This week at EDGE we will be beginning our study of the Hebrew Scriptures. This page is to provide suggestions/resources for how to bring what we have done in EDGE into the home.
Young adolescents seek stability and structure so one of the most important things about choosing to read the Bible at home as a family is consistency. We all have busy, overlapping and conflicting schedules so sit down with your family and decide together when would be a good time for everyone to gather together. If you do not set aside intentional time it will be easier and easier to let it slip to the wayside. Secondly, setting aside time does not mean hours – it means 20-30 minutes; of course, it can be longer if you are really enjoying yourselves!
Some ways to read the Bible together:
1. Read the Sunday Mass readings together before you go to Mass and discuss what they mean as a family. You can find out what the readings are here: http://www.usccb.org/calendar/index.cfm?showLit=1&action=month
2. Read the Sunday Mass readings together AFTER Mass and use the discussion questions on the back page of the Holy Family bulletin. You can find the weekly bulletin here: http://holyfamily.org/category/sunday-bulletins/
3. Choose one book of the Bible and work your way through chapter by chapter as a family. My recommendation is to start with the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s Gospel in particular is known as the “teaching” gospel because it provides clear instruction for how a community of believers should interact with each other, is full of Jesus’ teachings and makes clear the connections between the life of Jesus and the prophecies/events of the Hebrew Bible.
Choosing a Bible:
If you are choosing to read the Bible together as a family, it is important to select a Bible that is age appropriate for the children in your home. For young adolescents an excellent one is the Breakthrough Bible published by St. Mary’s Press. In addition to Scriptures it provides study guides, profiles of Biblical persons and a reading guide that suggests how to read through the Bible in its entirety.
For the younger children in your home a collection of Bible stories is particularly apt. In teaching young people ages 6+ I have used the Children of God Storybook Bible, which provides an excellent selection of key stories in the Bible, is full of beautiful illustrations and includes prayers to pray together after reading one of the stories.
Talking about the Bible:
Once you have read a Bible passage together it may be awkward to get the conversation going at first; don’t worry, it takes practice! An easy way to start encouraging conversation among your family is to go through these steps –
1. What did just read? Ask someone in the family to summarize the story so that you can be sure everyone understands it (basic comprehension). Is there anything we don’t understand?
2. What does this reading teach us about God? Jesus? The Holy Spirit?
3. What does this reading teach us about people/creation?
4. What does this reading teach us about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit’s relationship to people/creation?
5. How can we apply this reading to our lives this week? (For example: if a theme of the reading is forgiveness, how can we better forgive one another this week? Is there anything weighing on us that we want to talk about as a family? Should we go to Reconciliation/Confession this week?)
Remember, young adolescence is a time of growth and a time of questioning. For many young people this time of questioning includes questioning their faith. Please do not be threatened by this as it is a normal part of development and is a good habit as it helps to encourage critical thinking. If questions arise that you cannot answer then write those questions down and invite your young adolescent to discover the answer with you. Discovering the answer could be looking in the study notes of the Bible, checking the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or reaching out to a priest, religious or catechist (like yours truly) for the answer(s). Doing this both will teach your young adolescent where to look for answers and will be an opportunity for bonding and growth between you.