A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Bible

Sometimes I just need a little light in the darkness to see where I’m going.

Like when I’m at the movies or in a theatre and need to find my way back to my seat when the house lights have been turned down for the show. Or when the power has gone out and I need to find my way upstairs from the basement.

And then there are the times when the darkness is figurative. Like when I struggle to make a decision or when I worry about the future.

Last night, reading Psalm 119:105* reminded me there’s a light we may be forgetting about—the Bible:

Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path.

The psalmist highlights some truths about God’s word:

  • It is precious: “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (verse 72).
  • It gives life: “I will never forget your precepts; for by them you have given me life” (verse 93).
  • It gives us understanding: “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (verse 99);  “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (verse 130).
  • It can bring us peace: “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (verse 165).

We can be too quick to give up on reading the Bible, assuming that the Scriptures have nothing to say to us in 2014. But we can use a concordance to find out what the Bible says about a given topic. And by using the subject index in the Catechism, we can find discussions on abortion, euthanasia, misappropriation of funds, prenatal diagnosis (including sex selection), and terrorism—and many other topics relevant today—and find references to the scripture passage(s) on which the Church’s position is based.

I pray that we would make the time to read the Bible and to pray about what God wants to say to us through his word.

How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

~ Psalm 119:103

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

I’ve said before that I’m an avid reader. Reading is probably my favourite leisure activity, and I’ve generally got a book, newspaper or magazine on the go (sometimes all three, and sometimes more than one book).

I love wandering my local bookstore, the more so since I downloaded an app that lets me scan bar codes of books and add the titles to my wish list. And I have a long wish list of books to read on my library account.

Today being Family Literacy Day, we’re encouraged to spend 15 minutes a day reading. True, some of us may already have to spend a lot of time reading for work or school. And sometimes, given the books promoted by the media, it may seem there aren’t many choices for Christian readers. But why not take those 15 minutes to improve our spiritual literacy? Why not set a great example for our children by choosing some Christian reading materials on our next library or bookstore visit? And if the selection of Christian works in libraries and bricks-and-mortar bookstores proves to be limited, we can find a wide range of Christian books online.

In just 15 minutes, we could read one of the following:

But why limit our reading to non-fiction? Christian fiction ranges from mystery to science fiction to graphic novels and so on. Not sure where to start? Goodreads.com allows readers to search for books by genre, and a quick glance at the results for the Christian genre shows new releases, the most popular books, and reader lists of recommended works. And finding books similar to ones we’ve enjoyed is as simple as entering a title or an author at WhatShouldIReadNext.com.

I pray that we can find 15 minutes—or even just 10—on a regular basis to invest in reading materials that build us up spiritually.

I’m not much for staying up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I do follow “year in review” media coverage.

Sometimes I shake my head when I think about the stories that loomed large over the past year—drug use and sexting by certain politicians, or the tendency of certain performers to go for shock instead of substance, for example. The recaps of the events of 2013 focussed on such scandals, and the choice of Pope Francis as the new head of the Catholic Church earned a quick mention in comparison.

As we look back on 2013, we can look at the place we gave our faith in our own lives. And as we begin a new year, we can make our faith more than just a footnote in this chapter we call 2014.

Our priest spoke at yesterday’s Mass about making resolutions for the year ahead—resolutions, not wishes. He suggested we make faith-related resolutions, such as a commitment to read a chapter or two of the Bible or the Catechism or spend ten minutes meditating in God’s presence each day.

The Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI is over, but I pray that this too would be a year to deepen our faith by taking more time to read the Bible, become more familiar with the Catechism, pray more for our families, and spend more time with God. Or to return to the Church if we’ve been away for a little or a long while.

May we praise God for his blessings over the past year, and try to recognize the ways he blesses us this year!

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.”

~ Malachi 1:11*

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11*)

I remember that my grandmother used to go out for lunch once a week with her friends. Some of them had known one another since they were young women—and they laughed and talked as though they still were. And my mother still keeps in touch by phone, mail and e-mail with some friends from her teen years and from military bases my father was posted to. They seem to pick right up where they left off the last time they talked.

Today many of us rush from home to work to home to kids’ activities to home again. We may spend a few minutes along the way on social media sites or on the phone with friends, or perhaps we chat after church or a fitness class, but we don’t really scratch below the surface of one another’s lives.

So much pressure falls on us to succeed, keep busy and give our kids every opportunity to pursue their interests that we can easily forget to work on keeping friendships alive…until a family member falls ill and we lack someone to lean on. Or we struggle with some phase in our kids’ lives and have no one to compare notes with. And many people don’t live in or even near their hometown these days, so it’s not unusual to live in a new town and not know a soul.

Then our need to connect with friends hits us—hard.

I think we underestimate the value of friendship, but I believe this to be true: Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe you’re returning to your Catholic roots. Or maybe, like me, you’re fairly new to the Church. Either way, some resources for your faith journey might be welcome right about now. So here are some ideas from this recent convert.

Your Local Catholic Church
Wondering why no one says, “And also with you,” anymore? Not sure when to sit, stand or kneel? For the first few weeks at my church, I spent a lot of time watching other people to figure these things out. You learn what to do and when by going to Mass so you can participate and not just observe. Having a copy of the Sunday missal helps you understand the service and lets you look over the readings ahead of time.

When you attend Mass regularly, you get to know your parish priest and find out what ministries are available that could help you—or that you could help with. And if you struggle with shyness, as I do, attending a coffee hour or joining a parish group like the Catholic Women’s League or the Knights of Columbus is a great way to meet other parishioners and get involved.

If you’re still looking for a church home, the Archdiocese of Ottawa’s website features a directory of parishes. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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