Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Scripture=/= Knowing Scripture.


I'm aware that this is a terribly heretical argument. Sue me.

Anyway, I think that unfortunately, the existence of Three year lectionaries where 70-90% of the bible is read through in the course of the lectionary,may have failed in it's mission to help people to really know the word of God. While it's certainly a nice ideal, in practice, it's fruits are not what one might assume.

In modern Catholic parishes, as we all know, the divorce between the practice of the faith on Sundays and the practice of it during the week has become so great that it's become the mindset of churchmen to attempt to cram in anything and everything having to do with worship,prayer, and devotion into the Sunday mass, all while doing anything in their grasp to keep it all under an hour. Rather than combating lukewarm Christianity, they accommodate it. Rather than encourage the people to read, study, and pray over the scriptures, especially in the practice of Lectio Divina, they attempt to fit four long readings every week into the mass. They give no time for reflection during or after the readings, and are surprised when people are not completely familiar with the bible, despite the fact that almost all of it is read aloud.

That's because familiarity with scripture does'nt come from reading lots of it in one go, once or twice a week, or even doing so daily. Familiarity comes from slow, meditative reading of it. One needs to pray slowly, mediate on the individual verses and their meaning, and to do so on a certain passage multiple times.Reading a chapter a day doesn't guarantee that you'll be familiar with the book. Reading five, even less.

Imagine if to study a book of poetry for a class, you only spent one day, where you woke up at 8:00 AM, read a very long portion of it, and then went about your business.Imagine if you did this with three different works at once. I severely doubt that you'll know the coursework well*.In the same vein, the three-year lectionary is probably not a solution to ignorance of scripture. It can even aggravate the problem, unless consideration of the above principles is taken.I know that of myself, the passages which I know best are the ones which, during lent, I studied myself the night before each daily mass. Now that I don't seem to have as much time or the resources to do so, I can't manage to remember what was read on what day and the significance of each passage, despite hearing only-God-knows how much of the old testament in the past few months. Imagine that this time next year, I don't get a second chance to study these passages. Nope, instead, a new cycle with completely different readings start.I won't get a chance to study these (Without burnout) for two more years. Is that really logical?

I would daresay that having only an epistle and gospel for each Sunday and liturgical day, a set that stays the same, or maybe alternates over the course of two years, might actually be better and more fruitful.
That is, unless priests are going t start encouraging people to study and devote time to the bible outside of mass, which is unlikely since it often appears that most priests and lay theologians formed in the 70's-90's got the "Jesus/God didn't really do this/it's a metaphor/They only shared the food they already had/That's a late addition" version of higher-criticism that makes me want to throttle/strangle/assault them.Yeah, I can't see these sort of Modern Catholics seriously advocating that people study a book which, in their opinion, is either 90% metaphor, or simply believe that some/most/none of it really happened the way it says things did.

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