May 10, 2011

Study of the Sacred Page


An important part of Christian prayer is identified in our tradition as "the study of the Sacred Page."  It refers to the study of Sacred Scripture but extends also to the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church as well as the great saints and mystics and even other Christian authorities.  Prayer and theology converge on this point.  Indeed, the original meaning of theology took up the mystical gaze (that is, contemplation) to which study of the sacred page inclines the soul.

Such a study is the soul of theology - it gives theology life.  Without this life, theology is dead.  This is because, carried on the propositions of the faith and handed on in the words of "the Sacred Page" is the gaze of Christ, the Word made flesh, who is risen from the dead and ever present to those who seek Him in faith.  So beautiful is this gaze that there are no words to describe it.  Whenever anyone glimpses the eyes of the Redeemer while pondering sacred texts of our faith, that person's heart is pierced and so to the hearts of those he or she teaches - they share together a loving knowledge, a heart to heart with the Lord.  He regards each person with such intense love - and those who discover this piercing glance have found something worth dedicating themselves to completely. 

Not just any kind of study can find Him - indeed our sacred patrimony proposes such study must be grace filled contemplation, guided by true devotion for the Lord, humbly open to conversion of heart.  Such a study must readily suffer the loss of all things in following Christ - counting all else as rubbish save knowing Him.  This study must be open to suffering the truth - the truth about one's own self before God and the truth about God who laid bare his heart for our sakes.