Amid a toxic culture, Catholics should open the Bible

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Reading the Bible can be intimidating. With 73 books, some 1,300 chapters, and over 800,000 words, where does one begin?

Scott Hahn, the renowned biblical scholar and speaker, has the answer. He says it begins by sitting in Eucharistic adoration, opening to the New Testament, and reading about the life of Jesus Christ.

“The Bible is daunting with 73 books,” Hahn told Our Sunday Visitor. “Begin by getting to know our Lord in the Gospels; read a chapter a day in the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. While reading, keep looking up and saying, ‘This is you here (in adoration), and you are here in the Gospels. Let’s keep reading together.’ Make it as conversational as possible.”

A ‘seismic shift’ in culture

Hahn is the founder of the St. Paul Center, which seeks to inspire and help laity and priests engage with Sacred Scripture on a deeper level. Since the center opened in 2001, it has seen enormous growth and engagement with its content.

“We are all Bible Christians,” Hahn said. “The St. Paul Center started back in 2001. We thought that we would have four or five people. 20 years later, we could never have imagined that the hunger and thirst for Scripture was as great as it is. And so now we have nearly 50 colleagues.”

Every week, Catholics hear Scripture at Mass, leading many to believe that they do not need to read the Bible at home, Hahn said. But he shared that, with the state of the culture, there has never been a more important time for Catholics to be competent in reading Scripture.

“Look at the culture and how toxic it is. I’m 66, and it’s almost impossible for me to describe what’s happened in the last 10 or 15 years,” Hahn said. “There has been a seismic shift. With what’s happening in our culture, it’s hard to know how to approach the faith, how to live the faith, and how to share the faith.”

Do not be afraid; Hahn says, there is a solution.

“We need Catholics to engage with Scripture more now than ever,” Hahn said. “We are outnumbered. We might be fully surrounded; we might even be infiltrated. The bottom line is that there’s never been a better time for a Catholic to be a faithful Catholic, and engaging with Sacred Scripture can help fulfill that call. The light is never going to shine as much as when it gets pitch black. And that’s where we are as a society.”

An invitation to go deeper

But how should one engage with the difficult passages found in Scripture? Hahn recommends using resources from Ascension Press and the St. Paul Center that help explain Scripture.

“There are some really challenging passages in Scripture, so I recommend going through it with a guide like Fr. Mike Schmitz or Jeff Cavins,” Hahn said. “It’s like going through a forest that terrifies you; when you come out the other side, you will feel more comfortable and have greater appreciation for what you just went through.”

Now, in this season of Lent, is the perfect time to dive into the Bible. As the Church approaches Holy Week, Hahn encouraged Catholics to reflect on the daily readings outside of the Mass. “There really is a sense of buildup and momentum with the readings during Lent, so that by the time you get to Holy Week and you’re hearing the readings for Passion Sunday, you realize that ‘I have taken so much for granted,'” Hahn said. “Yet at the same time, there’s more there that’s inviting us into something deeper.”

Jack Figge

Jack Figge has written for multiple diocesan papers, including covering World Youth Day 2023 for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. In addition to his local coverage, he has written for the National Catholic Register, FOCUS and Catholic Vote.