Though the subtitle is tongue in cheek, one of the concepts we learn in Cursillo to help maintain our spiritual life in Christ is summed up in those three words: Piety, Study, and Action. The simple activity of reading the Bible daily to another person has strengthened me in those three disciplines. It has impacted the lives of others beyond my normal sphere of influence, like the widening ripples created when a stone is tossed in the water. But first, I want to introduce you to Dave.
About two years ago, I joined my dad, Ted, and Paula, one of my sisters, in reading through the Bible. My dad is 92, and since his eyesight had deteriorated to the point he could no longer read, we took turns reading to him. Every day except Sunday, we have a conference call where we read through a few chapters of the Bible. So far, we’ve read the entire New Testament at least once, the gospels several times, and almost all of the Old Testament. At first, we were following a schedule published by their church, but after a while, we set our own pace. On Saturdays, we take a break from the routine and read a couple of chapters from Proverbs.
Paula cooks breakfast on Friday morning for our dad at her place. Instead of our usual daily call at 4 p.m., they sit and read at the kitchen table together after breakfast. They put everyone on speaker and call me so I could participate. After the usual jokes are out of the way about whether I’m out of bed yet, we read.
Along the way, we added one more person to our reading group. Dave is a retired Los Angeles police detective in his 80’s who moved to Colorado to be with his daughter. He and Ted became friends, but whenever the subject of God would come up, Dave showed no interest in going to church or in his spiritual life at all. His excuse was always, “I don’t want to go to heaven because my ex-wife might be there.” He said it jokingly, but you could tell there was some real hurt behind his words.
Somewhere along the line, my dad invited Dave to join him for breakfast at Paula’s house. Dave wasn’t enthusiastic about reading the Bible but was happy to drive my dad to Paula’s house and he loves a good breakfast. The first few times, he sat in the other room after breakfast while the Bible was being read, but he soon became intrigued and stayed at the table.
In the process of hearing the Word of God, Dave became a different person. The change in him was no less sudden or dramatic than flipping on the lights in a dark room. He has become an unabashed follower of Jesus and loves reading the Bible now. No matter how many chapters we read each day, he always wants to read another. “It’s just a short one!” he’ll say. Dave found a church, talked to the pastor extensively, went through membership classes, and attends faithfully. He invites and encourages everyone he meets to go to church. He calls my dad every morning to read aloud a daily devotion. At another gathering of my dad’s friends, a regular Wednesday breakfast at a restaurant, Dave piped up, “Anyone mind if I read today’s devotional?” He read to them, it was well received, and, in fact, someone else suggested, “Maybe we should do a Bible Study, too.” He reads the Bible to people at the retirement home where he now lives and even got the activities director on board. He has a weekly lesson from a woman there who was a Bible teacher by profession. He brings urgent prayer requests to our daily reading time.
While the image of a pebble thrown into a placid lake may describe the action of our daily Bible reading, in Dave’s case, he is making his own ripples. In fact, the image that comes to my mind is not a stone thrown into the water, but of a person on a diving board yelling, “Cannonball!”
This routine of daily out-loud Bible reading with others has turned out for me to be the Cursillo Method’s “3-legged stool” of Piety, Study, and Action. We just finished reading Revelation, where I considered the letters to the churches, wondered about the meaning of the scrolls, seals, angels, bowls, and plagues, and was awed by the imagery and descriptions of final judgment, the New Jerusalem, and especially, the Lamb. We’re reading Deuteronomy now. Moses recounts the giving of the Ten Commandments and the care of God for his people during 40 years of wandering. I’m amazed to see how often Jesus quoted from this book and how words so ancient are so timely. Just a simple thing as reading to someone daily from the Bible has been an enriching experience.
Comparing my life to the Scripture we’ve read, talking to Jesus about my shortcomings and sins, and seeking His direction for my life, has deepened my relationship with God, which I learned on my Cursillo Weekend is Piety. Reading the daily chapters inevitably leads to questions that lead to more reading, more questions, research, and reflection which amounts to Study. Continuing to read to others is Action.
Just as a pebble thrown in the water creates concentric circles that get wider and wider, the simple activity of reading the Bible out loud every day has rippled out in far-reaching circles and touched more people than I could have on my own. The Holy Spirit acting through the reading of the Word of God is changing lives all around me, of friends, friends of friends, children of friends, and parents of friends. It has been both an unexpected and awesome thing to witness!
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2 replies to “Ripples: Piety, Study, and Action in 30 Minutes a Day”
Wonderful, to read this witness talk. Christianity 101, what Christ means in real life settings. Ultreya!
What a beautiful way to start my day reading your “Ripples” article. Having worked with you for decades supporting Cursillo in the San Diego Diocese, your article touched my heart with the gentle and inspirational way you witness in your walk with Jesus.
I can imagine Jesus teaching “The Parable of the Ripples” to his Desciples, teaching and inspiring them with the visual effects of going forth to spread the good news in Him. This Parable also applies to His followers today.