One of the standard questions I get when I share with folks that I used to be a Southern Baptist is, "Why don't Catholics use the Bible as much as Protestants?"
The question usually assumes two things:— first, that Catholics actually don't
use the Bible; and second, that Protestants — particularly evangelical Protestants -- do and do so with much greater frequency.
The truth is, however, that Catholics are literally soaked in Scripture!
I wanted to figure out just how much Scripture the Church places before me on a typical day, so I walked through my obligations for today:—
- The Liturgy of the Hours (seven "offices" of prayer based upon the psalms and other Scriptures);
- Holy Mass; and
- Devotional practices like the Holy Rosary and the Angelus.
Follows is what I came up with for today, a Thursday in late August:—
Jeremiah 3:1-5, 19—4:4
Mark 6:17, 27
Psalm 20:2-4, 14
Psalm 71:1-4a, 5-6b, 15, 17
1 Corinthians 11:24-25
1 Timothy 3:9
Psalm 34:15, 18
Amos 5:8, 9b
Revelation 4:11, 5:9-12
1 Thessalonians 5:23
There are several things about this list that make it much shorter than it actually ought to be. Firstly, the Rosary's scriptural content is vastly understated because I chose not to list Luke 1:42 (which is contained in the Hail Mary prayer) fifty-three times or Matthew 6:9-13 (the Lord's Prayer) six times.
In the same way, I also omitted Matthew 6:9-13 (the Lord's Prayer) in another place, choosing to omit it from Vespers.
Finally, I omitted two more uses of Luke 1:42 (contained in the Hail Mary prayer) from the list for the Angelus devotion.
On top of all that -- fifty-three unique scripture passages, including ten whole chapters -- I neglected to mention devotional reading of the Bible which is also a part of Catholic spiritual life.
Now I recognize that as a seminarian, I'm probably doing more than most normal, practicing Catholics (because the Church expects more of me). However, most faithful lay Catholics -- with careers and families -- will go to daily Mass, pray a Rosary, and say the Angelus. Many will also offer at least one, and sometimes two or three, of the offices of the Liturgy of the Hours.
So the next time someone says, "Catholics? Well they don't even use the Bible!"
Feel free to say, "Oh yeah? Let me count for you how much Bible they use!"