“What’cha giving up for Lent?”
A common question, always interesting to find out the answer. There’s been a big push in recent times to help people understand that, during Lent, we don’t just ‘give up’ things for no good reason. The point is to do something, whether it be letting go of something or picking something up, but to do something that either removes a distraction in your life, or something that adds a discipline in your life. The goal of either of those things is to move you closer in your relationship with God.
Funny story. My mom just told me that when she was a little kid, she would give up lemons for Lent. Then, occasionally throughout the year, she would eat lemons to try and prove to herself that she liked them, so then it would be okay that lemons were what she chose to give up. I thought that was cute. And probably sour.
There’s kind of a stereotype that Catholics don’t know their Bible, and it is sometimes implied that therefore they don’t think it is important. I think, having lived on both sides, that there are Protestants and Catholics that do and don’t know The Bible well. Perhaps in some way, the idea of Sola Scriptura bends in the Protestant’s favor in the sense that they feel a higher obligation to read the Bible, because they are the ones interpreting it for themselves. I don’t know. Maybe. Either way, I’ve been all those things. Both a Protestant and a Catholic, over the years, that did and did not read her Bible.
But, in addition, submitting to the Authority of The Church is no excuse for us Catholics to not be in Scripture. In fact, here’s a saintly quote on the matter:
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!”
Yes St. Jerome. I note your exclamation point, and I agree with you.
At various times in my life, I have done a good job being in the Bible, and at others I haven’t. This is something I’ve wanted to change for quite some time. I don’t want to read the Bible in waves, and totally abandon it at other times. It’s a discipline I need to develop further in my own life.
Now, one thing that has helped me in general (especially of late when individual reading has been less-practiced) is how much Bible there is in a Catholic Mass. At the church we used to go to, sometimes only a couple of Bible verses would be read during the whole of the service. Those few verses were then preached on for sometimes more than 30 minutes. Which, looking back kind of feels more like a Bible Study to me now. It was officially called Expositional Preaching. A lot of times it was interesting, but it didn’t throw a lifeline to someone like me who was struggling with getting into the Bible.
Catholic Mass on a Sunday has 4 readings from the Bible. An Old Testament Reading, Psalm, New Testament Reading and a reading from The Gospel. So there’s actually a lot of Bible in Mass, plus pretty much the entire Mass itself is a living and breathing embodiment of the Book of Revelation. And then throw in there that all those readings are thematically connected. So the OT reading will have some connection to the other readings. Really helps a gal like me see the bigger picture of our salvation narrative.
So. The Bible in Mass. Cool cool.
But, my goal has ultimately been personal reading and study. So, for Lent this year I have added the Daily Readings to my every day routine. The Daily Readings are what you would hear were you to go to Daily Mass. Catholics have “Church” 7 days a week. Turns out, if you follow the Daily Readings every single day, you’ll have read through pretty much the entire Bible in 3 years.
My plan has been to get up and read the Daily Readings whilst I eat my oatmeal. So far, we’ve been doing pretty good. Most days, I also read a devotion or commentary to go along with the readings. Again, I just love how they thematically connect the Old and New Testament. So helpful.
Another great benefit of Lent is that those new habits you work to develop over the 40 days can carry over into your non-Lenten life once we arrive at Easter. I would love if I can keep this up long-term. I already am seeing the benefits to starting my day in this intentional, yet manageable way. Leaning into Scripture first thing is just a beautiful and grounded way to start my day.
Some reading this might be ol’ Bible reading pro’s. If you are- awesome. Would you be willing to pray for me, that I continue to stay personally connected to the Word of God?
Or, if you struggle in the same way I do, it’s not too late to add something for Lent. Want to join me in the daily readings? I have been using the Daily Reading Devotionals at Blessed is She. Come on along!
And, if you’ve given up or added something for Lent and want to share it, post a comment or shoot us an email. It’s always wonderful to hear the different ways that others are using this time to develop habits that help us continue to turn our hearts towards God.