Welcome back to the Lent retreat! My name is Ryian, and I am your host and MC. This is a retreat for those who aren’t able to get away, so throughout Lent, there will be talks, testimonies, and questions to help you reflect. If you prefer to listen instead of read, there is an audio format on the podcast, Ryian’s Coffee Shop!
During our time away, we have been working on quieting our hearts, even if we can’t quiet the room. Today, we will be hearing a talk and a testimony about Scripture. I will actually be giving the talk today! Then our guest Gabrielle Coombs will be sharing a testimony!
First, I have a question for you. Do you know where your Bible is right now?
My Bible’s home is next to the recliner in our living room or my purse. So I always know where it is.
What is the Bible?
Well, it is the text written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is so important to read, because it is literally the Word of God, with human authors, that is our source for inspiration and direction.
God reveals himself and His plans to us through something called Divine Revelation, which is the combination of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Sacred Scripture is the Bible. Sacred Tradition is the teachings that have been passed down from the apostles. And the Catholic Church has been entrusted with both to connect and interpret. When you separate them, there can easily be misinterpretations.
“To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 109) So we have to remember how the culture was when the time was written, and what God actually wants to say to us.
When reading Scripture, there are three criteria to remember! Keep in mind:
- The Scripture as a whole
- The Sacred Tradition of the Church
- The connections to the other truths of our faith
Let’s quickly talk about how the Bible is set up.
Books in the Bible. Chapters in a Book. Verses in a Chapter.
Book. Chapter. Verse.
Book of John. Chapter 12. Verse 24.
There are two sections to the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, there are three sections.
- Historical (Genesis or 2 Kings)
- Wisdom (Psalms or Wisdom)
- Prophets (Isaiah or Ezekiel)
In the New Testament, there are five sections
- Gospels (Matthew or John)
- Acts of the Apostles
- Letters of St. Paul (1 Corinthians or 2 Thessalonians)
- Catholic Letters (1 Peter or 3 John)
One place that we read from the Bible is at Mass. In Mass, there are two sections:
- The Liturgy of the Word
- The Liturgy of the Eucharist
In the Liturgy of the Word, there are two or three Scripture readings and a Psalm. The last reading is always from the Gospels.
Besides the Eucharist, what I love about Mass is the readings. The readings aren’t randomly chosen. There are actually readings assigned to every day! This list is called a Lectionary. There is a three year cycle for Sundays, and a two year cycle for the other days of the week.
Did you know there is another Liturgy outside of the Mass? It is called the Liturgy of the Hours, or The Divine Office.
The Liturgy of the Hours is basically a discipline of prayers throughout the day for priests and other members of the church to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
So first, here are the different hours:
- The hinges of the day, sunrise to sunset
- Morning Prayer (Lauds) around 6am or dawn
- Evening Prayer (Vespers) “at the lighting of the lamps” around 5 or 6pm
- The Office of Readings, which can be ready any time of day, often with Morning Prayer
- There are three Daytime Prayers:
- Midmorning (Terce) around 9am
- Midday (Sext) around noon
- Midafternoon (None) around 3pm
- Then Night Prayer (Compline), typically shortly before bedtime
The purpose of the Hours is to sanctify your whole day, and its structure helps us celebrate the different times of day. So Night Prayer is very different from Morning prayer. Priests do all of these hours. The main three hours are Morning, Evening, and Night. I try and do Night prayer. When I was on my silent retreat I also did Morning and Evening prayer, (the hinges)!
The actual book with these prayers is about the size of a Bible. It is called a Breviary. You can get a 1 volume called Christian Prayer, or a 4 volume. I have Christian Prayer, and it basically has only Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer.
The 4 volume has everything and is separated by season:
- Ordinary time Weeks 1-17
- Ordinary Time Weeks 18-34.
We are actually encouraged to pray the hours in community when possible. But even without physical community in the same room as you, you are praying the same prayers as millions all over the world, including the pope, the priest at your Church, college students, nuns, moms, anyone! (me!)
I did an activity with the teens in the confirmation class that I teach that I’d like to do now. Go to the beginning of your Bible and look at the list of books and count which books of the Bible you have read. Honestly. Like legit have read, front to back, not just hearing on Sunday and not paying attention. I did this activity too and it was eye opening.
Pause right now and go count!
Alright, how many? I don’t need to know. But I want to encourage you to develop a habit of reading the Bible, even just a few minutes each day. It won’t be convenient, but it also won’t be a habit unless you try. There will always be other things you could be doing, but persevere, and take a couple minutes!
Where to start?
You could read the Mass readings or do some of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Another great place to start if you don’t want to be on a screen:
- The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) This is the core of the Bible, the life and teachings of Jesus.
- The Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible, also called the Torah)
I saw recently that this year, starting April 1st, you could read a chapter of the Gospel of John every day until Easter. So you could play catch up and start there!
So in your heart, right now, I want you to decide what you’ll do. Or maybe you are already doing something regularly! That’s great! But we need to make a committed decision in order to actually do something.
Next, our guest Gabrielle Coombs wrote a testimony on Scripture. I am recording it, but this is her story! Gabrielle is a sleep deprived stay at home mom of 2! She hopes your lives are fruitful, your joy plentiful and your coffee strong!
“Have you ever had a thought that was so crazy, you heard that comical record scratch that you hear in sitcoms?
I heard it in 2017, right after I had a personal revelation during a very difficult time in my marriage.
So in 2017, my husband and I were seriously struggling in our marriage and in our roles as parents. We got married in 2015 and immediately got pregnant, in which I suffered from HG. My husband nearly missed our son being born, and had to leave the following day for 4 months of training for a new job. As soon as he was done, we had to move in with his parents for several months while we looked for an apartment.
So in January of 2017, we went to secular marriage counseling because we needed outside help. Talking wasn’t working. Fighting wasn’t working. We plugged away at it until March of 2017, when it became painfully clear that we still weren’t making any progress on our issues. We were drifting further apart and I truly never felt lonelier. I was angry with my husband, my in laws and at God. I was tired of compromising, of fighting, of feeling like a failure as a wife and as a mom.
I had been praying for months with nothing, not even a whisper of His Voice. I begged, I bargained, I pleaded: just fix my husband, change his parents, DO SOMETHING before I DROWN. All I got was crickets.
Finally, I said “God, I am ready to walk away. I know I made vows but I don’t have a partner and I don’t think I can save this marriage. What do you want ME to do?”
“Prepare for a child.”
CUE THE RECORD SCRATCH. I was contemplating LEAVING, not bringing more children into my crumbling marriage! I am pretty sure that if my soul had arms and legs, it would have looked like a 2 year old at the grocery store who was just told no candy.
So I ignored God because the last thing that I was prepared to do was conceive a baby when I could barely look at my husband, let alone be intimate.
BUT…the more that I ignored Him, the more the thought of having another baby haunted me. I stared at newborn babies like a cartoon bear staring at a turkey. My stomach felt hollow, and I found myself rubbing my stomach and imagining that I felt little kicks in my womb (though it was more likely indigestion).
So, I went to Google and typed “I don’t understand what God is telling me.” And Google gave me Proverbs 3: 5-6.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Well played, God. He had backed me into a corner with His logic. I said “Fine, I will talk to Hubby. But I know that there is no way that he will think having another baby at this point is going to fix things.”
I spent a few days steeling my nerves to ask my husband what his thoughts were on having a second baby. I knew that he would say that it wasn’t the best time, we should wait until we are in a healthier place in our marriage, a baby doesn’t heal broken marriages, etc etc.
I could not have prepared myself for what he said. “I also have had a feeling that having another baby FEELS right, but I didn’t really know how to talk to you about it.”
Checkmate, God. I could not fight it anymore. I was still worried, and obviously had concerns, but I knew that if God was asking this of me, and my Protestant husband was getting “feelings” about the same idea, then this was what we needed to do.
We conceived that first cycle. We were still having marriage troubles but I kept reflecting on Proverbs 3: 5-6. I may not have understood, but I knew that God was laying a path for us. I was inspired to pray the Serenity Prayer, and asked God to continue to give me courage to accept the things that I could not understand at that time. It brought me a lot of peace and carried me through the months that followed, including my husband going to personal therapy, the inevitable cutting off of his extended family, and my own personal journey in personal therapy. It also inspired that name of our daughter, Serena Marie. Finally obeying His word truly saved my marriage, and we are nearing our 4 year anniversary and we have never been more at peace.
Submitting to God’s Will is not easy. I know the reason that everything fell into place because I finally asked God what He wanted ME to do, which was to trust Him, even if the path I was on didn’t make sense. I couldn’t change other people, but I could change myself by trusting in His Plan and His Path for me. I still struggle in this aspect, but I have the Scripture to inspire me in serenity, courage and wisdom. And that’s enough.”
Thank you so much Gabrielle!
Gabrielle has no blogs, websites or business, but loves supporting local business and is trying to live as “green” as possible to show her children how to be good stewards of God’s creation!