How Do I Read The Bible Properly?

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In the early months of 2008 prior to my intense and developed interest into my Catholic faith, I’d never really read the Bible. I think it’s true of most Catholic lay people that the Bible is a sort of confusing collection of books that doesn’t really make sense especially the Old Testament.

My house always had a Bible but the spiders who inhabited the cobwebs that surrounded it were more well versed in the scriptures than myself. I sat one day and opened up a small leather Bible from my Dads bookshelf. I can’t recall if I was drunk at the time and it was late at night. In fact, on this occasion both my Dad and I had a few cans in us as we did almost every other night.

I think alcohol for some reason makes conversation about religion for men easier mostly because we find it corny and embarrassing to be seen consorting with the Divine. At the beginning of my conversion I would always disguise any religious books I’d been looking at in my brothers photography shop by stuffing them in my Jeans.

Anytime he came into the shop I’d hop off that website or forum where I was getting my religious questions answered by evangelical Christians about the Bible. It’s funny, but I felt like a gay person hiding his homosexuality for fear of how the mob would treat him. That is how Christianity is in todays Ireland. It’s like you hide in the closet for fear of the mob.

It’s now safe to come out as gay and the norm to hide your Christianity that is how upside down it has all become. But I have to say, I’m so glad people can now finally come out as gay and not have to worry about not being loved and accepted as human beings and to be afforded certain rights they were denied in the past. Good for them in that regard because we as a Church know what it’s like to suffer in silence, therefore we should have encouraged them to come out and not to suffer in silence.

I guess I had been no different to the apostles who hid in the upper room following Christs burial. Secular mob rule has a way scaring the living daylights out of us doesn’t it? It really doesn’t discriminate between the ages and it’s a human condition dating back to the dawn of mankind.

Yet, there am I in the beginning nervous about exploring the Bible and the big religious question. You think that was bad? When I first went to back to Mass since I was 12 I nearly had a panic attack.

When I read the Bible that night, I recall reading about St.Paul in the acts of the apostles and his rather explosive conversion. I really admired him because he was just an ordinary man and to me he seemed both theologically and psychologically well balanced. This spiritual disposition of his made the conversion he had all the more believable in my opinion.

This was the first time I’d ever discovered who St.Paul was. Yes, my Catholic upbringing in a supposedly Catholic household where my father had a Church choir was that bad. I was a feral little animal to be honest that did his own thing when and where he liked it. I finally went to a priest and asked him how do I read the scriptures. He said, “You open the Bible, pray a little and just read it.” Not altogether bad advice but not exactly what I was seeking either. I do enjoy simple advice but not when it’s too simple.

I went onto these online forums where young protestant kids as young as 16 years old were experts in the Bible. I have to give credit where it’s due and that the protestant Christians really do outshine the Catholic laity in this regard. They know that Holy Book from beginning to end and have licked every page in between I guarantee it.

After years of reading the Bible if I were to advise a newcomer to the faith to read the Bible I’d tell them to start with the Books of Wisdom, Ben Jesus Sirach not to mention reading Matthew or Marks Gospel from beginning to end as well as the Acts of the Apostles. I don’t know why but I think newcomers can benefit from reading the book of Wisdom and Sirach mostly because it’s the kind of content that will awaken them to the fact they’re not much different to these people of 10,000 years ago.

The reason I pitch this idea is because secular so-called “modern” society is locked into this idea that they’re somehow modern and think differently to their ancestors. Every era throughout the ages behave like this. When the romans built their amazing roads and buildings they must have thought “where do we go from here? We’ve really made it.” After reading the Bible you’ll discover that every society thinks they’ve really made it.

The book of wisdom and Sirach really teach us that we have not made anything but asses of ourselves. There’s atheism in it, jealousy and teachings reproaching a race who thinks it’s “modern” and “present”. It really appealed to me because it was simple stuff I could relate to. Humans, especially the less intellectual type like myself, really find themselves being comfortable around people, music or literature they can relate to.

Back in the 90s I recall two popular bands fighting it out in the charts. One band was from a working class background and the other a middle class background. The former bands lyrics were very relatable as was their personality whereas the latter were more artistic and wrote entertaining, but meaningless songs nobody could care less about. The lyrical content did not speak to the heart of the nation so they lost the battle.

That is what the Book of Wisdom, Sirach and the Gospels do. They speak to the heart. There are many teachings and meditations in them by the prophets that men and women can relate to which is why I always highly recommend them to Catholics who have been distant from their faith for quite some time and are inquiring into their faith once again. I think that newcomers need their intellects and souls prodded by the stick of common sense that will help them wake up from their drunken stupor on secularism.

Honestly it’s not just a wake up call. Some of the best life advice that any counsellor has ever given me could never hold a candle to the wisdom and profitable words I’ve read in these books. There you have it. Read, Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs, Gospel of Matthew or Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. Start with this and you’ll be amazed at just how ancient you really are.

The book of all books that taught me how to read the Bible though (once you’re finished reading these) is True Life In God. These are Divine messages by Jesus given to Vassula Ryden. No other book will ever teach you about the scriptures than the Master who wrote them Himself. There is advice in there that would make even the most learned theologian drop his jaw in awe.

Here’s the website: http://www.tlig.org and the messages are free online, but if you’re really interested in ordering a physical copy just contact me and I’ll connect you to the right person.







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