WHY IS GOSPEL READING AND MEDITATION IMPORTANT? (ST. ISIDORE OF SEVILLE).
WHY IS GOSPEL READING AND MEDITATION IMPORTANT?
(ST. ISIDORE OF SEVILLE).
Why is Gospel reading and meditation important for a Christian? A Christian is called to be another Christ. He has the vocation to live as Christ lived and the Scriptures, in particular, the Gospels, tell us how Christ became man to show us the Way and the Truth that leads to Life.
“Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” as St. Jerome once wrote. If we are to know and love Jesus Christ, and live His life, Gospel reading and meditation are indispensable.
Below you have an inspiring read from a great saint, St. Isidore of Seville, who presents some arguments on the benefits derived from Gospel reading and meditation.
From the Book of Sentences, by St Isidore
The scribe who is learned about the Kingdom of Heaven
We are purified by prayer and we are instructed by reading. Each of these is good, if it is possible to do both. But if we cannot do both, it is better to pray than to read.
If anyone wants to be always with God, he ought to pray often and to read often as well. For when we pray, it is we who talk to God, whereas when we read, it is God who speaks to us.
All spiritual progress derives from reading and meditation. For in reading we learn things of which we were ignorant, and in meditation we preserve what we have learned.
The reading of scripture brings a two-fold benefit: in the first place it enriches the understanding, and in the second place it draws men away from the vanities of the world and leads them to the love of God.
Reading has a double object – first how the scriptures can be properly understood, and secondly, in what way they can be usefully and worthily proclaimed. For in the first place a man will be ready to understand what he has read, and the ability to convey to others what he has learned will come as a consequence.
The zealous student will be very ready to put into action what he has read, rather than only to understand it. For there is less hardship in not knowing what you want than in not being able to carry out what you know.
The only way of understanding the meaning of sacred scripture is through familiarity with the text, as it is written: ‘Prize her highly, and she will exalt you: she will honour you if you embrace her.’
The more conscientious one is in becoming familiar with the sacred writings, the richer an understanding one will draw from them: as with the earth – the more it is cultivated, the more abundant is its harvest.
Some people are naturally endowed with intelligence, but they neglect the pursuit of reading and they despise by their neglect the things which they might have been able to know by reading. On the other hand, some people have a love of knowledge, but are hindered through a slowness of understanding; but they do manage through constant reading to acquire the wisdom which the cleverer people in their idleness do not.
Just as the one who is slow at understanding, nevertheless gains the prize for good study because of his application, so the one who neglects the natural ability to understand, which he has been given by God, stands as a culprit to be condemned, since he despises the gift he has received, and sins through idleness.
Teaching that is poured into the ears without the aid of grace, never descends to the heart; it makes a great noise outside, but it never gives profit inside. The word of God, heard with the ears, only then reaches the depths of the heart, when the grace of God touches the mind within, so that it can understand.
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