Posted by: liturgicalyear | October 29, 2012

Prayers in the Storm: Catholic Lessons in Biblical Interpretation

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As the East Coast of the US is battered with storms, this is a good time to reflect on a few Biblical passages that use storms as both factual events and figurative analogies to life’s struggles.

Catholic understanding of the Bible

It is also a good time to be reminded of the Catholic teleological interpretive process, where doctrine aligns Old Testament with New Testament, and vice-versa. This shows us the wholeness of the faith, and provides a fuller message than any one random passage from Scripture. It also tempers our potential for misinterpretation, like all flawed humans, because we have the benefit of fact-checkers from over 2,000 years of Church tradition. As Catholics we are to form our conscience in an ordered process, not cut loose in the storms of our own confusions. We are to humble ourselves to understand the fullness of Church teaching before asserting our “opinion.” This is the essence of obedience to authoritative teaching in the Church: to open ourselves to understanding the full gamut of our Church’s teachings, rather than assert ourselves with excessive pride in our individual abilities.

It is also a good time to remind ourselves that the Bible emerged out of fragments of eyewitness testimony and inspired texts that were voted on and approved by Church councils. The Church came long before the Biblical canon. When some other Christians accuse Catholics as not reading the Bible, do remember that we read the Bible daily, not in random clusters, but in ordered doctrine over a three year set of intervals, identified as A, B and C. We are just ending cycle B, which focuses mainly on Mark’s Gospel, and in Advent – in just a few week’s time – we will start cycle C, which focuses mainly on Luke’s Gospel. Know our Catholic reference for the Bible, and understand the nature of how doctrine orders Scripture through the wisdom of the Church.

Biblical Passages on Storms

In the Liturgy of the Word, our Church presents a sequence of readings: Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle, and Gospel reading. I’ve searched for storm-related passages, following that same order of Scripture. Trace the themes:

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony. And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.” (Isaiah 55:11)

“You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.” (Psalm 89:9)

“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind…” (Hebrews 12:18)

“One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, Let us cross to the other side of the lake.” So they set sail, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger. They came and woke him saying, “Master, master, we are perishing!” He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was a calm. Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” But they were filled with awe and amazed and said to one another, “Who then is this, who commands even the winds and the sea, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:22-25)

We are reminded to fear not, and trust in God no matter what. Hold fast to the firm foundation amidst the tossing seas of life!

Catholic Prayer for Storms

Pray this traditional prayer for protection in storms:

Graciously hear us, O Lord, when we call upon You, and grant unto our supplications a calm atmosphere, that we, who are justly afflicted for our sins, may, by Your protecting mercy, experience pardon. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Barbara

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