May 5, 2023

From living in peace to finding meaning in life, readers share their favorite Scripture verses

Mike and Rebecca Kirsch pose for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a visit there in March. (Submitted photo)

Mike and Rebecca Kirsch pose for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during a visit there in March. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: The Criterion has invited our readers to share a favorite Bible verse or a favorite quote that helps remind them of God’s presence in their lives and/or helps center them in their relationships with other people. Here is part five of their responses. See part four | See part six)

By John Shaughnessy

Having nearly 100 “all-time favorite quotes,” Kevin Burke finally narrowed his choice down to one—a Bible verse on mutual love from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 12, verses 9-21.

“I find this passage works in just about any situation as a spiritual uplift and a guide as to what to do,” says Burke, a member of St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour.

He especially finds the verse to be helpful during large family gatherings.

“A quick read before the guests arrive helps me to be mindful of their needs and be responsive in a kind way whenever possible to their comments, opinions and expressions.”

Here are some of the parts of the passage from Romans that he relies on:

“Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10).

“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Rom 12:12).

“Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality” (Rom 12:13).

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).

“Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation” (Rom 12:16).

“If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Rom 12:18).

Burke sums it up this way, “Include all, no judgments, advise only when asked, and stay focused on serving and including all in the festivities. Laugh easily and smile genuinely and stay calm. This verse helps me to try my best to do that.”

A reminder that soothes the soul

For Suzanne Arruda, the simplicity of Psalm 46 soothes her soul in moments from two opposite sides of life—when the world overwhelms her, and the beauty of nature surrounds her.

The psalm counsels, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:11).

“The quote comes to mind at different times,” says Arruda, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison. “Sometimes, it comes just when I am observing nature. Very often, I reflect on it when I feel stressed or worried about the future. It reminds me of the eternal immensity that is God and calms me in my fears.”

Finding meaning in life

We all eventually look for clarity in our lives, for direction of how we want to live, and what will give us meaning and purpose.

For Mike Kirsch, that moment of clarity came early in life—when he was 14—as he was about to be confirmed in the United Church of Christ.

As part of that preparation, he had to choose a confirmation verse that would affirm his baptismal commitment to a life with Christ.

After considerable thought, Kirsch chose Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

“I was a very good student, and I expected to get a good degree and a high-paying job, [but] I didn’t want to get caught up in the secular race for ever-more money and an ever-greater position in business and industry,” Kirsch recalls about that time in his life. “God does not see us as man sees us. He sees what’s in our hearts.”

Forty-seven years have passed since Kirsch chose that Bible verse that he hoped would guide his life. In that time, he has used his degrees in engineering and his master’s in business administration to make a successful career. He also “married a good Catholic girl 33 years ago,” a union that has led to their three now-grown children. And he entered into the full communion of the Catholic Church, finding a home in St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus.

“I doubt I would have ever become Catholic had I not married Rebecca,” he says.  “But once I was exposed to the Catholic faith, I loved it, and I am very proud to be Catholic.”

As his 14-year-old self had hoped, he and Rebecca have strived to live a life that seeks the favor of God.

Toward that goal, their parish ministries have included serving on the stewardship committee, being leaders for one of the soup kitchen teams, sponsoring aspiring Catholics in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, and counseling newly engaged couples in the marriage prep program for 27 years.

Kirsch credits Proverbs 22:1 for it all.

“The wisdom of this verse has served me well throughout my adult life,” Kirsch. “I try to live by it every day, and I have shared it with many others when they were facing decisions—big and small.

“It’s a short simple verse that really helps keep me—and others—grounded. That’s needed in a world where it’s too easy to get caught up in pursuing riches, and you can easily forget what really matters.” †

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