is a terrific time to make the Bible part of your daily prayer life.
It’s a way to grow deeper in your relationship with God. Begin with a
prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to the Word of
God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that this Word will
bear fruit in your life, helping you to become more faithful.
are many ways to get into Scripture readings during Lent, from
reflecting on Mass readings to doing the readings of A Scriptural Way of
the Cross for Lent.
Bible is similar to a library. It’s is a collection of 73 books written
over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history,
prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith
communities, and believers’ accounts of the preaching and passion of
Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you
understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the
author is trying to convey.
Start with the Gospels, which introduce us to the person of Jesus.
Here are some suggestions:
• The Gospel of Mark is the shortest and easiest to understand.
• Read through the Gospel, but only a little bit at the time, and then take 10 minutes to reflect on it.
• Pray with the psalms.
The Psalms represent the encapsulation of human emotion, from the
highest joys, to the lowest feelings of abandonment. They help us to
pray with Scripture no matter where we’re at, even as Jesus did. Some
practical ways to do this would be praying one psalm per day, memorizing
a particularly appropriate psalm and reciting it each day, learning to
pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or find Stations of the Cross based off
of the psalms (such as the ones from Ascension Press).
• Follow a daily reflection guide for Lent, such as one from Bishop Robert Barron, which focuses on the Gospel of the day for a Lenten reflection.
• Write short Scripture passages
on slips of paper and keep them in a jar or bowl at the dinner table.
Each night, the family pulls one out, reads the passage and prays with
• Read a scriptural commentary.
Father Michael Grosch, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Shrewsbury,
recommends a set called “Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture,” which
features a volume for each book of the New Testament. The commentary is
by contemporary and well-known Catholic apologists and authors, and
includes the text from Scripture, so you can read a section of the
Scriptures, then the commentary on that section, all in one sitting.
There are also reflections with most sections.
• A couple of basic books on reading the Bible,
recommended by Pauline Books & Media are: “Walking with God: A
Journey Through the Bible” by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins; “Bible Basics”
and “New Testament Basics for Catholics” both by John Bergsma; and
“Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before” by Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
and Sonja Corbitt.
• Check out The Sunday Website, a
service of the Catholic Studies Program at Saint Louis University. The
website lists the readings for each Sunday and puts them in context with
various reflections. Sections are on Praying Toward Sunday,
Spirituality of the Readings, Get to Know the Readings, Music of
Sunday’s Mass, and General Intercessions. Visit liturgy.slu.edu/.
Over the course of two years, those who read the readings of the Mass
will hear most of the Bible. The texts usually are brief enough to allow
time for meditation.
• The Scriptural Way of the Cross was first introduced by Pope John Paul II. It features reflections on global and national issues. Visit www.bit.ly/2SRbmrv.
• Join a Scripture study group. Many parishes have groups that go through different books of the Bible slowly to better understand them.
• When selecting a Bible,
look for a Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will include the
Church’s complete list of sacred books along with introductions and
notes for understanding the text. A Catholic edition will have an
imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates
that the book is free of errors in Catholic doctrine. The New American
Bible is close to what is read at Mass daily and on Sundays.
• Know what the Bible is —
the story of God’s relationship with the people He has called to
Himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book,
or a political manifesto, but it does teach us the truths that we need
for the sake of our salvation.
• The Old Testament and the New Testament shed
light on each other. While we read the Old Testament in light of the
death and resurrection of Jesus, it has its own value as well. Together,
these testaments help us to understand God’s plan for us.
for this article are from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
Father Michael Grosch, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in
Shrewsbury; Sister Laura Rhoderica Brown, FSP, of St. Paul Books and
Media; and Father John Mayo, pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish
in St. Louis.
Ways to build a habit of prayer throughout Lent:
• Attend at least one daily Mass for each week of Lent.
Find out when and where Adoration of the Holy Eucharist is offered or
stop by a church. Spend time in prayer before Our Lord in the
• Begin the practice of offering thanks before every meal.
• Help a refugee family get settled. Pray for peace in war-torn regions.
• Work together in a soup kitchen and converse with persons served.
• Write a letter of faith and encouragement to someone who is incarcerated.
• Visit an elderly or sick person. Take care of an errand for them.
Be an advocate. Write to an elected official and/or donate to a cause
that provides resources to meet the needs of poor and low-income people
in your community or in a troubled part of the world.
• Once a
week eat meals that total no more than the daily cost allotted by
government food assistance programs for your size family. (See USDA Modified Thrifty Food Plan).
Go on a Lenten journey with Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl. During
the 40 days of Lent, reflect on the challenge of global hunger and how
it affects the human family. CRS Rice Bowl materials are designed for
families, parishes, educators, universities and dioceses. They are
available in print and on the web in both English and Spanish. Visit crsricebowl.org.
Endorse the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign and download the resource
for church groups, Unemployment and the Economic Crisis Toolkit at faithadvocatesforjobs.wordpress.com/.
Source: U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development