10 tips to live Bible month
10 tips to live the month of the Bible
September is the month of the Bible because the big translator of the Vulgate, a classic Latin version of the Bible, was St. Jerome. We celebrate his feast day on September 30. It is good to use this month to grow in the prayerful reading of the Gospel.
1. Pay attention to the Liturgy
When some people accuse the Catholics of ignoring the Bible, they are off base. The Catholic mass has quotations from the Bible all over the place. It can be a fun exercise to read the letters of St. Paul and see how many phrases you recognize from the mass. It is a good thing that plagiarism between the Bible and the mass is not a thing, or our liturgical “copywriters” would be in a lot of trouble.
2. Listen to the readings
The Word of God is meant to be heard. This is why we have the readings proclaimed at Mass every day. On Sunday, we normally have a reading from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the epistles of St. Paul, and from the Gospel. That is a pretty decent dose of Bible for every week.
3. Take a little bit at a time
Sometimes, sitting down and just reading the Bible straight through might be daunting. So, it is not a bad thing to take just a verse or two at a time. It can be great to look for something in the book of the psalms or from the Gospel. You take a verse, think about it for a while, and begin to pray.
4. Or maybe read a little more
This contradicts the previous tip, but “for everything, but you also there is a season.” (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:1) It can be a powerful experience to sit down and read through one of the Bible stories from start to finish. The Gospel of Mark is only 16 chapters long (in the Bible, a chapter is pretty short) and can definitely be read in one sitting. Not only can you say that you have read a book of the Bible, you get a nice bird’s-eye panorama of the life of Christ.
Ok, this is not the first time I have talked about listening in this article. But the Bible does come from a strong oral tradition. A lot of the books were repeated by speaking long before they were written down. Even for us today, it can be helpful to listen. And it helps to rest the eyes. Fr. Mike Schmitz had a very successful podcast just reading from the Bible. Look it up, and give it a listen.
6. Focus on a theme
It can be good to read through the Bible with a particular theme in mind. You can read the Bible, thinking of yourself as an adopted child of God, thanks to the grace of baptism. Or, you can look for signs of God’s mercy. Whatever the theme, it will help to give a little focus to your reading and help you to get through more of the material.
7. Pray as you read
The Bible is not like other books. It is a sacred writing and is meant to be read prayerfully. Taking a little bit at a time, and using it as material to pray with God can make it come alive and impact our lives more fully.
8. Recognize the power of the Bible
Speaking specifically of the Gospel, Pope Benedict remarked that “the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform.” (Jesus of Nazareth) What the Bible communicates, it also makes happen. The good news of the Gospel has changed the course of history.
9. Find somebody to read with you
It can be a lonely road to get to know the Bible. Finding somebody else who also wants to get involved may be very helpful. You can ask around, and you might be surprised who actually wants to get more into the Bible and then you are already two on the journey.
10. Read within the context of the Church
Always remember, that the Bible has come to us from the Church. The Bible is not a dead document that tells us everything we should do. Rather, it contains a lot of wisdom and the story of salvation that has been revealed. We should always submit our way of reading to the wisdom of the Church, so we make sure we get the right reading of the Bible.
Some parishes may have a special procession of the Bible during this month to help raise awareness that it is the month of the Bible. You could do something at home. Perhaps you could keep the Bible at your desk, or you could place it at the entrance to your home so that when coming or going, you are always reminded of the Word of God, even reading a verse and reflecting on it as you go.