God is alive. As such, how can we interpret it? We should ask for God’s grace to enlighten us in accordance to His will as to how to live our lives with reference and accordance to His Words all through out the Bible.

One need not be the wise and learned to get revelation from God. The 12 apostles were fishermen, tax collectors and ordinary people (Lk10:21-24) and not the teachers of law and the pharisees. But yet they were His chosen.

Likewise, what God wants to review to us while reading His Words are for our own reflections and journey with Him and not for others. As such, unless you are chosen to preach the Words of God by the Catholic Church, such as the priests and so on, we cannot simply interpret the Bible.

Suggest that we should continue to ask God for the gift of discernment. Just like His Prophets and Kings in the old testament and Apostles. I share these because I personally have experience His grace by being simple and not complicated in allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through me with His revelations. These need alot of tests, consciousness, practices, patience and etc to do so as we can get revelations and messages from our own spirits, sub-conscious mind, other spirits and etc, (1Jn 4:1-6), (Mk16:20). I, at no time try to teach or influence anyone in his or her practices and beliefs.

God bless

Keep reading. Of course Catholics are allowed to read the Bible and try to understand. The only limit is on teaching the Scripture within the context of the Mass. That must be a priest or deacon.

The only advice I would give is to keep a Catechism handy in case you see something kooky. Then look to see if what you are reading seems to contradict Church teaching. If it does, then you are missing something. Read a commentary, or simply come here and ask (in the Sacred Scripture Forum).

Great advice! The Catechism is an excellent tool to help us understand our faith as it weaves in and out of scripture and the teachings of the early Church fathers. I think the Catechism helps us to fulfill the “whole mind” part of the first commandment. It enlightens our intellect and reason as it relates to sacred scripture. Studying scripture alone can lead to misunderstandings and a misguided view of what God intended to reveal to us.

I’m grateful that I live in a time where I have access to scripture and the ability to read. I can only imagine what it would have been like 700 hundred years ago when one would ride to Mass in a carriage on Sunday and only get a glimpse of a hand-written Bible.:wink:

News to me, 54 years later…thank-you God for allowing me to live this long :thumbsup:

Thank you all very much. I love to read the bible for personal growth. It made no sense to me when the person told me not to interpret. Many of Jesus’ proverbs are meant to be interpreted to our lives, so there lies the confusion with the statement. I have been told by a protestant that the bible is the best book to read if you have questions about anything and it is a sgn of devotion. That the answers are in in the scriptures. Do Catholics also see reading the Bible as a form of devotion? I am a cradle Catholic, and do not know much about this.