True confessions, yes, I did steal it from him. He was not using it. That was my 10 year old self trying to rationalize my actions. He had received it from a summer Bible camp he attended with some of his friends from the Baptist church. It was green leatherette with gold lettering, “The New Testament and Psalms”.
From the moment I saw the small three by four inch New Testament, I was itching to get my hands on it. Somewhere along the way, I had sensed the fact that if I had my OWN Bible then I could read and finally understand some of the readings we heard in church on Sunday. In addition, all the grownups in our neighborhood – most of whom went to Protestant churches – had their own Bible they carried around on Sundays. My parents carried their Missals to Mass and so, I figured I needed a book of my own to be a legitimate Catholic.
I hid the book under my pillow and only brought it out before bed to read a little bit at night. My little sister, Amy, laughed at me and said, “When your husband sees you taking that Bible out from under your pillow, what do you think he’ll say?” “He won’t say anything.” I retorted, “Because, he’ll have one too.” Now, I am not sure where that assurance came from. I did not grow up in a family where my mom and dad read the Bible before bed and I was not even sure other people did this type of thing at all. Nevertheless, I was quite adamant that it would not be a problem.
Looking back on my life and this hunger for the Word, I now realize that there was something, or more precisely someone putting that hunger for the Word into my heart. God was calling me to come closer. It was the beginning of my call to religious life. I read and devoured the Word, like the psalmist of old. Then, I shared it with others. (Sounds a bit like the Dominican motto, “To contemplate and to share with others the fruits of my contemplation.”) My first audience was my sister. Thank you, Amy. Sometimes I would read bits and pieces of scripture to her in the late evening. I am sure I did not preach to her or share with her how the scripture touched my heart. I didn’t have the vocabulary for it back then. However, what I do know is that something was taking root deep within me and the hunger was growing.
Today, my Bible has a beautiful cover from Guatemala and has many worn pages, notations, and is home to many prayer cards and special notes from friends. I received this Bible from my parents the year I graduated from high school. It was my constant guide and companion as I discerned my vocation, entered to and completed formation and made my final vows.
Discerning and living religious life involves listening to and reflecting on the Word of God.
- Are you feeling a hunger for something more?
- What Word of God is resonating in your life right now?
P.S.. In case you are wondering, yes I did returned the stolen New Testament and Psalms to my brother.