When do you introduce your introduce your inquirers to Scripture? I think for most folks, it’s pretty early on. I try to at least connect the inquirers’ stories with a story from Scripture, even if I don’t pull out a Bible and read the story exactly. Certainly by the time they are showing signs of readiness for the Rite of Acceptance, they should have a rudimentary understanding of the Bible.
That’s why I’ve never liked the optional “Presentation of a Bible” in the Rite of Acceptance. I try to make sure the inquirers have their own Bible and are reading it regularly well before they become catechumens.
It’s easiest for the inquirers if the parish has a supply of Bibles on hand. If you have the budget for it, you can give them away. If budget money is scarce, you could ask the inquirers for a donation or ask the sponsors to buy a Bible as a gift for the inquirers.
I also think it is important to put an actual Bible in their hands and not a missallette or other lectionary-like resources.
How to read the Bible
To get inquirers started on reading Scripture, first teach them how to navigate. They can always look in the table of contents if they get lost. But here are a couple tricks for finding your way around more quickly.
- If you open the Bible to the very middle, it will usually open to the Psalms or Proverbs.
- If you then open the second half to the middle (so now you have ¾ of the pages in your left hand and ¼ in your right) you will be in the New Testament, probably looking at one of the gospels.
- The four gospels always appear in this order: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- Acts always follows John, although it is the “second half” of the Gospel of Luke.
- Following Acts, we get the major letters of Paul: Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians
- Then, you can remember next letters with this mnemonic: General Electric Power Company (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians)
- After that, you’re on your own. Those are all the tricks I know.
Give the inquirers a list of the upcoming Sunday Gospels and have them read along with the church’s lectionary. Teach them how to read the chapter and verse numbers so they can look up the readings later on their own. Point out to them that the lectionary skips some portions of the Gospel and encourage them to read the missing portions as well.
Have them read the Psalms the same way. Give them a list of the daily or Sunday Psalms from the lectionary, and ask them to read along as the church year progresses. Have them read the entire psalm and not just what’s printed in the lectionary.
How to pray with the Bible
There are probably as many ways to pray with the Bible as there are people who are reading it. Here is a simple process you might use or adapt.
- Ask God to open your ears and heart.
- Open the Bible to the reading you want to reflect on.
- Read the reading through, perhaps even speaking it out loud.
- Go back and read it a second time, more slowly, and stop when you get to a phrase that moves your heart. Dwell on that phrase.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to better understand the meaning of the phrase. Imagine what it means for your life right now. Stay in that moment for as long as you feel comfortable.
- Read the entire passage again, perhaps speaking it out loud.
- Conclude by praying the Lord’s Prayer. Or, if the inquirers do not yet know the Lord’s Prayer, have them pray: “Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us your Word. May I learn to follow you more faithfully.”
What have I left out? Do you have any other tips for teaching the inquirers how to read and pray with the Bible?
See also these related articles:
- Episode 75: How is the Bible different from the lectionary?
- Episode 73: Six things every RCIA team needs to know about the Bible
- What a Catholic nun and a group of Evangelical teenagers taught me about the Bible
- Finding your way around the Bible: basic steps for RCIA
- How to read the Bible in the RCIA process