I didn’t think Catholics read the Bible. And then I became Catholic.
My mother memorized verses from Sacred Scripture as a child. It was a Bible camp competition. I think she could quote 300 verses. When I was in 3rd grade, my sister and I memorized the Books of the Bible in order. Every time we had a children’s event, memorizing scripture was part of the deal.
Good News Club.
I don’t know what I thought my Catholic friends were doing in their CCD classes. I didn’t know there was such a thing as daily Mass or a Missal. I didn’t know there was any Catholic that could find his/her way around the Bible.
But I knew the Books, could quote them in order, could rattle off a few verses of my own. I knew the stories of the Old Testament and the New.
And then I became Catholic. I learned that the Mass is almost completely one Bible verse after another – from one Sign of the Cross to another. I learned that the Sunday Mass readings follow a three-year cycle. The daily Mass readings are on a two-year cycle.
I was told that a Catholic will have encountered the entire Bible after three years, just by attending Mass three years straight.
I saw Catholics with their Word Among Us and Magnificat. I picked up the Missal in the pew and found the readings of the day right there.
I don’t know when it happened, but I realized that even a layperson could walk into the nearest Catholic bookstore and by a daily Missal. Last year, I worked one block away from the Pauline Bookstore in the Chicago Loop.
One day, I walked into the store and purchased a Missal. This may sound crazy, but if I had only one book in my possession and I was stranded on a desert island, the book I would want at my side would be my Missal.
It contains the Word of God, the Bible. I would have something to read each day from the Old Testament and the New. I would have a Psalm to sing. And I would have the great consolation of knowing that the Church throughout the world was reading and contemplating precisely the passages I was reading on an given day. I would feel part of that great spiritual family – even if I was all alone on a deserted island.
In today’s first reading, St. Paul writes, I give thanks to God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
From Philippians 1
I remember the day I gave Jesus my life. I was in second grade — in that Kids Club where we memorized a verse or two of Sacred Scripture.
I remember the day I was baptized by my own father, a Presbyterian minister. I remember how he shook my hand and said, Welcome to this ministry of Jesus Christ.
I remember the day I was received into the 2,000 year-old Catholic Church and confirmed, how the Holy Spirit descended upon me and I felt it. I remember receiving my Savior in the Eucharist minutes later, and kneeling.
The saints are praying for us, at their every remembrance, because we are in partnership for the Gospel from those first days and even to this day. They continue to pray that He who began a good work in each of us will continue to complete it — until the day of Christ Jesus.
You may feel alone – as alone as a person on a deserted island. But if you have the Readings, if you pause for even a minute or two each day to read them, you realize you are not really alone.
The Lord is with you – and so are the Saints and the ones who are presently striving to become saints. We are in partnership for the Gospel.
Amen. And Amen.