June 2009 - Vol. 31

When we read the Scriptures 
God is speaking to us

Quotes from the early church fathers on reading and meditating on Scripture 

Isidore of Seville said: 

Anyone who wants to be always united to God must pray often and read the Bible often. For in prayer it is we who are speaking to God, but in the readings it is God speaking to us. 

All spiritual progress is based on reading and meditation. What we do not know, we learn in the reading; what we have learned, we preserve by meditation. 

Reading the Bible provides us with a two-fold advantage. It instructs our minds, and introduces us to the love of God by taking our attention off vanities. 

None can understand the meaning of the Bible if they do not acquire familiarity with it through the habit of Bible reading.' 

(Isidore lived between 560-636 AD.)
John of Damascus said:
"Like a tree planted by streams of water," (Psalm 1:3) the soul is irrigated by the Bible and acquires vigor, produces tasty fruit, namely, true faith, and is beautified with a thousand green leaves, namely, actions that please God. The Bible, in fact, leads us towards pure holiness and holy actions. In it we find encouragement to all the virtues and the warning to flee from evil.
The Bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful. It enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine and spiritual harmony, it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy. Let us knock at its gate with diligence and with  perseverance. Let us not be discouraged from knocking. The latch will be opened. If we have read a page of the Bible two or three times and have not understood it, let us not be tired of re-reading it and meditating on it. Let us seek in the fountain of this garden `a spring of water welling up to  eternal life.' (John 4:14) We shall taste a joy that will  never dry up, because the grace of the Bible garden is  inexhaustible.
- from On the Orthodox Faith (John of Damascus lived between 676 and 749 AD. See fuller biography. )
Augustine of Hippo said: 
Nourish your soul with Bible reading. It will prepare a spiritual feast for you. 
(Augustine lived  between 354-430 AD. See fuller biography.)
Jerome said: 
Anyone who is assiduous in reading the Word of God becomes weary while reading, but afterwards is happy because the bitter seeds of the reading produce sweet fruits in the soul. 

Let us study while we are on earth that Reality which will stay in our minds also when we are in heaven. 

(Jerome lived between 347-420 AD.)
[[ranslation by Thomas Spidlik, Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI - Spencer, MASS, 1994].
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