November 16, 2017
Tips for Using Scripture in Catechesis and Prayer
Have you ever had this happen to you? The priest or lector begins to proclaim a Scripture reading at Mass, and you recognize it immediately. Oh, that’s the one about Abraham and Isaac, or about the wise and foolish virgins, you think. Before you know it, you are lost in a labyrinth of random associations and other thoughts, so much so that when the lector intones, “The Word of the Lord,” you come out of your thoughts and realize that you haven’t really heard the reading just proclaimed.
Such a scenario shows the reality of how we process information: it is normal for a word or phrase to conjure up memories. A familiar story draws us into a stream of consciousness that may easily float us far from the original incident. Fortunately, the genius of the Catholic liturgy is that it does not rely solely on the spoken word. Since long before psychologist Howard Gardner formulated his theory of multiple intelligences, the liturgy has utilized many different means to bring the community together in prayer and engage it in meaningful worship: processions and songs, candle flames and incense, bread and wine, stained glass and architecture, sharing the sign of peace and participating in ritual responses, as well as proclaiming and listening.
In the same way, there are multiple ways in which Scripture can be made an integral part of both worship and catechesis. Here are a few for you to consider.
Praying with Scripture
While some people will pray with Scripture in what is sometimes called the “roulette wheel” fashion—opening the Bible at random and taking as divine communication whatever phrase their finger lands on—this practice is not as common in the Catholic tradition.One form of Scriptural prayer that is an important part of Catholic tradition is the practice of Lectio Divina, which dates back to the early days of monastic life (fourth or fifth century). Using a reflective process to read the Scriptures, Lectio Divina is a very effective way to pray with the daily readings or those read at Sunday Mass. Read more