HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







In the acquisition of all knowledge, man should order all its different branches to one grand scope: namely, to develop the powers of the soul, and make the being of man God-like. Now in that cultivation of the soul, the science of Holy Scripture is most immediate to the end of all study. The other departments of human knowledge contain but the faint and broken accents of human reason; the Holy Scriptures contain the clear voice of God from Heaven. Hence there should also be this order in the human knowable, that all the sciences should be subservient to the study of God in the Holy Scriptures.

Man should study the different sciences with the view of coming closer to the Creator through the consideration of his works. The man, then, who essays to interpret the word of God, should bring to his task the possession of vast and varied knowledge, that truth may beget truth, and the message of the Creator may be received in its fulness, in the mind made receptive by careful preparation. The student of Scripture takes up the grandest and sublimest system of philosophy, the truest and best system of ethics, and the grand basis of dogmatic truth. The human mind is limited, the compass of its cognitions is never vast, and it would be presumption in it to undertake to find the sense of the Holy Code without much laborious preparation. A man with some happy faculty of expression may treat of many themes of human knowledge without great mental application. But if a man would draw anything more than pious generalities out of the Scriptures, he must study.

In the words of Jerome: Agricolæ, cæmentarii, fabri, metallorum lignorumve cæsores, lanarii quoque et fullones, et ceteri, qui variam supellectilem et vilia opuscula fabricantur, absque doctore, esse non possunt quod cupiunt. Quod medicorum est,

Promittunt medici; tractant fabrilia fabri.

Sola Scripturarum ars, quam sibi omnes passim vindicant:

Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim.

Hanc garrula anus, hanc delirus senex, hanc sophista verbosus, hanc universi præsumunt, lacerant, docent, antequam discant. Alii adducto supercilio grandia verba trutinantes inter mulierculas de sacris literis philosophantur. Alii discunt, proh dolor! a feminis, quod viros doceant: et ne parum hoc sit, quadam facilitate verborum, imo audacia edisserunt aliis, quod ipsi non intelligunt.… Puerilia sunt hæc et circulatorum ludo similia, docere quod ignores, imo, ut cum stomacho loquar, ne hoc quidem scire, quod nescias. (St. Hier. ad Paulin. Ep. 53, 6, 7, Migne, P. L. 22, 544.)

The student of Scripture should study natural science to see the design of the Creator in his works, and the evidence of his wisdom in Natures laws; and also to defend the truths of God against the inflated sophists, who speak in the name of science. He should study philosophy that by the possession of the truths of one order, the mind may expand and rise by the right laws from one order of truth to another, in its upward course towards the Infinite Truth.

He should study the languages, for the resources of human thought are expressed in the different languages of the races of man. No man can well come at the thought of the world through the knowledge of any one tongue.

He should study the tongues in which the holy men of God spoke, for the fulness and the clearness of the thought remains in the original tongue in which it was first delivered. It will not suffice to say: Jerome translated the Hebrew for me, and as I can not equal Jeromes knowledge of Scripture, I shall desist from fruitless toil. Neither Jerome nor any other man, put into the translation the fulness and the clearness of the original.

He should study dogmatic theology, that he may be guided by the analogy of faith in all interpretations. It may be safely stated that no man ever became an able interpreter of Scripture, who was not a profound dogmatic theologian.

He should study archæology, that he may know the customs and modes of life of ancient people; for a knowledge of these will throw light on certain expressions of such people.

It is an evident fact that the science of archæology has made remarkable progress in our times. Remarkable discoveries have been made on the sites of Babylon, in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece, and these monuments bear a most important relation to Holy Scripture. It is a source of satisfaction to every believer to know that the testimony of the monuments has confirmed the truth of the Scriptures.

The student of Scripture should study textual criticism, that he may be able to judge of the sense of various readings, and, may intelligently use the different codices.

Finally, he should read and ponder much upon the Holy Text, for it does not reveal its depths of truths to the casual reader.

In proper degree the common laws of interpretation for all written documents are applicable to Holy Scripture; but inasmuch as the Scriptures form a unique transcendent class of literature, they have also laws proper to themselves.

The argument or occasion of the writing of a document often determines the peculiar sense given to words by an inspired writer. Thus a knowledge of the gnostic heresies gives us the key to St. Johns anathema against the man who should divide Jesus Christ.

The grammatical and logical context must be weighed; for both the words and the ideas of a writer are connected in a manner affecting the sense. Attention must also be paid to the character of the writing; for in impassioned discourse the ideas may be somewhat disconnected.

The hermeneutical laws proper to the Holy Scriptures are based on the fact that God is the Author of the Scriptures. God must therefore guide the interpretation of his writings.

The first great law therefore in the interpretation of Scripture is the teaching of the Church.

It is clear that the nature of the writings demands in the soul of the interpreter certain virtues to fit it to receive Gods message.

Prayer, an honest teachable heart, and humility are necessary: When as a youth I sought the sense of the Scriptures by the power of the intellect rather than by pious petition, by my perverse method I closed against myself the door leading to the Lord. When I should have knocked that it might be opened, I caused it to be closed. I sought in pride what only the humble can find.… Wretched man! When I thought myself able to fly, I left the nest, and I fell before I flew. (Aug. Sermon 51, 5).

All the Fathers have recognized that there are many things difficult to understand in the Scriptures. To deal with these Origen counsels: Being assiduous in the reading of Scripture, with a true firm faith in God seek the sense of the Holy Scriptures, which is often hidden. (Ep. ad Greg. Neoc.)

A most useful counsel is that of St. Augustine: For I confess to your charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the MS. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

As St. Paul says: The natural man receiveth not the things that are of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him, and he can not understand them, because they are spiritually examined.

This fact underlies rationalism and modernism; men have brought in false theories of inspiration and interpretation to reduce the supernatural character of the Scriptures which the natural man finds it hard to understand. The whole tendency it to make the Scriptures more acceptable to the natural man. Many of these theories have been treated of in our tract on Inspiration. The Encyclical Providentissimus Deus which we have produced in full is an excellent treatise on the interpretation of Scripture. Hence we shall refrain from repeating here what has been treated of in the first part of our work.

The Council of Trent in its famous decree of the fourth session, with a view to restrain the petulance of human minds, decreed: That no one relying on his own judgment, in the doctrinal and moral parts of Scripture, should distort the Holy Scriptures to conform to his opinions against the sense which our Holy Mother the Church has held and holds, whose office it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of Holy Scripture; and that no one shall dare interpret the same Holy Scriptures contrary to the unanimous consensus of the Fathers.

Though this decree is formally disciplinary it presupposes a dogmatic truth.

The Vatican Council repromulgated the decree of the Council of Trent, and authentically interpreted it: Since therefore that which the Council of Trent wisely decreed to restrain rash minds in the interpretation of Holy Scripture, has by some men been falsely interpreted, we renew the aforesaid decree, and declare its meaning to be that in matters of faith and morals pertaining to Christian teaching that is to be held as the true sense of Holy Scripture which holy Mother the Church has held and holds; for her office it is to judge of the sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore it is not allowed to any man to interpret the Holy Scriptures against the sense (of the Church) or against the unanimous consent of the Fathers. (Const. de Fide. II.)

The Fathers of the Vatican have here brought into the decree the dogmatic fact on which the disciplinary ruling of the Council of Trent was based, and have promulgated a dogmatic decree. A long series of discussions preceded the definition, and it is made evident from these that the decree does not contemplate two disparate criterions; but held the unanimous consent of the Fathers to be a competent witness of what the Church held.

The sense of some texts has been directly defined by the Church. It was defined by the Council of Trent, that Paul spoke of original sin, Rom. 5:12. (Conc. Trid. Sess. V. 2–4.) It was defined in the same session, and again in the seventh session, that the sense of the text, John 3:5, establishes the necessity of baptism by natural water. In the thirteenth session it is established, that the words of in-institution of the Blessed Eucharist prove the real presence of Christ in the Host. In the fourteenth session it is defined that the words of Christ in John 20:23, convey the power of binding and loosing sin; and that James 5:11 promulgates the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

The indirect force of the Churchs definitions pervades the whole body of the Scriptures. In condemning heresies, she shows us indirectly what is the sense of many passages; and her authentic teaching forms a general norm of interpretation which we call the analogy of faith.

We may define the analogy of faith to be the constant and perpetual harmony of Scripture in the fundamental points of faith and practice, deduced from those passages, in which they are discussed by the inspired writer, either directly or expressly, and in clear, plain, and intelligible language. Or, more briefly, the analogy of faith may be defined to be that proportion which the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures bear to each other, or, the close connection between the truths of Revealed Religion.

The analogy of faith is an expression borrowed from Saint Pauls Epistle to the Romans, (12:6.) where he exhorts those who prophesy in the church (that is, those who exercise the office of authoritatively expounding the Scriptures), to prophesy according to the analogy of faith.

The clause, in rebus fidei et morum, occasioned much discussion in the Council, and has occasioned much since. By this clause the Fathers did not restrict inspiration to the doctrinal parts; but only declared that in these parts, the sense was vital to the religious life of the people, and consequently in these things the Church fulfilled her commission of teaching all peoples.

As Bishop Gasser of Brixen, one of the leading bishops of the Council declared, the Church has the right of regulating the interpretation of all the things in Scripture, but, regarding the historical parts, either the interpretations are not against the dogma of the inspiration of Holy Scripture and of all its parts, or they are against this dogma. In the first hypothesis it is a free ground of discussion; in the second hypothesis, if the interpretation of the historical truth violates the dogma of inspiration, certainly it becomes a matter of faith, and hence the Church has the right to pass judgment on it. (Coll. lac. VII. 226.)

Hence all the parts of the Holy Scripture are inspired, but the inspired sense of all is not so clearly known by us. In the necessary things of faith and morals, the Church exercises a special care to help us to come at the inspired sense. In other things, though they are equally inspired, she leaves the interpretation free, on condition that it conflict not with the fundamental dogma of the inspiration of the whole Scriptures. When the Church explicitly interprets a passage, we call it an authentic interpretation.

While therefore we recognize that there is a wide range of truths of Scripture where men may freely exercise their scientific methods, we see at the same time that the great fundamental truth must underlie all these interpretations, namely that all parts of the Holy Scriptures as they came from the inspired writers are divinely inspired. We have already discussed in the treatise on Inspiration the false argument of those who wished to establish non-inspired parts in Holy Scripture.

Concerning the sense of Scripture a few principles will suffice.

When we speak of the sense of a writing, we mean not the mere signification of the words. The signification of a word is the power that it has from its own nature, and the institution and use of man to convey a determinate idea. Hence one term can have many significations. But the sense of a word is the actual value that the term has in a particular predication; and the sense in a right ordered proposition can be but one.

The first and main sense of Scripture is the literal sense. Usage prevails to class under this head the historical sense, and the metaphorical sense. By the literal sense a thought may be expressed in two ways: that is, either according to the ordinary force of the words, as when I say, the man laughs; or according to a simile, as when I say, the meadow laughs. We use both manners of expression in Scripture, as when we say according to the first mode, Jesus ascended: we say, he sits at the right hand of God, according to the second mode. And therefore under the literal sense is included the metaphorical. (St. Thomas in Gal. 4. 7).

Now the sense of Scripture is that thought which the Holy Ghost has expressed by written words.

The historical sense is that, which results immediately from the ordinary force of the words, as when I say: The Word was made flesh. This is the basic sense in all Scripture, and in all the expressions of the creations of mind.

The metaphorical sense of Scripture is a deviation from the ordinary application of words, in which we predicate concepts of objects, not proper to them in their essential nature, but founded in some wide general similarity. Thus we speak of the arm of the Lord not to predicate the corporal member of God, but to assert of him the power of action.

We include under the heading of metaphorical sense of Scripture, all figurative sense, whether it consist in simile, parable, personification, allegory, synecdoche, metonymy, apostrophe, irony, hyperbole, or other figure. The main office of figurative speech in Scripture is to heighten the force of the enunciation, to give clearness to abstract ideas, and to express ideas with something of the fulness and vividness of the objects of sense.

The state of a man perplexed by many thoughts, could scarcely be better expressed than by saying:

I scarcely understand my own intent;

But silkworm like, so long within have wrought,

That I am lost in my own web of thought.

The allegory is a common form of Scriptural figure. It is a form of expression in which the real subject is not mentioned but described by a consistent, intelligible statement, and the subject is left to be inferred by the aptly suggestive likeness. A fine allegory is in Isaiah 5:1–2:

My beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

The parable was much used by the Lord. This figure of speech is properly a species of allegory, in which a religious truth is exhibited by means of facts from nature and human life. The statements are not historically true, but are offered as a means of conveying a higher general truth. But the propositions are always true to nature; the laws of the nature of the different beings introduced, are strictly observed, and the events are such as might have taken place. The Prodigal Son, The Sower, The Ten Virgins, Lazarus and Dives, are good examples of this form of expression.

The knowledge of the sense of Scripture, has been much obscured by the addition of what is called the sensus consequens.

Such is the nature of the mind, that it evolves truth from truth by logical process. The truths which are by logical deduction drawn from other truths of Scripture, are by some writers classed under the sensus consequens. Since God endowed man with the reasoning faculty, it is natural and right for him to proceed in syllogistic process from truth to truth. And if the fundamental position be the sense of the Holy Ghost, and the logical process be legitimate, the conclusion will be equally the sense of the Holy Ghost. While, therefore, we justify the process, we see no need of multiplying entia by placing this division of the sense of Scripture.

As the infinite knowledge of God comprehends all future things and events, he alone can order a being or event to prefigure some future being or event. This prefiguring of future beings, actions, and events is called the typical or spiritual sense of Scripture. It is evident that it can only be properly verified in inspired writings, for no other being can thus comprehend and describe the future.

THE TYPICAL SENSE is therefore verified when some being, action, or event which has its own proper mode of being, is taken to signify some future ens. Therefore the typical sense is founded upon the literal sense. It leaves to the sentence its proper literal sense, and is formed upon it by applying the great leading concept of the present reality to future being. It is evident that it differs from the metaphorical sense, though it comes close to allegory. But it is distinguishable from allegory in this, that it imports as its basis some real existing being, whereas allegory is the application of an imaginary ens to signify present or future truth. Thus the ten virgins can not be called a type of the kingdom of Heaven, but an allegorical description of the different religious conditions of human life, in its journey towards eternity.

The typical sense is also different in nature from the sense of the symbolic actions of prophetic vision. The vision of Ezekiel, 1:4–28, for example, was not a type of the Almighty, but a symbol of some of his attributes. Thus also the Woman seen by John in the Apocalypse, 12, is not a type of the Church, but the life of the militant Church there portrayed by symbolic vision.

The type is properly built on some ens in rerum natura; the symbol is only a creation of the mind.

Usage has determined that the ens adumbrating the future verity should be called the TYPE, while the future verity thus prefigured is called the ANTITYPE.

The old writers here again induce useless divisions, dividing types into prophetic, which relate to Christ, anagogic which regard mans supernatural destiny, and tropologic, which contain laws of morality. These divisions serve no useful purpose.

The existence of types in the Scripture is self-evident from the reading of the Holy Books. Adam is called a type of Christ, τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος, Rom. 5:14; the sacrifice of Melchisedech is a type of the Eucharist; Sara and Hagar are types of the Old and New Testaments, Gal. 4:24; the Paschal Lamb was a type of the Crucifixion, Exod. 12:46, compared with Jo. 19:36; the Brazen Serpent was a type of the Vicarious Atonement, Num. 21:9; the Manna was a type of the Eucharist, Exod. 16:15, compared with Jo. 6:49–50; Israel in the Exodus was a type of Christianity, ταῦτα δὲ τυπικῶς συνέβαινεν ἐκείνοις, 1 Cor. 10:11. Such evident proofs render the existence of the typical sense as well founded as the existence of inspiration.

From the express declarations of the inspired writers, and from the nature of the truths themselves, it is evident that the entire Old Testament with its history and its rites is a type of the New. Thus Moses and Joshua are types of Christ, the Ark of Noah a type of the Church, the old sacrifices a type of the Eucharist, etc., but it is absurd to seek this typology in every individual proposition. This has been done even to the extent of finding a typical signification in the snuffers used to remove the snuff from the candles in the temple. The vanity of such position is very evident. There is much in the first Code that has only its plain historical sense, such as, for instance, the Decalogue.

The question has been moved by some, whether there are types in the New Testament. This question admits of a definite and certain answer.

There are no Messianic types in the New Dispensation as there were in the Old, which was but the shadow of the perfect covenant. But still, as the Church was a future ens in the time of Christ, there were typical actions in his life; and certain events connected with his first coming are typical of their counterparts in his second coming. Thus St. Paul finds a typical ratio in the fact that Christ suffered death outside the gate; the bark of the Apostles, tossed by the tempest, is a type of the Church, and the destruction of Jerusalem is most certainly a type of the dissolution of the world.

Now of the senses of Scripture, the greatest and most valuable is the literal sense. This should be first sought in every passage of Scripture.

In every enunciation of Holy Scripture there is a literal sense, whether it be historical or metaphorical. This law of interpretation is now received by all. It was opposed by Origen in his excessive mysticism; but the Fathers repudiated his extravagant theories as old womens fables, aniles fabulœ. (St. Basil) The very nature of human speech demands that words be used in their historical or metaphorical literal sense. In no other supposition is human speech intelligible; and it is not to be supposed that God violated the nature of human speech in his message to man.

A question of more difficult solution is whether a sentence of Holy Scripture may have more than one literal sense. Augustine (Conf. 12, 30, 31, 32.) concedes the possibility of a multiplex sense of Scripture. St. Thomas seems to have contradicted himself in his treatment of this question. In the Summa (I. q. 1. a. 10) he places the objection that a multiplex sense of Scripture would create confusion and error, and destroy the certitude of the argument: he answers that such results can not follow, since all the senses are founded on the one literal sense. Nevertheless a little farther on he writes: Since the literal sense is that which the author intends, and the Author of the Holy Scriptures is God, who comprehends all things in his knowledge, it is not unfitting, as St. Augustine says, that there may be a multiplex literal sense of Scripture. In his treatise De Potentia, q. 4, he is still more explicit in defending a multiplex sense. A multiplex literal sense is also taught by Melchior Canus, Catharinus, Bellarmine, Bonfrere, Serarius, Salmeron, Molina, Valentia, and Vasquez.

The tendency of later writers has been quite generally opposed to admitting a multiplex sense, for internal reasons. Thus Schmid (De Insp. 248) declares that the greater weight of authority is for it; the stronger internal evidence is against it. He leaves the question undecided.

Those who hold the negative opinion argue that it is the nature of human speech that there be but one literal sense in a proposition, and the inspired writers acting under the influence of the Holy Ghost, are not to be supposed to have changed the nature of human discourse. In fact the understanding of the Scriptures would be much impeded, if more than one literal sense was contained in them, for one, after receiving one certain literal sense, would be ever uncertain whether there were not others yet to be explored.

Now it must be understood that the advocates of a multiplex sense of Scripture, Augustine excepted, admit it only in rare cases, especially in prophetic utterance where God directly speaks. They believe that his infinite comprehension of truth may give a comprehensive meaning to expressions, which might in a certain sense, be called a multiplex sense of Scripture. There is a certain relation between these senses, but it is not clear in every case that they can be reduced to the relation of type and antitype. We have no wish to insist on the name multiplex sense; but there seem to be a few places in prophecy where two entities alike in nature are contemplated in one proposition. In such cases the declaration of St. Thomas seems to be applicable: A term is ambiguous, and furnishes an occasion of deception when it is used to signify many things of which one is not coördinated to the other; but when it signifies many things which by a certain order are contemplated as one, then the term is not ambiguous but certain. Summa (Th. III. q. 60, a. 3).

A remarkable instance of the mode in which the same proposition may have two senses is furnished in the Gospel of St. John 11:50: Ye know nothing at all, nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Caiaphas gave a counsel that it was a wise political expedient to put Jesus to death to please Rome. The Holy Ghost made use of him as the high priest to prophesy that Jesus must die for the redemption of men.

Now it is true that Caiaphas was not in the real sense a prophet, but this passage at least shows that it is compatible with the laws of human speech, as the Holy Ghost used it, that one proposition should have a multiplex sense. There is only one sense here intended by the Holy Ghost; but we can conceive a similar case where a human writer might express a holy and true thought, and one inspired by the Holy Ghost, and yet unconsciously utter a deeper prophecy.

The sublime passage of Isaiah 52:4–6, certainly refers to our redemption from sin; but Matthew (8:16–17) applies it also to Jesus healing of the sick. The only just explanation here is that the comprehensive sense of prophecy contemplated both Jesus redemption of the world from sin, and his merciful healing of the sick. The two effects are essentially related. This theory may be applied to other prophetic places.

Care must be taken not to receive the error of Origen, who defended that at times only the typical sense was intended. The typical sense stands not alone, but is always built upon the literal. The Fathers have at times extolled the typical sense above the literal, on the assumption that it treated of higher concepts. This is erroneous. The typical sense is more sublime in those passages in which it is found than its type, but it is not more sublime than the literal sense in general. The typical sense of the passage relating to the Paschal Lamb is more sublime than its type, but it is not more sublime than the declaration of St. John: The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, or the Beatitudes; and these are to be accepted in their literal sense. Therefore, where there is a typical sense it is to be principally sought, because it was in such passage principally intended by the Holy Ghost; but the great body of the Scriptures especially of the New Testament contain their truths in the literal sense. The excessive looking wide of the literal sense in search of types is one of the great defects of pulpit use of Holy Scripture.

Finally the typical sense of any passage can only be certainly known, by some authentic declaration of the Holy Ghost. The ordering of one ens to signify another is the work of God, and can only be fully known to us through some manifestation of the mind of God. Therefore, we can only found things which are of faith on those types, whose typical signification has been opened up to us by some inspired writer. When this is done, it is evident that the sense is as certain as the literal sense.

In the liturgical offices of the Church, and in the writings of the Fathers, often a passage of Scripture is applied to an object, which was not in the mind of the inspired writer, nor comprehended in the scope of the Holy Ghost in the inspired writing. This is called tbe accommodated sense. It is based upon some resemblance between the two themes.

To speak properly, it is not a sense of Scripture, but the adaptation of the sense of Scripture to another theme of similar nature. This accommodation takes place in two different ways.

The first species occurs where the passage retains its real signification, but is extended to another theme, which is analogous in nature and circumstances. Thus a man who falls in temptation may say: Serpens decepit me. Thus, the Breviary applies to the Holy Pontiffs, what was said by the Siracida of Noah: Inventus est Justus, et in tempore iracundiæ factus est reconciliatio. In the same manner, the Breviary extends to Holy Pontiffs, what was said of Moses: Similem fecit illum in gloria Sanctorum; and of Aaron: Statuit ei testamentum æternum.

This use of Scripture is legitimate and useful, provided always the first sense is not obscured, and the application is justly made, but it is never to be taken as the sense of Holy Writ; it can never prove a dogma. Even the material words of Holy Scripture possess a sort of divine virtue. And when they become the vehicles of even human thoughts, they are capable of moving the soul of man to piety.

The second species of accommodation is founded in no real similarity in nature or circumstances of the two themes, but in a mere ignorant distortion of Scriptural words to express some human thought. Thus, when Yahveh showed visible signs of his majesty in certain places, the Psalmist cried out: Deus mirabilis in Sanctis suis (in Sanctuario suo). O God, thou art terrible in thy holy places. It is not uncommon to apply this to the mysterious ways of God to his elect, or even to the idiosyncrasies of holy people. Again in Psalm 18:26, (Hebrew) the Psalmist declares the action of God towards man to be fashioned by the qualities of a mans own life: Cum sancto sanctus eris, et cum perverso perverteris. It is lamentable to hear a man tear this text to tatters, to prove the ill effect of evil associations.

It is related that after the Duke of Montmorency was executed by the order of Cardinal Richelieu, the sister of the Duke, passing the tomb of the Cardinal, directed to him an apostrophe in the words of Martha, the sister of Lazarus: Domine, si fuisses hic, frater meus non fuisset mortuus. It was much in vogue in the sixteenth century to apply the sacred words to profane subjects.

When St. Francis de Sales lay ill, his physician in compounding some medicine for him, addressed him thus: Quod ego facio, tu nescis modo; scies autem postea. Jo. 13:7. St. Francis reprehended him saying: You profane the Scripture of God in applying it to profane things. The Scripture should only be used of holy themes, and with profound respect. So great was the abuse, that the Council of Trent in its fourth session formally forbade that the Scripture be applied to profane subjects.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com