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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

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“The Bible is the only book whose author is present when one reads it.” I came across this profound statement concerning the reading of Scripture shortly after having some incredible experiences while doing my daily prayers and Mass readings. I don’t know to whom this quote is exactly attributed, but it is so very true and got me thinking that those of us with communication platforms in the Church need to do more to encourage Scripture reading.

It was a busy Saturday morning and I was getting ready to travel about an hour across town to attend an annual conference presented each year by Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Ave Maria Radio; and the Catholic health organization Emmaus Health Partners. This year’s theme was really hitting a nerve, addressing the very sensitive topic of division within the Church and the world, with most of the focus on problems of disunity among Catholics.

“Divided We Fail: How to Regain Unity Among Catholics” featured several powerful speakers including the very popular Father John Riccardo of Ave Maria Radio and Acts XXIX fame, along with writer, cultural commentator and vice rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Father Charles Fox.

I was in talk-show host and reporter mode, planning to cover the event and grab some great interviews for my radio show as so many great speakers would be gathered under one roof at the same time. I was also looking forward to the presentations as the issue of division is something that I encounter regularly as someone who deals with the public daily. So, I knew the content would be helpful to me as I continue to address the issue of division. What I wasn’t expecting was to be blown away by God even before I headed out the door. But that’s exactly what happened.

As I sat down on the couch with my cup of coffee and grabbed my Magnificat, I couldn’t believe my eyes. For starters, the opening words in the Prayer for the Morning were all about the topic of division among God’s people and how the Lord desires unity. Go figure. I read, “God gathers us from all the places where we have been scattered: let us give thanks and praise.”

The psalm for the morning prayer was Psalm 80 featuring several verses, again dedicated to a people divided. But that’s not all. Of course, God was determined to make his point very clear, and to affirm those who prayed deeply and for months about the theme of this year’s conference. Jeremiah 23:1-4 was next, warning the leaders of the Church about the fallout of their being one of the causes of division. If you think the Lord stopped there, think again. The first reading for the daily Mass that day, came from Ezekiel 37:22: “I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and there shall be one prince for them all.”

Coincidence? Hardly. I don’t know why I was so surprised, but it felt like I was hit by a two-by-four of God’s love that morning. He jumped out at me and as a result the readings had a profound impact on the way I approached the conference. I felt, yes, he wanted to help me address this issue on my radio show and help others who deal with division in ministry. But I believe he also wanted to remind me that he is powerfully present with us in the Bible.

Whether it’s helping to organize a solid Catholic Bible study or regularly encouraging our flock to read Scripture daily, as deacon couples we can and should be doing whatever we can to help people open the Bible and embrace it and, as a result, embrace him, who is the Word: “And the Word became flesh / and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14).

TERESA TOMEO is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio, and the author of “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95). She is married to Deacon Dom Pastore, an ordained deacon in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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