Holy Geometry: Reading Scripture Isn’t Optional

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (I Jn:1).

For years I have been touting the value of reading the scriptures daily as a spiritual practice.   I believe that “casting your eyes” upon the living word ministers to your soul in a way that nothing else can, even daily mass.  Up close and personal contact with the word is actually “encounter” with the living God that is completely different than hearing, as well as being a holy act.  I must be more of a genius than I realize because now the Pope is telling people the same thing!  LOL.

On days that are ”morning short”  I trim that to just the gospel for the day.

This discipline has to be one of the easiest things to do and doesn’t require special skill or equipment.  Any bulletin anywhere or online sites will give you the readings for the day.  I find something heady about casting my eyes on text that millions of people and clergy are sharing in, literally at the same moment. So I wonder why more people aren’t doing this.  Clearly the Pope does too.

Maybe it’s a misunderstanding about what we are “supposed” to do with the readings after consuming them.  The answer to that is not hard: nothing!   The Word is a living thing and whatever happens in you is at the discretion of the Spirit.  It probably wouldn’t be a bad thing if you developed an awareness of what is happening in your spirit but it’s not required.

The Word, particularly the Gospel, is miraculous in many ways.  It is ever-changing in the way it impacts you no matter how many times you’ve read the same passage.  There are layers and levels and whatever remains with you after each reading depends on where you are in your walk.   Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal household, puts it this way;

“Scripture contains not only God’s thinking fixed once and forever, it also contains God’s heart and his on-going will that indicates to you what he wants from you at a certain moment, and perhaps from only you” (Homily Week 5 Lent 2014).

It is true that none of us are exegetes but it is helpful to note that  that scripture like our material world has a geometric, four-sided order.  George Weigel, in his most recent book Roman Pilgrimage (2013 Basic books, NY, NY), teaches the tiers in every scripture reading: the literal or historical, the allegorical, the moral, and the eschatological (final times).

What’s interesting about this “geometry” is that it is consistent with the way God creates in the material world and confirms the fact that this way of thinking is not a manufactured figment of some scholar’s imagination.

Four is a confirming number of the way God manifests the things of the world:  there are four seasons, there are four directions, there are four phases of the moon, we have four senses, there are four creatures surrounding God’s throne as cited in the book of Revelation. More profoundly, though, in the Bread of Life Discourse (Jn 6) Jesus tells us four times that the bread is His flesh and the wine is His blood, not symbols.  Communion, then, is always given with the same four actions: taking, blessing, breaking, sharing.  God constantly gives us “pattern” as a window into the way He thinks.

So when you read a passage if you suddenly wonder what that character was like or what you might do in a similar situation or have an insight about a personal point of view or behavior, be assured that the scripture is at work in you. As you move ahead in your spiritual walk, you might decide to pray about each aspect of your readings and what meaning that stirs for you on a personal level.

In meditations of this nature there is no right or wrong.  These kind of promptings, though, are meant to stir your spirit.  This should not be confused with the idea of “prophecy” that people sometimes mistake the   promptings for.  Remember Father Cantalamessa’s teaching that they could very well be “only for you”.  But there is peace that the Spirit leaves us with if the prompting is genuine.

Take in the scripture with your eyes, daily. It can be a profound education for your soul that you can’t get any other way.

Copyright 2014, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at: www.atravelersview.org">ATravelersView.org.

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