As you might be aware of the Dominican Sisters of Mary have been contestants on this season’s “The American Bible Challenge” and will be appearing in the final at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT Thursday, May 23 on The Game Show Network. We had the opportunity to ask Sr. Maria Suso some questions about her and her follow Sister’s time on the show and are happy to share that interview with y’all.
Q: Catholics aren’t known for reading the Bible; what’s the best way to get started?
No matter what Maria sings in the Sound of Music, the beginning isn’t always “a very good place to start.” If you want to begin reading the Bible, I would recommend starting with the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Not only are they “easy reads,” but they contain the core of God’s selfrevelation to us. They focus on Jesus, and isn’t He the reason we want to read the Bible in the first place? Also, Jesus is the Key Who unlocks the true meaning of everything else we encounter in the Scriptures.
After the Gospels, I recommend reading Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the early Church, and the letters of the New Testament, which are beautiful, inspiring, and instructive. Also, the book of Psalms is a great place to find ready-made prayers for every possible occasion or emotion. A good Catholic study Bible or book of biblical commentary can help you understand difficult passages. Most study Bibles also include reading plans that will take you through the most important parts of the Bible, sometimes in chronological order (surprisingly, the Bible is not in chronological order). Similar reading plans can also be found online. These can especially help you as you delve into the unfamiliar territory of the Old Testament. They give the books a context and show how God’s loving plan for us unfolds over time.
A final word: no one ever masters the Bible, but if we let it, the Bible can master us. The Scriptures are meant to be read daily; the same passages can be read over and over again because they are a “living word,” the Word of God, our God Who is always speaking to us. Never be discouraged if you don’t understand, but keep seeking. Through His Word, Jesus is calling you to himself.
Q: The Bible is such a dense collection of stories, was it easier to have each player focus on, say, one part of the Old Testament while the others focused on another part and the last the New Testament?
As you might guess, it’s next to impossible to “cram” for a test on the Bible! That said, we knew we needed heavy review if we were going to be competitive on the show. We decided that each book of the Bible should be “covered” by one or two sisters. We each had different strategies for “covering” books: sometimes we just read them through, sometimes we took notes, and sometimes we used reference books or atlases to help us focus on key people, places, and events.
Since two of us have a special love for the Old Testament, we both covered everything up to the Wisdom books (like Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom, etc.). Then we divided the Wisdom books and the Prophets between us. The third Sister focused on the New Testament, and she and I both covered Acts and Revelation. All of us were supposed to be experts on the Gospels.
Though all this may seem complicated, it was, for the most part, a joyful and prayerful experience to prepare for The American Bible Challenge. Our preparations challenged me to pay more attention to the details in the Scriptures and helped me realize more deeply that nothing in the Scriptures is wasted – everyone matters, even the wicked Israelite kings who only get a few lines in 2 Chronicles. They are, in some mysterious way, part of God’s providential plan to save mankind from our sins and shower His mercy upon us.
Q: How confident were you going into the final round focusing on the Miracles of Jesus?
We felt very confident going into the Final Revelation of the semi-finals for two reasons. First, we knew that God was in charge of everything and that we were doing God’s will. Because we live a life of obedience, we knew that God, through our superiors, had brought us to that moment and was taking care of everything. We had a deep peace.
Second, the Gospels are extremely familiar to us. As religious sisters, we take a vow of chastity: Jesus is our Spouse. We love to read and savor the Gospels while we spend time with Him. As a community, we make a half-hour meditation each day, usually during our daily Eucharistic holy hour. Often that mediation is based on a passage from the Gospels. If you add that to daily Mass readings, daily spiritual reading, mediation during the Rosary, and all our other ways of encountering Scripture, the sum is a strong familiarity with Jesus and His miracles.