The other day a friend asked me how, in my experience, non-Catholic Christians memorize Sacred Scripture. This is a very reasonable question. It is common to hear Catholics say how impressed (and intimidated) they are when their Protestant work colleges or classmates quote Scripture at them chapter and verse.
I responded initially with the suitably vague answer saying that, in my experience, it varies from denomination to denomination and from congregation to congregation. There are certainly some groups which emphasize Scripture memorization more than others.
Personally, I’ve never been very good at Scripture memorization, at least as an activity in its own right. When I quote Scripture, it’s usually a rough paraphrase and it’s pretty rare that I can give the chapter, let alone the verse.
Tips & Tricks
You can google “scripture memorization techniques” and you’ll be connected to lots of (predominantly non-Catholic) websites that offer techniques and plans for memorizing Scripture, but below are three techniques that have helped me in the past when I’ve been trying to commit specific verses to memory:
1. Prayer Integration
I open every time of prayer by reading the passage Scripture I’m trying to memorize. This includes the blessing at mealtimes.
2. Sticky Notes
When I’m trying to memorize a particular passage, I’ll write it on post-its which I will liberally sprinkle throughout my apartment – the front door, the fridge, the mirror by my toothbrush, the cookie jar…
If I can’t remember the reference for “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” then I will set my computer’s password to philippians4_13.
So those are some techniques I’ve used in the past to learn Scripture verses. However, in response to that text message I concluded with:
“Non-Catholics are more familiar with Scripture better because they make it a priority”
You know what? I think that’s so important I’m going to write it again, but this time in capitals, in red, in bold and underlined:
NON-CATHOLICS ARE MORE FAMILIAR WITH SCRIPTURE
BECAUSE THEY MAKE IT A PRIORITY
Think about it. What skills and knowledge do you have? Now, consider how much time have you set aside over the weeks, months and years in pursuit of excellence in those areas? I would guess that it adds up to probably quite a significant amount of time. Why would we expect familiarity with Sacred Scripture to be any different? If you’ve ever asked someone “How is it that you know Scripture so well?”, it’s almost certainly because they have given over lots of their free time to it. Non-Catholics generally know Scripture well because they spend time reading it and studying it. It’s a priority in their lives.
Tomorrow I’ll look at the “Catholic Response” to this…