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Friday, August 2, 2013

How to Read the Bible and Still Feel Like a Catholic

We all have a place for the Bible in our lives---the bookshelf.
The title is a joke because we Catholics get a bad rep for not reading the Bible as much as our Protestant friends.  With that said, since I took a seminar/class on Bible reading with a bunch of Catholics at my church in Durham back in the summer of 2010, I’ve read more of the Word than I have ever have in my life, and it’s not as intimidating as I used to think it was.

In the past three years, I’ve found a way to read the Bible which has gotten to a point of reading it every day---t’s called the daily Mass readings.  This is the part that makes you feel like a Catholic (I noticed that Catholics, and I’m very guilty of it, want to make sure we’re doing things the “Catholic way”.  For better or worse, love us for who we are).   It’s Catholic because it’s reading the readings of Mass of each day---a very Catholic institution.  Plus, if you read it in the morning and then go to a daily Mass or even Sunday Mass, you feel like a baller for already being familiar with the readings as it’s being read from the pulpit.

If you want to try it out, here are my top three ways that I’ve found pretty fruitful.

1. Daily Mass Reading Books

Both Mimi and I like reading it from actual books that list the readings by the day of the current date.  She prefers the Magnifcat because it’s small and has reflections on the Gospels written by different people each day.  I prefer the The Word Among Us because it’s a little bit bigger, and the margins are wider.  In every book I read I like to interact with the text by underlining and writing notes on the side so I like how The Word Among Us allows me to do that.  I get mine out every morning now for the past couple weeks and it’s been great to read it while I eat breakfast---starts my day out pretty fresh.  You can order these books online or purchase them at your closest Catholic bookstore.
2. Smart Phone Apps

If you want to go green, there are a couple great Catholic apps out there.  The first one I found (and I may have paid for) is iMissal.  This also has the readings Mass readings with two simple button pushes, but what I like about this one compared to the other apps, is that this one will play the readings to you.  As in, there is an audio of someone reading the readings to you.  This is particularly awesome if you’re trying to multitask.  I found this pretty useful for at least a couple months when I was working for SFIS last year.  I’d play the recording as I got dressed for work from slipping on pants to tying my tie.  I bet this would also be great for someone’s daily car commute.

There’s also other good Catholic free apps out there like Laudate, The Pope App, iBreviary, Rosary Audio, and one I use more often than I think Mass Times, which will tell me which is the closest church, it’s Mass and Confession times, all by my current location.  The Web site will pretty much do the same as well.

Also, if you rather read them on your computer, is my go-to source for the daily Mass readings.

3. Dare I say it? An actual Bible

If there’s anything I learned from my Bible class that one summer is that there are many versions out there.  It basically comes down to the way they’re translated so if you were to pick up a King James Version to a New International Version to a New American Bible, there are definitely subtle differences.

Make sure you pick up the Catholic translation, the New American Bible or the NAB to feel like a Catholic bible reader.  In the index somewhere, it will list the daily Mass readings and you'll get to find the readings yourself.  What I also like about reading from the actual Bible, and especially Catholic study Bibles, is that they will have suggested ways to read it in the reference section.  For example, before I went the daily Mass reading route, I would do these different “reading journeys” that would be 12 days of selected readings that centered around a chosen theme: love, men in the Bible, Old Testament, etc.


OK, so there you have it.  For someone who struggles to pray everyday, the Bible, especially the daily Mass readings, has really helped me stay consistent and disciplined.  Plus, they’re different every day so it keeps it fresh.  And although we Catholics have other sources including the Bible to find spiritual nourishment (i.e. the Sacraments like Confession and the Eucharist, Mary, the Saints, priests and the Pope among other things), I have to admit that the reading the Bible the past three years has definitely been a positive game changer in my life. 

And I still feel like a Catholic.



  1. I am looking for the answer to this question. I have been looking into some online bible classes to help me learn more about the bible and therefore more about being a Catholic. Thanks for the post.