DEVOTION TO HOLY SCRIPTURE
it useful for souls to still cite the beau-tiful chapter taken from the book about the Press Apostolate by the Primo Maestro, Theol. James Alberione that bears the ti-tle:Devotion to Holy Scripture
To the Gospel and in general to the Holy Bible
a relative devotion of latria is to be rendered:
with the mind - with the will - with the heart
With the mind
The cult of latria is a supreme cult and it is also called adora-tion. It has God as its end. If it goes directly to the Lord, it is absolute; if instead it passes through an object that represents him, it is relative.
Better than a painting or a sculpture, the Sacred Scriptures represent to us the Most Holy Trinity; the Holy Gospel repre-sents to us the adorable Person of Jesus Christ, better than a painting or a crucifix made up of some perceptible material. It is
therefore cult of adoration, that is, latria, but relative.
This doctrine is of faith, since it was defined by the Fourth Council of Constantinople (VIII ecumenical).
The Council of Nicea II, VII ecumenical (7 Sess., 13 Oct. 787), quoting the Symbol of Faith and the six preceding ecumenical Councils, decreed: The holy and venerable images, like the cross, whether painted or in mosaic or in other material, can and should be portrayed both in Churches and in houses, in the streets, on panels, vases and habiliments, for as long as they are images of the Savior, of the Mother of God, of the Angels and Saints.
Through them, one who looks at them is raised to think of the original and to imitate it. It is also licit to give to these images, according to ancient usage, a certain veneration by means of kissing, greeting, or incensing, illumination, bowing and prostrating (prosku,nesin, proscúnesin), as is also the usage toward the image of the cross, the Gospels, and other sacred objects, but not worship proper (latria), which is not fitting except to the divine nature alone. To the image instead what is befitting is only relative veneration. The honor rendered to it goes to the original, that is, to the person that is represented by it.2*
Here there is already a cult and a testimony that this cult reflects an ancient custom.
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople IV - VIII (869-870).3
Can. III. - We decree that the sacred image of Our Lord Jesus Christ, liberator and savior of all, be adored with the honors equal to the book of the Holy Gospels. Since, as through the words contained in the book all achieve
salvation, in like manner through the action of the colors of the image, all, both the wise and the ignorant, receive benefit, as is clearly apparent. In fact, the same truths that express and teach the disposition of the syllables, also preach and inculcate through the disposition of colors. Now it is something worthy that, given the similarity of reasons and a very ancient tradition, as far as honor is concerned, when they refer to primary objects, by derivation images should also be honored and adored, in the same manner as the sacred book of the holy Gospels and the Crucifix.
If anyone therefore does not adore the image of Christ the Savior, let him not see his figure when he shall come into the glory of his Father to be glorified and to glorify his Saints (2Thes 1:10); but let him be separated from his communion and from his glory. And those who do not behave thus, let them be excommunicated by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Here enters the cult of adoration, and it is recognized as a very ancient tradition.
Holy Scripture: - God lets the tablets of the law, written by himself, be placed in the Ark, where there was the manna as well. Moses says: I returned and after coming down the mountain, I placed in the Ark that I had made the tablets. They are still there, in keeping with the command the Lord gave me. (Dt 10:5)
The book of the law is placed alongside the Ark, in the Holy of Holies; and only the true priests carried the Ark with the book of the law. When he finished writing the words of this law, Moses said to the priests: Take this scroll of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, that there it may be a witness against you. (Dt 31:26)
As we can see here, God already in the Old Testament unites in honor and in cult the manna, figure of the Eucharist, Christ-Life, with the tablets and the book of the law, a part of the Bible and image of the Gospel, Jesus-Truth. Now if God disposed this for the figures, much more it had to happen in reality. Hence, we can honor the Gospel with a cult similar to that given to Christ himself.
Tradition: Both the Council of Nicea II and that of Constantinople IV respectively allude to an ancient and a very ancient Tradition; also, the cult given to the Gospel is taken as a reason to confirm the cult rendered to the images of the Savior. Furthermore, the Council of Constantinople, in Can. I against Photius, writes: If we want to walk along the constant and regal path of divine justice without stumbling, we must hold on to the definitions and sentences of the Holy Fathers as ever burning lamps which illumine our steps, which are according to God. Hence, in admitting the cult of the book of the Holy Gospels, we follow the steps of the Fathers and of Christian tradition.
In the current Liturgy the Holy Gospel and the Sacred Scriptures are honored:
a) By making of them the major part of the Breviary, a great part of the Holy Mass and also in that didactic part (until the Offertory); then in the center of the Divine Sacrifice with the words of the Consecration, and during Communion. The entire structure of the Holy Mass is based on the Bible.
b) Through the kissing of the Gospel, today by the Celebrant; before, also by the ministers and by the people (Mioni: Manuale di S. Liturgia, Vol. I, p. 235, note; Card. Mermillod).
c) Through the lighting of candles and incensation before it is sung by the Deacon during solemn Masses.
Reason: - Where the motives are equal, so also must be the cult; now the Council of Constantinople IV in decreeing the adoration of the image of the Savior, aside from Tradition, precisely bases itself on the similitude of reasons between the crucifix and the book of the Holy Gospels and the image of the Redeemer. Hence, the adoration of the book of the Gospels and by extension that of Holy Scripture, must be admitted. Even better, if we can adore an image of the Savior, with more reason we can adore Holy Scripture which, according to Comely, does not only contain the word of God, but is the word of God itself. (Introduzione alla S. Scrittura, n. 1).
Faith in the Gospel must be:
a) Catholic: that is, the Holy Spirit enlightens each one of the readers but not infallibly; on the contrary, He enlightens the Church infallibly when she interprets according to the mind of the Divine Master. Hence, before reading we should have adequate religious instruction. In reading let us have with us a commentary approved by the Church.
b) Christian: which means reading the Gospel with that love and spirit with which Jesus preached it to men. He aimed only at glorifying the Father and to teach men the way to spiritual, temporal, and eternal peace. Let us try to make ourselves true and docile disciples of the Divine Master. The Gospel came from the Heart of Jesus; let us interpret it with a heart full of love.
c) Simple: because it is the innocent soul that understands Jesus; it is the humble soul that follows him. The simple and righteous of heart understand Jesus; the Pharisees extracted from his teachings justifications to condemn him
and to let him be condemned. What is needed is a heart similar to that of the Apostles and to that of the Mother of Jesus.
The Gospel leads to conversion, but courage is needed to propose it to the lost and gone astray; courage is needed to sacrifice one's passion to follow Jesus.
With the will
Cornelius a Lapide4
says (vol. III, 3-4): What is the Gospel? It is the book of Christ, the philosophy, the Theology of Jesus Christ, the most joyful announcement of redemption, of grace and of the salvation of humankind, brought from heaven through him and conferred upon the believers themselves. Because J. C. proclaimed much more sublime and divine truths that God had not said through Moses and the prophets.
Because of this, to read or hear the Gospel is to read or hear the very voice of the Son of God. Hence, the Gospel must be heard with such reverence, as if Jesus Christ himself were speaking: just as we read that St. Anthony, St. Basil, St. Francis, and many saints did.
St. Augustine in his treatise XXX on St. John says: We listen therefore to the Gospel, just as if the Lord were present; the Lord is high above, but even here is the Lord-truth. In regard to this, in the temple when the Gospel is read, let everyone stand up, as if venerating in it Jesus Christ, and together let them yearn for heaven promised in the Gospel: and this by instruction of the Apostles. Let us listen to St. Clement (book II, Const. Apost.
Ch. 61): When the Gospel is read, let all priests, deacons, and lay persons stand up with great silence.
In the same sense, there is also another decree by Pope Anastasius to all the Bishops of Germany and Burgundy in these terms: You have informed us that when the Gospel is read some remain seated. And a little later: This, with apostolic authority, we command that in no way should happen in the future; but when the Holy Gospels are read in Church, the Priests, and all the others present, not seated but standing, and bowing in reverence in front of the Holy Gospel, should listen attentively to the word of the Lord and adore it with faith. (Can. Apost. de Consecrat. dist. I)
This usage of standing up during the Gospel reading, Isidore of Pelusius5 (lib. I, epist. 136) proves that it exists also for the Bishops. He in fact says: Because when the same true pastor approaches to open the adorable Gospels, it is then that the Bishop finally rises and sets aside the vestment of imitation, meaning by this that present there is the Lord himself, the Leader, the God and the owner of pastoral art.
Sozomen6 condemns (book 9 of Storia Trip. c.7 39) the rite of the Alexandrians, among whom, contrary to the common usage, the Bishop does not stand up when the Gospels are read.
Finally, the Council of Constantinople IV, ecumenical VIII, Session X, Can. 3, establishes that to the Gospel must given an honor equal to that of the cross of Jesus Christ.
The Priest and the people, at Mass, at the start of the reading of the Gospel, make three signs of the Cross: on the forehead, on the lips, and on the heart. This indicates that through the power of the cross we ask to be willing to honor the Gospel with our mind, heart, and lips. The mind believes the Gospel because it is revelation itself,
the very word of God; with the heart because we love it as our redemption and our salvation and in it we love Jesus; with the lips we courageously confess our faith before the world.
The life of the Christian is that which honors or dishonors the Gospel. The Christians of the early times were known by the pagans from their charity, their sobriety, their industriousness, and their courage. The good disciples bear witness to the goodness of the doctrine and life of their Master.
With the heartProcessions.
It is good that it is borne in procession to the extent allowed by liturgical laws. On this subject, we read in the Osservatore Romano (19-II-1933): We know from Cencio Camerario the rite of carrying in procession, on the shoulders of the Deacons, among palms, thuribles of incense, the lighted candlesticks and following the standards of the city's schools, an elegant and ornate lectern called 'Portatorium,' so that to the Gospel may be rendered an honor similar to that rendered to Jesus Christ himself.
This custom is holy and venerable. It is truly worthy to be continued.Prayers.
In order to be free from temptations and misfortunes, it is very useful to bring along the Gospel. The devils themselves are seized by fear in front of the code of the Holy Gospel, because it strikes in them a sacred horror. St. John Chrysostom writes, Hom. 51, on St. John Evang., that the devils do not dare enter the place where there is a copy of the Gospel. Have it therefore in your homes, with you during the day, beside your bed at night and during sickness, in hospitals, etc.
Through this devotion, God worked many miracles. For example, St. Gregory of Tours, in his life of the Fathers, ch. IV, narrates that when a fire was devastating the city of Alvern, St. Gallus entered the Church; there he prayed long before the Holy Altar; then, rising, he took the book of the Gospel. With the Gospel he advanced against the fire and this was put off. Not even a spark remained of it. Other similar miracles are told by St. Martian and Nicephorus.
Novenas and triduums. Most useful are novenas and triduums done this way: for nine days or for three days, read a chapter of the Gospel.
(From Cornelius a Lapide, Vol. VIII, p. 2). The reverence of Christians regarding the Gospel was always marvelous; marvelous their love, marvelous their veneration. Nicephorus (in book 14, ch. 3) says that two Ecumenical Councils of Nicea, that of Chalcedon and of Ephesus, placed in the midst of their session hall the text of the Gospel, so that they may turn to it as to the Person of Jesus Christ; as if Jesus said: Make a right judgment, St. Cyril says in his apology. Also, in the middle, in the Council of Trent, was found Holy Scripture.
It is established by Canon Law that during solemn oathtaking, the hand should be placed over the Gospel and thus one swears. And so even now we affirm or deny upon the Gospel, with an oath, saying: So may God and these his holy Gospels help me.
As therefore we swear through God, so also through the Gospels, like they were his sacred word. And we ask here the grace that the Lord help us to confess the truth and to be faithful to our promises; and that the holy Gospels that are the image of God, help us.
1 He who writes here and adds the chapter is the compiler, B. Ghiglione, but we presume with full approval if not also with previous sug-gestion of Don Alberione.
2* Hengenröther, Storia Universale, Vol. III, p. 40.
[Joseph Hergenröther, theologian and historian of the Church (Würzburg 1824 - Bregenz 1890). He studied in his own country and in Rome, at the Collegio Germanico, and obtained his doctorate in theology in Munich in 1850. From 1852 he taught church history and canon law in Würzburg. Pius IX invited him to Rome in 1867 as a consultant for the preparation of Vatican Council I and in the commission “de ecclesiastica disciplina.” Leo XIII made him cardinal in 1879, designating him prefect of the Pontifical Archives, which Hergenröther obtained that they be opened for all scholars for the greater growth of historical studies].
3 The Council of Constantinople IV is generally considered by Catholics as the 8th General Ecumenical Council. It affirmed the primacy of the jurisdiction of Rome; it condemned iconoclasm and tried to defeat the supporters of Photius (810 - 895 circa) who, installed again and deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople, is venerated as a saint by the Orthodox. In canon 21 of the said Council, Pope Hadrian II recognized for the first time the priority of Constantinople over Alexandria.
4 Cornelius Cornelissen van den Steen (Limburg 1567 - Rome 1637), Jesuit, was an untiring commentator of the Bible. Ordained priest in 1596, he was a professor of Sacred Scriptures in Louvain from 1596 to 1616 and then in Rome, at the Roman college, till his death. He made commentaries on the whole Bible except Job and the Psalms. A great part of his works was inserted by J.P. Migne in the collection Cursus S. Scripturae, vol. V-XX, Paris 1837-1845.
5 Pelusius is an ancient Egyptian city along the Nile, in a key location for commerce and for the Egyptian soldiers. Here the Roman commander Pompey died, and here was born the astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (who lived during the second century after Christ and worked in the famous library of Alexandria. During the Christian period monasticism developed in Pelusius. Here the monk Isidore carried out a long activity. He would appear less effective as an apologist of the orthodoxy of the faith, better as an interpreter (of the Antiochian school) of the Scriptures, reconciling the historical-literal sense with the spiritual (called teoria), but indulging at times in allegorical interpretation.
6 O Salamones Ernias, of the V century, born in Palestine, in Bethelia near Gaza; he lived in Constantinople and was a church historian, jurist, but not theologian.
7 Tripartite, chapter.