In our travels and interactions, we often hear that the Bible, the Catholic Church, and Catholic faith feel painfully disconnected from real life. Parents wonder why their kids no longer practice the faith despite weekly Mass attendance, years of Catholic school, and having received confirmation and the other sacraments. Often Catholicism seems like a long list of rules or a dry routine rather than the vibrant life with God it’s meant to be. What has caused this widespread disconnect?
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” as Saint Jerome said. Simply put, many Catholics don’t know Jesus intimately. They have not responded to his invitation to personal, loving, and lifegiving communion through the Scriptures.
Yet Deacon Harold and I see regularly how hungry Catholics are for the Bible. They want to know how to study and read this glorious book, but are frequently intimidated by the dryness, length, or difficulty of the study resources available. They often have no idea where to begin with the Bible.
The goal of the Ignite book and study guide is to give you a starting place in the Scriptures that will allow Jesus to speak directly to your heart through his word. We present the richness and beauty of the Bible in a way that directly connects the incredible story of God’s love to your everyday lived experience.
I (Sonja) have often said that if my house burned down, the only possessions, strictly speaking, I would do everything necessary to take with me would be our legal papers and my Bible. Its onionskin pages are so worn and battered that there are many pages taped into it to keep them from falling out. It’s heavily marked up and highlighted, and the pages slide open easily from use. I can locate many of the passages by simply seeing how they look on the page. My Bible is an old friend.
What about yours? If it’s not already within reach, locate your Bible, pick it up, and hold it in your hands. Thumb through its pages for a moment or two. Can you locate the Old and New Testaments? Skim through the table of contents. What are your impressions?
Thinking back over your life, try to describe your relationship with the Scriptures in one word. What, if anything, bothers you most about the Bible? What makes you most uncomfortable about it? How do you hope or anticipate your relationship with the Scriptures to change as you work through this study?
Through this series, Deacon Harold and I want the pages of the Bible to enkindle your heart and draw you more deeply into the sacramental life. Our ongoing prayer for you is that Ignite will help guide and equip you to experience the depth of God’s love so that the Word becomes a living flame in your heart and life.
Whether you participate in a group or alone, throughout your Ignite study, we have included special areas to help you connect with God through the Bible. Expect each chapter to include:
— A Review. Repetition is the mother of learning, as they say, so we spend a little time revisiting each chapter in a concise way.
— An Invitation. This section applies the Scriptures and the chapter to our own lives.
— A Good Prompt. Here we offer a love the Word meditation, a handy way to practice getting in touch with God in the Bible, directly and personally.
We used the RSV-CE translation of the Bible for this series. If you are participating in Ignite as a group, please be aware that several different versions of the Bible will likely be in use by the participants. Comparing different versions is an important tool in understanding the Bible. Comparing word choices in different translations allows for a more complete picture of what each verse or group of verses means.
Within the silent pages of the ancient book called the Bible, the Spirit of God breathes. He has waited millennia for you there. Because the Bible is a breathtaking love letter from God, he will reveal himself directly to you. What glories will he whisper in your ear? What discoveries will make your heart pound and your spirit soar? If you are ready, let’s find out!