When I was preparing our seminarians to undertake the formal ministry of reader, I would often take them with Sikh or Jewish scout friends of mine to an Orthodox Synagogue in London or to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall. To see the reverence and personal attention that others give to the scriptures which they hold holy or to share in the divine can encourage us to ask – are we missing something, have we forgotten what a gift is in our midst?
This Wednesday, 30th September, marks 1,600 years since the death of St Jerome. There is a statue of him behind the altar in St Edmund’s. He is best known as the translator of the Vulgate Bible, commissioned by Pope Damasus in 382. It fed and sustained the church in the west for over a thousand years and is still (in slightly updated form) in use in the liturgy and the life of the church. One of his best-known sayings is “ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ”.
It is an appropriate moment for us to stop as a community and as individuals and to ask about the place of scripture in our lives. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Word of God is one of the ways in which Christ is present in the Liturgy and in the Church. Many, in our parish and throughout the Christian world, have discovered for ourselves that not only can we know the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and receive him in Holy Communion, but that we can meet him regularly in the scriptures in lectio divina – holy reading.
I wonder, are there more people in our parish who can speak clearly, love the scriptures, would like to enter into them more deeply in prayer and might be prepared to proclaim them to us at Mass? Please do let Fr Jonathan know if you think you could do this, or if you know someone who would be good but might be too shy to come forward.