I am a cradle Catholic. I grew up in a family where my mother was Catholic and my dad went to mass with us each Sunday. We prayed before meals and before bed. It was all fine and dandy, but it never got to my heart.
In high school, I took it upon myself to really dive into my identity. I questioned all that was set before me, and committed to seeking my own spiritual truth. I searched all over for the “right” faith, but I yearned for the Eucharistic truth that only the Catholic Church could provide. Once I had truly let Jesus into my heart as a Catholic, I yearned for spiritual food in which to center my passion. I fell in love with Christ, and I desperately wanted to know him better. So, my youth minister suggested that I could find my spiritual need in the Scriptures.
Now, I never really got it until I completely surrendered to Christ. God’s Word inspired and spoke to me. The biggest thing that I hear from teens nowadays is, “the Bible doesn’t speak to me” and “it’s just a book that makes no sense”. To that I say, It CAN speak to you. It CAN make sense. Here are a few things that brought me to the understanding and passion I have for the Scriptures now.
Know what you’re reading.
Remember that the Bible is a library of many books with many different genres. The Bible is composed of history books, law books, poetry books, narrative books, and more. As such, you have to treat each book according to its genre. You wouldn’t read a history book for its creativity, just as you wouldn’t read poetry for historical fact.
Commit to discovering the true meanings of the readings.
There’s no point in studying the Bible if you don’t know what it means. The only way you can really discern the meaning or what God is saying to you through his Word is by studying the context of the writings. I challenge you to look into the origin and situational details of a reading to assess God’s true meaning for you.
Bible is for prayer and personal enrichment.
The Bible is not for proving your point to others. Because of its different genres and purposes, you can’t take each statement so literally. You will have to dive into the Word and its background in order to properly discern the intent of it.
Practice Lectio Divina.
If you’re one of the people who said, “It doesn’t speak to me”, then this is for you. Lectio Divina is Latin for “Divine Reading”. Don’t be intimidated by the big Latin words. It really is one of the best ways that I have been able to discern God’s Word.
Simply put, the first thing you do is pick a few lines of Scripture. This is crucial – make sure it’s a really small portion. Calming yourself, just listen or read the Word, open to the Holy Spirit. The first time, just listen for a word or phrase that sticks out to you. Meditate on that. Then, read the selection again. This time, listen for what God is saying to you. Meditate again. For the final time, read the passage and meditate on what the meaning is calling you to do in your life.
Look to outside resources for guidance.
Verbum Domini, a Church document by Pope Benedict XVI, outlines how the Catholic Church should discern the Bible. Again, don’t be intimidated by the Latin. It is really one of the best resources when we first try to answer the question, “What can the Bible do for my faith?”
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite selections:
“The Christian life is essentially marked by an encounter with Jesus Christ, who calls us to follow him. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops frequently spoke of the importance of pastoral care in the Christian communities as the proper setting where a personal and communal journey based on the word of God can occur and truly serve as the basis for our spiritual life” (72).