Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Prayer of St. Anselm

O Lord my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see You, where and how to find You.

You have made me and remade me, and You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess, and still I do not know You. I have not yet done that for which I was made.

Teach me to seek You, for I cannot seek You unless You teach me,or find You unless You show Yourself to me.

Let me seek You in my desire, Let me desire You in my seeking. Let me find You by loving You, Let me love You when I find You.
(St. Anselm of Canterbury)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
--Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
--Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
--Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
--Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father in Heaven,
--Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
--Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
--Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the eternal Father,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united with God's eternal Word,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of limitless majesty,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, temple of God among us,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, shrine of the Most High,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing with love for us,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, overflowing with goodness and love,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of kindness and love,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fountain of all holiness,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, worthy of all praise,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and centre of all hearts,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, treasure-house of wisdom and knowledge,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of God's fulness,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fulness we have all received,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and full of mercy,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, generous to all who turn to You,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of life and holiness,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, atonement for our sins,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our sins,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, obedient all the way to death,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, sacrifice for sin,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of all who trust in You,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of all who die in You,
--Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the saints,
--Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world,
--Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world,
--Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world,
--Have mercy on us.

Jesus, gentle and humble of heart,
--Touch our hearts and make them like Your own.

Let Us Pray:
Father, we rejoice in the gifts of love we have received from the heart of Jesus Your Son.
Open our hearts to share His life and continue to bless us with His love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer of St. Thérèse

O my God, I ask of You
For myself and for those whom I hold dear,
The grace to fulfil perfectly Your holy will,
To accept for love of You
The joys and sorrows of this passing life,
So that we may one day be united in Heaven
For all eternity. Amen.
(St. Thérèse of Lisieux)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer for Mildness and Patience

O my God, I beg of You to grant me peace with my neighbour,
For I cannot enjoy Your favour
If I do not live in union with my brothers and sisters.

I can preserve this union by mildness and patience.

Give then, I beseech You, these two virtues,
And grant that I may always speak and act kindly to all;
That I may suffer patiently for love of You
Whatever wrongs, injuries, or insults may be done me;
That not only I may not be displeased with anything
But that I may patiently suffer all that happens to me from others.
(St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Teach Us, Good Lord

Teach us, good Lord,
To serve You as You deserve:
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labour and not ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do Your Will.
(St. Ignatius Loyola)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Breathe In Me, Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, Holy Spirit,
that all my thoughts may be holy.
Act in me, Holy Spirit,
that my work too may be holy.
Draw my heart, Holy Spirit,
that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.
(St. Augustine)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God,
A mind to know You,
A heart to seek You,
Wisdom to find You,
Conduct pleasing to You,
Faithful perseverance in waiting for You,
And a hope of finally embracing You.
(St. Thomas Aquinas)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
Seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Universal Prayer

Lord, I believe in You: increase my faith.
I trust in You: strengthen my trust.
I love You: let me love You more and more.

I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship You as my first beginning,
I long for You as my last end,
I praise You as my constant helper,
and call on You as my loving protector.

Guide me by Your wisdom,
Correct me with Your justice,
Comfort me with Your mercy,
Protect me with Your power.

I offer You, Lord,
My thoughts: to be fixed on You;
My words: to have You for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for You;
My sufferings: to be endured for Your greater glory.

I want to do what You ask of me:
In the way You ask,
For as long as You ask,
Because You ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
And make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future.

Help me to rise above my human weakness and grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love You, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch,
Those in authority over me or those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervour.

Help me to forget myself and reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.

Make me patient in suffering,
Unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.

Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.

Let me cherish Your love for me,
Keep Your law,
And come at last to Your salvation.

Teach me to realise that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
that life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgement,
But a greater trust in Your goodness.

Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.
(Pope Clement XI)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer for the Missions

God of truth, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear our prayer for those who do not know You, that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world.
Sustain and inspire Your servants who bring them the Gospel.
Bring fresh vigour to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile.
Renew our missionary zeal.
Make us witnesses to Your goodness, full of love, of strength, and of faith, for Your glory and for the salvation of the world.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer of Self-Dedication to Jesus Christ

Lord Jesus Christ
Take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will.
All that I have and cherish You have given me.
I surrender it all to be guided by Your will.
Your grace and Your love are wealth enough for me.
Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer of Adoration

I adore You, O God.
I count myself as nothing before Your divine majesty.
You alone are life, truth, beauty and goodness.
I glorify You, I praise You, I give You thanks and I love You,
Helpless and unworthy as I am,
In union with Your dear Son, Jesus Christ,
Our Saviour and our Brother.
I desire to serve You, to please You,
To obey You, and to love You always
In union with Mary Immaculate,
Mother of God and our Mother.

Give me Your Holy Spirit
To enlighten me,
To correct me and
To guide me
In the way of Your commandments
And in all perfection,
While I look for the happiness of heaven,
Where I shall glorify You for ever and ever.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Confiteor

I confess to Almighty God,
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done, and in what I have failed to do;
And I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
All the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord our God.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Prayer to Jesus the Listener

Jesus the Listener, I come to You because I need You to look upon me and love me. You know me better than anyone. You know my joys and my sorrows, my struggles and my suffering. May Your merciful glance inspire me with perseverance in accepting everything for love of You. I shall not depart from Your presence without saying with the Psalmist: "I love the Lord because He has heard my voice in supplication, because He has inclined His ear to me the day I called" (Ps 116:1-2).
I ask this through the infinite merits of Your Passion and Death. Amen.
(Andreina Bologna Brann and Fr. Claudio Piccinini, C.P.)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer Before a Crucifix

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Your face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and beseech You to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and love, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment, while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Your Five Wounds, pondering over them within me and calling to mind the words which David Your prophet said of You, my Jesus, "They have pierced My Hands and My Feet; I can number all My Bones" (Ps 22:17-18).

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Your wounds hide me.
Separated from You never let me be.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me.
And close to You bid me.
That with Your saints I may be
Praising You, for all eternity.
(St. Ignatius Loyola)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer to Our Mother of Sorrows

O Sorrowful Mother, through Divine Grace you always had the courage to do God's holy will, especially in moments of trial.

At the foot of the Cross, you accepted your personal agony as you watched your Son sacrifice His life for our salvation. You gave us an example to emulate whenever we are called upon to endure suffering.

You are the New Eve, the Woman who shared in restoring the life of Grace that was lost through original sin. You always lead us back to Jesus whenever we stray.

As the faithful handmaid of the Lord, we ask you to intercede for us before the throne of God, so that in our sorrows and distress, we may know His peace and love. As our loving Mother, let your maternal arms embrace us and keep us safe from all harm.

At the end of our earthly life, pray for us so that Jesus your Son will take us home to the Father. Shelter us under your mantle so that we may receive mercy and forgiveness for our sins and be numbered among the blessed.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer to Jesus Crucified

Lord Jesus, how many ages have You hung upon Your cross, and still I pass You by and regard You not, except to pierce anew Your Sacred Heart? How often have I passed You by, heedless of Your great sorrow, Your many wounds, Your infinite Love? How often have I stood before You, not to comfort and console You, but to add to Your sorrows, to deepen Your wounds, to scorn Your Love? You have stretched forth Your hands to comfort me, to raise me up, and I have taken those hands that might have struck me into hell, and bent them back on the cross, and nailed them there, rigid and helpless. Yet, I have but succeeded in engraving my name on Your palms forever. You have loved me with an infinite Love, and I have taken advantage of that Love to sin the more against You. Yet, my ingratitude has but pierced Your Sacred Heart, and upon me has flowed Your Precious Blood. Lord Jesus, let Your blood be upon me, not for a curse, but for a blessing.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on me.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Divine Praises

(In Reparation of Sins)

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste Spouse.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Grace Before and After Meals

Grace Before Meals

Bless us, O Lord, and these Your gifts,
Which we are about to receive from Your bounty,
Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Grace After Meals
We give You thanks for all Your benefits,
O Almighty God, who lives and reigns forever.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
Through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Evening Offering

O my God, I adore You, and I love You with all my heart. I thank You for having created me by Your grace, and for having preserved me during this day. I pray You will take for Yourself whatever good I might have done this day, and that You will forgive me whatever evil I have done. Protect me this night, and may Your grace be with me always.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Morning Offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our Bishops and of all our associates, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer to St. Joseph

O Blessed St. Joseph, we honour you as the most watchful guardian of the Holy Family and faithful spouse of Mary the Mother of God. It was your privelege to diligently protect Jesus and Mary while they were under your care on earth. With confidence in your powerful intercession before the throne of God, we ask you to obtain our requests. (In silence mention your requests.) Protect us, our families and friends from all spiritual and physical harm. Teach us your virtues of humility, obedience, prudence and patience. Help us to be pure in our thoughts, words, and actions. Assist us to fulfil with joy the duties and responsibilities of our states in life. Be our constant guide in our daily activities so that we may be called "upright" before God as you were (cf. Matthew 1:19). Strengthened by your example, may we live holy lives so that we may die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
(Andreina Bologna Brann and Fr. Claudio Piccinini, C.P.)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)


V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to your word.
Hail Mary
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray:
Pour forth, we beseech You, O Lord, Your grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Traditionally prayed at 6:00 am, Noon, and 6:00 pm.)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Angel of God

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day, be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Act of Love

O my God, I love You above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because You are all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbour as myself for the love of You. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Your grace, and Life Everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that You are one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that Your Divine Son became Man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because You have revealed them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Come Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit,
Fill the hearts of your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of Your love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created;
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let Us Pray:
O God, who did teach the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the light of Your Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
By the power of God,
Cast into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits,
Who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus,
Forgive us our sins,
Save us from the fires of Hell,
And lead all souls to Heaven,
Especially those most in need of Thy Mercy.
(This prayer was given by Mary during her apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, to be said during the recitation of the Rosary. Just one more way in which she leads us to Jesus.)

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us,
And after this, our exile, show unto us
The most blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, most holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Apostle's Creed

(Profession of Faith)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
And born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was Crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended to Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Holy Catholic Church,
The Communion of Saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

The Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

(Category: Catholic Devotions: Common Catholic Prayers.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Or, 'If You Could Say It Like Hallmark, You Wouldn't Need Hallmark'

Prayer is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the Christian life. It is our primary means of communication with God. Through prayer, we express our love, our thanks, our desires, our needs, our troubles, and ourselves to God; and in return, if we will take the time, God communicates Himself to us in return.

It has been said that good, open communication is the fundamental requisite for healthy relationships--and this is no less true of our relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. Without this constant communication, we will find ourselves drifting away from God, growing cold in our desire to serve Him, becoming more lax in our spiritual walk, and susceptible to sin. Just as a husband and a wife who never communicate or take the time to renew their relationship will end in divorce, a lack of prayer in the life of a Catholic will potentially end in Mortal Sin and the ruination of one's soul.

This is why the Church stresses so highly the importance of prayer:

Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father's plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another" (Jn 15:16-17.)
He "prays without ceasing" who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing (Origen, De orat. 12:PG 11,452c.) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2745, emphasis in original).
According to the Church, though, this unceasing prayer must be punctuated with times specifically set aside for specific prayer--conscious moments of desire to meet with God in a unique way.
Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart "We must remember God more often than we draw breath" (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. theo., 27,1,4:PG 36,16.). But we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.

The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucharist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian's life of prayer.

The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart's resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in common: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions intense times in the life of prayer. (CCC #2697-99)
Vocal Prayer
Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master's silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani (Cf. Mt 11:25-26; Mk 14:36.). (CCC # 2701)
Vocal prayer, according to the Church, is at least as important as simply interiorly and silently praying. It causes us to use our senses, and to give voice to our needs and desires, our love and our worship. Jesus desires us to worship in spirit and in truth, and as such, our actions and expressions must echo or mirror our attitudes in prayer.

Vocal prayer also enables us more easily to stay focused and avoid distractions while praying, and therefore it is the basic building block of interior prayer, and leads to contemplative prayer.

Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the "today" of God is written. (CCC #2705)
When we meditate on what we have read or focused on, we confront that book with ourselves, seeking to understand not simply its meaning, but its import to our own lives. We seek to understand from the Gospels or the writings of the Saints, &c., "Lord, what do You want me to do?" (cf. CCC #2706).

There is no one "right way" to meditate. The spiritual masters of the Church provide many and varied models--but the key is not simply to imitate the model only, but to appropriate it, to personalise it, and so to use it to grow deeper in one's prayer-life.
Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. (CCC #2708)
Contemplative Prayer
What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us" (St. Teresa of Jesus, The Book of Her Life, 8,5 in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976),I,67.). Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves" (Song 1:7; cf. 3:14.). It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself. (CCC #2709)
Contemplative prayer is not easy, nor lightly entered into. It involves a specific decision. We do not pray this way "when we have time." Rather, we must make the time for God, for prayer. We must press in and persevere even through distractions and dry times, continuing to seek to know and love God intimately. Contemplative prayer involves silent communion with God, seeking Christ, and through Him, the Father, by the Holy Spirit operating in us, and enabling us by His grace, to respond to God in love.
Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him (Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 104.). (CCC #2715)
While it may not always be easy, Contemplative prayer is simple. "Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery" (CCC #2724). It is the epitome of prayer, to which we as Christ's beloved should aspire.

"Lord, Teach Us to Pray"

Prayer is not something that comes entirely naturally to us, and yet, as Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, the desire to pray is as natural as breathing. However, the world around us, and our pressing concerns, as well as the constant temptations of the Devil, often convince us of the seeming secondary importance that prayer has in our lives.
Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer. (CCC #2725)
Because of this, it is essential to learn habits and techniques of prayer, to make it easier and more natural to us.

The most important tip, maintained by the greatest of Doctors in the Church, is the maintaining of discipline in prayer. Making a habit of taking specific times a day set aside for nothing other than prayer causes praying to have a fixed place in our schedules. Prayer becomes a regular event, a daily routine. Far from becoming mediocre in its routine-ness, prayer becomes a time where we can be free from pressing needs for awhile in order to seek God and be refreshed in spirit and body, and better able to confront the difficulties of the world.

Similarly, a notion of "sacred space" is important as well--a location specifically devoted to prayer, where you can retire (or retreat) to. It should be a place that helps you to focus on Christ, with perhaps a Bible, other devotional literature, a Crucifix and other icons. The act of removing yourself from the distractions of the world, and placing yourself in the posture of prayer helps to keep our focus on the things of God. Along with this is in part why Church attendance is so important (as well as Christian community, and, most importantly, reception of the Sacrament).

What form your prayer takes is up to you. When Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He replied by teaching them the Our Father as a model of prayer. More than simply a form-prayer to be repeated, it breaks down the Gospel Message of trust in the Father who loves us. There is much discussion, based on Jesus' teachings about prayer, as to whether the repitition of prayer formulas such as the Our Father is good or even valid in prayer. The question, however, is not about style, but about heart. Some people may never find the ability to pray "spontaneously", and many times we simply do not know how to pray for what we need--the situations in life may be simply too overwhelming. It is in these times that the prayers of the Saints and great figures of the Church, which have been recorded for us and passed down in the Church's Tradition, are of such help to us. Our problems are not new to the world, and in the history of the Church, many great Saints have felt as we do and experienced what we have. In these times, their prayers, their words, may be able to express for us what our own thoughts and feelings cannot. In this we again see God's blessing over us. In His desire to hear from us, He even provides us with the words to speak.

In that sense, the Prayers of the Church are the Hallmark Cards of the Spiritual Life. And so this blog will host some common prayers in the tradition of the Church, and, perhaps, some less common but still meaningful and effective prayers, as well--as a resource to you in times of dryness, distraction, temptation, and the inability to express your need to God.

The desire to pray is itself a prayer, and God hears it and responds to it. It is our intentions that God responds to, even more than the words we speak. So let us rest in His Spirit, and approach God as Our loving Father, who desires to meet with us and Commune with us.


(Category: Catholic Devotions: Prayer.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Go Deep

Another one for the lighter side, this time from Foxtrot, by Bill Amend.

God bless

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Reasonability of the Bible as the Word of God

Quite some time ago (Wednesday, October 11, 2006, to be precise), Jacob Allee of To Die Is Gain posted an article titled "The Reasonability of the Bible as the Word of God." Since I agree that the Bible is the Word of God, and that one is at least partly able to arrive at that conclusion by use of Reason, I didn't bother giving it a thorough read. I'd read the initial paragraphs and said, yeah, good on him. That is, until this morning. Today, I read the entire paper and noticed not only flaws in his reasoning, but also in his historical fact, particularly as they deal with the Roman Catholic Church. As such, I am intending, again, to dissect Jacob's paper and respond to it--correcting historical error and hopefully reasoning more solidly as well.

Jacob's words will be in Green, and mine in white.

Assuming there is a God, it is quite reasonable that such a God would choose to reveal himself to his creatures.

To begin, Jacob introduces the topic with a handful of assumptions. Even his assumption about the existence of God carries with it a host of other assumptions about God. Namely, that a God exists; that that God is appropriately described by use of masculine pronouns; that He is personal, having a will; that He is able to communicate; and that He desires to so communicate. That I happen to agree with Jacob's assumptions does not therefore mean that they are reasonable assumptions. And since the last assumption that I list is Jacob's primary starting point in dealing with the issue of the Bible as God's Word, it does seem to me that assuming that if there is a God, that God would want to communicate with us needs to itself be established on more than assumption or axiom.

This fact itself is made evident in Jacob's own phrasing of his opening sentence: "Assuming there is a God, it is quite reasonable that such a God would choose..." Since Man started pondering the existence of God, he has arrived at various thoughts and opinions and theologies that often differ greatly from one to another. "Such a God" as Jacob would have us consider must be first defined for us and established as a superior alternative. Among competing theologies, we have Deism--a belief in a (possibly personal) Creator God, but one who has no desire to communicate with His creation. We have polytheists, who believe in numerous gods, who mainly communicate through the actions and courses of the natural world. We have people wishing to believe that they are themselves gods. We have a Gnostics, who believe that God refuses to communicate with evil matter, except through secret revelation that is passed down through many demi-gods and given only to a few people. And we have concepts of God common to monotheistic religions such as the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Thus, which such God "such a God" is, is no small question, since it is really only in demonstrating that the God of Abraham is the most logical candidate--since it is only He who has actually desired to communicate to His Creation in the way that Jacob describes.

With that in mind, let us revisit Jacob's initial assumption, and see if we can narrow down "such a God."

When Jacob says "Assuming there is a God," we are in fact invited to assume that there is One God. This therefore excludes polytheistic worldviews from the outset. Now, if "God" can be defined, as Socrates and Plato would have it, as "The First Cause", the "Uncaused Cause", then we find ourselves assuming a Creator. This again brings us back to either notions of Deism or Theism. But we still have a pause before we can get to the "such a God" that Jacob desires us to assume. For a Deistic God is in all other ways the same as a Theistic God, except for the key trait that He has no further interest in this planet once He made it. Therefore, if Deism is the more likely candidate for truth about "God", then Jacob's assumption that "such a God" would choose to reveal Himself is again shown to be false. Thus we must take time again to answer and decide between these two philosophies: Belief in which God is more rational?

To my admittedly biased mind, the rationale behind Deism is inherently flawed. A God who did not wish to make Himself known seems to have done a poor job of it. The design and order of the cosmos cries out for recognition of a designer. Add to that the fact that nearly every civilisation since the dawn of time has seen this truth of nature, and more, felt to ask the questions in their hearts about the nature of that nature, and of themselves, and have therefore unanimously been religious (though, of course, not all the same religion), it seems that a Deist God created us with a desire to search for Him that He is not willing to fulfil.

On the other hand, if both Deists and Theists can agree that God is infinite, and, in fact, will go along with St. Anselm's definition of "That which nothing greater can be conceived," then, by some reflection, we see that if this is in fact true of God, then I can conceive of a God who is intelligent, which is better than a God who is not. I can conveive of a God who has a will, which is better than a God who is simply passive. I can conceive of a God who is compassionate and loving, which is better by far than a stoic or worse, a hateful God. And I can conceive of a God who is so loving that He actively desires the good of His creation. And so, if God truly is "that which nothing greater can be conceived," then He is all these things, and even more.

And yes, it certainly is reasonable that such a God as that would desire to communicate with His creation.

And as human beings with an advanced intellect over that of animals, it is reasonable to assume that we would perceive such a God as He chooses to reveal himself.

I fail to see why Jacob's premise that humans are intellectually superior to animals leads to the conclusion that we are able to perceive God as He chooses to reveal Himself. Since we cannot know how an animal perceives the world around it, or whether it can at all perceive the things of God, our superiority to the animals, in my mind, can only rationally be seen as one of honour, and not necessarily of advantage.

Furthermore if mankind encounters a God who has revealed himself to us, it only makes sense that mankind would record what that God has revealed. And the most accurate and detailed way to preserve what God has revealed to man is through the written word.

Is it? Considering the subjective interpretations people give to what they read, various levels of literacy among people, and the possibility of typographical or translational error inherent in the written medium, it would seem that the written word is either not actually the most reliable way to transmit information, or, if it is, it is so not by any great degree of advantage over other forms. I would argue, rather, that no one medium is able to effectively communicate everything, but that each form of communication should and must be used in tandem to fully express so great an experience as preserving a Revelation from God.

So it is by no means unreasonable to presume that there would be a written recording of God’s revelation that is authoritative for His creatures to read and obey; as well as learn this God’s plan of redemption.

Yes, it is reasonable that a God desiring to communicate to creatures who recognise the importance of such communication, and are able to preserve and pass on that communication, would write it down. But to my mind, it is unreasonable to presume that the written revelation is necessarily superior to other forms (or, conversely, that other forms are inherently superior to the written word). In fact, it seems to me that the inherently superior mode of communication between God and Man would be direct, intimate communication. If therefore it is reasonable that there is a God who desires communication with us, and yet we note that this communication is not carried out in the most effective means possible, it must be concluded that there is some obstruction in that communication.

Jacob above assumes that Man has need of redemption, though up until now we have not touched on that need. But we see that the need is there, as evidenced by that obstruction of communication. If nothing else, redemption must involve the removal of that obstruction. Now, if reports are to be taken at face value, then God indeed has broken through that obstruction, revealing not only Himself in the process, but the nature of that obstruction (sin) and the plan to remove it forever (salvation). But there is the rub--it is precisely that obstruction in the communication between God and man that makes such questions of "what does God use to communicate with us?" necessary.

All that is to say that Jacob is not entirely reasonable to assume that the written word is the best medium of communication. Rather, it is a limited and often ineffective method of communication. If God has indeed chosen to use it, to be as effective as it can be, in delivering such an important message, it seems that other media must have been, and still are, used.

That said, given the fact that such a revelation is reasonable, let me give some reasons as to my belief that the Bible is the authoritative, revealed word of God.

Stepping back for one more moment, Jacob has again made a leap in logic. First, we have God communicating. Second, we have man recording that communication. Logically, these are two different actions. The first action is rightly called "The Word of God." The second action is perhaps better described as "Man's record of the Word of God." However, the Christian claim for the Bible is not simply that Man has recorded God's Word in a book, but rather, that this Book is itself directly God's Word. To arrive at this premise, another step must be taken that Jacob has thus far omitted. That step is either God Himself wrote and man transmitted, the Word of God; or, God Himself caused man to write the Word of God.

The first reason I will put forth for the question "Should the Bible be considered an authority concerning God and salvation?" is the fact that it claims to be such an authority.

Jacob again vacillates on his terms. Is the Bible "The Word of God", or simply "an authority concerning God and salvation"? Many things could be considered an authority on God and salvation that are not, in fact, revelations from God. By virtue of Jacob's own pastorate, he himself could be considered such an authority, but he is by no means a Word of God.

Continuing on, Jacob claims that an evidence that the Bible is such an authority is that it makes that claim for itself. This is, however, hardly an effective reason, and Jacob himself does a good job of fairly pointing that out.

Granted, this claim all on its own would not say much for the authority of the Bible. I myself could claim that I am God, all-powerful, all-knowing and almighty. However it wouldn’t take very long to unravel my claim, for someone could simply toss a stone into the air and ask me to keep it from touching the ground without using my hands and I would be found a fool and an imposter. That said, it is nevertheless important to start by noting the fact that the Bible claims this authority. For if it did not claim this authority there would really be no sense in asking the question "is the Bible authoritative?"

Again, though, that the Bible makes the claim to be such does not so much give a reason for us to accept the claim. Rather, it gives us the reason to investigate the claim. As such, I still deny that this counts as a reason, so much as a continuance of Jacob's argument for the reasonability of such a communication of revelation, and a segue into discussing what communiqué is in fact God's.

So let me start by showing a handful of verses from scripture that show the Bible itself claims to be an authority and completely true on everything to which it speaks. In the book of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the scripture reads:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

The word "scripture" refers directly to the Old Testament. Paul the apostle asserts that the scripture is "inspired by God." A more literal translation from the Greek would render it as "God breathed." So here we have a new Testament author vouching for the Old Testament as God’s word. Another scripture I would point to is 2 Peter 3:15-16 which says:

"...just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."

Here we have the apostle Peter vouching for the writings of Paul as equal to "the rest of the scriptures." In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul writes:

"For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe."

And finally Jesus promises in John 16:13 that God the Holy Spirit will come to the apostles and enable them to speak for God in truth.

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."

Again, these Scriptures serve to introduce the idea that God has revealed Himself, given us His Word, and that word is identified with the Scriptures (though not exclusively, as will be demonstrated). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 introduces the concept that Scripture is "inspired" by God, or "God-breathed." This tells us that the Bible views itself as the second of the two options I gave above--that God caused man to record His revelation, and thus that revelation can be rightly called God's Word. The problem is that the Bible is not one cohesive document, but a collection of 73 different books, written over the span of some 1600 years, by at least 50 different authors. 2 Timothy 3:16 includes 46 of those 73 books, and 2 Peter 3:16 equates the 13 epistles of St. Paul, bringing our total to 59 out of 73 books that the Bible claims are inspired, or "God's Word." The Revelation of St. John makes that claim for itself, bringing the total to 60, but that is still half of the New Testament with no direct biblical claim to Divine Inspiration (namely, the four Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude). In fact, the claim that St. Paul's letters are on the same level as the rest of Scripture comes from one of these books which do not claim such inspiration for themselves!

In His book "Lectures in Systematic Theology" Henry C. Thiessen says regarding statements such as "Thus says the Lord" or "the word of the Lord came to Joel" and "for the Lord speaks" that "It is claimed that statements like these occur more that 3,800 times in the Old Testament. Thus the Old Testament claims to be a revelation from God." (Thiessen 49) That said, the Bible claims to be authoritative and the word of God in both the Old and New testament.

Thiessen's statement does not resolve anything, either, since not every book in the Old Testament contains the phrase "Thus says the Lord" or other variations. The simple fact is that the books that belong to the Bible are not, strictly speaking, self-authenticating. Even if they were, it would not get us farther than a charge of "circular reasoning." But the fact is that the Bible was not given to us leather-bound with gilded pages and a table of contents. Thus, claims that the Bible calls itself the Word of God only goes so far--and not very far at that. Other reasons must be a significant factor.

Another evidence that backs up the Bible’s claim to authority and as the word of God, is its incredible unity despite the fact that "Although written by some forty different authors over a period of about 1,600 years, the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, one program of the ages." (Thiessen 46) For this to be so, this fact in itself testifies to a divine authority guiding not only the writing of scripture but guarding it throughout the years and bringing it together into on compilation.

This is indeed a testament to the supernatural protection and transmission of the Bible, and perhaps the most logical evidence of Divine origin. Note, however, that the guided compilation of Scripture is at the same time a testament to the Word of God external to the Scriptures, functioning in the Church who compiled it. After all, what good would God's written Word be if it had never been compiled and declared to in fact be His Word? The very fact that God's Word needed compilation points to Authority outside of and encompassing that written Word.

Not one time has a supposed contradiction within scripture been brought forth that hasn’t been given a satisfactory answer. Most times it is simply a matter of false interpretation that brings forth a supposed contradiction. Sometimes it’s a lack of knowledge of what the scripture teaches. For instance I was once challenged by a self proclaimed atheist by these two verses.

Psalm 97:2 "Thick dark Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne."

1 John 1:5 "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."

The supposed contradiction was that in one place the Bible teaches that God dwells in the midst of darkness, but then says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. The explanation is actually fairly simple however. Psalm 139:7-12 says:

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."

The Bible teaches the omni-presence of God or in other words that God is everywhere all at the same time. Other supposed contradictions sometimes come from a lack of understanding the poetic language of certain parts of the Bible (like the book of Psalms for instance). Others are yet more technical and it takes word studies of the original languages of the Bible in order to sort it all out. Yet it can always be sorted out.

While this is, of course, true, it is not so much a reason to accept the Bible as a rebuttal against those who reject it on the grounds of contradiction. And of course, each example would have to be tried on a per example basis to effectively demonstrate the truth of Jacob's claim and keep it from remaining an unproven assertion. The burden is, of course, on those who would offer the objection, to demonstrate the alleged contradiction.

Now that we have looked at some arguments for the Bible as being an authoritative book using the Bible’s words itself, let us look at some more "outside" arguments as well. One such argument that can be made for the authority of the Bible is the apparent indestructibility of the Bible throughout the years. "When we recall that only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century, that a much smaller percentage last for a century, and that only a very small number live a thousand years, we at once realize that the Bible is a unique book." (Theissen 45) The Bible is a book that has been the object of affection for millions who have known it to be the word of God, while at the same it has been the object of wrath from those who have viewed it as anything but.

While this is indeed true, the same case could be made for the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures and the Qur'an, all of which claim to be authorities on God, and at least one of which claims for itself Divine Inspiriation.

There has been multiple attempts throughout the last 2,000 years to wipe the Bible out of existence. There was an attempt by Roman emperor Diocletian who "by a royal edict in 303 A.D., demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire."(Theissen 45) The persecution was so intense many Christians were killed and so many copies of the Bible were destroyed that the emperor actually claimed victory and thought that he had destroyed Christianity forever. Indeed all that he effectively did was drive the Christians into hiding for a time, but the Bible was preserved.

In fact, it was in response to this persecution that Christianity really seriously began examining the question of the inspiration of the New Testament. While the four Gospels, Acts, and the thirteen epistles of Paul, as well as 1 John, had been accepted quite early on, the remaining books were viewed more spuriously, along with other books, such as the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas. As well, there were other devout books that were never regarded as Canonical, but were still used widely in the Church. When the Emperor demanded that the Scriptures be turned over and destroyed, the question on the minds of the Christians were "Which books are okay to give up, and which ones will I be in danger of Hell for allowing to be burned?" Thus we again see the authority of the Church on this issue after Diocletian, in determining exactly what was in fact "God's Word", and what was merely devout reading.

Fast forward to the middle-ages, the state church was corrupted to the point that the Bible was not allowed to be read by anyone who wasn’t approved by the church.

And here we have the major problems with Jacob's treatment of the facts of history that prompted me to respond to this paper. Jacob asserts that the "State Church" was corrupted. Which "state church" was that? The Catholic Church? What evidence of corruption was there? And how does that tie in to the fact that the Bible was "not allowed to be read by anyone who wasn't approved by the church"?

The fact is that throughout history, the Bible was not arbitrarily forbidden to the public, except in those times when the Church viewed it as being dangerous--namely, in the face of various and influential heresies.

(1) During the course of the first millennium of her existence, the Church did not promulgate any law concerning the reading of Scripture in the vernacular. The faithful were rather encouraged to read the Sacred Books according to their spiritual needs (cf. St. Irenaeus, "Adv. haer.", III, iv).

(2) The next five hundred years show only local regulations concerning the use of the Bible in the vernacular. On 2 January, 1080, Gregory VII wrote to the Duke of Bohemia that he could not allow the publication of the Scriptures in the language of the country. The letter was written chiefly to refuse the petition of the Bohemians for permission to conduct Divine service in the Slavic language. The pontiff feared that the reading of the Bible in the vernacular would lead to irreverence and wrong interpretation of the inspired text (St. Gregory VII, "Epist.", vii, xi). The second document belongs to the time of the Waldensian and Albigensian heresies. The Bishop of Metz had written to Innocent III that there existed in his diocese a perfect frenzy for the Bible in the vernacular. In 1199 the pope replied that in general the desire to read the Scriptures was praiseworthy, but that the practice was dangerous for the simple and unlearned ("Epist., II, cxli; Hurter, "Gesch. des. Papstes Innocent III", Hamburg, 1842, IV, 501 sqq.). After the death of Innocent III, the Synod of Toulouse directed in 1229 its fourteenth canon against the misuse of Sacred Scripture on the part of the Cathari: "prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere" (Hefele, "Concilgesch", Freiburg, 1863, V, 875). In 1233 the Synod of Tarragona issued a similar prohibition in its second canon, but both these laws are intended only for the countries subject to the jurisdiction of the respective synods (Hefele, ibid., 918). The Third Synod of Oxford, in 1408, owing to the disorders of the Lollards, who in addition to their crimes of violence and anarchy had introduced virulent interpolations into the vernacular sacred text, issued a law in virtue of which only the versions approved by the local ordinary or the provincial council were allowed to be read by the laity (Hefele, op. cit., VI, 817).

(3) It is only in the beginning of the last five hundred years that we meet with a general law of the Church concerning the reading of the Bible in the vernacular. On 24 March, 1564, Pius IV promulgated in his Constitution, "Dominici gregis", the Index of Prohibited Books. According to the third rule, the Old Testament may be read in the vernacular by pious and learned men, according to the judgment of the bishop, as a help to the better understanding of the Vulgate. The fourth rule places in the hands of the bishop or the inquisitor the power of allowing the reading of the New Testament in the vernacular to laymen who according to the judgment of their confessor or their pastor can profit by this practice. Sixtus V reserved this power to himself or the Sacred Congregation of the Index, and Clement VIII added this restriction to the fourth rule of the Index, by way of appendix. Benedict XIV required that the vernacular version read by laymen should be either approved by the Holy See or provided with notes taken from the writings of the Fathers or of learned and pious authors. It then became an open question whether this order of Benedict XIV was intended to supersede the former legislation or to further restrict it. This doubt was not removed by the next three documents: the condemnation of certain errors of the Jansenist Quesnel as to the necessity of reading the Bible, by the Bull "Unigenitus" issued by Clement XI on 8 Sept., 1713 (cf. Denzinger, "Enchir.", nn. 1294-1300); the condemnation of the same teaching maintained in the Synod of Pistoia, by the Bull "Auctorem fidei" issued on 28 Aug., 1794, by Pius VI; the warning against allowing the laity indiscriminately to read the Scriptures in the vernacular, addressed to the Bishop of Mohileff by Pius VII, on 3 Sept., 1816. But the Decree issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Index on 7 Jan., 1836, seems to render it clear that henceforth the laity may read vernacular versions of the Scriptures, if they be either approved by the Holy See, or provided with notes taken from the writings of the Fathers or of learned Catholic authors. The same regulation was repeated by Gregory XVI in his Encyclical of 8 May, 1844. In general, the Church has always allowed the reading of the Bible in the vernacular, if it was desirable for the spiritual needs of her children; she has forbidden it only when it was almost certain to cause serious spiritual harm Catholic Encyclopedia--Scripture
As such, it is not true at all that in the Middle Ages, the Bible was forbidden from the laity. It was, in fact, only certain people in certain regions who were forbidden, for a brief time. After the Middle Ages, in the Modern Church, there were further rules regarding who could read the Scriptures--but again, reading wasn't forbidden.

The church claimed that only the priests could interpret scripture and it was not for laymen.

This again is a slight mischaracterisation of Catholic understanding of Scripture. First of all, it is true that the Church reserves the right to Authoritatively Interpret the Scriptures to itself. It claims this right for a few reasons: 1) Because it is the Church that Christ founded in order to propagate the Gospel and be His Witness. 2) It is to the Church that Christ gave His authority to do so. 3) Scripture itself teaches that it is not to be interpreted by just anyone (2 Peter 2:20; 3:15-17). Since it is the Church which is the Body of Christ, and the pillar and foundation of the truth (Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 Tim 3:15), and since it is the Church that compiled and declared canonical those very Scriptures, it is evident that the Church also has authority to interpret those Scriptures aright. That does not mean that the Bible is "not for laymen" but simply that the interpretation of the Bible is not for laymen.
At any rate, such is the case. Protestants read the Bible; Catholics do not: and why? "We need not go far for a reason," say the Protestants; "the Protestant religion is in the Bible, the Catholic is not; therefore Protestants are urged to read the Bible to confirm them in the truth of Protestantism, while Catholics are forbidden to read it; lest they should discover the falsehood of Catholicism." This theory certainly accounts for the facts in question, and in the way most satisfactory to those who have framed it; it overlooks, it is true, the strange improbability that the Church should watch over a certain volume from age to age with jealous care, loudly proclaiming to the world that that volume is the inspired word of God, and yet all the while consciously persist in teaching a doctrine contradicted by that inspired word...

Some, however, there my be who really wish to be candid and to see the truth; and to such it may be worth while to explain, one for all, that if Catholics do not read the Bible in the same way as Protestants do, it is not, as Protestants assert, because the teaching of their Church is such as to dread being confronted face to face with Scripture, nor because they less fully believe than any Protestant can do in the inspiration of Scripture; but simply because they do not believe in their own individual inspiration as interpreters of Scripture. Scripture they well know can make no mistake; but they are in no way sure that they themselves can make no mistake as to what Scripture means. They believe that there is one authorized interpreter of Scripture, and one alone,--the Holy Catholic Church, which is divinely guarded from all possibility of error, being informed by the same Holy Spirit by whom Scripture was inspired, and therefore alone able to penetrate its real meaning. Her interpretation of it he trusts with unhesitating certainty; while to trust any crude theories he might himself be tempted to form respecting it, would seem to him simply ridiculous. Thus he never dreams of reading Holy Scripture with the view of gathering from it the articles of his belief; indeed, to do so would be to cease at once from being a Catholic in heart; and any one reading Scripture in this spirit, or in danger of doing so, would certainly be forbidden to read it at all, if he desired to continue in the communion of the faithful; for he would be virtually denying that the Church is the sole infallible interpreter of Scripture, whereas the acknowledgment of her as such is the very fundamental principle of Catholicism. Catholics, then, do not study the Scripture to learn their faith, but to grow in holiness; and for this purpose selections from Scripture, or meditations, and devotional works on Scriptural subjects (in which Catholicism is rich beyond what Protestants can imagine), are found to be more useful, and also to give more insight into the real spirit and meaning of Scripture itself, than the unaided study of the entire Bible. It is surely, then, nothing very wonderful that the Bible, as a whole, should be found less frequently in the hands of Catholics than in those of Protestants, whose principle in this matter is altogether opposite. While Catholics acknowledge but one authoritative interpreter, Protestants hold that every man is his own interpreter; that from "the Bible and the Bible only" every man is bound to learn all that he must believe in order to be saved; that if he prays for the help of God's Holy Spirit, this alone, without human aid, will guard him from all material error; that no church, no body of men, no teacher whatever has any Divine authority to interpret Scripture for him; he must do it for himself, and he can. If, then, Protestants must gather for themselves from the bare text of the Bible, the knowledge of those truths which they must believe if they wish to be saved, what can they do, what must they do, but pore and ponder over that text from day to day, and from year to year, so long as life endures? To do this is but to be consistent; but they should not find fault with Catholics for being consistent also...

[W]e must remark, that nothing can be more unjust than the way in which it [this principle of authority] is usually stated by Protestants, as though the parties are opposed to each other were the Bible and the Church. "I hold by my Bible," they say, "and you hold by your Church;" thus representing the Church and the Bible as two hostile fortresses, as it were, flanking the battle-field on either side, to which the contending parties respectively betake themselves. It is no such thing: the real question lies between the Church and the individual, the Bible being the subject-matter common to both; and the point at issue, Who is to interpret the Bible? which the Catholic believes to be the Church, and the Protestant himself; so that "the Church" and "himself" are the parties opposed, not the Church and the Bible. That the Bible is the inspired word of God, Protestants and Catholics are perfectly agreed in believing (Library of Controversy - The Clifton Tracts: Volume 1, How Do We Know What The Bible Means? The Brotherhood of St. Vincent of Paul [pp.5-9]. Emphasis mine).
Only those who were trained to read Latin were even capable of reading the Bible because it had not been translated into the common language of the day.

This again is untrue, as the Scriptures were wont to be translated into the languages of the people as soon as a nation was converted. Even a brief look at the history of the Bible would demonstrate that point.
I have said that people who could read at all in the Middle Ages could read Latin: hence there was little need for the Church to issue the Scriptures in any other language. But as a matter of fact she did in many countries put the Scriptures in the hands of her children in their own tongue. We know from history that there were popular translations of the Bible and Gospels in Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Norwegian, Polish, Bohemian, and Hungarian for the Catholics of those lands before the days of printing, but we shall confine ourselves to England, so as to refute once more the common fallacy that John Wycliff was the first to place an English translation of the Scriptures in the hands of the English people in 1382.

To anyone that has investigated the real facts of the case, this fondly-cherished notion must seem truly ridiculous; it is not only absolutely false, but stupidly so, inasmuch as it admits of such easy disproof; one wonders that nowadays any lecturer or writer should have the temerity to advance it. Now, observe I am speaking of the days before the printing-press was invented; I am speaking of England, and concerning a Church which did not, and does not, admit the necessity of Bible-reading for salvation; and concerning an age when the production of the Scriptures was a most costly business, and far beyond the means of nearly everybody. Yet we may safely assert, and we can prove, that there were actually in existence among the people many copies of the Scriptures in the English tongue of that day. To begin far back, we have a copy of the work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby, in the end of the seventh century, consisting of great portions of the Bible in the common tongue. In the next century we have the well-known translations of Venerable Bede, a monk of Jarrow, who died whilst busy with the Gospel of St. John. In the same (eighth) century we have the copies of Eadhelm, Bishop of Sherborne; of Guthlac, a hermit near Peterborough; and of Egbert, Bishop of Holy Island; these were all in Saxon, the language understood and spoken by the Christians of that time. Coming down a little later, we have the free translations of King Alfred the Great who was working at the Psalms when he died, and of Aelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury; as well as popular renderings of Holy Scripture like the Book of Durham, and the Rushworth Gloss and others that have survived the wreck of ages. After the Norman conquest in 1066, Anglo-Norman or Middle-English became the language of England, and consequently the next translations of the Bible we meet with are in that tongue. There are several specimens still known, such as the paraphrase of Orm (About 1150) and the Salus Animae (1250), the translations of William Shoreham and Richard Rolle, hermit of Hampole (died 1349). I say advisedly ‘specimens’ for those that have come down to us are merely indications of a much greater number that once existed, but afterwards perished. We have proof of this in the words of Blessed Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII who says: ‘The whole Bible long before Wycliff’s day was by virtuous and well-learned men translated into the English tongue, and by good and godly people with devotion and soberness well and reverently read’ (Dialogues III). Again, ‘The clergy keep no Bibles from the laity but such translations as be either not yet approved for good, or such as be already reproved for naught (i.e., bad, naughty) as Wycliff’s was. For, as for old ones that were before Wycliff’s days, they remain lawful and be in some folks’ hand. I myself have seen, and can show you, Bibles, fair and old which have been known and seen by the Bishop of the Diocese, and left in laymen’s hands and women’s too, such as he knew for good and Catholic folk, that used them with soberness and devotion.’ But you will say, that is the witness of a Roman Catholic. Well, I shall advance Protestant testimony also.

The translators of the Authorized Version, in their ‘Preface’, referring to previous translations of the Scriptures into the language of the people, make the following important statements. After speaking of the Greek and Latin Versions, they proceed:

‘The godly-learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which they themselves understood, Greek and Latin... but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they, they provided translations into the Vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under Heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their Mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only but also by the written word translated’ (Where We Got the Bible. Henry G. Graham (Chapter 11
Because of this the corrupt leaders in the so-called church there were all kinds of false teachings and heresies floating around with the truth. It wasn’t until the early 1500's when Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church that the reformation of the church began. That would set off a chain of events that would lead to the division of the protestant’s and Roman Catholics and start the road back to Biblical theology.

There are so many inaccuracies with that paragraph, I hardly know where to begin.
First of all, according to the selfsame Bible which we are defending, Jesus declared His Church to be indestructible (Matthew 16:18); and that the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). What then can Jacob mean when he calls the Church, the "so-called church"? Did the Church cease to be the Church? That would mean Jesus failed to keep His promise! And, when did the Church therefore cease to be the Church? Jacob tells us that it was the corrupt leadership that allowed false teachings and heresies in this time. But that would make Scripture in error in its description of the Church, since it would no longer be the foundation of truth, if it is teaching and permitting heresy!

That there were many heresies then is certainly true. But there have been heresies and false teachings in every age--even Luther's and even our own! That some of the heresies were reactions to the corrupt worldly attitudes of many Church leaders (such as was the motive with the Catharis) is also true. However, the Catholic Church never promulgated heresy, it never approved of the corruption in its ranks, and instead, through all this time it actually worked to defeat the heresies that were ever-present! That Jacob disagrees with many of the Church's teachings is not itself proof that the Church teaches heresy, any more than it is ipso facto proof that Jacob believes heresy. The question is, who has the authority to define what is and what is not heretical? Jacob answers, The Bible. Hence his claim that Luther's reformation began the process of returning to "biblical theology." But does the practice of Sola Scriptura advocated by the Reformers really lead to "Biblical Theology"? I would say that history over the last 500 years has shown that no, in fact, it has not. Rather, Sola Scriptura in practice has led to exactly what the Catholic Church had always warned that it would: Division and Error. For with thousands of Protestant denominations all claiming to practice "Biblical Theology", whose theology based on the Bible are we to believe?

The Bible began to be translated into the language of the common people and the Roman Catholic church attempted to thwart this action by instituting strict punishment on those who would read the scripture or copy it into the common language. Despite such attempts the Bible today is the number one published book in the world of all time. It has been translated into nearly every known language on earth.

This again is simply not true, as Graham quotes St. Thomas More above:
The clergy keep no Bibles from the laity but such translations as be either not yet approved for good, or such as be already reproved for naught as Wycliff's was. For, as for old ones that were before Wycliff's days, they remain lawful and be in some folks' hand. I myself have seen, and can show you, Bibles, fair and old which have been known and seen by the Bishop of the Diocese, and left in laymen's hands and women's too, such as he knew for good and Catholic folk, that used them with soberness and devotion.
It was not in attempt to keep the knowledge of Scripture from the people, but to keep erroneous translations from the people, that prompted the Church's sanctions against translating. This is still the case today, as well, even in Protestant churches. What pastor wants any member of his congregation reading the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, or the Mormon translation of Scripture? The Church, the pillar and foundation of the truth, is indeed charged with making sure reliable and accurate translations of the Bible are passed down. And in ages past where literacy and education were low, and heresy and deception were high, the Church conducted itself in the only way it knew to keep its faithful safe from error.

Since attempts to destroy and suppress the Bible have failed, the more recent tactics by those who hold no regard for the Bible as God's word have been to attempt to discredit its worth.

While technically not a false statement, lumping The Roman Catholic Church (accused above of trying to conceal or destroy the Bible) together with those who would deny its identity and worth as God's word is an incredibly false notion.

Liberals have made it out to be no more than another book of fairy tales that teach morality. Nevertheless millions around the world continue to uphold the Bible as God’s word and even lay down there lives in communist countries for the truth that it proclaims.

True enough. But to return to the issue, what does the above have to do with the reasonability of the Bible as the Word of God? The mere fact that people don't believe it does not somehow bolster its claims, and neither necessarily does the fact that others are willing to lay down their lives for it.

In my own life I would testify to the Bible as God’s word and final authority regarding truth. The very words leap off of the page as I read about the hopeless situation I am in with my sin and as God reveals His love for me as I read on about what he has done through His son Jesus Christ to rescue me from my helpless state. Since trusting in Christ, who is God revealed to me by the Bible, the words of the Bible have brought me courage, comfort, and conviction. Sometimes its words chastize me when I am in sin, but it also leads me to repentance and forgiveness in my Savior. I would like to think that I too (like countless other Christians before me) would lay down my life for not only my faith in Jesus, but to uphold and protect the words of the living God. In my heart and mind the Bible is beyond any doubt the word of the God who created everything that is, and I believe every word.

Jacob Allee

Jacob's moving personal testimony of how the Bible has and continues to impact his life, beautiful as it is, is not therefore further compelling reason to see it as God's Word. There are many who might agree with his experience (myself included), but many who do not. I could make similar claims about my reading of "The Imitation of Christ" and other devout literature, without at the same time desiring to call it Scripture or God's Word. Martin Luther rejected the Epistle of James, viewing it no better than straw, while John Calvin considered it "divine". Mormons frequently challenge potential converts to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon in the hopes that they will receive "the burning bosom", a similar subjective experience. Subjective experience is not a determinant of truth, least of all a rational one.

As such, Jacob's argument for the reasonability of the Bible being the Word of God begins with the assumption that God, if He exists, would desire to so communicate, and that the written word is the most effective means through which to do that. His specific evidence that the Bible is in fact that communication is that:

A) the Bible says so
To which I replied that this is circular reasoning, and incomplete at that, since not all of the 73 books are so named in the Scripture itself as the Word of God, and so it is not even therefore a complete circle!

B) All 73 books are cohesive despite the multitude of time and authors involved in its writing
Jacob himself would not even own to 73 books, but 66! This raises another question, related to this topic, of not simply How do we know the Bible is God's Word? but How do we know what belongs in the Bible? Other than that question, Jacob's reason for Scripture as God's Word is compelling of itself, especially when supplemented by other reasons.

C) It's indestructibility
When Jacob actually has his historical facts correct, this too is another compelling argument--though not as much as the last, since other books have survived the centuries, and many have had persecutions of their own (such as the Qur'an and the Gnostic Gospels).

D) Personal subjective experience
Again, not a compelling logical reason, and rather on par with the first.

In writing an argumentative essay, it is customary to order one's arguments based on their relative strengths. One's second strongest argument typically appears first, the weakest arguments are usually in the middle, and the strongest argument is saved for last, to give a concluding punch to one's case.

Perhaps Jacob had attempted to follow this format, giving what he felt were his strong and weak points in the appropriate order, yet, on closer examination, he led and concluded with his weakest points, and tucked his relatively stronger ones in the middle.

I have above offered criticisms of Jacob's weaker points, not because I disagree that the Bible is God's Word, or because I believe that it is irrational to believe that, but rather because an irrational defense of rationality is itself irrational. My desire is to bolster faith in God and in His Word, and to demonstrate that such faith is indeed based--nay, firmly entrenched in reason.

Having said so, if indeed there is a God, who is defined as "that which nothing greater can be conceived", then that God would in fact desire to communicate with us, out of love for His creation, in order that we would be able to live according to His Will, that is to say, according to the purpose for which He made us, so that we would be most fulfilled. This, it seems to me, is much greater than a God who is aloof, giving no direction to His creation--allowing them to suffer and struggle through life with no purpose or reason.

This God would communicate with us in the most effective means possible. Ideally, that would be face to face, intimate communication. But we see that this is not the norm in reality. We must therefore conclude that this ideal form of communication is hindered. Now, if God can indeed do anything, then this hinderance must be one more to do with permissiveness than with restraint. That is to say, God must be allowing the barrier to continue. It seems reasonable that the only barrier preventing communication between an Omnipotent God and His Creation is simply the creation's refusal to listen, to respond. It is from this refusal that communication has been hindered.

Through the Original Sin of Adam, he chose to cut communication ties with God. It is not, perhaps, that he wanted this result. It was rather the inevitable result of disobedience to a God who is completely Just (for a Just God is greater than an Unjust God). Through sin, Adam forfeited the life of Grace, of intimacy with God that he once knew. But a Just God who is also Loving would continue to try to reconcile with His Creation, to remove the barrier. And so He continued to communicate to men throughout history, who were willing to respond to Him.

Above, Jacob argues that the most effective way to communicate is through the Written Word, and so evidently God chose that medium. What this fails to take into account, though, is that initially God did not communicate through Scripture. It was, instead, through more direct means of communication. That these moments of communication were later recorded (by God's guidance), does not nullify the fact that God Himself did not begin there, and has never relied exclusively on written text to communicate. As I note above to Jacob's argument, God would most effectively communicate by utilising a variety of media--which, in fact, He has: God has revealed Himself through nature, through verbal conversation, through miraculous signs, through rites and ceremonies, through the arts, as well as through written text. And this list is by no means exhaustive. And all these limited means of communication were simply to help set up and prepare His ultimate plan: to communicate as directly and as ideally as we would let Him, by becoming one of us, to communicate intimately, face-to-face, in the person of Jesus Christ--and, in so doing, to remove the hindrance to communication caused by our continued sin. And it was Jesus again, who commanded that God's Communication to us should be spread, so that all the world would be able to know it.

That the Bible is God's Word follows in part, therefore, from the fact that God desires to communicate with us, and that He desires His communication to be preserved and spread. Setting the Bible apart from other alternative texts claiming to be that communication is its internal cohesiveness, which Jacob has described--the fact that over 50 authors over a span of some 1600 years could write 73 books containing one message, one truth, one plan for the Human Race, and one God who saves from Sin, in such a consistent fashion. Unfortunately, however, the various genres and cultural expressions contained throughout the Bible, as well as the progressive development of God's revelation throughout, gives rise to the accusation of contradictions. This accusation points us to a need unmet in the written text.

That the Bible has survived throughout the eras before Christ, through many persecutions, wars, and exiles of the Jewish people, and, after Christ, survived further persecutions and wars aimed specifically at the destruction of its text--right down to various cultures in our modern age--gives another impressive proof of the supernatural quality of the biblical text. However, though its competition in this arena is far fewer in number, other ancient texts still exist, though they are not in any way supernatural. Further, the fact that the Bible survived not simply because of a supernatural "force field", or any particular divine intervention, but mainly because the people charged with its preservation performed their tasks admirably well, even in the face of such persecutions and death, speaks at least as much for the Bible's protectors as it does for the Bible itself.

What then satisfies these two hanging questions in the above proofs, and gives those proofs their stability in proclaiming the Bible as the Word of God? The answer has already been hinted at--and is mainly this: God has never communicated with His creation exclusively by the Written Word. When Jesus commanded the propagation of the Gospel Message, He did not do so by commanding Scriptures to be written, preserved, or disseminated. Rather, He created a Church, which He identified with His Own Body, and sent them out on His behalf, entrusted with His Authority in order to define, proclaim, and interpret His Word.

It is this Church, therefore, that brings the Word of God to the world, in various forms, as the Body of Christ. Just as God never limited His communication to the world to one medium, neither does His Body. It is the Church that determined what was, and what was not the Word of God--as evidenced by the creation of the Biblical Canon. A lengthly and difficult process, accompanied by prayer on the one side and persecution on the other, finally led to the Church's proclamation that God's Revelation was given in the 73 books which comprise the Bible today. In this action, the Church demonstrated that "The Word of God" contains the Bible, but is itself greater than the Bible, but includes the entire Sacred Tradition passed down by the Apostles and entrusted to the Church as the Body of Christ. This Church, as unified and as indestructible as the Bible it preserves. This Church, as universal as the authors of Scripture, and historically founded by Christ Himself, as His Body. This Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
"I would not believe the Gospel unless moved thereto by the Church."
-St. Augustine of Hippo
Gregory Watson

Works Cited:

Theissen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979

New American Standard Bible. Eugene: Harvest House, 1995

Allee, Jacob. The Reasonability of the Bible as the Word of God.

The Brotherhood of St. Vincent of Paul. Library of Controversy - The Clifton Tracts: Volume 1, How Do We Know What The Bible Means? New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1854).

Catholic Encyclopedia: Scripture.

Graham, Rev. Henry G. Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church.

(Category: Theology Proper: God in general.
The Scriptures: Scriptural Authority.)