Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daily Bible Study


For the past five or so years I have had an interest in a bible study program, but I admit to you, my friends, that I am afraid. I'm afraid to join a bible study group because I have a fear of misinformation. I have this notion (albeit wrong I'm sure) that lay people who hold bible study groups interpret the bibles themselves. Now you may think I'm a little neurotic and you'd probably be correct, but there it is anyway. I won't go. Can't do it. If I could find a bible study that is led by a trusted priest, I would go. But our priests are pretty busy these days and few are holding bible study programs.

And so, I created my own personal daily bible study method that I feel called to share with you, in case you have the same irrational fear, or just can't fit bible study into your life right now.

I start my daily bible study with the daily Mass readings. I use the Magnificat every day, which my mother-in-law lovingly subscribes to for me, but you can find the daily readings in other places. The USCCB has them, EWTN has them, and I mentioned yesterday that there is a free Magnificat app for your iPod/iPhone*. You can just Google "daily Mass readings" and you'll find sources, but stick with something you know to be authentic.

So, start with the Mass readings, and then add a study bible -- again, something you know to be authentic. I use this Ignatius press version of the RSV New Testament (that means I am only studying the New Testament right now) and I really love the way it's written. It's the only study bible I have every used, so I have no comparison, but it's very clear and very informative. If you know of a good electronic bible study source (Catholic, of course) please leave a comment and let me know what it is. I think the way moms have so much running around to do each day, having it all accessible at any time would be very helpful.

Now, grab your Magnificat, or sit down with your computer, iPhone, whatever device you are using to obtain your daily readings and note the first reading. Then, turn to your study bible and read the reading, along with the commentary. Do that for the first reading (and second if it's Sunday or a holy day) and then the Gospel. In about ten to 20 minutes you will have studied the daily readings.

Do that every day and in a year you will have studied quite a bit of the bible. In two years you will have covered all of the different daily readings, and in three years you will have covered all of the different Sunday readings -- in just 20 minutes a day. I realize that does not cover all of the bible, but  you can always go back and read the in-betweens when you've finished.

And that, my friend, is my thought for the day. ;-)

* I double checked the iPhone app and found it is free for the month that you download and then $1.99 a month after that. It is free for subscribers. Or you can subscribe for a year, digitally, for $20. Either way it is much less than the printed subscription price of $45. Of course, the other daily reading links are free.



  1. Don't you have to pay for the Magnificat app if you don't have a subscription? I think it's a lot cheaper than the sub., but you do have to pay.

    We have practically the whole Navarre Bible which comes with English and Latin on facing pages and commentary at the bottom. That would be another great resource.

  2. Sara, I just double checked and it is free for a month after you download, then it is 1.99 a month. Yes, free for subscribers. Sorry about the confusion.

  3. There's an iphone/ipod/ipad app called iBreviary that's really neat, too, containing all the prayers of the divine office in addition to the Mass readings. I'm not sure just now whether they are the American reading schedule, though, as the ones I read this Sunday were not the ones I heard at Mass. I'll get back to you on that, though! (Oh, and the app is free!)

  4. oohh. this sounds like a great way for mama to have some quiet time in the mornings...perfect for summer when there isn't a lot of morning rush to "get going". i have never been able to commit to going to a bible study because i have too many obligations, so i really like this idea. i already have my magnificat subsrip. so all i need to do is delve a little deeper into the missal (most days) and then the bible!!

    thanks for sharing your wonderful thought for the day with us, friend!
    love to you across the miles!!

  5. This is great, Barbara! Very doable for the busy mom! I would like to have some more prayer time in the mornings anyway, but my mornings (my days!) are so inconsistent with the baby (and other kids, too) ...

    Have you ever heard of Jeff Cavins? He is a Bible scholar that has put together a wonderful Catholic Bible study (DVDs) program called The Great Adventure. It starts with a Bible timeline (an overview of salvation history), and then goes through so many other books more in depth in separate studies. It is authentic and completely in line with the teachings of the Church. I learned so much about the Biblical references to the Pope and Mary and the Mass! Not to mention more about the Bible story itself! Mr. Cavins is an amazing teacher, too. If you ever hear of it in a parish near you, you can definitely trust it. I promise.


  6. I have to echo Sara's comment. The Navarre Bible is fantastic. It uses the RSV-CE translation and is published by the very orthodox (little o) Scepter Press, the publishing arm of Opus Dei. So you know you are getting exactly what the Church teaches, no funny business. They use an enormous amount of quotes from popes like JPII and also lots of Church fathers, etc. This is my go-to commentary. They have different versions. As our parish librarian, I purchased for our library the entire set of New Testament paperbacks and then the hardcover versions for the OT. I then bought over time several hardcover volumes for myself, such as for the Pentateuch (1st 5 books of the bible,) The Gospels & Acts (one volume,) The letters of St. Paul, etc. They have the RSV-CE at the top, copious commentary in the middle, and at the bottom the Latin Vulgate for those who want it. They also have abridged versions without the Vulgate but I believe some of them may not have the entire commentary. Nevertheless it is more compact. These are not cheap, BUT you know you are getting the BEST. Check them out here: http://www.scepterpublishers.org/category/?category_id=24. You can get them cheaper at Amazon.

    In the meantime, you can experience this commentary daily at a Google groups list for free. This might be just what you can supplement your daily bible study with. http://groups.google.com/group/dailyword-weekahead This is the only place I have seen online where parts of the Navarre Bible are used. I know the Ignatius bible is very good, and I have some of the individual books, but the Navarre is very detailed and I cannot say enough about it. I have more bible study info on my blog http://www.livecatholic.net/

    I must say though, that while you are right in being concerned about what you are learning in Bible Study, you should not be afraid of group bible study. If you are using good materials and educating yourself, you can gain a great deal from learning and praying with others. Just because a priest may not lead the group does not mean the group cannot be faithful to Church teaching. You also are supposed to gain insight yourself of what the HS is trying to teach you and others can learn from that. You also are building community. Another good resource for bible study is Emmaus Road Publishing http://www.emmausroad.org/ which makes lots of beginner and intermediate thematic bible studies. Remember what Pope JPII said, "Do not be afraid!" Well, don't be afraid of learning with others just because someone might say something that is incorrect. God bless!

  7. Marcy, Thank you for your insight. I have had experience through others, especially my mother, of bible study programs where each person shares "what does this verse mean to you" and that scares me. Frankly, I don't want my neighbor's interpretation of Sacred Scripture -- I want a very knowledgeable resource. What did it mean to the person who wrote it -- not the person reading it? I am not confident in my own knowledge of scripture to know one from another (which is why I admit I need bible study). Just this past Sunday our parish did a survey asking what kind of bible study parishioners are interested in. I will look forward to something that is from a reliable source! Thanks again.

  8. Barbara, you said: "each person shares "what does this verse mean to you" and that scares me. Frankly, I don't want my neighbor's interpretation of Sacred Scripture -- I want a very knowledgeable resource. What did it mean to the person who wrote it -- not the person reading it?"

    Well, I don't think you are considering that scripture is aimed at both. Bible study is meant to cover both a learning dimension (what the Church teaches) and also what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Now, yes if you are doing a bible study where you are ONLY looking at what the teaching is supposed to be you don't want to learn someones theory on what it means. But in Bible Study you are also looking for so called "lights" to see what the scripture means to your life.

    To be a little clearer, there is a difference between a person who says "I think this verse means that we should have women priests," and another person who says, "I think this helps me realize that I have to be more accepting of others, to be more helpful with my family, or take the time to help my neighbor who is having trouble."

    Obviously, the first is making an interpretation of scripture that is incorrect and you don't want that. But the other example is one of the reasons why we study scripture because it helps mold us to be better Christians, to form our conscience, and that is good.

    In the studies I have been involved in, the people who attended were trying to be faithful Catholics. A Catechism of the Catholic Church was always part of the study. And we tried to learn both what the scripture and the Church were teaching, but also how this chapter/verse could be applied to our lives.

    I'm always bookish and want to learn the historical info etc. but MOST people seem to want to study scripture to see how it can be applied to their lives. You really do need both.

    SO, if you are using good materials, referring to the Catechism when appropriate AND discussing how this has meaning for you and how to apply it to your life, THEN you are getting the most from the study. This is not just an intellectual exercise, but a life changing one. And you can't be afraid of what others might come up with.

    If you are with a group of friends the dynamic is different then if you are in "the wild" so to speak with a group of random parishioners, some of who may not be well catechized or supportive of Church teaching. And I understand that is scary, but you can spot those people and try to educate them. That really is part of why we have community.

    As someone who is serious about your faith and has a blog, I bet you really do know more, and can sense false teaching better than you realize. Was your mother's church Catholic? Also, realize sometimes a group of people are not a good fit and if you don't like it you don't have to continue.

    Sarah suggested The Great Adventure which is excellent and I believe they have a way to see online if it is in your area. You can also check out the Catholic Scripture Study International studies to see if they are in your area.

    God Bless!

  9. Awesome idea! I was actually just thinking that I should begin reading the daily readings again since I haven't been reading the Bible. I also have the Ignatius study Bible, so I will try to do what you've suggested. I still find it hard to be consistent in my prayer life and spiritual reading.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!