St. Jerome said that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” But for those who weren’t raised Christian, or who never had Scripture as a part of their life, diving into Scripture can be intimidating.
That was the case for a listener named Ron, who recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™. Ron explained that he has recently returned to the Catholic faith, and desires to read the Bible more and read it to his children. But he doesn’t know where to start. Starting from the beginning and reading straight through seems overwhelming, but he doesn’t know where to begin otherwise.
Guest host Fr. John Paul Erickson responded, “First of all, welcome back. What a beautiful and powerful thing. And the desire to assist your family in learning the faith is a beautiful, powerful gift. So we give thanks to the Lord for that.”
“What I would advise is to begin with the Gospels,” Fr. Erickson recommended. “I would begin there. I probably would caution a little bit against going just front to back. I think your reaction of it kind of being overwhelming would be pretty common. And some books of the Old Testament are pretty hard to wade through, especially as a beginner or somebody who is coming back to the faith.”
“I would begin with Jesus. Begin with the Gospels. And the Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the Gospels. So I would probably start there. Just read paragraph after paragraph meditatively. Slowly ask Our Lord for an openness of mind, to hear his voice, especially in the Gospel.”
In terms of the Old Testament, Fr. Erickson suggested starting at the beginning to know and understand the more foundational aspects of the faith. He advised, “The Book of Genesis, which admittedly some of the passages can be challenging and can make the modern reader raise an eyebrow, but there are some very, very powerful and foundational meditations within that book. Then I would offer the Book of Exodus, that story of the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery. Again, such a foundational, powerful text.”
“Over all this, continue to pray to the Lord for the grace to be open to his voice, to hear Him. And I would advise you to find some good Catholic commentary, some books that might be able to help you. There might be a Bible study at your local parish. I have heard from many, many people how powerful that is, how life-giving that is.”