This article originally appeared at Decided Excellence Catholic Media.
One of the greatest gifts we can give children—whether we encounter them at a Catholic school, religious education program, or our kitchen table—is a love of the Bible. Whatever vocations, adventures, or challenges our children might someday face, a deep love for God’s Word will give them a sure foundation upon which to build their lives (Mt 7:24), and a light to guide their paths through dark places (Ps 119:105).
The team at Ascension has been helping Catholics know and love Scripture for decades. Here are a few “pro tips” we’ve picked up along the way.
PRO TIP #1: IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE SCRIPTURES FIRST
Think of a hobby that you love. Whatever it might be— football, music, woodworking, or robotics—you’re almost certainly already passing it on to the children in your care simply because your love and enthusiasm for this hobby shines through in how you spend your time, money, and attention!
While it won’t matter in heaven whether or not our children acquired our love for the Super Bowl or Broadway shows, it will matter whether or not they learned to love the Scriptures. The most natural way for kids to learn to love God’s Word is if they see it play a meaningful part in our daily lives!
The Bible can seem intimidating at first, but take heart! There are wonderful ways to add God’s Word to our daily lives, even if we don’t know the first thing about this ancient, holy Book. Here are some of our favorites—pick something that works for you!
- Listen to a Catholic Bible podcast during your commute or workout—The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)TM available on the free Ascension App is our favorite!
- Binge-read one of the Gospels—the story of Jesus is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each of which can be read in about 2 hours flat!
- Slowly read a Gospel, the Psalms, or a New Testament book during your daily prayer time—converse with God as you reflect on a few verses a day.
- Join a parish Bible study—check parish bulletins in your local area.
- Invite friends over—eat snacks, slowly read the upcoming Sunday Gospel, discuss how it applies to your lives, and close with a prayer.
It’s Here: The Bible & Catechism App!
The word of God and the complete teachings of the Catholic Church. Answers and commentary by Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jeff Cavins, and other experts. Video, audio, and textual commentary. Right on your phone.
PRO TIP #2: “READ” THE LITURGICAL YEAR WITH YOUR CHILDREN OR STUDENTS
The Church has carefully chosen the readings for each Mass to reflect the “Liturgical Year.” The central reading of each Mass is the Gospel. When in doubt, start there. It’s particularly rewarding to read all the Sunday Gospels of Lent or Advent with our children or to study the Mass readings for the Holy Days (Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, etc) all year long.
As a family or as a class, take some prayerful time to read the upcoming Mass readings together. Light a candle, say a little prayer, read one of the readings slowly together, and let children ask their questions. Read the reading slowly one more time, and wrap up with a closing prayer. If you read his Word, God will show up! He is faithful, and it’s beautiful to see what he says to the little ones we love.
Too many families and teachers avoid this prayerful reading of Scripture because they are worried that children will ask questions they might not have the answer to. Well, of course they have questions! Aren’t we adults always learning and growing in our faith? Model calm curiosity for your children—it’s possible to have confidence in God while also wanting to understand more about a difficult passage in Scripture. Compile your children’s questions and ask an expert like your parish priest or DRE to weigh in on tricky topics.
If you would like a pocket reference, the Ascension App has 1,000 FAQs about Bible passages linked right into the scriptural text. Our full-text Bible and Catechism in the App are also both keyword searchable. For more information about the App’s best features, check out a review here.
PRO TIP #3: TREAT THE BIBLE AS A HOLY BOOK
Finally, as we intentionally make time to share the Scriptures with our children, let’s make sure to demonstrate that the Bible is a holy book! If our Bibles have been blessed, then they are sacramental objects and should be treated as a priceless gift from a beloved friend.
At home, dedicate a special shelf for sacramentals like the family Bible, Rosary, and holy cards. In school, make sure that Bibles—especially blessed Bibles!—aren’t thrown at the bottom of lockers or overstuffed book bags. At Mass, we lift the Bible high with honor in the procession and then treat it lovingly on the altar. Have you ever spotted the clergy kissing the Book of the Gospels? While family life and school lockers are a bit more chaotic than Sunday Mass, we can still show our children by example that our Bibles are some of our most cherished possessions.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a love of Scripture. Ascension has had the privilege of helping Catholics love and understand God’s Word for over two decades. It has been our honor to share some “pro tips” with you. We hope they help!
For great resources to help you and your children grow in love for God’s Word, download the free Ascension App here!