“Read and re-read ceaselessly the Holy Gospel… so as to always have before one’s mind the actions, words and thoughts of Jesus, in order to think, speak and act like Jesus, to follow the examples and teachings of Jesus, not the examples and ways of behaving of the world. We fall into this latter so quickly, as soon as we take our eyes off the Divine Model.” Fr. Charles De Foucauld
As a kid, when I picked up a bible it felt like a hard-to-understand school textbook. It was big. It was wordy. It didn’t read like a story. It was boring. I didn’t like it. I was over it.
Later, I was given a youth bible at Confirmation. This made things worse. The artwork was cheesy, and the contents felt even more like a textbook (and oh – those fonts!). I rarely opened it. Still over it.
After Confirmation, I stopped practicing my faith for around 10 years. During that time, I remember finding an old bible at a party and reading a random part. Something was different. It seemed special, though I did not know why. It felt mystical. I sensed the sacred and caught a glimpse of eternity. Ok, there might be something to this. But, I closed the book quickly and moved on to my partying.
After several years away from my faith, a Catholic priest heard my confession in Medjugorje. My faith was back. I was transformed in mind and heart. Suddenly, I wanted to read the bible again. But it still confused me. I didn’t know how to read it. Mass readings seemed dull. I tried reading the whole bible from the beginning to the end… but quickly couldn’t understand it. Again, I was over it. It appeared as if the bible was a matter of preference and wasn’t for me.
Then, it happened. Some time later, I took a silent retreat at a Benedictine abbey in the UK. My mind was blown. There I fell in love with the bible. There they showed me how I should pray with the bible. There they showed me which verses to pray with. There my eyes were opened and I started to read the bible differently. Since then I have fallen in love with the bible and now I even understand it (sometimes). And I think you can too! I’d like to share with you the top 10 ways you can kick-start your love of the bible. I honestly believe that if you do these following things, you will fall in love and be able to understand the bible.
1.Get a good Catholic bible like one of these. Don’t be afraid to mark it up:
- Ignatius Catholic Bible (RSV)
- Didache Bible with Catechism connections
- New American Bible
2. Get yourself a good journal and no-bleed bible highlighters: like these:
3. Get a bible case and tabs for each book:
4. Go on a silent retreat that teaches Lectio Divina – or pray with these classic verses using this method:
- Isaiah 43:1-7
- Psalm 139:1-18
- Luke 15:11-32
- Matthew 18:10-14
- Matthew 6:25-34
5. Find and then memorize your favorite scripture verse (including the reference) – go and share it with someone.
6. Challenge yourself to reading one of the Gospels (hint: Mark is the shortest), then go through and highlight every word Jesus speaks in that Gospel.
8. Binge watch these 5 min book introduction videos (not explicitly Catholic, but great for an introduction to the outline of a book of the bible).
9. Don’t try to read the whole bible front to back. It’s not supposed to be read this way. Did you know you can read the whole bible like a story/novel? Or read all the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
10. Pro-tip: Pray with the readings of the Mass using something beautiful like this.
Bonus next-level pro-tip: Study the bible with the saints: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerus/index_eng.html