St Isidore, Bishop & Doctor – 04 April
He was born in Seville in about 560 and after his father’s death he was educated by his brother Leander, Archbishop of Seville. He was instrumental in converting the Visigothic kings from the Arian heresy; he was made Archbishop of Seville after his brother’s death; and he took a prominent part in councils at Toledo and Seville. The Council of Toledo, in particular, laid great emphasis on learning, with all bishops in the kingdom commanded to establish seminaries and to encourage the teaching of Greek and Hebrew, law and medicine. He promoted the study of Aristotle, long before the Arabs discovered him and centuries before 13th-century Christian philosophers discovered him through the Arabs.
He embarked on the project of writing an encyclopaedia of universal knowledge but did not live to complete it.
Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading. If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us. All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. In reading we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study. The more you devote yourself to study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest. The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded, equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth. Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. But when God’s grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, his word which has been received by the ear sinks deep into the heart. – from by Saint Isidore