Steady March Through the Alaska of Books


Blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it. (Revelation 1:3)

From the beginning of the last book of the Holy Bible. St. John’s Revelation both begins and ends with exhortations about reading the sacred book. Exhortations that we can apply not just to this last book of the Bible, but to all of Scripture. St. John’s words echo Moses’ in the book of Deuteronomy. Carefully listen to, and heed, the Word of God. Change nothing.

How does St. John conclude the Bible?

I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from these words, God will take away his share in the tree of life and the holy city described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

The Church feeds on the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church listens to, and heeds, the words of Scripture. We know This Is Who We Are since: This is What a Mass Is.

The Catechism puts it like this: “The Church has always venerated the Scriptures as She venerates the Lord’s Body… In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.” (CCC 103-104)

Sounds lovely and sweet. But we cannot get sentimental and pollyannish about something as genuinely intimidating as the Holy Bible.

To Brave AlaskaYou know I recently read about one young man’s ill-fated solo adventure in Alaska. Then I went on a binge and watched multiple movies about people daring the Alaskan wilderness. And losing the dare every time. “Into the Wild.” “To Brave Alaska.” “Rugged Gold.”

The point of this movie genre is: Only a fool underestimates the challenges involved in surviving in the Alaska bush. And my point is: The Holy Bible is the Alaska of books. Only a fool underestimates the challenges. Only a fool ventures out alone, unguided and without provisions.

So we read together. According to an ancient, well-established plan. With guides. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

When we read the Scriptures in union with the Church—systematically, year after year, guided by experts—then we survive and thrive. Then we enter into the joy of seasoned explorers.

A week from Sunday, we begin anew. We Catholic Scripture-reading survivalists understand the Lectionary cycle. This year we have had B-2. Which means on the first Sunday of Advent, we begin…

Right, amigo. C-1.

A steady march through the beautiful bush. Blessed are those who listen to, and heed, the Word of God.

2 thoughts on “Steady March Through the Alaska of Books

  1. I do wonder, to the point “change nothing” how much editing, taking out, adding in, choosing of texts, has been done since and including the first gathering of the books of the bible. I guess one could conjecture that John doesn’t intend to apply the statement to the New Testament since it didn’t exist yet in its current form, but I imagine he did write the words to apply to his current writings. Further, I imagine we have to have some confidence in the holy men and women who went before us, particularly the doctors of the church and trust that the various changes that have occurred were inspired and/or guided by the Holy Spirit. And I am all in favor of reading together guided by the Holy Spirit and benefiting from the exegesis of learned men and women.

    But still… I wonder.

  2. My first “Alaska of books” was a bound KJV from Grandmother K. at my request for 12th b-day which I read cover to cover numerous times, later a Jerusalem edition also read numerous times during which I came into communion with the Church of Rome. Only then at age 34 did I begin a “guided” journey by ones with hard earned experience. I cannot comprehend how anyone who calls Jesus LORD does not NEED to READ both Holy Scripture and writings of or about the thousands of “guides” we call Saints, Servants of God, or just by name. The ‘inclusive’ language used in print and pulpit I find to be the adding to and subtracting from what was written. There is GOD who is Spirit who refers to Himself as Father, who beget one Son, made Adam first, then Eve out of Adam’s rib. Patriarchy? For sound reason! It works!

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