I recently stumbled on a newish app that has been a huge game-changer for me and my approach to Scripture memorization. I suppose I should rephrase – it has caused me to have an approach to Scripture memorization. The Verses app (available for iOS and Android – Beta testing) is all about memorizing Scripture in an engaging way.
Within the app you can choose any verse from any book of the Bible to memorize. Then, through a series of games and challenges you work your way toward memorizing that verse.
Can you believe we are already seeing the sign-up promos and reflection books for Advent!?! The years continue to fly by and I guess this year is no different. I’ll be honest, I’m already starting to get excited about the new planners that are going to be out soon. =) As Advent is fast approaching, I began thinking and praying about whether or not to host a series of Advent reflections as I have the past 2 years. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the web is now inundated with these reflections. There are so many, you could probably spend all day just reading reflections and still not get through them all.
The more I prayed, the more I found myself to feel inspired in a new direction. My prayer was informed by two things.
First, the highly anticipated Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal. In case you missed it, here is my promo post from a few months ago. I am thrilled it is almost November and I will soon have this journal in my hands.
Second, I have been mulling over the Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII. This is a set of 10 short prayers or commitments that Pope John XXIII prayed each day. I intend to delve into each one of these in greater detail, possibly even one post for each one. We’ll see. For now, the fifth is the pertinent goal:
Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
So, where was I being called? On one hand, I have this awesome new journal resource that really helps me to focus in on the Mass and Scripture. On the other, I have a challenge to 10 minutes of “good reading.” As the kids would say, “Their powers combined created!” A brand new Bible Journal! I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was so much fun! What I have created is a Bible journal that incorporates Lectio Divina, the practice of slowly reading a short passage or verse and meditating on it. Lectio Divina is one of the oldest prayer forms we have — learn more here.
What’s in this journal, you might ask? Let’s find out!
A reference guide for what Lectio Divina is.
How to use the journal
One journal page for each day of Advent, including the regular Mass on Dec. 24 as well as the Christmas Eve Mass, and Christmas Day.
Each page contains:
Space for intentions, how your day is going, what are your thoughts before beginning your Lectio
Space to write your Word
Ample space for reflecting and praying your response to your Word
(My favorite) space to action plan for how to take your reflections into the rest of your day and through the season of Advent.
A Scripture verse or passage for each day of Advent, prayerfully chosen from the liturgical readings of the day.
An additional blank journaling page that you may print as many times as you want. This way you can choose your own passages for Advent or continue the practice after Advent is over.
Even more exciting than all of that is that I give this as my gift to you this Advent Season. This journal is completely and totally free. It is yours to download as many times as you want, to print as many times as you desire. Pick one, pick both. Print 10 and share them with friends or your small group. The sky’s the limit! Maybe you and your spouse are looking for a way to connect in a meaningful way this Advent season. Maybe you are looking for a way to incorporate Scripture into your daily routine or with your kids over the dinner table. There are so many opportunities awaiting you.
Below are a few more images to let you get a feel for the two styles. One style is a bit more curly and doodly while the other is less frilly, more straight lines. The content is exactly the same in both journals.
All you have to do is click on the link beneath the picture of the journal you want below to choose your pdf file. Save it to your computer and print the whole thing, print one page, take your pick.
And in all honesty everyone, I would love feedback on these. The good, the not so good and the what on earth does that mean?. If this is something you love and you found useful, I would love to share that joy. If you liked the idea but it just didn’t work for you this time, tell me why. How can I make this better or different? If, and I’m crossing my fingers here, if this seems to work I am seriously considering making a Lenten Journal as well and who knows, maybe even expand the idea further as we go along.
This is what I felt called to make this year for Advent and I hope and pray that it brings you peace, solace and above all, helps you prepare your heart for the coming of our Savior. Because, dear friends, that is what the whole point is.
I love the Psalm refrain for today: Lord make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. This beautifully sums up most of what we have been talking about this week, namely looking at Mary to teach us how to unite our will with God’s Will.
Lord make us turn to you: The psalmist is asking God to help us reorient our lives, our wills, to God’s design and purpose for us. We are asking God to clear the path and show us the way to submitting our broken wills to His perfect Will. What better guide than Mary?
Let us see your face: We are asking God to reveal His Will to us. How does God reveal His Will? Sometimes we see it through people around us, sometimes through certain experiences or moments of clarity. But to see God’s face, to come that close to God, there is something we absolutely have to do. We have to read the Bible, which we believe is the inspired Word of God. We have God’s Words, His promises, His desires for humanity and how we are to live with one another all written down for us in a living text that is as relevant today as the day Jesus read from it in the synagogue. If we truly wish to see the face of God and to know His Will we must read His Words.
We shall be saved: Here we bring in again the blessing of Elizabeth: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Key in on the phrase “spoken to you.” You might think, well God doesn’t speak to us today like He did back then. Friends, God does. Remember, the Scriptures are not dead words on a page but are God’s inspired and creative Words. If we open ourselves to God in Scripture we will find Him in our hearts. We will come to know God’s Will and grow in our union with Him.
St. Augustine explains how during the time of the prophets God made promises to His people. St. John the Baptist was the last prophet. The coming of Christ signaled the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises God had made. We are still in this time of fulfillment, but during Advent we take time to reflect on the original promises God made as we prepare for Jesus to come. For today, spend some time reflecting on the following passages from St. Augustine regarding God’s promises and their fulfillment.
He [God] promised us eternal salvation and an unending life of blessedness with the angels, and an imperishable inheritance, the joy of seeing his face, a dwelling-place with him in heaven, and the fear of death removed from us through the resurrection. This is, if you like, his ultimate promise. We look forward to it, and when we reach it, we will want nothing more. But as to how this final end is to be reached, he has also told us in promises and prophecies…
***Are you finding the experience of focusing on what you are waiting for providing opportunities for growth? Is your time spent in prayer over these situations bearing fruit in your life as you unite your will more closely to God’s? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.