This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it . . . . (Joshua 1:8)
In his classic “Confessions” – the conversion story of one of Christendom’s greatest Saints – Augustine centers attention on the one incident that set his course from a life running from God to one running toward Him.
As he stood in a garden, his emotions raging within as he struggled with the inner call of God, Augustine heard the Holy Spirit as clearly as one hears a child call: “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.”
Discerning what it meant, Augustine walked back to the place where he’d been reading his Bible, picked it up and read the first text that caught his eye. It was from the thirteenth chapter of Romans: Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
At that moment, Augustine wrote later, the Holy Spirit used the words of Scripture to capture his heart, mind and soul. Conversion occurred on the spot. Augustine was a new creation.
It’s been well said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” Think how much poorer the Church would be today if the man we call St. Augustine had not obeyed the Holy Spirit and picked up and read the Scriptures?
But what was absolutely vital to St. Augustine’s conversion is no less vital for anyone’s fundamental and ongoing conversion today. Thus it is no wonder the Holy Spirit continues to call His disciples – you and me – to do as St. Augustine did: Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.
Speaking to Catholics through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit declares: Access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful (paragraph 131). And the Holy Spirit forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ (paragraph 133).
Study of the sacred texts, God the Holy Spirit again tells us, should be the very soul of sacred theology, through which our souls are healthily nourished . . . through the Word of Scripture (paragraph 132).
To be a faithful Catholic is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit who, speaking through the Church, tells us over and over pick it up and read the Scriptures.
Next time I will offer some suggestions about how anyone can not only start, but also get the most out of reading the Scriptures. But until then, you will find my online study through the Book of Acts of value. You will find it at this link: http://studyacts.blogspot.com/