A point worth pondering is the link between Scripture and contemplation. The Cistercian Fathers insisted especially on the link between Scripture and the Beatific Vision. And so Saint Bernard will say, “Reading is an anticipated vision of divine glory.”
Our understanding of Scripture is ordained to that supreme contemplation where we shall see its Author face to face. The journey begins with the reading of the sacred texts in the darkness of faith, which is a kind of incipient vision. To the eyes of faith, God’s face shines dimly in the shadows, but it is not yet revealed in all its splendor. And so, we must continue to seek it in the pages of Scripture. As Augustine said so beautifully in his commentary on Psalm 104: “When love grows, the search for what has already been found also grows.”
If perfect contemplation is reserved for heaven, it is also true, according to the Fathers, that to understand with our mind the mysteries of Scripture and to live them is already to live in the kingdom of God. Jerome went so far as to say: “The kingdom of heaven is knowledge of the Scriptures.” The premise on which such a conviction depends is that the Bible is not just a written book, but a living Book.
Abbey barn photographed by Brother Brian. Reflection by Father Dominic.