Yesterday I posted a photo of a book, and icon I had purchased at church.
I started reading it to see what I needed to do to prepare to read this book for 40 days. The author mentioned that the study in this book could be used as a spiritual retreat. After having only been to Divine Liturgy a few times over the last year, I sure could use a spiritual retreat, or Deep Dive.
Aside from the issues with the virus and my husband being at high risk to catch it, going to church was a bit depressing. Hardly any people were there, the icons were covered,people we grumpy and distant. It has been hard. Try as I might, worshiping at home is just not the same as with the community of believers (Probably why the bible is all about GOING to church to worship.).
My plan is to; attend as many services as possible, read scripture, pray and dig into this book. I know many people do an intensive reading of Psalms at this time but this year, I am going in a bit of a different direction.
I will be giving my home altar a spring cleaning. New candles, new incense… the works.
One of the paths I went down while looking for something other than Protestantism was Benedictine monasticism. Not to be a monastic (now I know anyone may live an asthetic life and in fact things should not be so different between laymen and monastics), but looking for ways of being and ‘doing’ ‘extra’. One of the things I came across was St. Benedict saying that he wanted his monks to read through the Psalms every week. That’s a lot, folks. I actually challenged myself to do this and here is how:
LINK, go to this link you will not regret it. I was not even an Orthodox Christian when I discovered this website. I had no idea what a cheesefare week or meatfare week was I was so green.
This is the section you would be doing if you were following this reading plan:
22 September through 19 December
If you were so inclined, you could go to this site and print out the readings, create a book mark and place them in your bible as a reading prompt aid.
Next is the daily bible reading plan. Let us first look at the reading plan by St. Andrew Orthodox Church, perhaps my most favorite plan. Not that I don’t love all the reading plans. Okay maybe not but there is a reading plan out there for everyone.
St. Andrew’s reading plan is just so… I dunno; comprehensive? Extensive? Like a pizza with the works? Here’s why.
The reading plan comes in a variety kind of like an a la cart menu. You can either jump into the whole daily reading plan which covers; OT, Psalms, Proverbs, and NT, or you can do sectioned readings such as;
Here are additional insights from the St. Andrew website on reading our bibles:
Ten Principles of Orthodox Scriptural Exegesis
adapted from Bishop MICHAEL (Dahulich)
Christ – God is real and is incarnate in Jesus Christ; He is the Key to the Scriptures.
Life – One’s ability to interpret depends upon one’s spiritual state; one must live it in order to fully understand it.
A Love Letter – We read scripture to fall deeper in love with God and put on the Scriptural Mind.
Theosis – We read Scripture to become by grace what God is by nature.
Tradition – Only within the Church and her Tradition (the consensus of the Fathers) is there full and correct interpretation. Scripture is a witness to the truth, the pinnacle of Holy Tradition; it is not an exhaustive manual of church life. We must interpret the Bible as the Church has handed it, not try to reconstruct the canon of Scripture.
Personal – Ask yourself not only: what does the text mean, but what does it mean for me?
Humility – As many Church Fathers, consider your understanding of difficult texts as provisional. Use secondary knowledge (history, literary criticism, archeology) to illuminate our understanding, not redefine dogma.
A prayer to help you focus:
Last, but not least, if all of this seems a bit overwhelming, you can also just go the the OCA website. They have a daily scripture reading that is linked up to scripture. When you click on the bible verse, it opens up and you can begin reading. LINK
Does this help you? Daily reading of scripture is great but attending services are important, even if you attend them online. It’s better than nothing.