Saturday, April 10, 2021

Letters to My Children - Letter 8: Reading Scripture Everyday

I am continuing with the discussion about how to develop an Orthodox mind where we pursue a union with God with the desire to be made worthy to enter His kingdom with eternal life. There are a few things that can easily be integrated into your daily life that will be of great help based my lived experience and the teaching fo the Church.

In addition to a short prayer every day, reading a little bit of Scripture each day will also help you develop your spiritual life. Don't think of this as a time-consuming lengthy task. There is a very useful tool that I have shared with you before that makes this task easy. Each day you can have sent to your email address the Scripture lesson that is being read in Church services on this day.  All you need to do is to go to  https://www.goarch.org/chapel. You will find a place to sign up for this daily email in the lower right corner of this web page. You don’t need to have a specific time to read this email. You can fit it in when you have the tendency to go to Facebook or Instagram, or surf the internet, or when you are catching up on your emails. Just remember to read it every day. The lessons read in the Church all contain a complete message. In addition to an Epistle and Gospel lesson you will find a short write-up on the saints being celebrated on this day.

It is important read Scripture prayerfully. Don’t try to be analytical or make up your own interpretation. Scripture is to be absorbed in the heart and only interpreted through the Church. Remember the story of Philip coming in contact with the Ethiopian reading the Bible in his chariot? Philip asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied, “How can I unless someone guides me”. This is the same attitude you should have. Scripture is not always self-explanatory. When you are at different stages of your spiritual growth, passages will take on different significance and often have a deeper meaning. 

When I started to read Scripture each day I made two mistakes. I would read it like I was reading a novel, trying to read an entire chapter or more, often skimming as you do when reading novels. The second is I would try to pick out what was seemed true to me and discount the rest. This is an understandable mistake as there is so much in Scripture that is hard to understand with our normal rational mind. At times I would try to analyze bits and pieces by seeking online commentaries. Just keep in mind that Scripture is the word of God and it is meant to speak to your heart. As you grow spiritually, the Bible has more and more to teach you. It is best to not try to judge it or analyze it. When you read the Bible let your understanding be illuminated by the Holy Spirit. That is why we are advised read prayerfully. If you don’t understand what you have read, assume that you are not yet ready for this passage. It is still speaking to your heart and in time the meaning will become clear.

If you have questions or opinions, submit them to your spiritual father for clarification. I recommend using the Orthodox Study Bible because it contains commentary from the Church Fathers that can at times be helpful. Using this source you can have the confidence that the comments provided are consistent with the Holy Tradition of the Church. Just be careful about being overly analytical. Read prayerfully.

You should also read the Bible for a personal application. Saint Mark the monk (5th-6th century) says, “He who is humble in his thoughts and engaged in spiritual work, when he reads Holy Scriptures, will apply everything to himself and not to his neighbor.” Do not ask, “What does this mean?” But, instead ask “What does this mean for me?” When reading the Bible, first bring to mind that Scripture is a sacred history of the world from the time of Creation through the formation of the early Church. Then observe the particularity of this history where we find God intervening at specific times and places and entering into dialogue with specific individuals. After reliving this spiritual history, apply it to yourself. You need to bring these distant places and times into your own place and time and see that these stories include you. The Orthodox mind is integral and encompasses all time, heaven and earth, and what is visible and invisible.


Just read a little every day. It will teach you.


Orthodox Study Bible: 

Hard cover or Kindle 

App Store 

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