Scripture has always played an essential role in the Catholic Faith. It has offered the faithful counsel and guidance through many challenging times in Church History. Even before the Incarnation, God's people were gifted with His Word. Scripture has not only been kept alive in the Bible but also in the minds of the faithful. While memorizing Scripture verses may be a new practice for us individually, God's people have been committing His Truth to memory since the beginning.
Throughout Salvation History, Scripture memorization has been a way of life and education. Hebrew boys would memorize the Sacred Scripture that had been passed down by the prophets. Later, even for those who were literate enough to read the Bible, the memorization of Scripture was still important. Memorizing scripture verses helps us dive more deeply into our own faith. We are constantly educated, formed, and sured up by the Word.
Just as we sit around the campfire and tell stories we have heard and memorized, we can do the same with Scripture! Just as one would recite a poem or story aloud, we should be able to recite God's Word. We memorize the multiplication tables, simple addition problems, and the metrics system. Wouldn't it make sense then, as Catholics, to include Scripture memorization with the other things we encourage our children to commit to memory?
Why We Memorize Sacred Scripture
There are many reasons why Scripture memorization is foundational to spiritual formation and catechesis.
- God’s Word is absolutely true, so we soak in His Truth.
- It provides a foundation for apologetics and a better understanding of the Mysteries of the Faith.
- It commits us to a life "worthy of the call we have received."
- When Jesus was tempted in the desert, His weapon was Scripture! Jesus recited aloud Scripture passages He had learned as a child in the Jewish temples and, in doing so, chased away the devil. We hope to fill our children’s storehouses of memory with Scripture passages to help them in their own spiritual battles.
“And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter…” (Dei Verbum 8).
How to Start Memorizing Scripture with Your Kids
Including Scripture memorization in your life and the life of your children is vital, but you need a clear, concise way of doing it, especially if you’re just getting started. Here's the method I have used with my own kids for years!
Step One: Choose a Verse
Choosing a verse can be overwhelming, so let's make it easier by looking at different "types" of verses.
- Heart Verses | These would be Bible verses that are important to you and your family (for example, your grandmother’s favorite verse, a passage read aloud at your wedding, etc.)
- Apologetic Verses | This type of verse explains and defines the teachings of Christianity.
- Identity Verses | These verses speak to the truth of Who created us and what He created us for (for example, John 10:10).
- Prayer Verses | These verses lead and inspire our prayer (the Psalms are a great example of this).
- Liturgical Verses | Plan your Scripture verses around the liturgical season (for example, Luke 1:26-38 is perfect for the Annunciation).
Step Two: The Method
Once you have chosen the verse you want to memorize next, include the chosen verse in your prayer life and the life of your family.
- Start by reading it aloud slowly each day, allowing your child to fully absorb the verse of your choice.
- Ask casual prompting questions such as “Is there a word or passage that stands out? Is there a word you don’t understand?” etc.
- Ask the child to draw a picture of what they imagine when they hear or read the verse or passage.
- Another great idea is to play any recordings of the verses sung aloud or chanted throughout your house frequently.
- Now, begin repeating the verse over and over with your child, inviting them to repeat it after you, to the point where they have memorized it.
- Every once in a while, revisit the verse just to keep the memory.
- Encourage your kids to pray with that verse anytime, any place!
Catholic Memory Verses for Your Kids
We wouldn't leave you without a short list of Scripture verses that are wonderful for memorization. Choose one of these to get you started, and watch how the Holy Spirit begins to enlighten your hearts and minds!
- Psalm 23: The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures…
- Mathew 5: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
- John 3:16: God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life.
- Psalm 28:7: The LORD is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusts. I am helped, so my heart rejoices; with my song I praise him.
- Psalm 27:1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
- Luke 10:27: He answering, said: Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself.
- Luke 1:47: My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
- John 6:35: But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.
- Mathew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
- Psalm 107:1: “Give thanks to the LORD for he is good, his mercy endures forever!”
Soaking in Scripture Memorization with Our Kids
Teaching your children to memorize Scripture is not only a beautiful thing, but it will influence the next generation to hopefully do the same thing! This is part of the legacy of faith we hand on to our children. Not only will it lay the foundation of Truth in their minds, but it will heal and renew ours as well. This is the great abundance of our God!
How about you? What are your favorite verses? What are your kids' favorites? Drop them in the comments below!
Want more? Check out our post on The Importance of Sacred Art in Catechesis!