Scott Hahn: Studying Sacred Scripture of ‘Critical Importance’ for Catholic Schools

Commenting on the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum, the Second Vatican Council’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, biblical scholar Dr. Scott Hahn told The Cardinal Newman Society that it is “of critical importance for Catholic schools and colleges to focus on teaching Sacred Scripture” in the classroom.

“The power of the Word of God to transform our lives cannot happen, it cannot be realized, if people don’t know [the Word].” said Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, chair of biblical theology and the new evangelization at the Newman Guide-recommended Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Dei Verbum, promulgated under Blessed Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965, sets forth how divine revelation “is handed on, so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love.”

The document is broken up into six chapters discussing the nature of divine revelation, the Church’s responsibility and authority to preach and interpret Scripture, the revelations of the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the importance of the divine Scriptures in the lives of all the Christian faithful.

“Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similar we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which ‘lasts forever,'” the document concluded.

Speaking with the Newman Society, Hahn emphasized the direct relationship between the Scriptures and the Eucharist, stating that knowledge of the Bible is key to understanding the Eucharistic liturgy at Mass.

“In order for the Word of God to have its full effect when it’s read in the liturgy, people have to come to the liturgy with a greater understanding of the Bible. They have to have some degree of biblical literacy,” he told the Newman Society.

He expressed concern that biblical literacy is “sadly lacking almost everywhere,” but did note that Catholics who attend Mass faithfully “basically hear just about every portion of the Bible throughout their lives.”

“They’re going to also hear about every period of salvation history,” Hahn said. “They’re also going to hear consistently both the Old Testament and the New, and so they’re going to discover, if they have those ears to hear, what the Spirit is saying to the Church.”

Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus described their hearts burning as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, “we ought to get to the point where our hearts are also burning within us as the Scriptures are open, and read, and proclaimed as being fulfilled by Christ,” Hahn continued. “But then our eyes, the eyes of faith, ought to be opened precisely at the moment of the words of consecration and the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, for there is where the risen Savior appears to us.”

In the classrooms of Catholic schools and colleges, Hahn told the Newman Society that reading Scripture is very useful, “but hearing scripture from the heart of the Church points us back to the Eucharistic liturgy. That’s the natural habitat for the scriptures, that’s the supernatural habitat.”

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