OCEAN CITY, Md. — Parishioners at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Ocean City can start their day with a cup of coffee and the words of Jesus.
The parish began the new year by placing a New Testament reading each day on either Facebook or in an email blast which now reaches about 80 households.
Beginning with Matthew and ending with Revelation, Father Stanislao Esposito provides a New Testament reading and a meditation upon that reading. By the end of the year, parishioners will have read the entire New Testament.
The hope is that reading the Gospel daily will help people reflect and consider more deeply upon the words of Scripture and how they can impact their daily lives.
Administrative assistant Donna Santoni said the idea, which the parish has never done before, is the brainchild of Father Esposito. She explained that it’s often hard for people to find time to read the Bible because of busy schedules and hectic days.
While people might go to Mass each week, sometimes it’s a little harder to keep faith in our daily lives. “The old joke is that you’re a Catholic in Mass, but what are you in the parking lot?” she said.
“Instead of talking about what’s going on in Hollywood, you’re talking about what you read in the bible that day. … It’s just beautiful to see and experience.” Santoni said. “It’s a great thing that’s been snowballing.”
“I have a busy life,” she said. “Do I always have time to read the Bible each day? No. Have I started doing that? Yes.”
She said that the idea has spread as people see the daily postings and then share them and discuss them with friends and family. The hope is that those conversations and reflections will challenge people and lead to a deeper understanding as “they carry it with them through the day and start living the faith more deeply.”
“They’re responding to the meditations. It’s starting conversations,” she said.
It’s also proven to be a way to reach shut-ins unable to go to church, allowing them to become more involved with the parish.
When he received his first Communion, Father Stanislao explained on the church website, he received a book with the four Gospels. “I began to read the book, and for some strange reason, the pages began to come to life. Jesus became real. I went over those pages every day. The Gospel revealed to me a very fundamental truth – God loves me immensely. What a life changing moment the day I realized this. I could call God ‘my father.’”
Santoni was uncertain how many people are being reached by the daily meditations, but the number is growing. “We’re very excited,” she said. “We’re quite happy with it. It’s been going well.”
For more information on the daily reading and meditation, go to https://stmarystaroftheseaocmd.com.