When I found your words, I devoured them;
they became my joy and the happiness of my heart,
Because I bore your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
Me + Bible = Happiness. In my last Turning and Turning Post, I linked to a Catholic Exchange article that talked about conversion and in it Father Ed Broom made the first point to be memory. And his suggestion was to memorize Sacred Scripture. Long gone are the days of Catholics being not encouraged to read the Bible because of possible misinterpretation. Now we are encouraged to not only pay attention to the Liturgy of the Word in Mass, but to read and study it on our own outside of the mass. I remember my mother devouring the Bible when I was a child, yet, my catechism hadn’t caught up just yet to encouraging children to read the Bible. I have tried, several times to read on my own and failed. I was just NOT ready for the enormity. My family didn’t read Bible study as part of our day as many Protestant famillies I knew did. Heck, we didn’t say a family Rosary either, but I never felt our prayer life was lacking. Ever. We were all fans of Perpetural Adoration, after all.
But all that changed in the last year. The call to read the Bible came on strong and from many angles. I became aware that I knew almost nothing of the writings of the so-called “minor prophets” (Obadiah? Anyone?). I know I had heard readings from Amos and Habbukuk in mass, but I just wasn’t familiar with them. Even worse, I realized I was not familiar with the Acts of the Apostles. I am supposed to be a disciple in my daily life, how do I not know more about that book? I was invited to study the Gospel of Matthew at Bible Study Fellowship, coincidentally as the Church was starting the Cycle A readings that coming Advent. Actually, there are no coincidences with God. There is just God. And He was making it known what I was supposed to do.
So, in addition to delving into the Gospel of Matthew with the lovely ladies of my BSF class, I have been reading the Bible. Cover to cover because if I skip around the ability to unintentionally skip someone altogether is all too likely.
And that brings me to the second point about why I am reading scripture, pardon the intentional pun, religiously. From BSF, from friends and from a meme on ShareCatholic, I am being reminded that Scripture is not a pick and choose thing. It’s both/and. It’s something we have to embrace fully, not the parts we find convenient to our flawed human agendas.
Scripture, serious study of Scripture, is right for my point in life right now and I have the correct tools to do it effectively. I also am finding it is the thing I needed right now to strengthen and deepen my relationship with God. To know God. Because, as I am memorizing with Ann Voskamp,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John, 1:1
I found this quote from Father James Farfaglia in a recent post on Catholic Exchange that also encapsulates this whole idea perfectly:
What do we need to do in order to truly know Christ Jesus? Above all, we must open our minds and hearts to all of His words; we cannot remove pages from the Scriptures and reduce Christianity to our own comfort level. When we are completely open, the Holy Spirit floods our souls with His loving and peaceful presence. But God respects our freedom, so only those who open themselves can believe and see.