There is a stereotype that Catholics don't read the Bible. Anyone who has grown up…
The podcast that’s helping me read Scripture this year
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but my prayer life has always revolved around journaling in some fashion. Whether it was a gratitude journal or a notebook detailing my fears, hopes, dreams and how God has been moving in my life, I always have a few laying around in case the need or mood strikes me. And, to be honest, it probably comes down to the fact that it is easier to speak to God than to listen to him.
Back in late November, I decided to pick up a recently published Scripture journal from OSV: “Oriens: A Pilgrimage Through Advent and Christmas” by Father Joel Sember. I’ve tried seasonal devotionals/prayer journals before, but they usually fell flat for me — either because they were too vague or too specific. But for some reason, I chose to dive into this devotional, and I’m glad I did.
If you’ve been around for at least a year, you might remember me confessing my struggle with reading Scripture. I’ve tried multiple approaches, anything from reading the daily Gospels to flipping through to a random page to journaling through the psalms. But still, while reading Scripture does not come as naturally to me as other forms of prayer, I’ve recognized that it is one area of my prayer life that can’t go dormant. It needs to be a priority.
This journey with Scripture will surely be a life-long adventure — and struggle — but I was grateful for Father Sember’s guiding hand throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. Each day of “Oriens” provides one passage from the daily Mass readings, followed by prompts based on different forms of praying with Scripture: lectio divina (divine reading), relational prayer using the ARRR method (acknowledge, relate, receive, respond) and imaginative prayer. Questions and journal cues such as “How does this passage make you feel?” or “I felt the love of God most strongly when…” were very useful in encouraging me to go deeper instead of being complacent with understanding the surface level. And having the space to jot down a few notes at the end of every reflection helped incorporate an already familiar form of prayer into this new routine.
As I write this, there are still a few weeks left of the Christmas season, which officially ends on the feast of the Presentation of Jesus on Feb. 2. And while this form of guided prayer has been more fruitful than I had anticipated, it will not go on indefinitely. Knowing I would probably fall away from intentionally listening to God through Scripture, I knew I needed another guide to keep me going once I finish praying through “Oriens.”
And that’s when I remembered a new podcast I had heard about: “The Bible in a Year” podcast with Father Mike Schmitz and Ascension Presents. The podcast, which launched Jan. 1, follows the reading plan provided by “The Great Adventure Bible Timeline” from Scripture teacher Jeff Cavins. This means that after just one year of listening to 20-minutes each day, I will have read (or listened to) the entire Bible. Sounds easy enough.
I’m a few days into the podcast and Scripture study, and it’s been great so far. So, if you are like me and want to keep up with Scripture this year (for real this time!), it’s not too late to check out the podcast. Not only does Father Mike Schmitz do the work for you by reading the passages for the day, but he also gives context and explains certain elements we (at least I) probably would miss or misunderstand if I was reading it by myself. Or, if you prefer to read from your own Bible, you can also download the reading plan on Ascension Press’ website.
“The Bible in a Year” is already the most downloaded podcast this year, and I’m eager to see how it transforms my relationship with Scripture. Now, all I need is a journal to go with it.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.