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Scripture Study Day in Leeds

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Earlier this month Fr. Richard Ounsworth OP and I were invited by the Leeds Cathedral Young Adults Group to lead them in a study day on scripture. I enjoyed the day immensely, it was a pleasure to get to know this lively group of young Catholics and good to see such enthusiasm for the faith. Over the course of quite a full programme, which included an exploration of some of the various 'types' of Christ found in the Old Testament and an introduction to the theology of St.Paul, one of the particpants expressed his surprise and delight to discover that 'the Bible is Catholic.'

I thought this was an interesting and revealing comment. Perhaps in the past there has been a tendency to separate scripture and tradition. Perhaps there has even been a slight suspicion of the scriptures, an anxiety that they are a bit 'Protestant' and opposed to Catholic sacraments and liturgy. One of the objectives of the Second Vatican Council was to allay such fears and draw Catholics attention back to the scriptural foundations of the Church's teaching and life. This, it was hoped, would facilitate a spiritual and evangelical renewal of the Body of Christ.

Fr Richard speaking in Leeds

For the Council, neglect of our scriptures means the neglect of our own Tradition (in the fullest sense) and the neglect of our mission. This scriptural outlook of Vatican II was interestingly anticipated by Bede Jarrett OP, the founder of Blackfriars Oxford and Provincial of the English Province between 1916-1932. In 1908 Fr. Bede wrote to congratulate a Brother who was to be assigned to the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem for higher studies declaring: 'Scripture is the study above all others that appeals to the religious side of the English character.'

This, it seems to me, is as true now as it was then, and perhaps the English fascination with the Bible is not as distinctive or unusual as Bede Jarrett implies. If we are to preach effectively to societies that have lost touch with their Christian roots then we must preach with words that 'seem to come from God' (1 Peter 4: 11). Studying and meditating upon the word of God would seem to be an excellent preperation for such preaching. The increased interest of young Catholics in scripture must therefore be a tremendous sign of hope for the future.

Nicholas Crowe OP


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