Pridefully Dismissive of God Himself
Thomas A. Droleskey
As is the case with all other aspects of the Modernist Revolution that is pridefully dismissive of God Himself, contemporary "Scripture studies" are founded in the belief that a persistence in unrepenant sin can be justified by efforts to "de-mythologize" the Bible and to "de-construct" the plain meaning of the words in Holy Writ so as to make it appear that everything except a literal interpretation of the the Bible is in accord with the dictates of "scientific scholarship." That is, the Revolution, begun in earnest by Martin Luther, has been an effort from its inception to reaffirm human beings that it is possible to persist in sin while being "assured" of one's salvation without reforming one's life. The efforts by German Protestant "Scripture scholars" three centuries later to "de-mythologize" Sacred Scripture, said by Protestants, who eschew Apostolic or Sacred Tradition, to be the only source of Divine Revelation, were but the logical result of Luther's rejection of the Church founded by God Himself as the ultimate arbiter of the meaning of the entirety of the Deposit of Faith and the derogation unto private individuals of the "right" to interpret Scripture as they saw fit. A rejection of the magisterium God Himself instituted for safeguarding His teaching infallibly until the end of time made it possible for prideful individuals to distort His Holy Writ into abject meaninglessness.
As Pope Saint Pius X saw so very clearly one hundred years ago, the influence of the German Protestant "Scripture scholars" of the Nineteenth Century and the first few years of the Twentieth Century was making itself felt in some intellectual circles within the true Church herself. Abbe Alfred Loisy went so far as to deny the historicity of the Gospel of Saint John and to deny that Saint John the Evangelist was in fact the author of the "Fourth Gospel." Fortunately, there was a saint on the Throne of Saint Peter at that time who had the good sense to excommunicate Loisy in 1908. Loisy's embrace of the errors of the Protestant "Scripture scholars," however, presaged darker days in the human elements of the Church, including our own, wherein it is now commonplace for Catholics to be subjected to screeds from the pulpit in which they are told that almost nothing in the Bible is true whatsoever.
Although I have assisted for the past several years exclusively at the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, after about a decade or more of assisting at it exclusively on Sundays while seeking it out where I could on weekdays, I am only too familiar from my Novus Ordo days (and from the time I spent in two different seminaries) of some of the more egregious offenses against the Word of God that pass for so-called "Biblical scholarship." Here is but a brief and absolutely non-exhaustive listing of claims that I am sure will be recognized by most readers from their own first-hand experiences (a complete listing of claims would be very exhausting, indeed):
1) The Creation accounts in the Book of Genesis are merely allegorical, combining various "oral legends" from Eastern traditions. They are not literally true. This canard is taught in colleges and universities (a New Testament course I took at Saint John's University in Queens, New York, in February of 1970 taught this as a "fact" beyond question). This canard thus makes its way back down the Catholic "food chain" from colleges and universities and seminaries to Catholic high schools and religious education programs. Students of mine at a prominent Catholic high school on Long Island in 2002-2003 told me that they had been taught this in their religion classes. They had been taught also that there was no devil.
2) The Flood never occurred. (See my related article, Unintelligent Evolutionary Forces, for the way in which secular anthropological and scientific research has proved that the Flood did occur.)
3) The parting of the Red Sea occurred as a result of natural forces, not by the direct intervention of God Himself.
4) It is impossible to "prove" from Scripture that Our Lord was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb and thus born as a result of a virginal birth.
5) Our Lord did not know that He was both God and Man until after the Resurrection. He did not know what His mission was until He underwent His Passion and Death.
6) Our Lord never performed any miracles. Our Lord, for example, did not multiply the loaves and the fishes. He merely inspired the people to share what they had with them but were hoarding for themselves. This is a particularly popular canard that gets itself repeated from the pulpit and in classrooms hither and yon.
7) The Gospels do not contain historically accurate accounts of Our Lord's Passion. This bit of heresy was espoused by the Bishop of San Jose, California, the Most Reverend Patrick McGrath, shortly after Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, prompting Father Daniel Cooper of the Society of Saint Pius X to denounce formally Bishop McGrath's heresy.
8) Our Lord never rose from the dead. One Scripture professor at a major East Coast seminary taught in his class, according to a priest who spoke about this publicly from the pulpit in his parish in 1981, "You would have seen nothing if you placed a video camera in front of Jesus's tomb. He did not rise from the dead. It never happened." The pastor of a parish in that same diocese kept repeating "He did not rise, He did not rise" to a woman who cornered him on the issue in the late-1990s during an "adult education" course. This is heresy. Plain and simple. This is a denial of an article contained in the Creed itself. The priest is still in good standing and has the confidence of his bishop.
8) The Gospels were not written by the men whose names they carry. They were written by the "Christian community" in the latter part of the the First Century, reflecting back on what "Jesus might have said had He been in their own circumstances." This was the gist of what was taught in a New Testament course at Holy Apostles Seminary by the late Archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, John Francis Whealon, when I was a student of his in 1982-1983. Archbishop Whealon's embrace of the non-existent proof for this claim was dealt with by the late Father William Heidt, O.S.B., in his class on Hermeneutics: "It is critical for those who want to de-mythologize the Bible to place the writing of the first three Gospels in the latter part of First and the early part of the Second Centuries. Doing so makes it possible for them to say that Our Lord never said or did anything, that it was simply the "community" that tried to deal with their own problems by imagining what He might have said." Father Heidt suffered mightily for his fidelity to the truth of Sacred Scripture and thus his fidelity to the integrity of the Deposit of Faith. A book, written by a French priest named Michel Tresmontaine (the spelling of the last name may be off quite considerably), that I was asked to review in 1997 asserted, quite to the contrary of contemporary Scripture "scholars," that the Gospel of Saint Matthew may very well have been written as early as the end of the fourth decade of the First Century, that is, within seven years of Our Lord's Ascension to the Father's right hand in glory and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and our dear Blessed Mother on Pentecost Sunday.
9) The Acts of the Apostles do not contain historically reliable information.
10) Saint Paul is not the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This particular claim, made repeatedly by so-called Scripture scholars and enshrined in the Novus Ordo lectionary by a refusal to list Saint Paul as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, was the subject of a brief discourse by the late Father John A. Hardon, S.J., during a day of recollection in the City of New York in August of 1978: "Make no mistake about it: Saint Paul was the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. Do you hear me? Do I make myself clear? Let me repeat myself: Saint Paul is the author of the Letter to the Hebrews."
There are many, many other examples, obviously. These merely scratch the surface of the heresies that are mouthed from the pulpit and even find their way into diocesan and archdiocesan newspapers. And these particular examples are the fruit of the efforts by episcopal conferences such as the one in England, Wales and Scotland to "warn" Catholics about taking the Bible "too literally." The influence of so-called contemporary Catholic Biblical exegesis on the lives of ordinary Catholics has been devastatingly harmful. Even the aforementioned Archbishop Whealon, who was impressed with such alleged exegesis, said the following after two semesters of his reviewing the New Testament through the lens of the methodologies of the exegetes: "Forget about everything I have taught you. Just preach the Gospel." In other words, the faithful do not need to hear about the"Q" source for the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). They need to learn how to keep the Word of God in cooperation with the graces won for the by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.
Unfortunately, however, the dissemination of the "research" of alleged "Biblical exegetes" is indeed preached to the people as, if you will, Gospel truth. Evolution is Gospel truth. The denial of the historicity of the very words and miracles of Our Lord is Gospel truth. Everything except the received teaching that has been handed down to us from the Apostles is considered to be Gospel truth. Presented in the context of a liturgy that knows no fixed, immutable bounds and thus puts into question the immutability of God while containing not one prayer reminding the faithful of the possibility that they could go to Hell for all eternity, the fruit of what is alleged to be contemporary "Scriptural research" is nothing but rotten.
Pope Saint Pius X understood this, spending considerable time in Pascendi Dominci Gregis, issued on September 8, 1907, to debunk the Modernist view of Sacred Scripture. Quoting Pope Gregory XI, the sainted pontiff noted:
The Modernists completely invert the parts, and of them may be applied the words which another of Our predecessors Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: "Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred text...to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science...these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid."
Pope Saint Pius X went on to write:
We have already touched upon the nature and origin of the Sacred Books. According to the principles of the Modernists they may be rightly described as a summary of experiences, not indeed of the kind that may now and again come to anybody, but those extraordinary and striking experiences which are the possession of every religion. And this is precisely what they teach about our books of the Old and New Testament. But to suit their own theories they note with remarkable ingenuity that, although experience is something belonging to the present, still it may draw its material in like manner from the past and the future inasmuch as the believer by memory lives the past over again after the manner of the present, and lives the future already by anticipation. This explains how it is that the historical and apocalyptic books are included among the Sacred Writings. God does indeed speak in these books through the medium of the believer, but according to Modernist theology, only by immanence and vital permanence. We may ask, what then becomes of inspiration? Inspiration, they reply, is in nowise distinguished from that impulse which stimulates the believer to reveal the faith that is in him by words of writing, except perhaps by its vehemence. It is something like that which happens in poetical inspiration, of which it has been said: There is a God in us, and when he stirreth he sets us afire. It is in this sense that God is said to be the origin of the inspiration of the Sacred Books. The Modernists moreover affirm concerning this inspiration, that there is nothing in the Sacred Books which is devoid of it. In this respect some might be disposed to consider them as more orthodox than certain writers in recent times who somewhat restrict inspiration, as, for instance, in what have been put forward as so-called tacit citations. But in all this we have mere verbal conjuring. For if we take the Bible, according to the standards of agnosticism, namely, as a human work, made by men for men, albeit the theologian is allowed to proclaim that it is divine by immanence, what room is there left in it for inspiration? The Modernists assert a general inspiration of the Sacred Books, but they admit no inspiration in the Catholic sense.
Pascendi Dominici Gregis was published two months after Pope Saint Pius X had authorized the publication of Lamentabili, on July 3, 1907, a syllabus of errors concerning Biblical research. Lamentabili is quite applicable to the document, The Gift of Scripture, produced by the Catholic Conference of England and Wales, in conjunction with the Catholic Conference of Scotland, and to the whole panoply of lies propagated in the name of allegedly "scientific" Biblical studies in the past two hundred years. A review of the text of Lamentabili is thus quite instructive:
With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.
These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate the faithful's minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition.
Therefore, after a very diligent investigation and consultation with the Reverend Consultors, the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, the General Inquisitors in matters of faith and morals have judged the following propositions to be condemned and proscribed. In fact, by this general decree, they are condemned and proscribed.
1. The ecclesiastical law which prescribes that books concerning the Divine Scriptures are subject to previous examination does not apply to critical scholars and students of scientific exegesis of the Old and New Testament.
2. The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is by no means to be rejected; nevertheless, it is subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of the exegetes.
3. From the ecclesiastical judgments and censures passed against free and more scientific exegesis, one can conclude that the Faith the Church proposes contradicts history and that Catholic teaching cannot really be reconciled with the true origins of the Christian religion.
4. Even by dogmatic definitions the Church's magisterium cannot determine the genuine sense of the Sacred Scriptures.
5. Since the deposit of Faith contains only revealed truths, the Church has no right to pass judgment on the assertions of the human sciences.
6. The "Church learning" and the "Church teaching" collaborate in such a way in defining truths that it only remains for the "Church teaching" to sanction the opinions of the "Church learning."
7. In proscribing errors, the Church cannot demand any internal assent from the faithful by which the judgments she issues are to be embraced.
8. They are free from all blame who treat lightly the condemnations passed by the Sacred Congregation of the Index or by the Roman Congregations.
9. They display excessive simplicity or ignorance who believe that God is really the author of the Sacred Scriptures.
10. The inspiration of the books of the Old Testament consists in this: The Israelite writers handed down religious doctrines under a peculiar aspect which was either little or not at all known to the Gentiles.
11. Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
12. If he wishes to apply himself usefully to Biblical studies, the exegete must first put aside all preconceived opinions about the supernatural origin of Sacred Scripture and interpret it the same as any other merely human document.
13. The Evangelists themselves, as well as the Christians of the second and third generation, artificially arranged the evangelical parables. In such a way they explained the scanty fruit of the preaching of Christ among the Jews.
14. In many narrations the Evangelists recorded, not so much things that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable for their readers.
15. Until the time the canon was defined and constituted, the Gospels were increased by additions and corrections. Therefore there remained in them only a faint and uncertain trace of the doctrine of Christ.
16. The narrations of John are not properly history, but a mystical contemplation of the Gospel. The discourses contained in his Gospel are theological meditations, lacking historical truth concerning the mystery of salvation.
17. The fourth Gospel exaggerated miracles not only in order that the extraordinary might stand out but also in order that it might become more suitable for showing forth the work and glory of the Word lncarnate.
18. John claims for himself the quality of witness concerning Christ. In reality, however, he is only a distinguished witness of the Christian life, or of the life of Christ in the Church at the close of the first century.
19. Heterodox exegetes have expressed the true sense of the Scriptures more faithfully than Catholic exegetes.
20. Revelation could be nothing else than the consciousness man acquired of his revelation to God.
21. Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed with the Apostles.
22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort.
23. Opposition may, and actually does, exist between the facts narrated in Sacred Scripture and the Church's dogmas which rest on them. Thus the critic may reject as false facts the Church holds as most certain.
24. The exegete who constructs premises from which it follows that dogmas are historically false or doubtful is not to be reproved as long as he does not directly deny the dogmas themselves .
25. The assent of faith ultimately rests on a mass of probabilities .
26. The dogmas of the Faith are to be held only according to their practical sense; that is to say, as preceptive norms of conduct and not as norms of believing.
27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels. It is a dogma which the Christian conscience has derived from the notion of the Messias.
28. While He was exercising His ministry, Jesus did not speak with the object of teaching He was the Messias, nor did His miracles tend to prove it.
29. It is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far inferior to the Christ Who is the object of faith.
30 In all the evangelical texts the name "Son of God'' is equivalent only to that of "Messias." It does not in the least way signify that Christ is the true and natural Son of God.
31. The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught but that which the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus.
32. It is impossible to reconcile the natural sense of the Gospel texts with the sense taught by our theologians concerning the conscience and the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ.
33 Everyone who is not led by preconceived opinions can readily see that either Jesus professed an error concerning the immediate Messianic coming or the greater part of His doctrine as contained in the Gospels is destitute of authenticity.
34. The critics can ascribe to Christ a knowledge without limits only on a hypothesis which cannot be historically conceived and which is repugnant to the moral sense. That hypothesis is that Christ as man possessed the knowledge of God and yet was unwilling to communicate the knowledge of a great many things to His disciples and posterity.
35. Christ did not always possess the consciousness of His Messianic dignity.
36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other facts.
37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ with God.
38. The doctrine of the expiatory death of Christ is Pauline and not evangelical.
39. The opinions concerning the origin of the Sacraments which the Fathers of Trent held and which certainly influenced their dogmatic canons are very different from those which now rightly exist among historians who examine Christianity.
40. The Sacraments have their origin in the fact that the Apostles and their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events, interpreted some idea and intention of Christ.
41. The Sacraments are intended merely to recall to man's mind the ever-beneficent presence of the Creator.
42. The Christian community imposed the necessity of Baptism, adopted it as a necessary rite, and added to it the obligation of the Christian profession.
43. The practice of administering Baptism to infants was a disciplinary evolution, which became one of the causes why the Sacrament was divided into two, namely, Baptism and Penance.
44. There is nothing to prove that the rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation was employed by the Apostles. The formal distinction of the two Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation does not pertain to the history of primitive Christianity.
45. Not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the Eucharist (I Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically.
46. In the primitive Church the concept of the Christian sinner reconciled by the authority of the Church did not exist. Only very slowly did the Church accustom herself to this concept. As a matter of fact, even after Penance was recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called a Sacrament since it would be held as a disgraceful Sacrament.
47. The words of the Lord, "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained'' (John 20:22-23), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, in spite of what it pleased the Fathers of Trent to say.
48. In his Epistle (Ch. 5:14-15) James did not intend to promulgate a Sacrament of Christ but only commend a pious custom. If in this custom he happens to distinguish a means of grace, it is not in that rigorous manner in which it was taken by the theologians who laid down the notion and number of the Sacraments.
49. When the Christian supper gradually assumed the nature of a liturgical action those who customarily presided over the supper acquired the sacerdotal character.
50. The elders who fulfilled the office of watching over the gatherings of the faithful were instituted by the Apostles as priests or bishops to provide for the necessary ordering of the increasing communities and not properly for the perpetuation of the Apostolic mission and power.
51. It is impossible that Matrimony could have become a Sacrament of the new law until later in the Church since it was necessary that a full theological explication of the doctrine of grace and the Sacraments should first take place before Matrimony should be held as a Sacrament.
52. It was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries. On the contrary, in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of the world was about to come immediately.
53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable. Like human society, Christian society is subject to a perpetual evolution.
54. Dogmas, Sacraments and hierarchy, both their notion and reality, are only interpretations and evolutions of the Christian intelligence which have increased and perfected by an external series of additions the little germ latent in the Gospel.
55. Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy in the Church to him.
56. The Roman Church became the head of all the churches, not through the ordinance of Divine Providence, but merely through political conditions.
57. The Church has shown that she is hostile to the progress of the natural and theological sciences.
58. Truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him.
59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.
60. Christian Doctrine was originally Judaic. Through successive evolutions it became first Pauline, then Joannine, finally Hellenic and universal.
61. It may be said without paradox that there is no chapter of Scripture, from the first of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse, which contains a doctrine absolutely identical with that which the Church teaches on the same matter. For the same reason, therefore, no chapter of Scripture has the same sense for the critic and the theologian.
62. The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.
63. The Church shows that she is incapable of effectively maintaining evangelical ethics since she obstinately clings to immutable doctrines which cannot be reconciled with modern progress.
64. Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be re-adjusted.
65. Modern Catholicism can be reconciled with true science only if it is transformed into a non-dogmatic Christianity; that is to say, into a broad and liberal Protestantism.
The following Thursday, the fourth day of the same month and year, all these matters were accurately reported to our Most Holy Lord, Pope Pius X. His Holiness approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers and ordered that each and every one of the above-listed propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed.
Pope Leo XIII outlined the just boundaries of authentic Biblical scholarship in his 1893 Encyclical Letter, Providentissimus Deus, noting that the Church encourages authentic Biblical research founded in an understanding that true science and the Faith can never be in conflict with each other. Such research must be subordinated to the authority of the Church and subject to her motherly review and discipline. The Catholic Church is the very repository of Sacred Scripture and thus supports the work of faithful theologians to apply their talents to the assiduous study of the Word of God. That study, however, cannot be dismissive of God's Word nor invoke mere slogans, such as "fundamentalism," to justify an embrace of concepts and conclusions that bewilder the faithful and reaffirm them in lives of unrepentant sin.
Pope Leo discussed the limits of legitimate Biblical research:
Wherefore the first and dearest object of the Catholic commentator should be to interpret those passages which have received an authentic interpretation either from the sacred writers themselves, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost (as in many places of the New Testament), or from the Church, under the assistance of the same Holy Spirit, whether by her solemn judgment or her ordinary and universal magisterium -- to interpret these passages in that identical sense, and to prove, by all the resources of science, that sound hermeneutical laws admit of no other interpretation. In the other passages, the analogy of faith should be followed, and Catholic doctrine, as authoritatively proposed by the Church, should be held as the supreme law; for, seeing that the same God is the author both of the Sacred Books and of the doctrine committed to the Church, it is clearly impossible that any teaching can by legitimate means be extracted from the former, which shall in any respect be at variance with the latter. Hence it follows that all interpretation is foolish and false which either makes the sacred writers disagree one with another, or is opposed to the doctrine of the Church. The Professor of Holy Scripture, therefore, amongst other recommendations, must be well acquainted with the whole circle of Theology and deeply read in the commentaries of the Holy Fathers and Doctors, and other interpreters of mark. This is inculcated by St. Jerome, and still more frequently by St. Augustine, who thus justly complains: "If there is no branch of teaching, however humble and easy to learn, which does not require a master, what can be a greater sign of rashness and pride than to refuse to study the Books of the divine mysteries by the help of those who have interpreted them?" The other Fathers have said the same, and have confirmed it by their example, for they "endeavored to acquire the understanding of the Holy Scriptures not by their own lights and ideas, but from the writings and authority of the ancients, who in their turn, as we know, received the rule of interpretation in direct line from the Apostles." The Holy Fathers "to whom, after the Apostles, the Church owes its growth -- who have planted, watered, built, governed, and cherished it," the Holy Fathers, We say, are of supreme authority, whenever they all interpret in one and the same manner any text of the Bible, as pertaining to the doctrine of faith or morals; for their unanimity clearly evinces that such interpretation has come down from the Apostles as a matter of Catholic faith. The opinion of the Fathers is also of very great weight when they treat of these matters in their capacity of doctors, unofficially; not only because they excel in their knowledge of revealed doctrine and in their acquaintance with many things which are useful in understanding the apostolic Books, but because they are men of eminent sanctity and of ardent zeal for the truth, on whom God has bestowed a more ample measure of His light. Wherefore the expositor should make it his duty to follow their footsteps with all reverence, and to use their labors with intelligent appreciation.
But he must not on that account consider that it is forbidden, when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition beyond what the Fathers have done; provided he carefully observes the rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine -- not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires; a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate. Neither should those passages be neglected which the Fathers have understood in an allegorical or figurative sense, more especially when such interpretation is justified by the literal, and when it rests on the authority of many. For this method of interpretation has been received by the Church from the Apostles, and has been approved by her own practice, as the holy Liturgy attests; although it is true that the holy Fathers did not thereby pretend directly to demonstrate dogmas of faith, but used it as a means of promoting virtue and piety, such as, by their own experience, they knew to be most valuable. The authority of other Catholic interpreters is not so great; but the study of Scripture has always continued to advance in the Church, and, therefore, these commentaries also have their own honorable place, and are serviceable in many ways for the refutation of assailants and the explanation of difficulties. But it is most unbecoming to pass by, in ignorance or contempt, the excellent work which Catholics have left in abundance, and to have recourse to the works of non-Catholics -- and to seek in them, to the detriment of sound doctrine and often to the peril of faith, the explanation of passages on which Catholics long ago have successfully employed their talent and their labor. For although the studies of non-Catholics, used with prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic student, he should, nevertheless, bear well in mind -- as the Fathers also teach in numerous passages -- that the sense of Holy Scripture can nowhere be found incorrupt out side of the Church, and cannot be expected to be found in writers who, being without the true faith, only gnaw the bark of the Sacred Scripture, and never attain its pith.
Most desirable is it, and most essential, that the whole teaching of Theology should be pervaded and animated by the use of the divine Word of God. This is what the Fathers and the greatest theologians of all ages have desired and reduced to practice. It was chiefly out of the Sacred Writings that they endeavored to proclaim and establish the Articles of Faith and the truths therewith connected, and it was in them, together with divine Tradition, that they found the refutation of heretical error, and the reasonableness, the true meaning, and the mutual relation of the truths of Catholicism. Nor will any one wonder at this who considers that the Sacred Books hold such an eminent position among the sources of revelation that without their assiduous study and use, Theology cannot be placed on its true footing, or treated as its dignity demands. For although it is right and proper that students in academies and schools should be chiefly exercised in acquiring a scientific knowledge of dogma, by means of reasoning from the Articles of Faith to their consequences, according to the rules of approved and sound philosophy -- nevertheless the judicious and instructed theologian will by no means pass by that method of doctrinal demonstration which draws its proof from the authority of the Bible; "for (Theology) does not receive her first principles from any other science, but immediately from God by revelation. And, therefore, she does not receive of other sciences as from a superior, but uses them as her inferiors or handmaids." It is this view of doctrinal teaching which is laid down and recommended by the prince of theologians, St. Thomas of Aquin; who, moreover, shows -- such being the essential character of Christian Theology -- how she can defend her own principles against attack: "If the adversary," he says, "do but grant any portion of the divine revelation, we have an argument against him; thus, against a heretic we can employ Scripture authority, and against those who deny one article, we can use another. But if our opponent reject divine revelation entirely, there is then no way left to prove the Article of Faith by reasoning; we can only solve the difficulties which are raised against them." Care must be taken, then, that beginners approach the study of the Bible well prepared and furnished; otherwise, just hopes will be frustrated, or, perchance, what is worse, they will unthinkingly risk the danger of error, falling an easy prey to the sophisms and labored erudition of the Rationalists. The best preparation will be a conscientious application to philosophy and theology under the guidance of St. Thomas of Aquin, and a thorough training therein -- as We ourselves have elsewhere pointed out and directed. By this means, both in Biblical studies and in that part of Theology which is called positive, they will pursue the right path and make satisfactory progress.
The rage for novelty, however, fed by the prideful desire of modern man to be free of any external limits, has cast aside the wisdom of Pope Leo XIII and the specific condemnations of Pope Saint Pius X. The result has been abject confusion for the faithful as they have come to believe, wrongly, that the child-like Faith they once had in the Word of God was nothing other than a childish delusion that has to be "tempered" by the sober findings of contemporary Biblical "research." True Biblical research feeds the Catholic Faith. It does not undermine it. True Biblical exegetes seek to explain the true meaning of Sacred Scripture, not to find reasons to place into doubt its inerrancy. True Biblical research is never pridefully dismissive of God and the entirety of the Deposit of Faith, including Sacred Tradition, that He has entrusted solely to His true Church.
The best way to deal with the Modernists is to insulate oneself from them completely by assisting exclusively at the Mass of all ages as it is offered by priests who are actively resisting the novelties being promoted by contemporary Biblical exegetes. Have nothing whatsoever to do with the Novus Ordo Missae. Have nothing to do with courses on Sacred Scripture taught by those who are within the diocesan structure and thus corrupted by the influence of contemporary Biblical exegetes. Entrust your immortal soul solely to Catholic priests devoted to the fullness of Tradition without one iota of compromise, men who respect the Word of God and who preach It unerringly in the midst of murkiness, confusion and outright denial of the truths contained in the Deposit of Faith. Pray Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary daily. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer regularly. Get to Confession once a week. Read The Liturgical Year on a daily basis. Pray that some pope will consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with all of the bishops of the world.
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Saint Jerome, pray for us.
Saint John Damascene, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.