Saturday, November 28, 2009

Do you have 15 minutes as a gift to scriptural reading?

"To regularly read the Bible takes time, and time is a scarce commodity. So we think! Human beings have an unusual capacity always to find time for nonessential things but not for what will give them true happiness. We leave the most important to the last. Intentions can be good. When we have washed the dishes and cleaned the house, when everything in its place and the whole house is in order, then we can devote ourselves to prayer and reading in peace. But a house is never completely in order, new things constantly emerge that should and could be done.

We find time for most things. But we lack the time intended to devote to Bible-reading, just ten or fifteen minutes. The days is precisely fifteen minutes too short! Would it help if the day were somewhat longer? Not at all. At least once a year we get an extra hour, when we leave summer time in October and return to normal time. Do we then find more time to pray?

How often does it not happen that we suddenly gain one or two hours because something we intended to do was unexpectedly done by another or because an invited guest sent regrets? All at once, there was an entire afternoon unexpectedly at our disposal. But immediately masses of new things to do offer themselves to fill the vacant time. Just imagine if we gave all the time we get in this was as a gift to prayer or scriptural reading? The words of Christ would really live in us in all riches and with all his wisdom (Col 3:16).

John Crysostom (c 345-407) speaks hard words to those who don't think that Bible-reading is so important:

All of you perhaps say: 'I'm not a monk.' But you're mistaken when you believe that the Scriptures only concern monks while you, ordinary believers, need it much more. There is something which is more serious and sinful than not to read the Scriptures, namely to believe that scriptural reading is unnecessary and serves no purpose.'"

-- Nourished by the Word: Reading the Bible Contemplatively by Fr Wilfrid Stinissen, ocd


The "I don't have time" or "I have too much to do" problem is also endemic to religious life, from the active to the cloistered. Sad, but true. It is so easy to get all caught up in "I need to do this", "I should do that"... That Scripture reading, and even prayer at times, can be neglected. This is more so for lay persons, particularly those married with children (in my opinion). There will always be things to be done. Is there anything at all that can be pushed back for 15 minutes without there being a catastrophe? Then try to do so, and offer those minutes to God, to listen to His word speak to YOU.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I definitely want to get this book! As hard as it is sometimes, I start my morning with Morning Prayer before I hop on the computer to check my mail or whatever else awaits me for the day. There are many times throughout the day where this is possible...we have only to look and be aware. Thank you for posting!