There is a stereotype that Catholics don't read the Bible. Anyone who has grown up…
Reminder: Get caught up in Scripture
We are a little over halfway through 2020, so it might be time for a quick check-in, a short reassessment. How is your prayer life going so far this year?
I’ll go first. At the beginning of the year, I had a few lofty goals, one of which was to spend time every day before Jesus in the Eucharist, even if that meant popping into the chapel at work for 30 seconds before driving home. And as I’ve shared before, even though COVID-19 interrupted these plans, I tried to stick with it, relying on livestreamed Masses and virtual Eucharistic adoration. By the grace of God, I was able to stay committed, only missing a few days during the months of being unable to attend Mass.
This season was also an opportunity to devote more time to spiritual reading and other forms of prayer than I had in my pre-COVID schedule. I finished the last 20 pages of probably three or four spiritual books that I had been dragging my feet through, and once my plate was cleared, I (finally) picked up “Introduction to the Devout Life,” finishing it in a couple months.
(Now, lest you think I have this prayer thing figured out perfectly, just know that ever since returning to Mass, my prayer life has been more of a roller coaster, but that’s not what this article is about.)
One element that didn’t get the extra treatment was my prayer time with Scripture. As I wrote earlier this year, I’ve realized just how I need to make an effort to meet Christ through Scripture. During a season where Our Lord was distant in the Eucharist, I should have been turning ever closer to his presence in the word of God. Yes, I picked up my Bible a bit more frequently, but it still wasn’t my main priority in my prayer life.
A few weeks ago, my women’s group watched an interview between Father Mike Schmitz and Father Josh Johnson titled “Reconciling the Body of Christ.” Father Johnson has become a vocal leader in the Church speaking out against racial divisions within the world and specifically the Body of Christ, and his voice is important now more than ever. While the entire video is worth watching and rewatching on the topic of addressing racism, one part in particular grabbed my attention.
Early on in the conversation, Father Johnson said: “Sometimes we get so caught up in reading blogs and listening to podcasts or watching videos … we get so caught up in these things that can be helpful, and they do have their place, but I always go back to [the fact that] if we are spending more time reading a blog or watching a documentary than we are reading the Bible, reading the sacred Scriptures, even if it’s a spiritual book, even if it’s the writing of a saint, that’s wrong, because the word of God is the inspired word that Jesus Christ has given to us. Only his word and sacraments, only that is going to transform us to be able to respond to these situations that he has created us to respond to in this specific generation.”
This hit me hard, because I’ve been trying for years — and in a particular way over the past few months — to learn to listen to Christ’s voice in my life. And yet in many ways, I’ve been shutting out his voice with other (though useful) voices.
Right now, there are a lot of voices that need to be heard and conversations that need to happen, but if we do not start our day with Christ’s word and return to it in the evening, we might need to reevaluate, because it is through the lens of the Gospel and Jesus Christ that we must listen and converse. So yes, listen to those podcasts; yes, read those spiritual classics. But start with Scripture. Start with the word of God. Only then can we respond as Christ would and as we are called to do.
Lord, give us the grace to pursue you in Scripture. Let your word transform our ears to listen, our minds to reason, our mouths to speak and our hearts to love as you would.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.