How do you dispose of an old Bible?
Disposing of an old bible is a sensitive thing. Throwing it in the garbage just feels wrong right?
As is the case with any book, there comes a time when a bible becomes too weak from use or old age. In a way this isn’t a bad thing, it shows this Bible has been used regularly.
However, how do you dispose of it properly without feeling guilty?
Bibles are to be treated with great reverence because the words of scripture contain the presence of God.
Bibles are to be treated with great respect and reverence in the Catholic Church because the words of scripture contain the presence of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
“Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely … For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body”.CCC 102-103
This means there is a connection between Scripture and the Eucharist where Jesus is truly and fully present. This is one of the main reasons the Church treats the Bible with great care, almost as similar to the care with which a priest handles a consecrated Host.
However, the bible is part of a person’s personal property and is not set aside for any special liturgical function.
Still, we must dispose of the Bible in a way that shows due reverence and respect. As is the case with sacramentals, we are instructed to either bury or burn (reverently), in order to dispose of them properly. This type of disposal honors their sacred status and returns them to the earth in a respectful way. If this cannot be done, then donating the old bible to be refurbished. Or dropping it off in a Church or Church property where someone might pick it up and take care of it.
This is especially true if the bible has been blessed (which will make it a sacramental). If it’s not blessed, it is for the person’s conscience to dispose of in a way that feels morally right. Insofar as the Book is not desecrated or debased, then it is okay. God won’t necessarily punish you if you get it wrong. But it is important to know that your choice shows how much you love God.