It is common for many protestants to think that Catholics do not read the bible. They often think that the Catholic Church even discourages reading the bible. In more extreme cases some people think that the Church tries to hide biblical truths from lay Catholics.
If you’re Catholic, you probably know that this is kind of ridiculous but many protestants have grown up hearing these sorts of claims.
Catholics Read the Bible at Mass
Did you know that the Catholic Church reads the entire Bible to her congregation over the span of three years?
The Bible is read during the first part of the Catholic Mass: 3 readings on Sundays and 2 readings Monday through Saturday, also known as daily Mass. At each weekend Mass Catholics hear an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading, all relating to a central theme. Then the priest gives a homily (or sermon) typically on that theme or sometimes directly regarding one or more of the Scripture readings. At daily Masses is typically one Old Testament reading and a Gospel reading.
Catholics also sing the Scriptures during the Responsorial Psalm which takes place between the first and second readings, and Scripture is also sung throughout the hymns which are primarily based on the Bible.
Catholics Read the Bible at Home
While it is true that many, many Catholics never really read the bible on their own, that is not the case for all Catholics. It is also not true that the Church discourages it! In fact, Saint Jerome said “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” That was back in the 5th century!
Catholics are certainly encouraged to read the Bible for personal devotion and study outside of Mass. Additionally, there are many excellent Bible studies held at parishes around the world.
Not only do Catholics read the Bible, they experience the Bible like no other Christians in the Mass. Sprinkled throughout the Mass, in the prayers the priest prays or the responses from the congregation, are rituals and quotes directly from the Bible.
You see, the Catholic Church celebrates, lives, and teaches everything through the Scriptures. The Catholic Church is the most biblical church in all of Christianity.
Why the Misunderstanding?
So why is it, then, that so many protestants think that Catholics don’t read the bible? There are a few reasons.
First, it’s probably because many of them have met Catholics who don’t know much about the bible. This is a sad, but true reality. All people, including Catholics, should read the bible more, we can all agree on that!
Next, is that in there has been much in-fighting between Catholics and Protestants. Due to that there has been misinformation spread about Catholics. This is where the idea of the Catholic Church not wanting lay people to read the bible comes from.
Finally, one possible reason is that many protestants put a heavy emphasis on memorizing scripture passages. This is a great practice and Catholics should do this as well. However, it’s less of a focus for Catholics so it can come off as if we don’t know the bible because we can’t cite chapter and verse very easily. That doesn’t mean we don’t read it, however.
From our perspective, the Catholic Church invented the bible. Sounds kind of funny to most people. By that I mean that there were many books that were considered for being a part of the New Testament and the Catholic Church chose which ones to include. You can read more about what Catholics believe about the bible here.