Old bible my priceless treasure - pope

Holy Scriptures must be read daily, alone or in company

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 3 - Pope Francis gave an unusual insight into his relationship with his bible in the preface to a new version of the Holy Scriptures for young people published by Civiltà Cattolica (Catholic Civilization) on Thursday.
    "I love my old bible, the one that has accompanied me for half my life," Francis wrote. The pope said his bible may be "old" and "worn" but he wouldn't give it away "for anything in the world".
    "It has seen my joy, it has been wet with my tears: it is my priceless treasure," he explained.
    Francis then set out his thoughts on how the bible should be approached.
    It is a "book like fire" that is meant to "be held and read often, every day, alone or in company", he wrote.
    "You play sport and go shopping together - why (...) not also read the bible together, in groups of two, three or four?" Francis asked.
    "Don't read it superficially, as if it were a comic book" Francis exhorted his young readers, adding that he prays with his bible sitting down "because it hurts to kneel".
    "Sometimes I fall asleep, but it doesn't matter," he continued.
    "I'm like a son close to his father, and this is what counts," the pope wrote. "I want to tell you how I read my old bible: often I take it and read it for a bit, then I put it to one side and...
    listen at the deepest level to what (the Lord) is saying to me," Francis continued. "Sometimes he doesn't say anything: and so I don't hear anything, just emptiness, emptiness, emptiness, but I remain there patiently and wait for him like that, reading and praying." The pope also spent a few words reminding young people of the risk run by Christians in some parts of the world for even possessing a bible.
    "Today Christians are persecuted more than in the early Church: why?" wrote the pope.
    "They are persecuted because they carry a cross and bear witness to Christ; they are condemned because they possess a bible," Francis continued.
    "Evidently the bible is an extremely dangerous book, so dangerous that in some counties those who have a copy are treated as if they were hiding hand grenades!" he wrote.
    Francis also explained that the bible is not just a collection of fictional stories, as this would invalidate the sacrifice of the many Christians who underwent persecution in its name.