As I continue my Advent journey with Rev. R. Scott Hurd's book, When Faith Feel Fragile, my reflection today is on Scripture. Fr. Hurd writes, "The Bible was inspired by God as no other written words have been or ever will be." Is this not so remarkable. Consider this. When you look at your bookshelf, how many books there can you honestly say you'd read more than once? How many of those could you pick up every day, open randomly an ALWAYS find some nugget of wisdom or words of inspiration? Is there any book, besides the Bible that can speak directly to your heart, cut through the day's confusion, and you would swear can read your mind some days?
Scripture played a significant role in my faith journey. Until I discovered the power of the Word of God, I had many starts and stops to developing a relationship with God - either as Father, Son or Holy Spirit. I was never able to make my desire to be close to God stick. I would randomly decide to go to Mass or to pray for a few days but never really felt a connection - but I truly longed for it. I desired it because I was created for it, but was at a loss where to find it.
Scripture changed all that - and until I read Fr. Hurd's book, I had no idea the impact Scripture also had on the conversion of St. Augustine. I, like Augustine, struggled in my early attempts to read and understand the Bible. Fr. Hurd makes so much sense in pointing out how the version of the Bible we are trying to read can significantly impact our understanding, and therefore our connection to the Word. I, also like Augustine, once I had my heart opened, the words no longer seemed mystery to me realized, "...not only was Jesus the key to understanding the entire Bible, but that Jesus himself could speak with him through the Bible." (Fragile, pg. 58).
My fragile faith found root in Scripture. I spent time learning the translations and teaching of the Catholic Church on them, but also spent countless hours reading and exploring verse after verse, falling deeper in Love with the Trinity, For the first time I was hearing the Salvation story from the source, and learning to hear and recognize my Shepherd's voice. Scriptures became the greatest love story I had ever read, and I could open it day after day, and each time discover something new, draw deeper into the truths of the God's love, mercy and abundant grace. The more time I spent the more I wanted to spend, almost addicted to the intoxicating joy that seeped from these pages. It wasn't all roses and puppies either - I was also convicted on a great many things in my life. Behaviors I was called to curtail, thoughts that had to be realigned to the Will of God, and disciplines foreign to be before, now had to be integrated into my everyday life. Though I can honestly say, to this day, I never leave my time with God's Word the same.
For it is truly impossible to have an encounter with God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit (in prayer, Sacrament or Word) and not be altered in some way - changed if only a minutely , it will always be a beautiful, positive and grace filled way.